Top critical review
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Not well organized, kind of new-agey, too much talking not enough training
on March 26, 2012
I ordered this book as a companion to My Smart Puppy and read that one first. Maybe it's unfair to compare them but this book really falls short of the two. For one, the other book is very well organized separating each chapter into levels according to how much your dog already knows. They are further separated into sections regarding the types of exercises you do, for example "space" exercises which teach your dog to respect your boundaries whether in regard to your person or the cookies on the kitchen counter.
This book is very loosely organized, one minute you could be covering house breaking and the next you could be covering relaxation techniques (for you, not your dog!) You really need to read this cover to cover to get all the pertinent information regarding one topic or stage of your dog's development, you can't just refer to a chapter or you'll miss something. Sections tend to bleed together and there's quite a bit of redundancy and rambling. For example, the author pushes exercise all throughout the book. Exercise is important, obviously, but it gets mentioned repeatedly in a way that sounds like she has already prejudged you to be a lazy owner who doesn't exercise their dog enough. Since I don't even have a dog yet, and this is not Ms. Cleo from the Psychic Hotline, I found this condescending and annoying to read again and again.
When it comes to the relaxation techniques for people (not your dog) I think it's wholly unnecessary to talk about yoga, diet, or what have you. I get that in order to be a good teacher to my dog, I need to be calm and keep anxiety, anger, tension, etc. out of my verbal and physical commands; that's good advice. I don't need an entire section to tell me how to relax. Everybody is inevitably going to get frustrated sometimes, but I'm not going to break into the crouching lotus position in the middle of the dog park. The other book gives some practical advice in this respect: take a deep breath and then take a break. Don't teach angry, always end training sessions upbeat, and keep them short leaving your dog wanting more. This is the practical advice I'm looking for. There is way too much nonsense in this book.
The worst thing about this book is the lack of exercises. You don't start learning commands until halfway in and then it stops again to go over more theory, only to go on to a tricks section. This is not a complete enough training program to cover all or even most the challenges people frequently have with dogs and puppies. The other book covered everything I could think of and more, including alternative solutions on what to do if your dog acted unexpectedly causing you to fail to an exercise. It tells you exactly how to break down the command into even smaller steps that your dog could more easily accomplish if it couldn't understand it all in one go. I have had some (sweet) dogs who were dumb as bricks so I can anticipate how useful this would be.
In short, this is not a very complete book, contains entirely too much theory and not enough practical advice. I would definitely not recommend this to anybody who is raising a puppy for the first time.