58 of 58 people found the following review helpful
on January 18, 2006
My roomate made me read this book so that we're on the same page while training her puppy (a standard poodle, 6 mos.). I like the non-violent approach, and wholeheartedly agree that shocking, kicking, and hitting are abusive ways to train an animal. The positive reinforcement and clear techniques are great. Owens guides you through phases of mastering commands with clear instructions and what to expect. I found his methods of teaching the puppy who's in charge (establishing dominance) to be great because you don't have to be rough or aggressive to do it. This is with several different forms of witholding rewards/attention and restraint so that the dog learns that it gets cut out of the fun when it does something wrong.
Paul Owens studied yoga in India, and is very into some New Age ideas and methods. These, you can take or leave. The relaxation and focus techniques are good for me to keep me from over-reacting or forgetting that he's just a puppy and can't be expected to behave all the time. However, I will not be doing any yoga breathing and bonding with the dog or playing him music or sending him vibrations of love, peace, and acceptance. Sometimes, the author seems to forget that it's a dog and not a furry person with the emphasis on spiritual communion with your dog.
There are some things that he doesn't address, most likely because bigger behavioral problems that don't stop with training probably need to be addressed in a few personal sessions with a good trainer. With a large breed like ours, there are some specific concerns that aren't addressed. Anything our horse of a dog does is magnified because of his size. Jumping isn't just annoying, but dangerous. If he stands up, anything on any surface is accessible to him. Baby fences won't be an obstacle in a few months. Destructive behaviors may need a negative to make them stop. Ignoring the behavior won't save the kitchen or anything else he wants to mess around with. When we trained the lab I had growing up, we worked with an excellent trainer who used a positive approach similar to this one, but with the addition of some non-violent negative reinforcements like a firm NO and a light tap on the nose with a finger (it's annoying, not hurtful--tap yourself and see).
Should you buy this book? Yes. It's worth it for the second half where you get away from the philosophy and zen vibes and into the training. That part is excellent. This book is ideal for what you do at home with your puppy to enforce rules and teach obedience to commands. However, this book should not be your one and only source. Nothing can take the place of a few hours in person with a good trainer who works hands-on with you and your dog (if you're going somewhere to watch videos of what to do at home, find a better trainer). Your dog has a very unique personality, and a trainer will teach you how to curb bad behaviors in the most effective and efficient method for your particular situation.
144 of 154 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 2000
Paul Owens Nonviolint approach allows your dog to keep its personality. Where as the other methods break the dogs spirit. the old methods of controlling through domination is just that OLD. This book taught me many things I paid hundreds of dollers to learn by having a in-home-trainer,However this book continued on where my trainer left off. This book also helps you see things from the dogs mind of reasoning and understanding. I was able you use the lessons and get results in as little as 5 min. and as long as I practice what Paul tells us in this book I am a happy dog owner with a dog that obays me very well. There truly is no need for the old way of training and the proof is in this outstanding book. I can not praise this book enough. please if you are going to get a dog or have one already do yourself a favor and get this book.And please do not let any one tell you that those cruel training methods are better until you try this first, you will be amazed.I love the hide and seek game and the "find it" with my dog.
47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on December 24, 1999
This is a must have book for true animal lovers. Based on a philosophy of "Raise With Praise", Paul's approach is all about love... and let me tell you, it works! Paul covers every facet of caring for your dog, including: training, a truly healthy diet, and great insight into how dogs think.
I've read alot of books on dogs and this is by far the most original and compassionate approach I've seen. He really makes it fun! We trained our dog to sit, stay, come, crawl.. and absolutely had a blast doing it. His biggest asset seems to be that he really gets animals, he knows how they think and this has allowed him to develop a way to communicating with them that is positive and effective. Enjoy.
49 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on July 22, 2000
I liked this book very much. Paul does a great job of conveying that the best results come from a basic understanding of how dogs view the world and how they learn. It is a huge stretch to getting the humans past thinking and acting as though the secret to training companion dogs is imposing your will on a dog and then correcting it for "disobeying". Without knowing any better, many, many people think that the ONLY way to train a dog is by teaching it to avoid corrections. I think that is killing an ant with an anvil and happily, many other dog owners do, too. The only criticism I have is that the book may have a narrow appeal. Some may be turned off by the spiritual overtones. I found that aspect refreshing myself. It's pretty hard to learn how to use a clicker well by reading a book, but I guess it won't hurt anyone if the human screws up, right? If I had a client who was "into" a holistic approach, this would be my first pick.
147 of 169 people found the following review helpful
on March 30, 2004
As an owner and trainer of many dogs and cats, and as a person whose Ph.D. is partly psychology-based, I loved this book, but ...
The problem is that it best fits the person with ideal patience and ideal time-availability. It also best fits the person who does not have a very large, strong, determined, alpha-willed dog. There's really no secret here; education of animals (and people) includes both reward of desired behavior and negative reinforcement of unwanted behavior. It also depends in part on the genetic predisposition of the individual being trained. If there is enough time, and the dog is not a strong-willed alpha personality, working only with positive reinforcement can be effective. But many dog owners just don't have enough time, and some dogs are genetically aggressive, naturally domineering and stubbornly (even manipulatively) willful. My experience with dogs indicates that a few negative reinforcers are sometimes useful, and need not be harmful to the dog. For example, prong or choke callers need not be used harshly, but with dogs such as my 100 lb. male Bull Mastiff the extra control can sometimes be helpful because of his pulling strength and the toughness of his "bull" neck as he suddenly lunges after a bird or squirrel, etc.
The book's insightful comments on developmental psychology, explaining aspects of canine emotional and cognitive maturation at different ages are, alone, worth the book's price. Dogs, like children, best learn certain attitudes and behaviors during growth periods that occur at specific ages which the author outlines. He mentions, for example, that dogs are especially sensitive to negative input from eight to ten weeks of age, which is due to the type of brain development that occurs at this age. The author explains that negative-conditioning mistakes that occur at this age often require months or years to attempt to undo. Those of us who have adopted dogs that experienced unfortunate treatment during that age know that these "childhood" experiences in dogs often leave lasting behavioral scars that sometimes barely, if at all, can be undone.
Overall, this is an outstanding book, but the methods recommended work best for people with lots of time for patient training, and with dogs of relatively cooperative temperament.
36 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on June 16, 2000
Paul Owens has written a fantastic book on how to train your dog without changing who your dog is. I have trained many dogs, and his approach is by far the most fun, and best. He helps in the process by letting you know why things happen, which helps in the how of changing behaivor. It was incredible to see that dogs can and do learn without all the nasty methods that were taught for so many years as the only way. It is going to be my first present to any friend getting a puppy, and especially to those who adopt a rescue. His methods are great for problem solving and will help owners and dogs have a much more fulfilling relationship.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on August 20, 2004
If you only read one dog training book, The Dog Whisperer should be it. I have stacks of books about positive training on my coffee table, but this is the one that is wrinkled and dog-eared and splayed open from repeat reference. Not only is it a very practical reference with logical chapter sequence and an excellent index, but it's also an entertaining, informative, and eye-opening read. Raising a puppy or second-hand-dog can be very stressful at times, and Paul Owens emphasizes positive, non-violent approaches to eliminate this stress and make raising and training your dog fun, and surprisingly easy. Even more importantly, Owens offers thoughtful, comprehensive solutions to problem behaviors such as chewing, excessive barking, jumping up, and mouthing. What makes The Dog Whisperer so different from all the other training books I have is that Owens offers multiple solutions to each problem, recognizing that different things work for different dogs (and people!) For instance, Owens offers 12 approaches to barking, and 13 approaches to mouthing (puppy-nipping). I quickly identified which worked for my puppy and I, and used a combination of the techniques. My rescue puppy responded immediately and loves our training sessions. Within only 3 days, friends, family and strangers were oooohing and aaaaahing over his impressive "tricks" (sitting, lying down, and staying). Having trained 2 other dogs as a child with traditional techniques, it quickly became clear that this positive, non-violent approach is so much faster, more effective, and a million times more pleasant, fun, and stress-free. Working with The Dog Whisperer book and DVD is the very best gift you can give yourself and your dog.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
As a multiple dog owner with experience raising both large and small dogs, I find "The Dog Whisperer" to not only have its heart in the right place, but to be right on target in developing both a dog's loyalties and his/her obedience. I especially like that Owens focuses as much (or more) on training owners as training dogs. This is smart because so many people have been taught so many WRONG notions about dogs, like that beating a dog will bend it's will to you (as if that's a good enough reason to do so) or that dogs don't feel pain the way that we do, which is nonsense. Until we un-learn many of these bad "lessons," we will only succeed in raising a fearful dog that is less stable, less loving, and less co-operative.
That said, it's worth noting that this positive approach to dog training IS more of a long-term commitment, not one of those "4 hours and you're done" approaches that some books promise. And well it should be. After all, like raising a child, raising a dog to act properly even when you're not there requires more than simply making it fearful of doing something "bad" when you ARE there. Therefore, using this approach requires patience, time, a heart, and a brain. If you don't have all four, don't bother. In fact, if you don't have all four, you shouldn't even have a dog.
So, yes, I highly recommend "The Dog Whisperer," despite its corny title, to anyone who actually loves dogs. Used well, not only will you live a happier existence, but so will your dog.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on June 17, 2000
This book is an absolute must for the person who wants to train their dog and get results without physical correction which may cause trauma, distrust or break the chance for a wonderful bond with their pet. All of the basics are included and the book has excellent explanations and pictures of demonstrations. 5 stars in my book - thank you Paul Owens for taking the time to write this training book!
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on July 7, 2002
A. Neder from California said that the book recommends ignoring bad behavior. There's more to it than that. A little background in operant conditioning, like the book Don't Shoot The Dog by Karen Pryor can help. It's not that you allow bad behavior and allow it to continue. You instead learn how not to reinforce bad behavior. Sometimes you can do this by ignoring it. Sometimes other steps must be taken.