Picks and Pans Review: The Dog Care Video Guide

updated 07/09/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/09/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

THE CAT CARE VIDEO GUIDE

The Golden Girls's Rue McClanahan teams with British-born veterinarian David Griffiths in this amiable but annoyingly superficial health-and-fitness guide. These aren't meant to be pet training tapes (at one point, we see Rue dragged along by her dog like a tin can tied to a newlyweds' car). Instead, Griffiths offers pointers on choosing a healthy pet (take it to a vet for a checkup, he suggests), puppy proofing your home for the new arrival (crawl around on all fours to spot for hazards from a dog's perspective) and grooming techniques—like brushing tabby's teeth. The chief thing to remember about grooming, he says, is to "make it fun." (May-be he should try brushing my cat's teeth.)

McClanahan does make some good points about the importance of neutering, but the dialogue with Griffiths is often corny; a pet show visit is mostly a time filler; and though a scene with cuddly pets and aged retirees is heartwarming, it's hardly instructive.

McClanahan has three dogs and three cats of her own and has created separate tapes for owners of each. So you can save your money twice. Both tapes have virtually the same canned banter and the same scenes, right down to the animal shows and the old folks home. And in either case, you'd probably learn as much from a pet shelter pamphlet. (M.R.S. Enterprises, $29.95 each; 800-445-3800)

TRAINING YOUR BEST FRIEND

Actress Elke Sommer looks great in her tights and white boots; her pet-shelter puppy looks cute enough to charm Kibbles off a tomcat. Will dog expert Michael Kamer give them some training tips? Does a dog have fleas?

Kamer, who bills himself as Dog Trainer to the Stars (Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Pia Zadora), guides Sommer through a four-week course on the standard dog commands and, between lessons, offers advice on nuisance behavior like chewing and barking. (Not a problem here, though; Elke's pooch has apparently been bark-ectomized and never makes a sound.)

Sommer is obviously nuts about Alfie, her mixed breed—which gives this video much of its charm—but the tape's main teaching drawback is her perfect puppy-in-training, who seems to learn everything with ease and looks ready to walk on burning bricks to please his mistress. Still, this is a warm, if somewhat simplistic, guide, and it just might end up sending you on a visit to the pet shelter yourself. (Rose Video Associates, Inc., $19.95; 800-383-8811)

TRAIN YOUR DOG BEFORE YOUR DOG TRAINS YOU!

Ignore the fact that trainer Larry Berg has the speaking style of a tour-bus guide. His two-hour tape is informative, thorough and packed fuller than a biscuit box with tips for bowser lovers. Berg takes the viewer through the basic commands, shows what to do when Fido balks and never loses his sense of reality ("Also, put items of significant value out of reach," he cautions during a segment on puppy teething).

There are lessons on housebreaking, remedies for nipping and other sins, a section on nutrition and practical advice on everyday care (how to wash salt from paws after a walk in the snow). Berg isn't shy about expressing opinions—he frowns on canned foods, for instance, noting that "in all but a few, the most expensive ingredient is the can." But he makes his points convincingly, and everything makes sense. It's a lot to learn for mutt and master, but this is an excellent reference, worth returning to again and again. (American Pet Industries, Inc., $49.95; 800-5-BOW-WOW)

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