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Atlantic City Press
Aisling Swift
Staff Writer
Atlantic City   When Bashkim Dibra was in a prison camp in Albania, the young boy was able to charm vicious guard dogs and escape through fences.
  "If you want to
train your dog,
think like a dog."
pet adviser,
Bashkim Dibra
  It was then he realized he had a gift. He understood the dogs' language and could use it to his advantage.

Now, Bash, as he's known to the stars whose animals he trains, has put his secrets into a book and video, called "Simple Solutions."

The celebrated dog shrink was hawking that video Saturday at the Pet Industry Trade Show at Atlantic City Convention Center, which runs through 5 p.m. together.

Got a problem with Fido? Gnawing, growling, won't slow down? You've got to learn his lingo, says Dibra, who advocates tone of voice and learning body language as the key.

"No," he growls. Coo soothingly if you're praising him, and be enthusiastic if you want him to learn your commands. Got a bulldog? "Talk like this," he says, his voice a low rumble.

"I educate the owner to think like a dog," says Dibra, who earned an animal behavior degree from City College in Manhattan. "You have to be the leader of the pack. The dog sees you as a leader and respects your property."

Dibra, who trained Benji, of movie fame, and tamed a wolf for Wild Kingdom, pushes the three P's: Patience, persistence and praise.

"You can train a dog at any age," says Dibra. The Albanian came to this country 25 years ago and now earns $200 to $1,000 an hour training dogs for LaToya Jackson, counseling Henry Kissinger, and dog-sitting for Alec and Kim Baldwin.

Dibra was just one of 500 exhibitors peddling their wares for all kinds of animals— including ritzy chinchillas, exotic birds, rabbits, fish, cats, and dogs—as well as gifts for pet-loving humans. Some animals also were on display, such as chinchillas and ferrets.

There were ornate gravestones, Mutt luks to keep Fifi's tootsies warm, and Pawkerchiefs—a bandanna for the fashion-conscious dog. Bad Breath? Try Pure Breath drops. And for the fashion-conscious owner and dog, there were matching straw hats.

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