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The Puppy Primer
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53 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on April 26, 2011
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
good book, easy to follow, step by step advice, and good advice that works.

it's setup to be read just as you get your puppy, the first chapters are on the very first things to start working on with your puppy and the later chapters after that build on it. Good exercises. Also, common puppy behavior problem solving; digging, chewing, mouthing, potty training, etc.

It's a step by step beginning training guide (it's definitely worth it to teach your puppy to walk on a leash nicely--it will last his whole life).

However, I think Puppy Love Puppy Love is a more complete reference book that covers way more puppy topics and all about having a puppy. If you can get both, I recommend both, there's almost no overlap (shocking, right?)
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51 of 52 people found the following review helpful
on September 30, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This book changed my life-with-pup immediately and my understanding of dog training forever. It is the best-written concise manual to basic training I've ever encountered. I recommend it to anyone, even an experienced owner, who has a dog and wants to understand him better.

It is divided into a set of progressive exercises and reviews, one major lesson per week. The authors briefly explain in the simplest, clearest manner possible both how to bring about a behavior---e.g., the sit or down or get-away-from-that-bottle-of-pills-that-just-spilled-onto-the-floor-and-will-kill-you-if-you-ingest-them---and why that particular method works. They explain precisely---step-by-step-- how to conduct the little exercise that will create the new behavior. The week is spent in short, repeated drills and practice of former lessons.

I felt confident, once again at ease with myself and pup, by the end of page one.

The basic message of the book? IT'S NOT MAGIC: dogs act from genetic, canine-specific behavioral patterns, just as human beings act from human-specific patterns. Learn those behavioral canine patterns and adapt your training to them. Then training will be easy, even fun for both owner and pup. It will be simple.

I was ready for simple. I've owned rat terriers all my life. I like their zip and feistiness and sharp features. I love their spirit and admire their sharp minds. I have taken all my dogs through their basic training without instruction or classes, and I've had few problems, none that did not resolve themselves pretty quickly. And I'd just had fourteen wonderful years with the gentlest ratty I've ever known.

So when The New Guy arrived, he was a mild surprise. I'd forgotten the all-teeth, all-chewing, all-running stage. The bounce. Nor was the New Guy was not the gentlest rat terrier I'd known. But we got along. He house trained quickly, learned the sit and the come and followed through on both about half the time. Not bad for a three-month-old. But soon, he began the "jump-on-her-and-lick-her-face" and the "mouth and snap at her hands and legs." One look at those little bared teeth and I called around for help, while I awaited an obedience class. Every trainer spoke of Alpha Animals and the occasional need kick or slap in order not "spoil" the dog. I'm a lifetime teacher and I'd never seen the equivalents of those recommendations work in my classrooms, but I was willing to try anything because daily The New Guy grew more defiant. I ordered recommended books and read them, marking key passages. I did things that ran against my instincts and tried some I simply could not pull off (the heel, for instance). Then finally, late on a day filled with frustration and punctuated by tiny canine teeth marks on my arm, I went to Amazon, seeking something simpler, maybe a set of progressive lessons. Something practical and simple. I wanted easy solutions, for I knew from past experience, they existed.

That's how I discovered "The Puppy Primer." It is exactly what it says----a primer, a set of basic training exercises that will take a dog through his first year and teach him to become a good companion and family member, while retaining his individuality. The author is an animal behaviorist who is an active researcher, and she is also an experienced hand-on trainer, and that combination separates her approach from a lot of well-known advice givers. She understands the mind of the creature at the end of the leash and her training techniques are designed to meet the needs of the canine mind. The training exercises work exactly the way she says they will work. Exactly. They are so simple, I marvel still. They use small treats as rewards because eating is the greatest pleasure pups know and hence best reward. Couple it with lavish praise, and the pup will gradually transfer the pleasure of the treat to the praise and chest and belly rubs and link all with the behavior being taught---sit, stay, come, or other. In time, the pup comes to see the behavior itself as pleasurable and seek out that pleasure.

My pup and I are not to the heel command yet, but I think that lesson illustrates the superiority of this book's method of training. The other books I've read start this exercise with the dog on leash. The authors do not start with leash. They begin with a set of preliminary exercises that reward the dog for following closely the feet of trainer. Ingenious and simple. Then they move to the leash, recommend chest "halter" at first because it is less likely to harm the head or neck. Then they build on the already-present skills taught in the preliminary exercises to teach the dog to heel. Such an approach just makes sense.

As a teacher and student I learned two important things: one will never (possibly can never) learn from someone who he believes does not like him and a teacher cannot teach a student whose motivations and being she does not understand. We cannot beat or frighten or harry any student into learning. This understanding lies at the heart of "The Puppy Primer and accounts for its successful teaching.

In fact, were I teaching pedagogy in an education school, I would assign this book as required reading. It would teach the importance of addressing human needs, the value of exercises that prepare students for mastering a skill, the value of rewards besides grades, and the great pleasure of teaching and learning that can bind student and teacher.

This little book is witty, clear, engaging, and right. I will give it to the dog owners I know. And I shall always be grateful to it for helping me reach my pup before bad behaviors had become confirmed. Usually the best of anything is simple. This book is no exception. Thanks!
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on October 9, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
As a small animal veterinarian, I recommend this book to clients and friends all the time. Our family recently acquired a puppy, and everyone in our home had to read this book before we picked him up. I strongly encourage you to do the same: have everyone in the family that is of reading age study this book before even bringing a puppy home, as consistency in training is the key to success. Most pets that end up in humane societies are surrendered due to behavior problems. Study the Puppy Primer, follow Dr. McConnell's advice, and prevent problems before they start!

For those of you who don't already know, Patricia McConnell is one of the top canine behaviorists in the world. She has many inexpensive booklets available to help with a variety of issues, including separation anxiety and aggression. She also has a fantastic booklet called "The Fastidious Feline" that has saved many cats' lives by teaching owners how to prevent their cats from urinating outside the litter box. There is a plethora of free advice in articles posted on her website, as well.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on April 14, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I have several puppy training books and they all emphasize different things. I like this book for the average puppy owner because it doesn't get too technical with the lingo and is easy to understand, however it goes over all the major concerns one has about raising a new puppy. You can read this book all at once, but it is set up so that you can progress week by week as your puppy grows with more and more challenging tasks to work on and develop. This is nice because it does not feel as overwhelming as some puppy books and it helps you understand what you can and can't expect from your puppy at certain ages. Also it helps remind you to keep working behaviors that are vital for any puppy/dog such as come and loose leash walking. Patricia B. McConnell is highly respected in the field of positive reinforcement dog training and has many great books out there; if you have any dog issues or are simply interested in the topic, check her out.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on December 31, 2010
Format: Paperback
I loved the Puppy Primer. My now 5 month old Aussie is always getting compliments on his behavior. I bought this book before I picked him up and highly recommend it for people who want to get off on the right foot with their puppy.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on January 12, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I hadn't had a puppy in 13 years so I wanted a little refresher on what to expect. This book is all that and more. Many great tips on how to manage life with you new companion and gentel reminders of how much you can and can't expect of a puppy. A valuable reference for anyone who whats to start their puppy on the road to becoming a great dog.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on June 22, 2011
Format: Paperback
This is a brief introduction to raising a puppy. The author's approach is that one should aim to bond with a puppy, as the puppy's friend, rather than aiming to train it by intimidation. Instructions are straightforward. The book can be easily read in a single sitting, and is well-suited for the first time dog owner just getting started.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on November 25, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I am always a fan of Patricia McConnell. Every book she writes is short and concise. I bought this book and Puppy Love by Liz Palika for a friend of mine who was a first time dog owner. I bought the books on Amazon, so I didn't get a chance to actually read them first. [I was disappointed by Puppy Love as the book was 50% photos of cute puppies with training tips on every other page. It was long and hard to read.]

I was happpy to see that The Puppy Primer, just like the author's other books, was extrememly well written with good, accurate information that was well presented. The book is relatively short, meaning that there is not a lot of filler. I have been raising and showing dogs for 30 years and this book is so far the best I have read on puppy raising. Whether you are a first time puppy owner, or someone who has raised a puppy before, this is the book to buy. She covers all puppy raising topics (housebreaking, mouthing, training etc.) is an easy to read, common sense way.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on May 20, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Full disclaimer, i know nothing about dog training and haven't so much as opened the cover on this book. However, my wife is a Vet and former director of the local Humane Society animal shelter and has many, many years dealing with all kinds of "special" cases. She asked me to order this book for someone as a gift who had just gotten a new puppy. The feedback was very positive from that person after a couple months of use. My wife is very well read on this sort of thing (believe me, we just moved and I had to pack and transport a lot of boxes of books about dogs!), and I would consider her recommendation to be well informed.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 9, 2012
Format: Paperback
I am a full-time dog trainer. I have read "The Puppy Primer" by Patricia McConnell, Ph.D, and Brenda Scidmore, and recommend this book to my puppy training clients. I also donate copies to my local humane society to give out to puppy adopters. I find "The Puppy Primer" to be an excellent resource because it clearly and succinctly addresses the most important topics for puppy owners - socialization, house training, crate training, bite inhibition, and basic manners (including how to prevent and address unwanted behaviors) - while emphasizing the use of gentle, positive reinforcement-based training methods.

As a trainer, I also utilize Dr. McConnell's behavior pamphlets and recommend them to clients, because they do an excellent job of covering topics such as fear, separation anxiety, and managing a multi-dog household, without turning into a weighty tome on each subject. The pamphlets provide clear explanations of each issue, along with practical solutions, and are affordable, making them accessible to clients. I also appreciate that Dr. McConnell provides free behavior and training resources through her blog and on her website, [...].

I encourage puppy owners to purchase "The Puppy Primer" - you will be glad you did!
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