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107 of 109 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Understand and Train Your Dog
When I read the first few chapters of this book, I thought, "I've heard all this before." How to pick a dog...well, I choose shelter or rescue animals, and you don't have the luxury of visiting the breeder, evaluating the parents, etc.

I also was a little annoyed at the focus on Veterinary Behaviorists. But as I read on, I really started to like this...
Published 11 months ago by M. Donnelly

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57 of 70 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Figuring Out Fido
Dog training is a hot topic these days. There are more dog training books on the market than there are spots on Dalmatian puppies in a Disney film! (I'm even working on one, due to hit the shelves any day now. It's based on my experiences training my long-haired miniature Dachshund, Napoleon, using only positive reinforcement methods. I'm calling it "Don't Spank Your...
Published 11 months ago by Mary Esterhammer-Fic


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107 of 109 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Understand and Train Your Dog, December 30, 2013
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This review is from: Decoding Your Dog: The Ultimate Experts Explain Common Dog Behaviors and Reveal How to Prevent or Change Unwanted Ones (Hardcover)
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When I read the first few chapters of this book, I thought, "I've heard all this before." How to pick a dog...well, I choose shelter or rescue animals, and you don't have the luxury of visiting the breeder, evaluating the parents, etc.

I also was a little annoyed at the focus on Veterinary Behaviorists. But as I read on, I really started to like this book. I liked the in-depth approach to the whys of dog behavior AND the specific methods of eliciting the behaviors you want and discouraging the behaviors you don't. The authors also displel the 'dominance' myths that some experts use to explain and train dogs.

I especially liked the chapter on solving common problems. For instance, one of the common problems is pulling on the leash when taking a walk. Many behaviorists call an act of dominance, and that you have to show the dog who's boss. But the authors argue that leash pulling is not a dominance problem (they use a case to explain); it's a behavior problem. They then go on to discuss how to solve it--step-by-step. They also talk about the tools you need to solve it (no retractable leash, the right collar, etc.).

Of all the training books I own, I think this is the one that I'll keep at hand. It not only gives clear solutions to problems, but also does so in a positive, humane way. I'm glad that I took a chance on 'another' dog training book. This one was worth reading.
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to flourish with your dog -- positive psychology for your pet, December 2, 2013
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This review is from: Decoding Your Dog: The Ultimate Experts Explain Common Dog Behaviors and Reveal How to Prevent or Change Unwanted Ones (Hardcover)
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As the owner/manager of an older dog and a new rescue, I was amazed how much I learned in a short time with this book. I can't say I now understand what's going on in their heads, but I learned how to improve our relationship -- and that' s even better! The authors follow two critical themes: establishing a mutually trusting environment with your dogs, and developing realistic expectations, reliable training, and ongoing enrichment. They note canine mental processes and behaviors are NOT the same as those of humans, despite our tendency to anthropomorphize dogs and think we can understand them. You can find other dog behavior books, but perhaps none have the qualifications of the authors. They are all Board certified Veterinary Behaviorists (a specialty recognized by the authoritative America Board of Veterinary Specialties), and their articles were then vetted (pun semi-intended) by two authors who are also Board certified specialists. Post-Doctorate Board Certification is no easy feat and represents, at the least, high levels of dedication and training, not to mention surviving a stressful process of testing and frequent evaluation by experienced professors. The book reflects advances in measuring and interpreting behavior that you can't always find in canine "self-help" books or even from dog handlers and breeders. Our vet and a breeder we know were impressed with the authors' credentials and credibility, and I noticed our vet copied the title when we showed them the book. This book may have the potential to be a classic and you can learn (or reinforce) much from it. Its caring advice may save the lives of many dogs and will doubtlessly enrich the lives of others.

The fourteen remarkably well-coordinated chapters were written and overseen by twenty-two veterinary specialists. They focus on topics ranging from selecting a dog to caring for an old pal, and how to manage many challenges in between. Each chapter has a nice Summary and suggestions for staying on track, and the book provides a good Glossary and resources for further information.

Drawbacks? First, some themes seem repeated, but after all, this is a collection of essays written by (often fiercely) independent qualified professionals, so repetition indicates a commonly-accepted view. Second, my Vine edition had no Index or footnotes. Third, this is a fairly new Boarded specialty (established in 1993) so opinions may appear relatively uniform. Finally, the book occasionally suggests you should see a Veterinary Behaviorist for specific problems, but this simply recognizes the value of specialized care, rather than generalized advice, for complicated problems. These drawbacks are relatively insignificant and the Plus/Minus ratio of the book is high. As with any scientifically based work, things evolve, so don't assume it is absolutely 100% current (but ignore it at your risk).

This should be an excellent book for any dog owner or professional in the veterinary field, and would be a wonderful gift for a dog lover. It's a work of compassion, competence, and love from the authors. BTW I have no material connection with any of the authors or editors.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You can't go wrong., December 8, 2013
This review is from: Decoding Your Dog: The Ultimate Experts Explain Common Dog Behaviors and Reveal How to Prevent or Change Unwanted Ones (Hardcover)
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You can't go wrong with this book if you have or want a dog. An excellent book to get before you bring a dog into your family. It should be required reading before anyone gets a dog. I asked Vine to send me this book for the reasons most will be drawn to it: I have a dog that has behaviors I don't understand and I need some help. I did not find the solution, but no book is perfect. What I did find was solid information about the overall training of and living with dogs and some insightful, credible, science-based information about why dogs do what they do.

I did not know the book was written by veterinarians, which may have turned me off. HOWEVER, author Steve Dale has done a great job of making the book readable or the vets were good writers because the book is engaging and clever. Information is presented with examples of specifically named dogs, which brings the information to life; pictures are included; and each chapter has a wrap up "What Did we Say?" Since each chapter was written by a different person as is common in books by academicians, there is no index*, which I would have liked, but each chapter is a jewel. The chapter "I Know They're Normal Behaviors, but How do you Fix Them? Common Problems That Can Drive any Dog Owner to Howl," should be required, like a marriage license. "Can't we Just Talk?" and "Creating a Mensa Dog?" are also standouts. As I have an older dog in my family and have ushered two other dogs through their older years, I really appreciated the chapter on "Dogs with an AARF Card." The chapter on phobias, "I know it's going to rain, and I hate the Fourth of July," is another that can save lives because as the book points out, "unwanted behaviors is the number-one reason dogs are relinquished."

This is a much-need book from experts in a critical field that can help more dogs remain in the home and not homeless. If you have a dog or want a dog or know anyone who has or wants a dog, you owe it to yourself or them to get this book. It's great. I wish I had thought of it.

*Update: Per the comments below, after further inspection, apparently an index is a part of the final version.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Humans and dogs growing together., December 28, 2013
This review is from: Decoding Your Dog: The Ultimate Experts Explain Common Dog Behaviors and Reveal How to Prevent or Change Unwanted Ones (Hardcover)
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I have had dogs my whole life. And yet, I still learned quite a bit from this book. The biggest mind shift you are likely to make is the realization that we all anthropomorphize the mind of a dog. Dogs act and react inside of the canine mind, and we really need to stop assigning our values to their thought processes. The more successful you are at doing that, the more rewarding the relationship will be for both of you.

In these pages you will find the most recent advances in the study of canine behavior.
This is a combination of collated clinical observation and specific examples of these concepts in practice.
If you really want to climb into the noggin of your dog and foster a mutually beneficial relationship than I can't recommend this book highly enough.

You get the input of multiple veterinarians in a skillfully woven cloth, rather than a patchwork of differing views. The overall message here is both unified and accessible. I find myself going back for specific sections constantly.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This book debunks several long standing dog behavior myths – Alpha Dog No More, December 24, 2013
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This review is from: Decoding Your Dog: The Ultimate Experts Explain Common Dog Behaviors and Reveal How to Prevent or Change Unwanted Ones (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
If you still believe in the Alpha-Dog Myth you need to read this book. If you think a choke collar will teach you dog to heel – read this book. If you believe your dog is trying to punishing you by defecating on the carpet – read this book. If you think the he looks guilty after shredding your pillows – well you get the idea.

At its core this book tries to explain dog behaviors. It also tries to teach humans how to better understand and communicate with “Man’s Best Friend.” As the book teaches these communication skills it also debunks many long-standing dog behavior myths (alpha, dominance, force based training, etc).

The first part of the book deals more with selecting and training a new puppy; while the second part discusses how to deal with issues in adult dogs (jumping on visitors, pulling on the leash, clipping nails, brushing teeth, socialization, mental and physical exercise for you dog, etc). There are also extensive sections on dealing with aggression, separation anxiety, sound phobias, and compulsive behaviors.

But to me the most eye-opening part was the discussion on dog aging. I didn’t realize that dogs suffer from CDS (cognitive dysfunction syndrome), a condition similar to human Alzheimer’s disease.

So if you are getting a new dog, or if you have a dog with some frustrating habits, this book is well worth reading. The only negative thing I have to say about the book is that I found it a little dry (and just a tad boring). It is not a quick or an easy read, but it is a very educational and enlightening.
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57 of 70 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Figuring Out Fido, December 27, 2013
By 
Mary Esterhammer-Fic (Morgan Park, Chicago IL USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Decoding Your Dog: The Ultimate Experts Explain Common Dog Behaviors and Reveal How to Prevent or Change Unwanted Ones (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Dog training is a hot topic these days. There are more dog training books on the market than there are spots on Dalmatian puppies in a Disney film! (I'm even working on one, due to hit the shelves any day now. It's based on my experiences training my long-haired miniature Dachshund, Napoleon, using only positive reinforcement methods. I'm calling it "Don't Spank Your Wiener!")

Anyway, "Decoding Your Dog" is a pretty decent addition to the literature that's out there.

Full disclosure, first: I'm a dog owner, and I'm also a CVT (Certified Veterinary Technician) with a special interest in canine behavior. I'm pretty familiar with a lot of the training philosophies that have fallen in and out of favor over the past several years, and I've seen the results of poor training...and good training, with informed, engaged owners.

Having said that, I liked "Decoding" for the following reasons:

* The information is current and the authors have been thoroughly "vetted," heh-heh. Each chapter is written by members of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists.

* The format is appealing. Each chapter begins with a case study, and maybe a few other examples of a specific behavior issue. The authors then explain how to address the problem, putting it in context. This is not a "cookbook", and the authors really promote owners having a working knowledge of learning theory. They include side-bars with pertinent vocabulary and terms, as well as other questions that may come up.

*I appreciated the fact that geriatric dogs were discussed. Our dogs are getting better veterinary care, they're eating higher-quality food, and we owners are better informed than ever. So we see a lot of senior pets, and quality of life eventually becomes a concern.

*There's a range of topics, and eventually every dog owner will come across at least a few of the challenges mentioned in the book.

But now for the reason I gave only three stars:

* The Resource section at the end is a little light. Maybe by the time this book is available--I only read the advance copy--this will be fleshed out a little, but it seems like the list of recommended reading should include authors like Patricia McConnell and Karen Pryor, to name only two.

* Some specific products seem to be pushed, which is okay up to a point. But I think good training shouldn't rely on a lot of bells-and-whistles extras. I am a big fan of pheromone diffusers, and we use a Gentle Leader head halter with our Munsterlander. But sometimes "Decoding" verges into almost offering advertisements for certain items.

* I disagreed with some of the statements that some of the authors of some of the chapters made. For example, as to whether wolves are more intelligent than dogs, the text reads, "....wolves can't be all that smart as a species or they wouldn't have become endangered over much of their range..." What an oversimplification! Maybe Native Americans aren't all that smart as a people because, hey, they've become endangered over much of THEIR range, too!

*I also think the authors ducked a couple of hot-button issues such as the "dangerous breed" controversy. They kind of danced around this, and I know it's an awkward and volatile subject. But it IS a concern, especially in urban areas. And so-called dangerous breeds should be acknowledged so that these dogs, many of which make great pets, don't continually end up in the hands of inexperienced owners OR on death row.

I think this would be a good book to have on hand for the average dog owner who wants to have at least one general title on behavior. It isn't the best, and it isn't the worst, but it's a good starting point.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good resource, January 2, 2014
This review is from: Decoding Your Dog: The Ultimate Experts Explain Common Dog Behaviors and Reveal How to Prevent or Change Unwanted Ones (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I am the proud owner of a three year old puli. In their home country of Hungary, there are two sayings about this breed. The first is the one best known : "it's not a dog, it's a Puli." The second is more telling: "a well trained Puli is an affront to nature." As a herding breed, expected to operate on their own, pulik seem to be a bit stubborn.
My new to me two year old was no exception. Thankfully, this book and an open mind came to the rescue. It has taken the better part of a year, but she is coming along nicely.
The book taught me new ways of training - and thinking about training - my little girl. If you approach it with an open mind, this book can provide you a great resource.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars great for pet owners, not enough here for dog trainers, December 29, 2013
By 
Just Me (here and there across the USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Decoding Your Dog: The Ultimate Experts Explain Common Dog Behaviors and Reveal How to Prevent or Change Unwanted Ones (Hardcover)
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I was looking forward to this book because of some of the authors, such as Karen Overall, and indeed, some of the chapters have good information. This book is geared for the average dog owner, not a more advanced dog trainer. This is definitely a positive dog training approach, and that's great. Alas, some authors seem to have more book or theoretical knowledge and less actual dog training experience. Many authors use a clinical, positive but unemotional approach to their writing and it some cases, clearly their training as well. Dogs aren't "Lassie", but they aren't simple input-output machines either. Some "positive" trainers don't seem to share that viewpoint. For a great explanation of this, check out Denise Fenzi's blog post "The Happy Emotions - A Party For Two." Fenzi is an outstanding trainer.

In this book, each chapter has a different author. This is useful, in that if you like the approach of a particular author, you can look for more by the same author. On the down side, the book does therefor lack a consistency that may be helpful to a new dog owner.

I would highly suggest that this not be the only dog training/management book you get. If you want only one, Patricia McConnell's The Other End of the Leash would be a top choice. She has both knowledge and empathy, leading to a great understanding of dogs. A number of authors in Decoding Your Dog lack this, and it is vital to a truly "successful" relationship with a dog.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Must Read" for novice dog owner, January 27, 2014
By 
Richard M. Wallace (Spartanburg, SC USA) - See all my reviews
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I currently have three dogs, and over the past 30 years I have trained for Dog Agility, Retriever Fieldwork, Tracking, and Search and Rescue (area search). For the past seven years I have taught a course in my college's winter term entitled "Living with Dogs" which has the purpose of fostering responsible and effective dog ownership.

I became aware of this book only after our term had begun and the students had purchased two other required texts. I got the Kindle version on the day it was released and was so impressed that I bought (with my own money) copies for each of my 16 students - I don't know what stronger testimony I can give.

This is a book I would strongly recommend for anyone who is considering getting a dog. The fourteen essays cover various aspects of dog ownership, ranging from choosing a puppy or dog to dealing with a geriatric dog. All of the essays are written clearly and are easily accessible to readers of varying backgrounds. The book is also an excellent reference for dealing with the surprises which crop up with dogs.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dogs versus Wolves, December 29, 2013
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This review is from: Decoding Your Dog: The Ultimate Experts Explain Common Dog Behaviors and Reveal How to Prevent or Change Unwanted Ones (Hardcover)
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The authors begin with the premise that dogs, although descended from wolves do not act strictly like wolves especially, when considering a few years ago, the vast majority of what we knew about wolves was from captured animals and was far different from how wolf families lived in the wild.

Let may say that if you are a fan of the Cesar Milan school of dog training, you are going to have some trouble accepting the ideas the authors put forth in this book. They simply do not believe in the ALPHA Dog theory. For those novice trainers or those who maybe got their first dog recently the acceptance of what the author say isn't hard to accept, for intermediate trainers or advanced trainers, they may have some doubts about the theories postulated. Often the various authors quote various studies, but do not go into the hard data to back up their claims or for even the serious student in this field to see the protocols of the research. Let me say this is an edited book, so that each chapter is written by a different veterinarian[s]. They are all vets and are trying to promote essentially what is the field of animal behavioral psychology to which only vets may belong, so it is no wonder that the book is sanctioned by the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists. I am not saying I disagree with the various chapter authors only that the people doing the chapter reviews are the equivalent of union members reviewing the propriety of actions by other union members. I do agree with the VAST majority of what the individual authors espouse.

The book starts off a little slow but fairly rapidly finds its stride and makes for interesting reading. The way the chapters are presented allows one to stop at the end of a chapter and then begin again a different day without missing anything, as each chapter covers a particular area as chosen by that author, who is as I said earlier also a veterinarian.

One of my favorite chapters was Chapter 7 in which the authors go over:
1. Dogs don't jump up on you t establish dominance, but to show interest, recognition, and affection
2. The authors advise not to do what the dog wants without FIRST making them do something or some behavior you want to establish or fortify first
3. Don't vary the length of the leash while walking your dog by extending your arm, simply walk at a brisk pace but don't let the dog pull you. If he/she starts doing that stop and begin again. This probably varies some from what many dog training classes I have participated would direct, which is to make the dog walk around your right side, come to a sit and when it is paying attention to you begin you walk with a heel off the left foot.
4. Dogs were meant to hunt or find their food in the while, so putting some food in a Kong toy or some other brand, slows down their eating and actually gives them something to do to get their food in a more natural semblance of feeding in the wild.

All in all a quite nice book with unified themes by all the authors in general. It should probably be considered a welcome addition to the training library for most people. And it was written in easy to understand language.
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Decoding Your Dog: The Ultimate Experts Explain Common Dog Behaviors and Reveal How to Prevent or Change Unwanted Ones
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