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The Dog Listener: A Noted Expert Tells You How to Communicate with Your Dog for Willing Cooperation Hardcover – July 24, 2001


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Standard dog training has long advocated the use of force choke collars, sharp smacks, harsh language. Fennell, a dog trainer in England for 30 years, wants to change all that. Expanding upon the theories of horse trainer Monty Roberts (the basis for The Horse Whisperer), Fennell believes one can best train dogs by emulating natural behaviors, that is, by treating them as they would treat each other in the wild. Her intelligent, straightforward and humane method has engendered controversy and increasing enthusiasm. After Fennel's dog Purdey went manic, injured Fennell's young children and had to be euthanized, she was fearful of owning a dog again. Lured back into it by the pleasure of showing spaniels, she adopted a high-strung young shepherd, Sasha, and investigated alternative training methods. Fennell's simple and succinct method posits that domesticated dogs are confused, believing themselves to be the pack leaders, and humans their subordinates. Fennell retrains dogs to accept a human as their alpha leader. She spurns the use of force, even in training language, employing instead a system of Pavlovian rewards. Those wanting true canine companionship will find Fennell's commonsense approach attractive and easy to apply with puppies as well as with older dogs. She addresses common problems, from separation anxiety to barking at guests to the mistrust of strangers that rescued dogs often harbor. Her knowledge and love of dogs is expansive and her concern for their well-being balances kindness and appropriate discipline. (Aug.)
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Fennell, a longtime dog owner, trainer, and champion show-dog manager, provides a comprehensive guide for creating peaceful coexistence between dogs and their owners. An advocate of nonviolent pet training, Fennell shows readers how to successfully train their canine companions using gentle, respectful techniques and also shares anecdotes and advice from her years of experiences (both good and bad). Fennell's techniques appear to deal efficiently with canine problem behaviors by teaching owners to establish leadership while eliminating separation anxiety, nervous aggression, and destructive behaviors, such as biting. She also notes ways to reassure overprotective dogs and much, much more. Fennel emphasizes that there is no quick fix for most of these behavior issues; her methods require time and a lot of patience. Although every training technique she outlines might not work with every dog, her book contains quite a lot of useful information. Most current or prospective dog owners would benefit from taking a look at it. Kathleen Hughes
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; First Edition edition (July 24, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060199539
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060199531
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (230 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #144,287 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Jan really understands how dogs think and act.
Deborah Price
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who owns a dog, or is thinking about buying a dog!
S. Andrews
This book is well written and easy to understand.
Royal D Friedly

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

100 of 106 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 11, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Jan has delivered a stunning piece of work here - her years of observation and research have enabled her to develop her technique of Amichien Bonding, the likes of which I have never before seen in dog training manuals.
Having read stacks of dog training books, and always feeling like there was something missing, I was left with my dog still barking at strangers, misbehaving off-leash, and howling for hours when I left for work. Jan explains it all, and how to fix it, in such a clear and easy way that readers are left wondering why they never thought of it that way before...
All the missing puzzle pieces are not only found in The Dog Listener, but assembled into a stunning portrait of the canine psyche. Jan explains how to enrich both our lives, and theirs, by learning how they think, and how to communicate with them in language they can understand. Her testimonial case studies are incredible and encouraging for owners with dogs who have similar problems.
Truly a breakthrough in training - changing the way we think about dogs, changing what we know about the way they think, and building a bridge between the two. A must for any dog owner, especially if the dog in question presents behavioral problems that seem to be unsolvable.
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49 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Jon on August 18, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I came home from work one day and my wife was excited to see me as she said, "come look at this." She called our dog, a seven year old Westie, into his area where he is always reluctant to go. But this day he walked right in without making a scene. She told me she had seen Jan Fennell on television that day and had simply tried one of the concepts she talked about. We got the book, and immediately our Westie has settled right in to our new pecking order, and has significantly settled down.
We are more than impressed with the insight that this book gives. It has greatly improved our relationship with our dogs, and I would recommend this book to any dog owners. Understanding the canine culture is fascinating.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Royal D Friedly on August 16, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book is well written and easy to understand. The frequent referance to wolf pack mentality is right on. I have watched PBS documentaries on wolf packs and observed my own two dogs and the behavioral similarity is astounding. I think Jan has nailed it with this book. I'm presently applying the techniques Jan has developed to my dogs and the results are as predicted. I recommend this book to anyone who is trying to gain control of their dog and to those who want to start out right with their new puppy. Dale Friedly
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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful By TundraVision on September 21, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Eureka! Jan Fennell has found a kinder, gentler, training paradigm that makes sense to the dog. It's mentor Monty Roberts' "Horse Whisperer" with no horses and no Bobby Redford.
Fennell's Thesis: Dogs are descended from wolves. Dog behaviour is still ruled by the wolf pack mentality. Domesticated dogs don't think they are a member of the human pack with which they abide, but rather that "their" humans are part of the dog's pack. When the human members of the pack behave unfathomably to the dog's brain, the dog feels compelled to become alpha dog by default, the "politics of the pack." The author points out that, like a 1 year old child, the dog is ill-equipped to be pack leader in a human world and oft-times becomes neurotic trying - with various and sundry bad manifestations of the stress. How, then, to "relieve the dog of its delusion of power?" The answer, asserts author Fennell, is Amichien Bonding. Many anecdotes and antidotes are provided in this Twofer (2 books in 1) edition: *The Dog Listener* and *The 30 Day Training Guide,* the latter implementing the insights of the former. This reviewer had many "A-Ha! That's why they do that!" moments reading this book. LucyIndaSky, my Baby Basset, and her older sister, Judy, the rescued Greyhound-mix, judge it 5 stars. We would also like a video! /TundraVision, Amazon Reviewer
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By C. Chapman on November 26, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Jan Fennell has offered the help I have been seeking for several years. As the owner of several English Springer Spaniels, I have run into several perplexing behavior problems that standard obedience training didn't seem to touch. These dogs have a strong will to dominate, and if it is not corrected, they can be quite difficult to have in a family setting. The usual confrontational methods have not worked to produce a self-controlled dog, and with one of our dogs turned out to be downright dangerous! Two of our dogs have bitten, and were close to being euthanized.
I recently took back one of the 'biters' for retraining, and am only several days into the process using Jan's methods. All I can say is "IT WORKS!"

Once we stop confusing our canine friends with the erroneous messages that human-kind sends to their faithful friends...they realize that WE are the Alpha leader, and it relieves them of the stress of trying to protect and look after US! They soon relax and enjoy a BETTER relationship with us, and we enjoy an obedient and well-mannered canine family member. If you only buy one book to help with training a puppy or adult dog, this should be it.
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77 of 89 people found the following review helpful By Sandra D. Peters on July 30, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Since I have studied human psychology, animal psychology has also fascinated me. I loved this wonderful book by an author who has definitely spent much time researching her canine subjects. So many trainers use an agressive, commanding approach to training and disciplining dogs, tossing them a treat as a reward. I thought about how this method would teach anything of value to a human, and the potential (and horrendous) results this method of training would bring. What would happen if people were kept tied up in the back yard, or someone kept yelling "no," in your face all day long? How would a human feel if they were slapped and hit every time they did something that was not acceptable or did not live up to someone else's standards?
I have disciplined my dogs (and cats) with the same loving kindness used in raising a child. I have had cats and dogs my entire life and the results are living proof this method works. Many pet owners who purchase a cute little puppy do not fully realize and understand the stamina and commitment involved in training a puppy. What it does take to train your canine friend is a lot of love, patience and encouragement. Hitting and slapping teach aggressiveness and mistrust; being yelled at teaches barking, being alienated from the family teaches loneliness, dispair and rejection. Love, acceptance and gentle discipline on the other hand, will allow your canine friend to develop into a happy, loving, sociable, well-behaved friend and companion. I very much liked this author's approach and any person who is a canine owner will benefit tremendously from this excellent book. It is highly recommended reading and definitely worth a five star rating.
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