Cesar Millan's Mastering Leadership - Volumes 1-3
Other // Unrated // $49.99 // September 16, 2008
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted November 21, 2008
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The Movie:

Animals have problems and some of them have gone through a lot of tough times before finding a loving home. Some of them simply have picked up behavioral issues through what their owners have done, despite the owner thinking that they were doing the right thing or all they could do to fix the issue. Before sitting down to watch Cesar Millan's "Mastering Leadership" (a three volume set), I'd enjoyed watching Millan's "Dog Whisperer", a National Geographic Channel series, which gets to the root of the problem by simply watching the owner interact with their pet and/or taking in information about an incident and what happened afterwards.

The guy isn't a psychic and doesn't likely have all the answers (some cases take more time), but he's obviously skilled and experienced at training dogs to break a cycle of poor behavior or work out behaviorial trouble that could be related to a past injury or other issue. As we saw in "Dog Whisperer", Millan has a dog center in Los Angeles where nearly 40 abandoned dogs - some of them formerly tough - get along in a very calm manner with one another.

"Mastering Leadership" is largely a compression of a group of issues that were confronted in "Dog Whisperer". The format of "Whisperer" has Millan visiting homes to confront both the dogs and their owners in order to fix the situation to create a better friendship and environment for both. This series starts off with a first volume that has Millan standing in front of a group of people, infomercial-style (it appears to have been filmed in a hotel ballroom), discussing different topics. While there are some cutaways to clips, the program - aside from Millan's loud shirt - a little bland. The fun of "Dog Whisperer", even for those who don't own dogs, is seeing the individual situation and the steps that Millan takes to try and cure the problem.

Throughout the first volume of the program, Millan touches on topics such as reading the dog's energy and responding with a calm, assertive energy (dogs know you from your energy), cementing your role in the dog's mind as leader of the pack and responding to psychological issues in a constructive way (not just by giving the dog gifts or treats in the hopes that that will change the dog.)

Feeding is not a given, at least without the dog first stopping any appearance of stress, anxiety or excitement. A clip is shown of Millan feeding his dogs at his center, and they all wait, until one of the pack is called up, and the single dog out of the pack of animals walks up to the stage to get food. It's a pretty remarkable display of training and control. The second volume of the series sees Millan out in "Dog Whisperer" mode, going to three different households in order to fix issues, including one overly hyperactive dog that seems to have no boundaries and one dog that becomes unstable when it's put on a leash.

The third volume in this box set is, oddly enough, how to bring a new dog home (wouldn't that have made more sense as volume 1?) and follows different stories of varied people who are seeking to get dogs and have different requirements on what they are looking for. Millan walks the cages at a local shelter and analyzes each one of the dogs based on their behavior. Once Millan narrows down the dogs, he views how they interact with one another and the environment. The program also provides a checklist and tips as to how to approach adopting from a shelter.

The first volume of the set is "People Training For Dogs", the second is "Becoming a Pack Leader" and the third is "Your New Dog: First Day and Beyond". Overall, this was a very enjoyable program that provided a wide variety of tools and techniques for owners to improve their dog's behavior.


VIDEO: "Cesar Millan: Mastering Leadership" is presented by MPH Entertainment in 1.33:1 full-frame, the show's original aspect ratio. Aside from some minor shimmering at times, the presentation quality looked quite nice. Sharpness and detail were mostly very good, although there were a few somewhat softer moments at times.

Aside from the shimmering, there were really no issues to note - no edge enhancement, no pixelation and no wear or other concerns with the source material. Colors looked bright and vivid, with no smearing or other problems.

SOUND: The show's stereo soundtrack had no concerns, as dialogue, music and other sounds were crisp and never sounded distorted or otherwise problematic.

EXTRAS: Each volume includes a couple of bonus features, which include Millan's original promotional video.

Final Thoughts: "Mastering Leadership" compiles Millan's teachings on a wide variety of dog training issues. While the first volume is a little dry, it's an excellent program for current dog owners looking to improve their friendship with their pet or potential owners looking to learn in advance. Recommended.

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