- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: James & Kenneth Pub (January 19, 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1888047054
- ISBN-13: 978-1888047059
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 347 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #239,246 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Culture Clash: A New Way Of Understanding The Relationship Between Humans And Domestic Dogs Paperback – January 19, 1996
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The Culture Clash is special. Jean Donaldson's first book is quite simply the very best dog book I have ever read. It is utterly unique, fascinating to the extreme, and literally overflowing with information that is so new it virtually redefines the state of the art in dog behavior and training. Written in Jean's inimitably informal yet precise lecture style, the book races along on par with a good thriller. In fact, I read the manuscript three times in a row before it was even published. The Culture Clash depicts dogs as they really are - stripped of their Hollywood fluff, with their loveable 'can I eat it, chew it, urinate on it, what's in it for me' philosophy. Jean's tremendous affection for dogs shines through at all times, as does her keen insight into the dog's mind. Relentlessly, she champions the dog's point of view, always showing concern for their education and well being. The Culture Clash joins a very distinctive group of books and it runs at the head o! f the pack. Like Karen Pryor's Don't Shoot the Dog, The Culture Clash has a refreshingly original perspective. Like Gwen Bohnenkamp's books, The Culture Clash cuts to the chase - no if's and no but's - here's the story - now educate your dog! Without a doubt, Jean's book is the hottest doggy item on the market - the quintessential book for dog owners and dog trainers alike - a very definite two paws up! Do yourself and your dogs a big favor: Give it a read! And let's look forward to many more books by Jean Donaldson.Dr. Ian Dunbar -- the publisher
About the Author
Jean Donaldson is the owner of Renaissance Dog Training in Montreal. She and her dogs have won numerous titles in obedience, tracking and Flyball. Jean one of the the most sought after speakers on the doggy circuit in both the U.S. and Canada.
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I first read The Culture Clash in 1998 and have been recommending it ever since. People often ask me to recommend books and many times I have been hesitant because there are many bad ones and only a few good ones. The Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson is one of the better books on canine behavior. When first published in 1997, The Culture Clash received the prestigious Maxwell Award from the Dog Writer's Association of America as the Best Dog Training and Behavior Book of the year. More importantly, this book was one of the first to challenge the dominance myth and punishment based training.
In The Culture Clash, Donaldson helps us to understand our dogs as dogs, and not as furry little creatures that we too often attribute with human like characteristics. Donaldson's refreshingly new approach has had a tremendous effect on the relations I have with my dogs and my understanding of why they do what they do.
Unfortunately, the depiction of dogs by the mass media, and even many dog people, has created some all to common misconceptions about dogs: that they have morals, know when they have done something wrong, are capable of planning revenge, and have a desire to please. This has done a great disservice to all dogs, resulting in our giving them human like responsibilities and then being disappointed when they cannot live up to our expectations.
Our dogs' failure to live up to our standards has also led to the proliferation of the "dominance theory" in the dog-human relationship. This in turn has led to the use of punishment based training techniques because of the emphasis on "showing the dog you are the leader." Donaldson convincingly demonstrates that dogs are NOT disobedient because they are trying to be dominant, but because they do not understand what a cue means or they find other instinctual stimulus to be more motivating than what we are asking of them (e.g. asking them to come when chasing a squirrel). Once we understand this and start applying scientifically validated learning theories to training our dog, we discover that dominance is totally irrelevant. This is evident in our training classes at Green Acres where young children are training the family dog as easily, and sometimes more effectively than their parents.
Donaldson explains how our dogs' instinctual behaviors can actually be used to make them even better companions. For example, many old school training books would tell you never, ever allow your dog to play "tug-of-war" because it will make the dog dominant. This advice is totally erroneous. As Donaldson explains, dogs in the wild tugging together at a carcass are NOT trying to dominate one another; they are working cooperatively together to dissect the carcass. By playing tug with our dog, with rules of course, we are not making them aggressive, but are building a bond by working together cooperatively as a pack. You will find that for many dogs playing tug is a very motivating reward, possibly more motivating than chasing that squirrel.
- Motivation. We all behave according to what we find rewarding in life, so why not use a dog's natural motivators (usually treats, but also play and contact) to get the behavior we want? Most of what we ask a dog to do (such as chewing only items we select, not eating food wherever it is found, not rushing to greet other people or dogs, not walking as fast as possible) is unnatural for the dog, so trained behaviors have to be made more worthwhile than what comes naturally.
- Understanding dogs. Dogs are social creatures who do not like being alone. Dogs (like humans) are wary of unfamiliar objects and places. Dogs are not moral creatures who know right from wrong and feel guilt; rather, they learn what's safe and what's dangerous and avoid the dangerous.
- The human-dog relationship. If your dog associates you with punishment for a given behavior, he will learn to wait until you're not around to do the behavior. If your dog comes to you on command and you ignore him when he arrives, he will learn that coming to you is not that important.
- Generalizing obedience. Just because your dog sits on command in the living room, it does not mean he will do the same in the kitchen, the backyard, or the park. Every environment provides different cues which your dog picks up on; he must be trained in a variety of places to really understand that SIT always means SIT.
All of this information and more make this book an easy recommendation. However, it comes in a sometimes off-putting package.
Besides a few regrettable typos that make some points harder to understand, the author has an axe to grind. Instead of letting her positive training approach speak for itself, she repeatedly denigrates all methods of corrective training and the people who use them. Like many who advocate a positive approach, she undercuts her argument by suggesting that corrective training never works (though she briefly allows that it may occasionally be necessary). Not only have I seen it work, it can be much faster and more effective than using treats – and without any obvious deterioration in the handler-dog relationship that is usually claimed. Corrective training is also a fact of life: dogs (and other animals) use it on each other all the time. The author also denigrates the concept of leadership as a corollary of aversive training, but I find that silly. Clearly the human has to be the leader in the human-dog relationship for it to be harmonious, and in my experience, the relationship is more solid when the human accepts that role. The author also manages to blame Walt Disney(!) for decades of poor dog training, which is just bizarre. Finally, I would say that the title of the book doesn't really match its contents (is the clash between positive and corrective trainers? between humans and dogs? hard to say), but I suppose that doesn't matter.
I regret spending so much time on the negatives, but for someone approaching this book in good faith, they are (ironically) aversive and might tempt you to stop reading. However, I feel there is so much good info to be gleaned that it is worth putting up with the author's missteps.
Save your money and read the physical version of the book.