Mutts Dog Books for Owners
There are a ton of excellent online resources that talk to dog ownership (including this blog!) but I like books and will always make space for a great dog book.
I like the way they feel. I like the fact that they attract meaning that goes beyond the book itself (“Dad gave me that” or “Pasha chewed this corner”). I’m also concerned about being the online distracted parent and want my kids to see and notice me reading. I’m not sure there’s a difference but I like to think it’s better than always being on a tablet or phone.
There are a few dog books that I have really enjoyed and that will always take a proud place on my bookshelf. There are also a few books that I found excellent resources for preparing for starting out as a dog owner. Here’s a brief write up on a few of my favourites:
Essential Dog Book # 1
Before & After Getting Your Puppy by Dr Ian Dunbar should be required reading for all prospective dog owners. My hard cover edition includes a blurb attributed to Jean Donaldson, Director of the San Francisco SPCA Academy for Dog Trainers: “There is no single person on the face of the planet to whom dog trainers and owners (not to mention dogs) owe more”. High praise indeed!
Dr Dunbar, a veterinarian and animal behaviorist, pioneered what is described as positive, preventative, puppy training. It boils down to controlling your dogs environment so that they won’t fail to do what you want them to do. This makes it far easier to provide positive reinforcement to the dog – if they disappoint you, it’s your fault!
The book focuses on critical stages in a puppies (and owners) development process. Specifically, your education (including selecting a puppy), house and chew toy training, socialization with people, learning bite inhibition and the world at large including topics on things like socialization on walks, training for car journeys etc.
Concerned parents will appreciate that the author doesn’t avoid questions of safety. He highlights many area’s that would be of specific interest to those with young children. The importance of bite inhibition is stressed heavily and is given more than 28 pages of coverage.
I do think some of the puppy selection advice and milestone information suffers from being in a book rather than customized for the individuals circumstances. For example introducing your dog to 100 people by the time they are 3 months old is not only tough, it’s not necessary for all (or even most) dogs. But I agree with the intent and the authors motivation – socializing your dog is essential. This is a great “how to” book and highly recommended.
Great Dog Book # 2
The Other End of the Leash by Patricia McConnell has an interesting angle. Her book considers the impact of our behavior on our dogs. The main source of most problems being identified as human miscommunication.
The book offers much more than a “how to” manual but some readers might find that frustrating. Each chapter starts with an interesting story that is expanded on to explain an issue. The topics covered include the importance of visual signals and how dogs and humans use sound differently.
McConnell stresses the importance of good socialization for safety but is critical of punishment oriented training. She states these methods “should be considered unacceptable, just as it is no longer acceptable to beat wives and children”.
I enjoyed reading this book. I think mutts will have a better relationship with their mutts as a result of reading it.