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Before and After Getting Your Puppy: The Positive Approach to Raising a Happy, Healthy, and Well-Behaved Dog Hardcover – April 29, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
The star of the British television show Dogs with Dunbar has been teaching pet owners to train their dogs humanely and thoroughly for over 30 years. In this compassionate and honest volume, the veterinarian shares his definitive opinions about the way dogs should be trained. This is a great tool that anyone who wants to get a dog should peruse before they bring their pup home because, as the author points out, owning a dog is a big responsibility, and "millions of dogs are euthanized each year simply because their owners did not know how to housetrain or chewtoy-train them." Dunbar includes information that prospective dog owners should know before they select a puppy, and he also explains how to meet his proscribed series of important Developmental Deadlines (two of which come up even before the dog reaches its new home!). In addition to a step-by-step guide to every stage of puppyhood, the book includes practical services, such as a pre-puppy shopping list and lists of the best dog training books and videos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
this edition belongs... alongside such classics as Dog Training in 10 Minutes and The Power of Positive Dog Training. -- Library Journal, Spring 2004
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Top Customer Reviews
In regards to the 1 and 2-star reviews complaining about his tone, which almost scared me away from this book- I suspect those users must have purchased an older version of Dunbar's book.
In the forward to his 2004 version (the hardback edition from Amazon), he credits his new editor with toning down his wording to presumably make it less inflammatory. This is very evident in the first 38 pages of the book, which are very positive and carefully worded when discussing "controversial" training topics.
However, Dunbar's infamously stern tone shines through after the first few chapters, but I honestly didn't mind it at all. He's firm because the welfare of your dog is in your hands and far too many owners don't appreciate that fact, hence the shelters full of poorly raised "problem" dogs. At no point does he cross the line and become some sort of raging dog-training Nazi, as some of the low-rating reviewers seem to suggest. Quite the contrary: I found him to be very professional, somewhat irreverent, very credible and quite clever in his training techniques.
Overall, this book is a fantastic read and I highly recommend you pick it up LONG before you even pick your puppy or your breeder, as Dunbar provides some excellent tips on what to look for at that stage.
From my perspective, the book not only makes sense about how to raise a puppy, but also about how to raise a child! Why waste time trying to teach kids or dogs what is wrong, until they eventually figure out what is right? That seems really inefficient, now that I know the "lure-reward" technique. This technique lets you use the essential nature of the dog to train it to do what you want it to do: pee, chew, and poop where you want it to, for instance. Walk calmly on leash, for another. The trick is to not fall into the trap of thinking that a few weeks of short and long-term confinement is somehow cruel to the dog. Like children, dogs respond quickly to a consistent routine. It DOES require YOU to be consistent and to have discipline, and I definitely figured out where I was being lazy and too lax, and whenever I went back to the tighter crate schedule, things improved immediately. I realized that I confused a few days of successful potty events with "success" in overall training and went from confinement to total lack of restraint, so I referred to the book again and made some corrections.
Here are a couple of tips that helped make this book so useful for me. First, I had a consultation with a pet dog trainer who knew about (and recommended) Dunbar's technique. This really helped me when addressing the issues that I felt were not explained in the book (more on that later). Secondly, while I took Dunbar's stern advice as the kind of advice someone gives to people who might not pay attention...that is, I didn't take him quite so seriously. So, when he says that your dog needs to meet over 100 people in his first month (or whatever), I took that as the general message: socialize your dog as much as you possibly can. We have a really small house and we aren't hugely social, but I was surprised to find that I could make a list of 100 people pretty easily. They haven't all been over to my house, but I've been out and about and exposed my pup to a lot of different people, and I could see the change in about 2 weeks! And, I realized too that this socialization has to continue through adolescence, the difficult stage (again, think of children). I also found that "training" your dog to be OK when you are not around was particularly practical and helpful. It not only reduced my dog's anxiety, but mine as well, since it gave me a method to work with the dog to gradually introduce him to "alone" time, which will definitely be a part of his life. It also helped me to be aware of where I might be inadvertently feeding into the dog's anxious attitude when I returned home (or got him out of his crate).
The sit, lay down trick is a snap and I even successfully tried it on an adult pitbull that wouldn't lay down for its owner!
What I also found interesting was that the tips I learned in the book and shared with my other dog-owning friends helped them when it came to their adult dogs! I think that the Cesar Milan method can be quite effective, but it is based solely on dominance, and the lure-reward method can work wonderfully too in many situations (such as getting your dog to be calm when going on leash and learning to happily sit when greeting people).
Now, for some things that come to mind that I found lacking in the book. First, I happen to have a toy poodle who is bizarrely un-food motivated, and Dunbar doesn't mention that at all. I did learn from other poodle owners that this breed isn't the most food motivated one. I wish he would cover that situation in the book. So, for instance, Dunbar recommends putting all of the dog's kibble in Kong toys, yet if I put all of Buck's food in his bowl, he *still* wouldn't eat even half of it. So, if the open dish doesn't work, the Kong toy is like locking it away! And, freeze dried liver didn't work for Buck either. Advice: get those beef jerky sticks for dogs. Or try cheese. And strangely: Wheat Thins (even my cat loves them). Small bits of hot dog too. (I use this for the poop reward). Even so, all of these favorite items stuffed into a Kong toy won't work for my dog. Maybe when he gets a little older/bigger and I can try it out again, but for now I'm mystified about turning him into a chew-toy-aholic.
Secondly, I would have appreciated more information on the puppy interaction when you have a really small dog, or a really large dog. I think the problems you encounter as a dog owner do vary when you have a "non-average" sized breed. How do you keep your little dog from being completely frightened of huge dogs (and then later turning into one of those yappy jerks)? How do you keep your rambunctious, lovey Great Dane from bowling over the chihuaha? And, when you do finally take your dog to the dog park, how can you as an owner to a better job of evaluating other dogs as potential problems? Most people don't even bother to socialize their dogs, so how do you evaluate?
Finally, while I initially started asking people to offer a treat to my dog to get him to sit, I quickly learned that most every person will use a different visual method in asking the dog to sit, while only using the word "sit." So, it's really too onerous in my opinion to try to get every person to get the dog to sit, since the lure/reward technique of holding the treat over the head works, but most people don't know the signal! So, my dog dances on its hind legs while people say "sit!" and give it the treat because he's so cute. This pretty much has de-sensitized "sit" as a keyword so I quickly dropped the idea of asking people to make him "sit." What *does* work is asking people to offer the dog a treat, since then they naturally great the dog with a lowered hand, palm up, which is far less threatening to the dog and not a dominance display. I am really not going to burden every human social interaction with an instruction on the sit technique that is required. Later, when the dog learns the word itself, maybe then. I feel that in this respect, Dunbar's advice is a bit impractical.
Overall, I am very glad that I bought this book, and it's been an essential tool in my working with my puppy and understanding the nature of dogs.