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The Complete Idiot's Guide to Positive Dog Training, 2E Paperback – February 7, 2006

4.1 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Pamela Dennison, owner of Positive Motivation Dog Training, has been training dogs since 1992. After switching methods from traditional punishment-based training methods to positive training, Pam has become an expert on working with dogs with various behavioral issues. She has written a monthly column, “The Barking Lot,” and authored Bringing Light to Shadow: A Story of Recovering an Aggressive Dog.
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Product Details

  • Series: The Complete Idiot's Guide
  • Paperback: 314 pages
  • Publisher: Alpha; 2 edition (February 7, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592574831
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592574834
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,241,591 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

NEW!!!! My newest book - published through Shadow Publishing is now available!
"You Can Train Your Dog! Mastering the Art & Science of Modern Dog Training."

It is available as an e-book as well as a printed book and also as an online class. So no matter where you live, you can now train with me! www.pamdennison.com


I started out my writing career by accident. I adopted Shadow and for some unknown reason, decided to keep a diary on his acclimation into my household. After working with Ted Turner (not Jane Fonda's ex), he mentioned that I should turn that diary into a series of articles. And voila! Bringing Light to Shadow was born!

And the rest as they say, is history. Five books, four DVDs and 50+ articles later, I am still writing and in fact, would really love to delve into fiction, except I have no clue how to go about it.

Of course, I am still training dogs and helping people to help their dogs and create positive relationships. I speak across the country and across the ocean as well on many different topics - from positive training in general, to working with aggressive dogs, to free shaping, to Rally obedience and competition obedience. I went to Australia in 2008 and spoke at the APDT conference - once I got over my fear of flying, I was thrilled to be there.

I have a 4,800 sf facility in the wilds of New Jersey - yes there really are wilds in New Jersey and keep busy with my business and my own dogs.

My other dogs at present are Emma (Border collie) and Finn and Dreamer (Shetland Sheepdogs). I compete with them in most sports and are very successful.

My complete listing of books:
You Can Train Your Dog! Mastering the Art & Science of Modern Dog Training, Shadow Publishing
Bringing Light to Shadow; A Dog Trainer's Diary, Dogwise
How to Right a Dog Gone Wrong; A Roadmap for Rehabilitating Aggressive Dogs, Alpine Publications (Soon to be updated under Shadow Publishing)
Civilizing the City Dog (a supplement to the above title), Alpine Publications
Click Your Way to Rally Obedience, Alpine Publications

My DVDs:
The R.E.W.A.R.D. Zone for aggressive and reactive dogs, Shadow Publishing (nominated for Best Training DVD in 2014)
The Magic of Shaping; Explore the Possibilities, Tawzer Dog Videos
Training the Whistle Recall, Shadow Publishing (Winner of a Maxwell for Best Training DVD in 2009)

I also have 5 online classes and 6 recorded webinars. You can see them all at www.pamdennison.com

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Pam Dennison is perhaps one of the best authors in terms of presenting positive training in an understandable way, that shows clearly why it works and how it fits naturally into a dog's "culture." I also love that she included not just one, but two chapters on body language - sorely lacking in many books. This one has knocked a couple other recommended reads a bit lower on my list. More approachable than Pat Miller (an excellent trainer but too much train-of-thought in her books) and less technical than Pamela Reid (excellent read if you want more depth, tho), anyone can use this tool to create a wonderful relationship with a willing, eager-to-learn companion.

This book is not for the more challenging issues. It is mostly manners and prevention - the basics. Pair it with Outwitting Dogs, however, and you have all you need to tackle most* issues (*barring aggression, which should be handled with the help of a behaviorist who uses counter-conditioning and desensitization).
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Format: Paperback
Wonderful, clearly written positive training book full of PRACTICAL and USEFUL training exercises that work. Good overview of how dogs learn, how to read their body language to understand what they're communicating, how to use reinforcement schedules properly, how to introduce a new dog into your household -- in short how to set your dog up for success.

For those looking for specific help with a particular issue (such as teaching "Come") each chapter starts off with a brief outline, making it easy for you to see at a glance what each chapter covers.

The writing is broken up into bite-sized paragraphs making it easy for you to work with your dog with the book open to help coach you through each step.

Each chapter also contains interesting tidbits of dog information, simple and clear definitions, and easy pointers to help get you going.

Whether you're on your first dog, or perhaps have switched breeds and what worked for your old breed isn't working for your new breed, or it's been awhile since your last dog, or you just want a refresher -- this book is will help you and your dog achieve great things together!
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Format: Kindle Edition
My dogs responded awesomely to this book! Finally my confirmed puller is walking WITH me!!! And my puppy is happily glued to my side! No more prong collars, no more being dragged around! thank you Pamela!!!
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Format: Paperback
My family recently welcomed a wonderful Collie - Captain Jack Sparrow into our lives. From day one, I read this book, studied the techniques and the reasoning and rationale behind the methods and practiced them with Jack.

The first day he learned his name using the clicker method. After about three or four repetitions, that was it, he knew he was Jack. Amazing. The very next day we practiced his name some more and then in nothing flat he learned sit, stay, down and come in two 10 minute training sessions the same day. After that it was just a matter of continuing the repetition and adding more commands.

Once of the sections I found particularly useful was the information about reading your dog's behaviour and signals. I never really gave much thought to various dog behaviours, subtle or otherwise until I read Pam's insightful book. Now it all makes sense!

If you're looking to train your dog, understand your dog and really relate to your dog in a meaningful way, get this book!

Kevin Brett
CEO, Kevin Brett Studios, Inc.
Author: "The Way of the Martial Artist: Achieving Success in Martial Arts and in Life"

The Way of the Martial Artist: Achieving Success in Martial Arts and in Life!

Producer of: The Art of Intelligent Driving (DVD)
The Art of Intelligent Driving
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is a fantastic dog training book. I literally read it cover to cover in record time. It's as close as you can get to a "recipe" to train your dog. Unlike many training books it also helps the reader to recognize and deal with stress in your dog. A dog that is stressed can't learn effectively. It troubleshoots common behavior issues. And describes, in detail, how you can train your dog to be a good citizen and a great family member. This is the first book I recommend to new dog owners and people looking for a more humane, yet effective, training method. I've even given copies to several people. Get this book! I've read around 60 different training books and this is one of the best.
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Format: Paperback
I'm rating the book 3 stars because it does have a lot of good information, but also had several things I didn't like about it. I would buy a different book if I were to start over.

The author spends far too long stating and re-stating that only positive reinforcement works and any form of punishment is bad. I already believe that positive reinforcement is a good method, that's why I bought "Positive Dog Training". In addition, she makes several bold claims about psychology that sound nice without any citation or ways to verify the claims.

There is some contradictory examples in the text. She states that there are 3 fundamental rules of dog training: 1) Positively reinforced behavior gets repeated, 2) Ignored behavior goes away (the 3rd is not relevant to my example here). Later in the book, she relates the story of a dog that began chewing her shoes. Her solution? She gave the dog a reward the next time it took a shoe from the closet. According to her own rules, she should have ignored the dog, and certainly not given a reward.

Another omission in this book that I found from other sources was utilizing a dog's natural sense of hierarchy in the training.

There are a lot of pages to go through before the useful content really begins, but the useful content is there. I don't want to sound overly negative in this review, but there were certainly parts of this book that I found lacking.
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