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Teaching the Dog to Think: My Year of Dog Agility Training with My Collie, Willow Paperback – December 20, 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

A skilled writer, Davis tells her tale with intimacy as she casually converses with her reader…In her kind, cheerful treatment, she expresses honest thoughts about her own perceived shortcomings as a pet owner, as highlighted by the training experience. Through the detailed examination of Davis’ experience, readers will not only comprehend her expanded knowledge of spirit and soul, but also her feelings of failure and, most significantly, her reinforced attachment to her pet…In the end, Davis’s memoir is as much about the human spirit as it is about dog training [and is] an enjoyable look at the connection between people and their dogs.

Review

A spirited, lighthearted foray into agility training . . . A skilled writer, Davis tells her tale with intimacy . . . a worthy read.--Kirkus 
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 242 pages
  • Publisher: Climbing Ivy Press (December 20, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0983449201
  • ISBN-13: 978-0983449201
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,706,859 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

KIMBERLY DAVIS is an award-winning writer and the author of the chapbook Alchemies of Loss, and of the memoirs The Call of the Small and Teaching the Dog to Think. She was the winner of the 2009-2010 James Wright Poetry Award. Previously Davis authored the discontinued blog, Kim's Craft Blog, a blog about creative writing craft and the writing life. Davis splits her time between Boston and New York. For more information, please visit her personal website at http://kimberlysdavis.com/.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a beautifully written story about a collie named Willow and his handler, author and teacher Kim Davis, during a year of change. The story begins with Willow attending an agility training class, where he learns to navigate obstacles such as walking on an elevated plank. This type of obedience training rewards desired behavior as opposed to older methods that advocate controlling the dog with for example, a pull to the choke collar.
Kim discusses the reward method in detail as Willow becomes a more responsive and obedient dog. She comes to understand how and why the technique works and she applies its principles to her own life. She gives her son time for a favorite hobby when he finishes homework as opposed to demanding it be done now, as many of us parents do. She applies the technique to her creative writing students by singling out good writing and having them "do more of this", in order to coax new levels of accomplishment.
The story is funny, heartwarming, and thought provoking. It winds along many surprising and pleasurable paths. It offers information we can use in our own lives to become more thoughtful people. Read the book and take a walk with Kim along the road of self-discovery, through the woods of south coastal Massachusetts, the scent of the sea in the air, with Willow running ahead but looking back for guidance on which way to turn.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book and I don't even have a dog. I started reading it because the subject was intriguing. I do believe that animals have their own intelligence and that we can communicate with them. I loved the emphasis on reward/positive reinforcement and it confirmed my teacher husband's talk about this. Unlike a few readers, I found the author's admissions of problems dealing with control issues and the need to excel rather informative, and I think her brave to admit them. And I particularly enjoyed how she used rewards with her son. All in all Definitely worth a read.
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Format: Paperback
This book is certainly an enjoyable and well-written read about the relationship between human and canine. But it's more than that, too--it's also a thought-provoking examination of relationships in general, how to coax the best from others while being true to self.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book- there's so few agility themed books that aren't just training books. This is NOT a training book, which apparently confused some previous reviewers. Nowhere is that indicated in the subtitle or summary. It's meant to be a memoir. It is frustrating at first- I wanted to scream at the author as she talks about how she used to think of/train dogs. But I knew she was telling us so that we could see the change her viewpoint went through as a result of agility and positive training techniques, so I made myself stick with it and it was worth it. It's an enjoyable read and I would recommend it to agility enthusiasts and dog lovers.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I liked this book so much. I have been through the process of training a dog for a sport and I could identify with all of the writer's experiences in her agility classes. Her information on historic dog training covered ground I had read before, but she left little out and I learned more than I thought. The description of clicker training almost made me want to go back and try again. I had never learned the proper way to do it. The struggle with Willow's health problems was suspenseful and interesting. This book is beautifully written and I highly recommend it.
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I borrowed this book for my kindle (I'm an amazon prime member) I was just browsing for "dog training books", this came up. I thought Hmmm, sounds interesting.

It is no exaggeration to say that I changed my style of teaching my dogs! After reading this book cover to cover, I did clicker training with my young dog. First thing I did was "down." She's had a decent down, but I've always had to stoop down and lure her with a treat.

*5* minutes and she was dropping down when I asked for it.

the one thing that was kind of odd was when she was training willow for the dogwalk in agility. Her trainer had her luring Willow onto the "plank" I was wondering why bother? Just use shaping?

Joe Fisher
Kalispell, MT
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I absolutely loved this book, it was insightful, funny and informative. I have 6 titles on my Aussie, and currently training both my Aussies in agility, and this book was great. If you did training as a kid, then grew up before you started up again, boy have things changed as far as methods are concerned.
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I can honestly say I can realate to this book having trained dogs in the old way and am now embarking on the new method. I found the book amusing and easy to read and relate to. It also helped me understand some of the aspects of the new way of training that have not been explained fully in my recent induction into things like 'clicker' training. Thank you so much for a very enjoyable and informative book.
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