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For the Love of a Dog: Understanding Emotion in You and Your Best Friend Hardcover – August 29, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Animal behaviorist, dog trainer, syndicated radio talk show host and prolific author on all things canine, McConnell (The Other End of the Leash) presents a compelling combination of stories, science and practical advice to show how understanding emotions in both people and dogs can improve owners' relationships with their pets. This is more than a simple dog-training book: much of what McConnell discusses concerns how dog owners can learn "the language" of dog by recognizing important signals and reading them correctly. She provides numerous helpful examples of how owners can observe dog behavior, especially differences in posture and facial expressions, in order to help dogs be better behaved and help dog owners to be better handlers; her discussion of the meaning of a dog's "tongue flicks" is alone worth the price of the book. Her overall goal is to help owners provide their pets with "a sense of calm, peaceful benevolence," and she skewers current dog-training fads that emphasize "dominance" over a dog. "Don't fool yourself: if you yell at your dog for something he did twenty seconds ago, you're not training him; you're merely expressing your own anger." (On sale Aug. 15)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Understanding what drives the behavior of our pet dogs is McConnell's goal. She teaches readers to understand the emotional environment of their dogs' actions and helps them to reprogram undesirable behaviors. This is not a book on how to train dogs, but McConnell's examination of cases from her veterinary practice, backed up by her scientific study of animal behavior, will help readers better understand their closest companions. Whether discussing separation anxiety, fear biting, or simple canine happiness, McConnell explains the emotional state of each dog and how this drives the observed behavior. One gentle Labrador was traumatized by an aggressive boy and had begun to growl and snap at all human males--he was cured by simple therapy involving habituation to nice behavior and treats from men and boys. A dog that was terrified of thunder was trained to go to his safe place--a heavily insulated, very quiet doghouse. McConnell's main message is for readers to observe their own dogs and to understand the emotions behind their actions, both good and bad. Nancy Bent
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1 edition (August 29, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345477146
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345477149
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (190 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #620,584 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

398 of 403 people found the following review helpful By Dmitri Bilgere on September 25, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I'm blown away by this book. I really liked McConnell's first book, "The Other End of the Leash," but this book blows even that away.

And here's why:

This book is an uncommon combination of 3 things that usually don't go together.

1) Entertaining and moving (yet educational) stories of dogs and their humans (many from McConnell's long career as an animal behaviorist),

2) Immediately useful knowlege about dog behavior and the "clues" dogs give about what is going on with them, and

3) Relentless scientific backup for what she says, while NOT being hard to read or "science-y."

For instance, do you know what it means when a dogs mouth is closed?

Do you know what it means if a dog is pointing her muzzle away from you, but looking in your direction?

Do you know what it means if a dog is pulling the corners of his mouth forward?

You should, because these are all critical clues about what the dog is going to do next -- it may even prevent you from being bitten by the next dog you reach out to pet!

Do you know the government-tested 30-second puppy-exercise regime that helps them grow into dogs that are gentle, flexible, and tolerant?

You should, it might make a huge difference in the next dog you get!

Along the way McConnell provides TONS of useful and entertaining knowledge about dog and human brains, how we learn, developmental phases (and how to impact them!), the nature of happiness (and how to be more happy!) and a whole lot more.

. . .even how to tell if a dog might be laughing at your hairstyle.

And it's so well written it's hard to put down.

I'm sorry if this sounds like an ad for the book . . . I'm not selling the book, just reviewing it, and I really liked it.

I think that if you like dogs and spend time with them, your relationships with them will be noticibly enriched by your reading this book.
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138 of 141 people found the following review helpful By Franklin D. McMillan, DVM on October 4, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Patricia McConnell has written a wonderful book filled with engaging stories and much practical advice for dog owners. She incorporates the latest research findings on the workings of the dog's mind in presenting her own cases from her behavior counseling service. Her discussion of counterconditioning covers an extremely valuable concept that is not stressed (or even utilized) enough by other behaviorists and trainers. This technique is invaluable and of nearly limitless potential in alleviating many emotional distresses and disorders in dogs.

Especially pleasing to see is that in her discussion of counterconditioning and other techniques the author diverges from the decades-old approach of addressing "behavior problems" (a term that should be killed off and unceremoniously buried - it's not the animal's problem any more than if your husband had a habit of talking too loudly to your liking would you tell your friends that he had a behavior problem) by focusing on simply eliminating the behavior. This mechanistic behaviorism approach may be effective in eliminating the behavior but frequently does nothing to relieve the dog's underlying emotional distress that is causing the behavior. For example, if a dog is suffering from loneliness because he is tied up alone in a backyard and barks endlessly for human attention and companionship there are plenty of ways to eliminate the barking. But there is only one correct one: alleviate the emotional pain of loneliness. McConnell understands this and focuses on this underlying emotional distress when working with the dogs to change unwanted behavior.
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76 of 81 people found the following review helpful By Eddie Landsberg VINE VOICE on September 17, 2007
Format: Paperback
I made the mistake of getting the audio book expecting a light but informative read... big mistake: this is one read chock full of morsels... the type of book that has stuff you want to come back to, cross reference, read backwards and forwards on, and really get into, and that's why I like this book so much... Though written for a lay audience, after reading this book you may very well find yourself wanting to do what the author does (technically speaking she's an animal beahviorist, but her approach is so multi-disciplinary, you'll find yourself dabbling in a wide variety of fields from social psychology, animal beahvior to the neurosciences and beyond.) And yes... there are heard warming doggie stories that draw you into the heavy anecdotes about how the chemistry of our brains and our pets brains make us think and behave the the way we do... McConnell also makes some compelling arguements that may very well change the way you think as well... or atleast how you read, understand and react to your dog. - - though not a how-to book, she does offer plenty of ideas... in fact, I'd say that although this is not a dog training book, I wouldn't suggest getting a puppy, and training your dog UNTIL reading through it. (I got a real kick out of her suggested experiment with lifting your dog's back leg and noting how his licks... its true!)

(Note: some of her conclusions may have to be taken with a grain of salt... but they will get you thinking.) All in all, this is one book that never gets boring... and is definitely puppy chow for the medula oblongada (if you don't know what that is she'll explain.)

Think of it as EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE for doglovers!
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