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How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend: A Training Manual for Dog Owners Hardcover – October 30, 1978

4.0 out of 5 stars 84 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The Monks of New Skete share their invaluable training techniques and philosophy in their bestselling book, How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend. First and foremost, the Monks--who themselves breed and raise German shepherds in Upstate New York--emphasize that "understanding is the key to communication, compassion, and communion" with your dog. Outlined in seven highly readable and informative chapters, the training principles offer a better knowledge of your pet's psyche and personality--ultimately deepening the bond between human and animal. Striving to educate and sensitize new and potential owners to dog kind, the book explores different breeds and temperaments, and assesses the best places from which to obtain a dog. Thanks to a succession of neatly ordered chapters and subsections on everything from crates and leash training to dog treats and massage, training is made accessible and even fun. The Monks lay particular emphasis on the importance of training with "spirit, humor, and most of all, physical and verbal praise!" Whether you're a new owner or an old-timer, How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend is one of the best training guides available, written with compassion, empathy, and humor. --Naomi Gesinger

From Library Journal

As well-known breeders of German shepherds, these monks (The Art of Raising a Puppy) have developed excellent insight into some of the best ways to train, manage, and enjoy life with your dog. The tapes begin by offering basic information on the dog as a pack animal and on how to select a puppy and find training help. They then progress through housebreaking, a variety of training procedures, and situational considerations. Social behaviors, problems such as chewing and digging, and suggested solutions are discussed. Not every technique is appropriate for every dog. The monks essentially acknowledge that there are definite breed differences in training herding dogs vs. terriers vs. toys, etc., but that disclaimer may be missed by some listeners. While "one size does not fit all" in terms of training or lifestyle, their advice is generally very sound. Their approach is firm but compassionate. Michael Wager sounds like a sage, older man who is very familiar with and confident in his advice. A very good value and highly recommended for public, school, and college libraries.
-Carolyn Alexander, Brigadoon Lib., Salinas, CA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 202 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown; 1 edition (October 30, 1978)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316604917
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316604918
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 0.8 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #200,790 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My wife and I first used this book in 1980 with our first German Shepherd, a beautiful, gentle and easy to train dog despite strong alpha characteristics. We've given away many copies because it is about so much more than training. The monks have worked with each of our German Shepherds but their approach works with other breeds. Yes, there is a section on physical discipline but there is also a stern caution. This book deserves to read as a whole. We've read it and re-read it over the years, most recently on the death last week at 14 of a great, sensitive and intelligent old girl who was a loyal companion every day of her life. We used the monks excellent puppy book with our other dog, an aging male GSD, and soon it will be time for it again as another companion enters our home. Monks? Dogs? Religion? Don't worry about it. There's nothing to offend anyone. New Skete takes its religious life very seriously, but they are not intrusive. On the other hand, if you drink beer but won't drink the best beer in Belgium because Trappist monks brew it, then you probably won't buy this book and don't deserve a great dog anyway.
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Format: Hardcover
I have had German Shepherds all my life, but that is not why I recommend this wonderful book from The Monks of New Skete. This is a fabulous book about dogs and having a great one--it's not by accident! Over the years I have given this book to many friends who were getting puppies.
The Monks are quite insightfull. Their techniquies and more importantly their approach to dogs is the best. If you want more than just a dog--you want a companion (man's best friend), then follow their advice and you will have just that.
If I were to buy only 1 book on selecting, training, having a dog companion, this would certainly be that book!
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Format: Hardcover
I have used this book to train all types of family pets, both puppies and adults, from Golden Retrievers to Wolf Hybrids and it works! My friends refer to me as "the Dog Lady" because I always seem to have some tip to help with their dog's training. It's no secret that I get it all from this wonderful book. With insight into the canine psyche that is years ahead of its time, the monks help the dog owner understand the mind of the dog. The section on discipline is tempered with a word of caution, and encourages you to take your cue from your dog -- excellent advice. They are also decades ahead of their time in suggesting Vitamin B complex as "behavioral insurance," making the early connection between vitamin supplementation, good diet, and behavior. With the focus on human brain development and vitamin supplementation in the media these days, its amazing that the monks were making this connection with dogs more than 20 years ago. A must read for all dog owners.
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Format: Hardcover
Many people assume dogs experience the world the same way humans do- and the Monks do a great job of teaching a potential owner how to see things from the dog's point of view.
Much of the current criticism of the techniques in this book stem from 1. misuse of the correction techniques they outline and 2. the current popularity of "non- coercive" methods of training.
If you have a mild mannered pet, you might get away with never correcting your dog, but working dogs- like the kind the Monks are raising- thrive (and in the real world, survive) best in a disciplined environment. I think they make this abundantly clear, and I don't see how any reasonable person could extrapolate that they advocate abusing dogs.
They also repeatedly advise getting involved in local obedience classes, which will help with timing and techniques, and for getting a professional involved if there's any chance of getting in over your head.
Altogether, this is a book based on hands-on experience with a lot of dogs and their owners, and it displays a remarkable sensitivity to a dog's mind.
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Format: Hardcover
I was privileged to meet and work with Job Michael Evans, co-author of How To Be Your Dog's Best Friend, approximately ten years after this book was published.
By that time he had moved to New York City and begun his own Dog Owner Counseling business. He said if he could change anything in the book, it would be the chapter on discipline.
At the time the book was written, there was little to nothing in written form on HOW TO DISCIPLINE YOUR DOG. The Monks of New Skete were breaking new ground. Copying what a mother dog would do to it's pup for discipline was a concept that was embraced by many dog trainers. The draw backs were discovered as time passed.
The fact that it was freely and openly discussed in hindsight only reinforces the integrity of the authors and their genuine desire to understand, communicate, have compassion for and communion with their dogs and encourage others to do discover this as well.
The wealth of excellent information in the rest of the chapters far outweighs the questions of discipline techniques, and for that reason, I would recommend this book to anyone who owns a dog and especially to someone getting a dog for the first time.
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By A Customer on September 29, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book is showing its age. Written at a time when Alpha-Wolf theories came into fashion, it has done a lot to promote dubious punishment methods for dogs. These methods are based on the faulty application of wolf behavior *directly* to domesticated dogs -- and a misunderstanding of wolf behavior at that.
The Alpha-Roll and Alpha-Shakedown as well as the chin-uppercut(!) may work for the Monks; their GSDs must be specifically bred to be absolutely gentle with people and the Monks of course have a lot of experience with their disciplinary measures. However, an inexperienced trainer could easily hurt the dog with the same methods.
To be fair, the Monks caution about this and about only using physical punishment for "severe" offenses but legions of trainers and dog owners have not heeded the warning very well.
In addition, as many behaviorists and trainers now recognize, dogs that are dominated by physical force learn to domiate by physical force. Many breeds and individual dogs will become *more* aggressive with these training methods -- especially towards children and adults who are physically weaker than the dog. And when that dog grows to full size, he will challenge his "Alpha" since leadership was established by brute strength -- and more than likely, the dog will grow up to win over the human.
Leadership over your dog can be established through firm-but-gentle measures. Pass on this book and instead look for ones by Jean Donaldson, C.W. Meisterfeld, Ian Dunbar and Karen Pryor.
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