Tuesday, March 11, 2014

REVIEW: Decoding Your Dog by American College of Veterinary Behaviorists


More than ninety percent of dog owners consider their pets to be members of their family. But often, despite our best intentions, we are letting our dogs down by not giving them the guidance and direction they need. Unwanted behavior is the number-one reason dogs are relinquished to shelters and rescue groups.

The key to training dogs effectively is first to understand why our dogs do what they do. And no one can address this more authoritatively than the diplomates of the American College of Veterinary Behavior, whose work, the culmination of years of rigorous training, takes them deep into the minds of dogs in an effort to decode how they think, how they communicate, and how they learn.

In Decoding Your Dog, these experts analyze problem behaviors, decipher the latest studies, and correct common misconceptions and outmoded theories. The book includes:

• Effective, veterinary-approved positive training methods
• Expert advice on socialization, housetraining, diet, and exercise
• Remedies for behavior problems such as OCD and aggression

With Decoding Your Dog the experts’ experts deliver a must-have dog behavior guide that ultimately challenge the way we think about our dogs.

Hardcover, 384 pages
Published January 7th 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
ISBN  0547738919 (ISBN13: 9780547738918)

My Thoughts

This book was written by veterinary behaviorists, who understand both a dog's psychology and it's anatomy and natural behavior. These are the guys that dog trainers learn from. They are called "diplomates".

This book is filled with good tips on dealing with specific issues, like how to introduce children to dogs, and how to teach them the proper way to interact with dogs. And how to deal with fear and aggression in dogs, and even otherwise mundane but highly difficult things like how to get your dog to allow you to brush its teeth. It includes example stories of purportedly real-life scenarios between owners and their dogs to help explain what went wrong between owner and dog, and what the owner could have done differently.

The book talks about the trouble with people misreading a dog’s body language. For example, people often mistake “guilt” in dogs, thinking that when they do something and look “guilty”, it shows they know they did something wrong. However they actually are simply submitting and relaying “I surrender”, because they know that the circumstances that seem to make you angry exist, but not that they are to blame for those circumstances. Such as a dog that has an accident in the house. It knows you get angry when that mess is on the floor, but it doesn’t associate the fact that it caused that mess that is making you angry.

Scientific studies of dog behavior have demonstrated that domestic dogs do not try to form hierarchies with humans. Most aggression directed toward humans occurs because the dog is anxious or afraid and is attempting to ward off something or someone that she sees as threatening to her safety.
...the dangerous consequence of the dominance myth is that owners try to physically dominate their dog in an attempt to change the dog’s behavior. This “solution” is likely to cause the exact opposite of the result they want. A recent study by veterinary behaviorist Dr. Meghan Herron found that confrontational techniques are, in fact, more likely to escalate aggression, resulting in more dog bites to owners.
It boils down to this: Whatever the dog wants, don’t give it away for free. Don’t open the door just because the dog paws at it, don’t throw the ball just because he barks at you. For those countless other privileges, ask the dog to say “please” first by doing something like sitting quietly. The benefits of this approach are many. For one thing, good manners become part of everyday routines rather than something the dog is asked to do only in social training situations. Your dog also learns a degree of impulse, but rather stopping to consider alternative options, can be rewarding.
A highly intelligent dog can be very draining for the average family, because it is not always easy to stay one step ahead of her.
Unfortunately I only got about halfway through this book before it expired (I got it through Netgalley), but what I did read was chock full of great information. This would be a great addition to the library of any dog lover!

Buy Now:

Barnes and Noble

My Rating:


I received a copy of this ebook to review through Netgalley and the publisher, in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not financially compensated in any way, and the opinions expressed are my own and based on my observations while reading this novel. 

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