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The Cautious Canine-How to Help Dogs Conquer Their Fears [Paperback]

Patricia B. McConnell
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (188 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 1, 1998
So many behavioral problems in dogs result from fear, but fear-based problems can become worse if treated incorrectly. This booklet provides a step-by-step dog training program of desensitizing and counter classical conditioning. It can help you solve minor dog problems and prevent serious ones, whether your dog's fears include the vacuum cleaner, people with hats, or the stranger at the door. Covered are the oh-so-important details related to identifying exactly what triggers your dog, creating a step-by-step treatment plan, monitoring your progress, and why you need to treat the fear and not just your dog's reaction to the fear. This booklet is on the "Top- Ten" of Dogwise's Dog Training Book Catalog, and has helped thousands of dogs and their owners around the country.

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Editorial Reviews


"Cautious Canine is another marvelous booklet by Dr. McConnell. I love seeing my students dogs transformed after their owners start using Dr. McConnell s methods. In just a matter of weeks, I will see dogs that started out in class hiding under a chair barking at everyone who got close to them, to a dog who wants to greet everyone in class with a wagging tail." --Meredith Gage, owner Pawsitive Experience Dog Training and Consulting Bend, OR

"This booklet saved my dog's life and secured his place in my heart and home forever" --Karen Vogt

About the Author

Patricia McConnell, Ph.D., CAAB is an Ethologist and Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist who has consulted with cat and dog lovers for over twenty years. She combines a thorough understanding of the science of behavior with years of practical, applied experience. Her nationally syndicated radio show, Calling All Pets, played in over 110 cities for fourteen years. She is the behavior columnist for The Bark magazine ( the New Yorker of Dog Magazines ) and a Consulting Editor for the Journal of Comparative Psychology. She is Adjunct Associate Professor in Zoology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, teaching "The Biology and Philosophy of Human/Animal Relationships." Dr. McConnell is a much sought after speaker and seminar presenter, speaking to training organizations, veterinary conferences, academic meetings and animal shelters around the world about dog and cat behavior, and on science-based and humane solutions to serious behavioral problems. She is the author of ten books on training and behavioral problems, as well as the critically acclaimed books The Other End of the Leash: Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs, For the Love of a Dog: Understanding Emotion in You and Your Best Friend and Tales of Two Species.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 30 pages
  • Publisher: McConnell Publishing, Ltd.; 2nd edition (June 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1891767003
  • ISBN-13: 978-1891767005
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (188 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,491 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Patricia McConnell, Ph.D., is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Zoology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an expert applied animal behaviorist. Her company, Dog's Best Friend, Ltd., specializes in family dog-training and treating aggression in dogs, and she is an immensely popular speaker around the country. She is the co-host of Calling All Pets, an animal behavior advice show syndicated to a hundred public radio stations, and works daily with four dogs (three border collies and a Great Pyrenees) on her sheep farm outside of Madison. Her Web site is

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
234 of 234 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best yet on this topic September 28, 2005
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have an 18 mo old dog-reactive German Shepherd. I've read many of the best trainers: Jean Donaldson, Pam Reid, Pamela Dennison, Emma Parsons, Linda Tellington-Jones, Karen Pryor, Trish King. My dog and I have taken private lessons from a couple excellent dog-reactive specialists. We can now attend certain dog training classes if they're small enough and there's enough distance between the dogs.

I've been working on this problem for over a year, and I'm seeing progress, but some of the approaches from the author trainers seem unrealistic for anyone other than a trainer who has access to a variety of dogs on a daily basis. There are steps and steps and steps and steps and steps and then more pages of steps and steps to take. Then you turn to the next chapter to find out you've got more steps to take. Even the most committed dog owner can get overwhelmed. And with all these steps, you need different dogs at different times of the day with different owners, etc. Or you need 20 friends to come knocking on your door 3 times a day 6 days a week. OK, an exaggeration, but it seems that some of the authors have immersed themselves so much in dogs that they have forgotten what life is like for people who don't have easy access to many people willing to work with them and share their dogs with them. For many of us, that just isn't the case. McConnell gives us 5 steps to work with. That's it, and it's enough. She says in 5 easy steps what others take 28 steps to say and by then I'm so confused I just go throw the kong in the backyard with the dogs rather than go to Petco for some desensitization exercises.

However, Patricia McConnell gives realistic, succinct, clear and direct advice in her little booklet.
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337 of 343 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Cautious Canine changed my dog From Cujo to Cuddles October 16, 2002
The Cautious Canine, How to Help Dogs Conquer Their Fears, by Patricia B. McConnell, Ph.D.,
probably saved my fear aggressive Sheltie's life. At the very least, it secured his place in my heart and my home forever. When my sweet, cute, cuddly ball of fur, Pierce, started acting like "Cujo" at 3-4 months of age, it was very distressing to say the least. Trying to take him for a walk was a traumatic experience, every time. He would lunge, growl and bark at anything and everything that moved - cars, children, adults, bicycles, dogs and cats (and many that did not, such as fire hydrants and mailboxes). Less than 20 pounds, he was strong enough to pull me off my feet, causing me to slip on ice and hurt my back.
I had been training dogs in obedience and doing pet assisted therapy for 10 years, so I was not a clueless, first-time pet owner who didn't know which end of the leash was up. I had worked in classes with other people's dogs with aggression problems, but this was the first one to live in my home. I had Pierce neutered, stepped up his obedience training and socialization and enrolled him in agility class to build his confidence. I consulted with 7 different trainers, many of whom said I should rehome him or worse... Although at times I was afraid of him and often frustrated to the point of tears, I wasn't prepared or willing to go down that road. I made a commitment to Pierce and I was determined to find a way.
Thankfully, I found "Cautious Canine". It became my bible. Dr. McConnell's book is written in very easy to understand language, with a great sense of humor and a genuine love for dogs. It offers a common sense approach to solving problem behaviors. The methods are always fair to the dog and easy to understand and apply.
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170 of 174 people found the following review helpful
This is one of the finest little gems in the dog behavior world--a practical, step-by-step guide to help desensitize and modify unwanted responses, while building confidence in your dog. This book's advice is the very same approach I used to take my juvenile delinquent dog from a problem child to the National Service Dog of the Year. I buy copies of this book and give them out constantly. If your dog has reactivity problems--for whatever reason, this is a book that will change your dog's life.
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78 of 79 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars concise, practical, informative, and very helpful July 5, 2004
I knew there would be a lot of baggage involved when I adopted a young greyhound who had been neglected, starved, and beaten prior to rescue. Although his fear did not make him agressive it did pose problems with daily activities: loud sounds, anyone walking behind him on the street, men, angry voices on TV, the clicking sounds from soda cans, cameras, or ball-point pens, anything remotely shaped like a stick...the list of things that completely paralized him went on and on.
My sister, who is active in Aussie rescue, suggested this booklet (she was coping with a rescued fear-biter at the time). The suggestions in this book enabled us both to help our very different animals blossom into the confident, well-mannered, loving, envy-inspiring dogs they are today.
Of special help to me was understanding that 'comforting' behaviour on my part just gave my dog the certainty that there really was something to worry about. As soon as I changed that he began to act less anxious. When rescued he was never supposed to be allowed to be an only dog because of his nervous anxiety and self-destructive coping methods. So when my elder grey passed some months back we worried about regression. Thanks to this booklet he is more happy, playful, and calm than ever before. He even lies tummy-up on the grass a few feet away as my husband swings his golf clubs and works on his game. His utter indifference to a big stick was something I never imagined possible and would never have happened without the wisdom in this little booklet.
Thank you, Ms. McConnell!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I wish I had read this many years ago when ...
I wish I had read this many years ago when I first started to take dogs with major issues. But,
also learned we were doing a lot correctly…now getting some new methods for a... Read more
Published 1 day ago by S Berk
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
McConnell is incredibly adept at understanding dogs, and just as good at explaining them to people who aren't. Read more
Published 14 days ago by ATC
5.0 out of 5 stars Very helpful for my extremely fearful dog.
Good for fearful dogs, it cultivates trust and helps your pup find confidence slowly and step by step. Very humane and thoughtful approach to dealing with fearful dogs. Read more
Published 20 days ago by suja
5.0 out of 5 stars lover he stuff
you can never go wrong following Patricia McConnell's advice
Published 25 days ago by Dianne Villano
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for someone trying to learn the complexities of canine anxiety
The cover photo looks just like my dog, how could I not buy it? Great 'cliff notes' for someone just learning about canine behavior and/or canine anxiety. Read more
Published 26 days ago by KMB
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Helpful in many ways.
Published 1 month ago by Linda Rutherford
5.0 out of 5 stars Pat McConnel is one of the best dog behavior authors you can find
Pat McConnel is one of the best dog behavior authors you can find. Every one of her books is a treasure trove. These series of smaller easy to read books are great for the basics.
Published 1 month ago by V. Sayles
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
I was looking for something more extensive with pictures.
Published 2 months ago by kathryn wright
4.0 out of 5 stars where was this wonderful information 30 years ago
where was this wonderful information 30 years ago. everything was handled with a choke collar back then. we might be able to help our scaredy-cat dog without the Xanax after all
Published 3 months ago by pharmmomtn
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great book! thanks!
Published 3 months ago by Annette M. Dye
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