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By: Dianna M. Young and Robert Mottram
Publisher: Island Book Publishing
Publication Date: July 2013
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: January 13, 2014
We’ve all heard (and some of us have seen) horror stories about dogs behaving badly. Dogs who have their owners all figured out, dogs who rule the house, dogs who are, honestly, out of control. Why can’t their owners train them better? Most likely, those owners don’t understand their dogs and are going about the animal’s training all wrong. In an effort to correct these problems, author Dianna Young, a professional dog trainer, lays out the facts about how dogs think in her new book, and how a person can use that to their advantage when training.
Young begins her book with an introduction that explains how dogs are superb readers of body language. Dogs communicate with each other primarily by reading body language and they use this ability to “read” humans as well. While we may think our dog has an innate ability to know when we are stressed, he is actually picking up on tension expressed through the face and body. This communication method, then, can also be used by humans to communicate what we want from our canine friends.
The first few chapters of Think Like a Dog give an overview of dog behavior, their need for a ‘social hierarchy,’ their desire to be a leader or a follower, what their body language means, which senses are the most vital, and how they learn. Eighteen more chapters follow, covering everything from choosing the right breed, raising a puppy, obedience training, environmental effects, problem-solving and dealing with dominant dogs.
Much like a good novel, I found myself drawn into this book within the first few pages and kept reading late into the night. Unlike many training books that tend to be dry and dull, this one was quite well-written and enjoyable to read. What I particularly liked is that Young used a myriad of real-life examples to back up all her points; examples gleaned from her years as a trainer, seeing clients come in with problem dogs, problems caused by their lack of knowledge and how (or if) the problems were resolved, and why. These real-life situations really brought home the points the author was making and made them stick in my mind. For the obedience training section, photos were abundant, which again, made each point much easier to understand. Overall, after reading Think Like a Dog, I came away with a better understanding of why my canine friends do what they do and am eager to work with them to see what we can achieve.
Quill says: Well-written, easy to understand, and abundant illustrations make Think Like a Dog a book you’ll want to read if you desire a clear understanding of your dog and how to train him to be a wonderful companion.