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The Other End of the Leash: Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs Paperback – AC-3, April 29, 2003

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (April 29, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 034544678X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345446787
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (477 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,720 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

The Other End of the Leash begins with an eloquently simple premise: "All dogs are brilliant at perceiving the slightest movement that we make, and they assume each tiny movement has meaning." With that in mind, all of Dr. Patricia McConnell's recommendations for communicating with your canine make immediate sense. Don't we all automatically bend forward when coaxing a dog to come and play? Break eye contact when we wish to avoid a confrontation? While these instinctive behaviors are right on target, a number of other habits aren't so positive, and McConnell helps us break them with both humor and common sense.

Chapters are categorized by senses such as sound, sight, and smell; specific pack behaviors such as dominance and play also merit their own sections. McConnell uses the same humor and patience she recommends with dogs on her readers. Whether she's referring to maggots as "a value-added commodity in canine economics" or ruminating on attempts to verbally cue her dogs to exit the house one at a time, her wise and gently self-deprecating book brings training--of both dogs and humans--to new levels. Jill Lightner --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

It matters greatly that people who love dogs understand enough about them to provide a good environment, writes McConnell (Feeling Outnumbered? How to Manage Your Multi-dog Household) in her thoughtful exposition on improving human-canine communication. An animal behaviorist and adjunct professor of zoology at the University of Wisconsin Madison, McConnell offers sound advice for dog owners: Pay attention to your own behavior. Believe me, your dog is. Drawing on anecdotes from her professional practice (she specializes in canine behavior problems), research into the work of other dog trainers and personal experiences with her beloved Border collies, the author explains how a dog might be misinterpreting signals from its owner. For example, although humans express affection through hugs, a dog may feel threatened by them. McConnell also provides tips on how to play safely with dogs (she recommends games of fetch rather than rough-and-tumble wrestling) and how to get them to do what you want (the best way to get a dog to stop demanding attention is simply to break off visual contact). She has harsh words for trainers who tell owners to establish dominance over dogs by behaving aggressively to them when they are young, and also for owners of puppy mills. These dog factories, she says, create damaged animals and unsuitable pets. This is a helpful guide for pet owners by a specialist who clearly loves her work. B&w photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Patricia McConnell, Ph.D., is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Zoology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an expert applied animal behaviorist. Her company, Dog's Best Friend, Ltd., specializes in family dog-training and treating aggression in dogs, and she is an immensely popular speaker around the country. She is the co-host of Calling All Pets, an animal behavior advice show syndicated to a hundred public radio stations, and works daily with four dogs (three border collies and a Great Pyrenees) on her sheep farm outside of Madison. Her Web site is

Customer Reviews

Highly recommended to all dog owners.
Harry and Sally
It explains very clearly how we can better understand canine and human behavior to better communicate with our dogs.
Adrienne M. Kabanuk
Book was very informative and an easy read.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

526 of 534 people found the following review helpful By S.G. Miller on June 11, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Owning an embarrassing number of dog training/behavior books and having kept Border Collies for a long time, I feel qualified to say that if you only bought one book on canine behavior, this would be it. Dr. McConnell provides a clear and lucid explanation of why dogs behave and respond as they do -- all the while being careful to make note of the ambiguities and idiosyncratic nature of both canine and human behavior. There are no 'magic formulas' here. But there are many guidelines and explanations of why some things tend to work, while others tend not to. The strength of this book is that it provides an understanding of why dogs respond, allowing the reader to refine his/her behaviors to better communicate with dogs. This focus on human behavior and how dogs interpret it provides unusual insight into effective interaction and training. Extensive experience and academic preparation in animal behavior and communication have provided McConnell with an exceptional understanding of how much of what we do in interacting with dogs is actually counter-productive because dogs see the world quite differently than primates do. Changing some of my behaviors after reading this book, I could almost see my three Border Collies thinking, "Well, about time you figured that out."
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231 of 235 people found the following review helpful By A reader on March 26, 2006
Format: Paperback
"The other end of the leash" is a book that could easily disappoint the purchaser if they did not know what they were buying. This is not a book on the practicalities of how to train your dog. Ms McConnell does not tell you how to make spot sit, down or fetch, or tell you how to teach him competition obedience. It is also not a book on the theory of teaching dogs, or on fixing behavioural problems. You will not hear about the benefits of positive reinforcement versus punishment in this book, or learn how to stop your dog from chasing the postman.

However, if you accept this book for what it is, it is truly wonderful and quite unique. "The Other End of the Leash" is simply a informal discussion on the similarities and differences between canine and human communication. McConnell has studied human behaviour as well as dog behaviour, and has come to the conclusion that many behaviours and verbal tones that seem friendly and natural to humans are aversive to our canine companions.

When used inappropriately, these human signals can trigger a fearful or aggressive reaction in dogs. Less seriously, using inappropriate body language or vocal tone can undermine our obedience work. When teaching a recall for example, signals that might seem appropriate to a human (leaning forward, looking directly at the dog and barking a loud cheerful "come!") can in fact inhibit the dog from approaching.

This book also contains one of the most sensible discussion of dominance that I have ever read. McConnell contends that dominance is a much misused but still useful concept. She discusses the way that we can mistakenly give up our "Alpha" status to our dogs by using the wrong body language, and explains the severe behavioural problems that can be caused when we do this.
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291 of 302 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 10, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a book that needs to belong in the library of every dog lover who truly wants to understand the behavior of his/her dog. This is not a training manual. But I suspect it should be required reading for anyone wishing to better understand and train their dog. Please be open minded when you read this book and throw away the traditional WWII era thinking about dog training and behavior. Patricia truly cares about dogs and it is clear in every page of this book. Buy this book, read it, and read it again. It will open your eyes and heart to a new loving relationship with your dog. Every chapter is full of valuable information you should not be without. The chapters about body language (of humans) and sounds were so valuable that I instantly was able to have my dog come to me when called 100% of the time, even when in the middle of a squirrel chase!! Thanks Patricia for your masterpiece.
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105 of 111 people found the following review helpful By James D. DeWitt VINE VOICE on October 18, 2006
Format: Paperback
Patricia McConnell is probably best known the co-host of Wisconsin Public Radio's "Calling All Pets." But she has also written a series of books. "The Other End of the Leash" is probably the best known. As an ethologist specializing in canines, she brings a different, professional viewpoint to people's relations with their pets.

Her point is simple: dogs and humans both communicate, but because we are very different animals, we often misread each other's nonverbal cues. The nonverbal greeting signals for a human, for example, are threat signals to a dog. What she does is help dog owners learn to send the nonverbal messages they intend to their dogs, to speak to dogs in the nonverbal dialog that dogs understand.

It's an important, even critical point, in dealing with dogs. Mixed signals, unintended signals and the wrong signals can confuse a dog, and even trigger hostility and attack. It's especially important for stranger dogs. Her points can help you a lot in dealing with dogs.

But what this book isn't is a primer on training your dog. It's a guide to dog behavior, it's not a book on how to train your dog. Make no mistake, Dr. McConnell's insights can be of immense help to you in training and dealing with dogs. A dog that is relaxed and comfortable, that isn't getting the wrong nonverbal signals, is easier to train. But it's not a training book.

As other reviewers have noted, sometimes Dr. McConnell repeats her points a few extra times. Perhaps it is a consequence of dealing with difficult dogs and difficult dog owners for a long time. But that's a minor annoyance. This is a valuable useful book to anyone with a difficult dog or any dog owner who wants to understand his or her dog better.

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