Top critical review
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Never rely on an author's "credentials"!
on April 13, 2004
I had heard of this book, and being on a neverending quest for better canine health, wellbeing, and communication (as evidenced by my other reviews!) I decided to add it to my "stack" of read-and-rates.
There is nothing new, novel, or remotely remarkable about this book. But less than average writing, poor illustrations, and out-of-date techniques are among some of its numerous flaws. I approached this book initially because it was listed under "Dogs -- Behavior" AND "Dogs -- Training." But really if anything, it falls under choosing and caring for a new puppy!
There are 10 chapters in this book. The first is more of an "extended intro," second is Dibra's 8 Fundamental Pack Behaviors (nothing any reading/thinking person wouldn't know *yawn*), and chapters 3-6 are all about choosing and caring for a new puppy! WHOA! Wasn't this listed under "Dogs -- Behavior"? Just wait, it gets better!
Chapter 7 finally gets to the "behavior" portion I crave. But I was severly dissappointed. The illustrations are terrible, if not incomplete, and the description of basic doggy body language is less-than-adequate. He doesn't even BEGIN to go into the complexities of certain types of dogs, or "dialects" as we like to call them! But all in all, if you have never read any texts on behavior, it may possibly be a wee bit helpful to you.
Unforgivable Sins in this book:
· Dibra's puppy-buying guide relies HEAVILY on AKC as a "starting point," saying you can use them for breed research, breeder referral, and a reference point. Not so. AKC offers generalities like breed standards (useless when matching a dog to your lifestyle!) and a list of breeders who may or may not produce quality dogs. This generally wouldn't bother me so much, but he KEEPS referring to it!
· Dibra recommends that at 6 months a dog be fitted with a "control collar"... which is a lame way of saying "choke chain." He says in chapter 8 (pg 143) "It goes without saying that training can't begin without the proper equipment: training control collar and leash ... Otherwise you have no control of your dog." Oh really? hmmm... I've never used a correction collar and I compete in agility, which takes a high degree of focus and control.
· I was disgusted by his use of the choke collar in general, such as when teaching heal, continually pop the collar at intervals to remind your dog to stay with you. What, is it a reward now? He also mentions that it is not punishment, it is correction, and that punishment makes a dog "shut down." I'm here to tell you, I have a dog that "shuts down" when you tug on his nylon martingale accidentally! I know several others who shut down when you correct them verbally! How do you deal with that?
· He is against any other training device and doesn't even cover them except to say they "backfire." Please be open minded! Even I teach methods for equipment I don't agree with!
· A minor fault: he refers to the veterinarian as the ultimate reference for doggy health. I'm here to tell ya (as a vet tech student and natural raiser) vets don't know everything! And above all else, who knows your animal better than YOU!
I was severely disappointed with this book to the point that I wrote down the things as I found them (hence the quote). There are way more "red flag" quotes in the book. I can't believe this man teaches celebrities how to handle their dogs for $300 an hour. I know I will do without his help...
Want a better book which is REALLY about behavior?
...read Stanley Coren's "How to Speak Dog"
Want a better book which is REALLY about communication?
...read Suzanne Clothier's "Bones would Rain from the Sky"