Understanding Dogs

Understanding Dogs by Clinton R. Sanders was a fabulous read.

Sanders is a sociologist and his book is an autoethnographic account of his life with dogs. While sharing some of his personal experiences and thoughts, Sanders also provides information he obtained through his interviews with veterinarians, service dog trainers and dog owners themselves.

I not only liked the book because he used a similar writing style to the one I am using in my thesis, but I also found it easy to read and extremely interesting.

My only real criticism is that he used the term ‘handicapped,’ which is a big no-no in my opinion. The book was not written that long ago, so I feel as though Sanders should have been more aware of the accepted terminology.

A Pedigree to Die For

A Pedigree to Die For by Laurien Berenson

This is the first book, of many, in Berenson’s Melanie Travis Mysteries.

I have known about this series for a while, but I was hesitant to pick it up because not only does it have dogs in it, but it primarily focuses on the world of dog showing. Very often, books like this are full of eye-rolling moments and untruths, so I really did not want to touch it.

A few weeks ago, the book group through Yahoo that I am a member of, had Laurien as their feature. I read a lot of the emails that people sent out with questions and I started to think I was missing out on something.

Well, I picked the book up and I was missing out. Despite the fact that the dogs who are highly featured in this book are standard poodles, a breed I’m not overly fond of, it was still a great read. The mystery itself was a bit weak, but the story was enjoyable and for someone who is interested in the world of dog shows or about learning more, it’s a good source of information.

Melanie is a single mother and an elementary school teacher. The story takes place during the summer when Melanie has time off. You learn a bit about her and her son Davy, but you mostly learn about her aunt who is a standard poodle breeder and you begin learning about the politics surrounding the conformation ring. Melanie’s Aunt Peg loses her prize stud and is frantic to find him. Melanie has nothing interesting to do over the summer, so decides to try and solve the case.

Ask Anna

Ask Anna: Advice for the Furry and Forlorn by Dean Koontz

This book is really short and really silly, but it is also adorable and Anna is a golden retriever, so of course I had to read it.

I really cannot say much about this book without giving anything away.

If you’re looking for something cute and fluffy, this book is for you.

Show Dog: The Charmed Life and Trying Times of a Near-Perfect Purebred

Show Dog: The Charmed Life and Trying Times of a Near-Perfect Purebred by Josh Dean, is a great book for anyone who is interested in learning about the ins and outs of dog shows.

The author follows the campaign progress of a young Australian Shepherd named Jack as he works to earn his Grand Championship.

I really liked this book because it showed not only the messy politics behind conformation shows, like judges favouring professional handlers, but the author also presented the more personal side of things, the owner having to negotiate with Jack’s breeder, trying to cover the professional handling fees, etc.

In addition to following Jack across the US as he attended AKC shows, the author also followed him into the world of the Australian Shepherd Club of America.

I not only learned a lot about AKC shows, but I also learned a lot about the Aussie breed and about the breeding process.

this book honestly has it all, so if you’re curious about the world of dog shows and dog breeding, check this book out.

Dog Sense

Dog Sense by John Bradshaw is a great book for people who want to understand dogs in more of a scientific way.

Bradshaw not only starts his book with a great discussion on their history and genetics, but he also talks about how dogs differ from wolves. He looks at popular training methods and discusses the science behind them.

I didn’t learn a lot of new information from this book, but Bradshaw was able to provide me with a different perspective on the topic.

For anyone interested in cats, Bradshaw has also written a book called Cat Sense.

Citizen Canine

For my masters thesis, I am doing a lot of research into service dogs and therapy dogs. I want to know where the line should be drawn between a pet, therapy and service dog. So when I heard about this book I had to read it.

Citizen Canine by David Grimm gives us an easy to follow history of the rights of dogs and cats. He takes us from a time when dogs and cats were wild animals to present day where they are considered family members.

I think the most compelling point he made in his book was that we need dogs and they need us. With the advancements in technology, society is becoming less and less social. We no longer have to go out of our houses to socialize, to shop or even work. In Grimm’s mind, dogs are saving society. They are forcing people out of their homes and as a result creating opportunities for one-on-one interaction with other people. Dogs are giving people a chance to delve new friendships and experience new things.

this was an amazing book! I definitely see myself reading it over and over again.

Animals in Translation

Anyone who knows anything about autism or dog training has heard of Temple Grandin.

When I started learning about clicker training and positive reinforcement, I heard about her book Animals in Translation and knew I needed to read it.

Fast forward 8 years and I have finally read it.

Grandin writes about how animals and individuals with autism think and behave similarly. She talks a lot about her work with cows and slaughter houses. She describes her achievements in making the process less stressful and more humane for the cows. She explains how squeeze shoots work and talks about making one for herself and how it influences her emotions. When Grandin isn’t talking about cows, she talks about dogs. She helps her readers understand that they need to look at things from the level and point of view of the dog. When a dog balks at something, we need to get down to their level and think like they do. They could be concerned about something as simple as a reflection of sunlight they never noticed before.

This book wasn’t brilliant, but it was an easy read. If I learned anything, it was that I need to remember to think like a dog, get down to their level and see things from their perspective.

Suzanne Clothier

After finishing Jean Donaldson’s book, I needed something a little softer, so I picked up Bones Would Rain From The Sky by Suzanne Clothier.

In this book, Clothier describes her life with dogs and other animals. She starts out talking about when she was young and wanted to be a dog and then moves on to share some experiences she has had with her own dogs and the dogs of clients. She describes some of the important lessons she learned from the various dogs she has met and shares some stories about times when she felt she wasn’t the best listener or guardian for her dogs.

Even though this book did not give me ideas on how to teach this or that to my dogs, it reminded me that a dog’s life is short and they live in the moment, so to make the most of every second we have together. Clothier’s book taught me to always make sure I had no regrets and that if I did, that I made sure to resolve my guilt and move on because my dogs weren’t going to wait for me to continue kicking myself for things I couldn’t take back. She also reinforced the fact that I am not alone in my mistakes, that even she makes them.

I laughed and even cried in spots while reading this book. I really recommend everyone who shares their life with an animal or even another human check this book out. I think your relationships will only grow stronger after reading it.

Jean Donaldson

After reading Ian Dunbar’s book, I decided to read The Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson.

In her book, Donaldson writes about the psychology surrounding common dog behaviours and informs readers about how things we do must look from the dog’s point of view.

I both liked and disliked this book. On one side, I think Donaldson did a really good job at explaining the positive reinforcement model of dog training and not only told readers how to do things, but why it needed to be done. On the other hand, I really disliked the way she wrote as if every dog owner who isn’t a professional is stupid. I found her writing style to be a little cold.

After reading this book, I really began to understand where a former dog trainer I worked with got her training style and opinions regarding dog owners and how dogs should be treated and trained.

It’s kind of hard to explain my thoughts regarding Donaldson’s training style, it’s almost as though to her, a dog should not just be allowed to be a dog, or part of the family. I felt as though she believes that if training is not happening then the dog should be crated or something like that. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I explained things wrong, but it’s sort of what I got out of the book and what I witnessed working with the trainer whom I feel mirrors her work according to the word of Jean Donaldson.

Ian Dunbar

In preparation for our new addition, I have downloaded some dog training books in an effort to learn more about positive reinforcement training and also to learn about other training methods.

I totally recommend Sue Ailsby and plan to continue using her levels program to train the dogs, but it never hurts to add some extra tools to the dog training toolbox, right?

I just finished reading Ian Dunbar’s How To Teach A new Dog Old Tricks. I’ve wanted to read this book for years, but for one reason or another, I never had an opportunity until now.

It was really well written. I love the way he writes it as if from the dog’s perspective. There were some things Dunbar recommended, like repeating cues until the puppy obeys, that I don’t really agree with, but then there were other things he suggested, like making sure your cues make sense, that I found quite useful.

Dunbar suggests that when a puppy has an accident and the owner witnesses the discretion, that instead of saying “Puppy…NO…you shouldn’t have done that, let’s go outside”, that you skip the no and the conversation, and just say “Outside” in a firm voice, as you pick the puppy out and carry it outdoors.

I think this recommendation makes a lot of sense. I think that we have a tendency to treat our dogs like children, which is not a bad thing most of the time, and forget that their attention span and vocabulary is far less advanced than the capabilities of humans.

Before we pick up our little golden girl, I am going to sit down with Huib and make a mental list of the cues we want to use with her, so hopefully we will avoid some of the awkward stumbling we tend to do in the first year of training.