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92 of 100 people found the following review helpful
on May 12, 2007
The first 50 pages of the book speak more about Tamar than about dogs, which has caused some to question whether this is a training book or an autobiography. However, the rest of the book is training. The bio part is light reading, but it doesn't add much to understanding her training philosophy. She talks about learning from watching wolves in the Israeli desert, but doesn't describe those observations in any detail (and what she does mention later suggests she has only a rudimentary understanding of wolf behavior). She talks about her parents' infidelity, which adds nothing to the book. It is short and harmless, however.

Her training section is also fairly lightweight, with short discussions of familiar positive training techniques. I have read dozens of training books, and this one feels like the author took different parts of many books, distilled them down, and put them in her own. Nothing is new, and nothing is discussed in any depth. The barking chapter, for example, only offers one technique. It simply doesn't add anything new to the positive training literature.

A beginner can glean some basics from this book. The methods are positive (though the author is a bit more balanced in that she does use verbal corrections - however, as in much of the book, she doesn't go into any detail describing them; she also mentions the importance of leadership). There is some silliness in here (she praises a dog by saying the behavior over and over in a happy voice - "sit sit sit sit sit" - how does this help the dog? You want your dog to respond to the word "sit" by sitting. Doesn't saying "sit" several times while the dog is actually sitting just confuse the issue? She also perpetuates the "eat something before you feed your dog" myth - unless you're eating from the same carcass, it really isn't important! You are the one providing the food, that's what really matters). But it is harmless silliness, and may lead newbies to other positive training books that have more detail (I highly recommend Outwitting Dogs: Revolutionary Techniques For Dog Training That Work!; [[ASIN:0793805481 Parenting Your Dog;It's Me or the Dog: How to Have the Perfect Pet; and everybody should read The Other End of the Leash).
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55 of 65 people found the following review helpful
The book is a narrative about the author's life experiences that led her to become a dog advocate and trainer, and it is full of little stories and great examples that become an innuendo to how to teach a dog certain behaviors. Because of this unusual format for a training book, you not only remain interested, but also gain good understanding of why dogs behave the way they do. After having read this 200 page book, I was amazed how much I remembered. I was able to implement many tips without having to refer back to the book. Finally, it's worth mentioning that the book is very humorous and makes you laugh heartily.
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54 of 66 people found the following review helpful
on April 30, 2007
I just wanted to say that I like and endorse using play and positive training methods and techniques for dog training as described in Tamar's book. And I think she is a wonderful person doing good work. However, I don't think there's anything new or revolutionary in this book that hasn't already been written in the last 10 years. Nor do I find it detailed or descriptive enough to really give readers a true understanding of dogs and why they do the things they do. There's brief moments and discussions about it, but it never goes deep enough to give the reader a real answer to why their dogs behave the way they do. Also, I find it disconcerting that she is so critical of other dog trainers, as if they are all abusive. I definitely agree that what she has witnessed in her years from some dog trainers was definitely abusive behavior. However, I believe that she was so affected by these events that it took her to the extreme opposite end of the training spectrum, thereby not providing the most balanced point of view.

I think that following the path of least resistance in dog training, and using as much positive reinforcement as you can are wonderful and things I definitely endorse highly. I just don't think that this book goes in depth enough to provide any information that's really new. So if you are looking for more of an introduction to dog training and would like to know about Tamar's story and how she became who she is today, then this would be a good book for you. But if you are looking for more in depth information that goes beyond a quick overview of basic training ideas, then look elsewhere, as this book really is more of an autobiography than a real dog training book.
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on July 4, 2007
I skimmed this book at Sam's Club and decided not to add it to my extensive dog book library for several reasons.

Number One is the extensive personal information which I thought was superfluous and silly. I suppose the publisher liked that stuff, and thought it would sell more books. Dog training books are all the rage right now, and I suppose publishers, not knowing anything about dogs, think they'll sell more books with all that touchy-feely stuff (including the training information).

Number Two was when I read a sentence in one of the earlier chapters that said something to the effect of "When I opened the Loved Dog Cage-free Daycare...." I wouldn't want anyone who believes "cage-free" daycare is acceptable (or preferable) to have anything to do with my dogs, and I don't want my training clients reading that. Anyone worth their salt in the dog daycare business knows that downtime (time away from the other dogs, in a crate) is not just a luxury during the day for the dogs. It is a vital necessity. It is not healthy or safe for dogs to play all day. Playtime (which must be completely supervised by a competent adult at all times) should be broken up several times a day by crated quiet time, for one. But also, where do dogs in "cage-free" facilities sleep at night? Boarding dogs should be kennelled when not under supervision.

"Cage-free" sounds so positive, and appeals to "furparents" because they think (misguidedly) that crates are mean. Unfortunately, many people who know little about dogs have bought into the doggy daycare boom and opened facilities because it seems like easy money. I'm not saying Tamar is one of these necessarily, but she is definitely wrong about "cage-free." It's like "no-kill": it's a term that means little, but gets people to give money because it sounds so nice.

This whole new crop of dog training books seems to really be playing into the "revolutionary" (not) tactics that use treats and play to train. As others have said, treats and positive reinforcement have been used in training for years. They are the foundation for training any new behaviors.

There are plenty of better books about training out there. Brian Kilcommons and Sarah Wilson have written several, as well as John Ross. As for her Oprah endorsement, I believe Tamar is Oprah's attempt to appease the "positive" trainers who flooded her with complaints about her endorsement of Cesar Millan.

There are certainly some things in the book I agree with, but not enough to endorse it. It is possible to "love dogs," and treat them as dogs, and even have them respect you, by including non-abusive discipline in a training regimen. I don't see the need to villainize other trainers to get your information out there. You can like Cesar or hate him, but he has NEVER said an unkind word about any other trainers or authors, even when they've slammed him. That's class.

I want dogs to get the training they need. I really do. There are many ways to train positively and get results in a quicker time frame than what is suggested here.
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29 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on April 26, 2007
I strongly recommend this book. It's much more than just a training manual. It's about how to show love to your dog. The author's story about her not knowing how to use the toilet in Bangkok almost broke my heart, for it demonstrated the confusion that all dogs must feel when being house-trained, yet reminded me how severe I used to be with my own dogs' "mistakes". They want to please you, but they don't know what to do! Plus, her observations of wolf behavior clearly demonstrate that you don't have to be aggressive to train your dog.

I guarantee that, after reading this book, you'll be a lot more understanding of your dog's behavior, a lot more patient and, if possible, you'll love your dog even more!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 7, 2007
This book doesn't go in-depth enough as a training book, and really has nothing new to say that other authors haven't said before and with more clarity. I'm glad that the celebrity bandwagon has promoted "playful and nonaggressive" (and suprememly effective) training methods this time around, but look to other authors such as Jean Donaldson (The Culture Clash: A Revolutionary New Way to Understanding the Relationship Between Humans and Domestic Dogs)), Ian Dunbar How to Teach a New Dog Old TricksBefore and After Getting Your Puppy: The Positive Approach to Raising a Happy, Healthy, and Well-Behaved Dog, Patricia McConnell Family Friendly Dog Training: A Six Week Program for You and Your Dog and Pam Dennison The Complete Idiot's Guide to Positive Dog Training for more user-friendly books.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 9, 2007
This is the best book ever written about dogs. I have tried several behaviors and they work. I have a pug-very smart dog. He has responded very well to all of Tamer's suggestions. I have purchased copies to give as gifts. Great Great Book.
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27 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on April 26, 2007
I'm the proud parent of 2 furbabies, and have tried a popular alternative method in training them. This method only instilled fear in our dog family members, and we felt it was far too negative.

After reading Tamar's book and implementing her training methods, we saw many positive results. These tips work, and our dogs are much happier! The book has much to offer if you love your dogs and consider them to be part of the family.

I am back to purchase additional copies for friends. (BTW- Tamar was on Oprah today demonstrating how to teach your dogs good manners and good habits!)
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24 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on April 26, 2007
This book is great! I've never written a review before, and after seeing Tamar Geller interviewed on "[...]", I went, bought the book, and read it cover to cover. The emphasis on "listening" to your dog and paying attention to your dog's needs in a loving, nurturing way, is so needed. Instead of us training our dogs and trying to "humanize" them, this is a way for our dogs to live in our lives in the most loving, supportive way. Tamar really gets that dogs unconditionally love us, and WANT to please, because it's their nature - not because they need to be scared or exhausted, and in that way, unnaturally forced to "obey" us.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who's ever had a dog, or who is thinking of getting their first pet.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
It seems to me that Tamar Gellar is an authentically sweet, totally dedicated, dog-loving dog trainer. There's nothing especially wrong with this book, other than the title, which catches and gets stuck on the tongue for some reason, or her approach to training, except the use of spray bottles and the idea that it's okay to yell (no, not "yell" - SCREAM) at a dog. And frankly the genuine horror she describes at viewing some of the tactics used by K-9 trainers in Israel is perfectly understandable. What bothers me about this book isn't the content so much as how it's being promoted. Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, says Gellar's approach to dog training is "nothing short of a revolution," which is utterly ridiculous. He also says that her Pavlovian style has brought dog training forward into the 21st Century. Uh, pardon me, didn't Pavlov and Skinner do all this back in the 1920s and 30s?

So why the fake build up to what is essentially a slightly more punitive, less pristine version of "positive" training methods promoted by Ian Dunbar, Pat Donaldson, and others? It seems obvious to me that Gellar has been elected by the Humane Society to counteract the popularity of The Dog Whisperer (whom they hate), because just like Cesar Millan, Gellar has worked with Oprah's dogs. They're not promoting her because she's a truly innovative trainer (she's not). They just want to use her Oprah connection to knock off Cesar. And that's hype. Bad hype.

The thing is, for all his lack of truly understanding dogs, at least from the higher level of awareness set out in Kevin Behan's groundbreaking philosophy (found in Natural Dog Training), Cesar Millan is a true phenomenon. He's not made up. Yes he's been hyped like crazy in the media, but there's no getting around the fact that he has a gift. He can do things with just his body language and the flick of an eyebrow that few other trainers can. The only problem is it that what he does isn't based on the higher forms of canine behavior found when wolves are in-synch while hunting together as a cohesive social unit (which is the genesis of the pack instinct, by the way). Instead Millan bases his approach on the behaviors of wolves and dogs when they're in conflict over resources (which is actually rare in wild wolves, and even rarer in happy, well-adjusted doggies). As a result Millan doesn't really heal or rehabilitate troubled dogs; he just puts them under his magician's spell temporarily.

Gellar says that after leaving the Israeli army she took part in a study on wolf behavior where she watched the way wild wolf parents really behave, how they gently teach and play with their young, and how they don't act aggressively or dominant toward their offspring. This is great stuff, whether she's trying to differentiate herself from Millan or not. But it's nothing new. This has been known for some time and has been integrated into the training paradigms of a lot of working dog trainers for years. (It's even a key feature of my mystery novels, believe it or not!) Still, given that wolf parents don't dominate or punish their offspring, one has to wonder why shpritzing a dog isn't seen as physical punishment in Gellar's view, and where the hell those wild wolves she bases her training on get their spray bottles in the first place? And the idea that a dog's authentic nature is part wolflike and part toddlerlike (?) is laughable. What strand of the wolf's DNA does the toddler part come from?

Still I like that Gellar is trying to approach training from the perspective of the way real wolf packs operate (though I don't think she has a clue about why they operate the way they do, or how to translate the real wolf model into effective dog training). And sadly, I don't think she's up to the task the Humane Society has set for her of competing with Cesar Millan, his popularity, or his success. It just seems to me that if you're going to choose a knight to enter the lists against Millan you've got to do better than this sweet, good-natured, kewpie doll. All Cesar would have to do is put Gellar in a room with a highly aggressive dog (as long as the paramedics were on speed-dial). And while he'd be able to control such an animal within a few seconds (albeit with brutality, not intelligence), Gellar would likely be left crying and bleeding, holding a ripped bag of chicken treats and an empty shpritz bottle. It wouldn't be pretty.

It's sad because Gellar is probably a nicer person underneath it all; she's just not the "great white hope" of dog training the Humane Society desperately wants her to be...

I give her three stars for her convictions, and for at least being on the right track.
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