... and both Allie and I appear on pages 82 and 123. But even if we didn't -- and even if the author weren't a good friend of mine -- I'd still say buy. this. book.
I'm talking about Bonding With Your Dog: A Trainer's Secrets for Building A Better Relationship by Victoria Schade (Wiley). In a world where there's a whole lot of deadly serious information about how to train a dog--much of which is actually misinformation--Victoria's 201-page tome revolves about having fun with one's canine companion. And in service of that have-fun theme, she comes up with all kinds of creative ways to build person-pooch partnerships that become win-win situations for all concerned.
For example, suppose Fido sees a squirrel while the two of you are out for a walk. Do you pull back with all your might to prevent Fido from giving chase? Not according to Victoria, who suggests that the owner join Fido in chasing that fluffy-tailed rodent--after Fido performs a sit at the owner's request. The rest of the book contains similarly unorthodox ideas, such as walking at different times and on different routes each day to give your dog some variety, and hiding from your dog while in the dog park so that he'll learn to check in with you while he's romping with his canine buddies.
Of course, Victoria is a passionate proponent of the positive reinforcement training philosophy that I strongly believe builds better human-canine relationships. That philosophy permeates the entire book. But to her credit, Victoria also acknowledges that sometimes the implementation of that philosophy can be a little tricky, such as when she discusses the logistics of handling poop bag plus clicker plus treats plus leash plus dog when teaching the dog to walk nicely on leash. I still find that exercise tricky, but by following Vic's clear directions, I'm at least no longer feeling like the clumsiest kid in P.E. class -- and Allie has become much more mannerly on the leash.
Most of us add dogs to our lives not because we want to show how polite we can teach our dogs to be, but because we want to experience the joys of having a deep relationship with a non-human being. Bonding With Your Dog will show you how to build a partnership that allows you to experience those joys--and to have fun building it.
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