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How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend: The Classic Training Manual for Dog Owners (Revised & Updated Edition) Hardcover – September, 2002

4.4 out of 5 stars 401 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend, an informal, friendly guide by The Monks of New Skete, is really two books in one: a step-by-step training manual and a philosophical discussion of the spiritual benefits of owning a dog. The Monks, who support their community in upstate New York by breeding and training German shepherds, reveal a profound devotion to all breeds in this detailed guide to every imaginable aspect of dog ownership. They cover it all: naming the puppy, training with eye contact and jingling keys, establishing the best sleeping arrangements, even dealing with pet loneliness. Owners are advised to think of themselves as the dog's alpha figure, to train with praise instead of punishment, and to beware of becoming the dog's maid or doorman. Throughout, the authors reflect on the deep spiritual connection possible between humans and dogs. Generations of dogs have been trained with the bestselling 1978 edition of this book. With this update, the Monks are bound to gain many new fans--happy humans and obedient canines alike. With modesty and generosity, the Monks offer an extensive list of other helpful books about dogs, as well as a useful appendix of American Kennel Club titles and terms. --Judy Fireman

From Publishers Weekly

The Monks of New Skete have been raising and training dogs for over 30 years at their Cambridge, New York, monastery, and this volume-updated from the 1978 version-offers solid insights on dog training, behavior, grooming, feeding and a host of other topics. Whether discussing country, city or suburban dogs, the monks dispense good advice on humane care, such as admonishing owners to avoid "canine incarceration," i.e., leaving a dog confined alone for long periods of time. While the book does contain many useful, tried-and-true techniques for obedience-stay, heel, down-stay, recall and the like-its unique value lies in the monks' insights and thoughts about the human-canine bond. Concepts such as discipline and praise are more than merely a means to an end, the monks maintain: they are extensions of a caring attitude and real communication with a canine companion. Without devolving into New Age psychobabble, the monks make philosophical and spiritual observations that no dog lover could resist, and which just might make a convert of the uninitiated. 87 b&w photos.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; Rev Upd edition (September 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316610003
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316610001
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.4 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (401 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,082 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
"How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend" is an excellent reference book for the first time dog owner and trainer. As well as the normal chapters on how to choose, socialise, feed, groom and train a puppy, the Monks cover topics as varied as how to read a puppy's pedigree, how to massage your dog, and how your dog's living environment will impact upon his training needs.

Unlike many training manuals, the Monks of New Skete strike a nice balance between "dominance" based training methods and formal training. The Monks stress the importance of earning your dog's trust and respect and the importance of being a strong pack leader for your dog; they also recognise the need for formal training, and spend several chapters explaining how this is best accomplished. Most training books are heavily biased towards one or other method, so it is nice to read a book which realises that both are ingredients in successful dog training.

The training methods discussed are fairly traditional, with the Monks either luring or gently moulding the dog into shape, then praising. However they also advocate classically conditioning a positive reinforcer (keys jingling), which can then be used at strategic times to help a dog relax; and they do discuss and recommend clicker methods for "sensitive" dogs.

Contrary to some reviews posted below, the Monks of New Skete do in fact advocate using plenty of positive reinforcement in their training. Confusion on this issue probably stems from the fact that the Monks do not advocate constantly using food treats while training. However, food treats are not the only positive reinforcement method available to a trainer. As the Monks point out "Food treats are an extremely effective motivator to help dogs learn...
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Format: Hardcover
Our dog Cadfael, a 190-pound English Mastiff, is a great example of what the Monks' training can do for a dog and his owners. He is our first dog and _Best Friend_ came through for us time and time again. While I read many books about dogs before Cadfael came to live with us, the Monks' book and _Dogs for Dummies_ proved the most helpful both in practical and philosophical matters. I also recommend the Monks' book on puppies and their videos.

I think one of the most important services the Monks offer to future dog owners is their attitude that the dog represents a major, major commitment on your part, in terms of time, money and emotional involvement. If you are not willing to invest in the dog, you will shortchange the relationship on all levels. The relationship will suffer. We feel this is particularly true in the case of a dog that is expected to spend most of his time outdoors. The monks are right: if you want an animal to live outdoors in a pen, get a cow or sheep or chicken that has not been bred to be social with human beings.

From the very beginning, before we brought Cadfael home as an 8-week-old, 18-pound puppy, we incorporated the lessons in this book. We followed the monks' advice as far as finding the right breed for us and the right breeder. We bought our supplies well in advance, including the enormous crate (which we used for the first year). We both took vacations so that we could be with him constantly for the first three weeks or so, to focus on housetraining and socialization. From how to keep a dog from jumping up on you (who wants a dog who's taller than you and outweighs you by 60 pounds jumping on you?
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Format: Hardcover
Don't let the bad reviews scare you... this book is too valuable to allow yourself to be dissuaded by politically-correct morons who take the monk's ideas out of context. Truly, every bad review I have read on Amazon completely overstate and misrepresent the monk's ideas on physical discipline. The monks do NOT advocate beating your dog. They also ONLY support physical discipline for SEVERE transgressions, such as violent behavior by the dog or serious household destruction, NOT as a way to teach your dog to sit or stay. Also, they are very specific about how to use physical discipline, which is helpful... for instance, they say you should never use an object to hit your dog, you should never hit a dog from behind or above, and in fact you shouldn't need to hit your dog unless ABSOLUTELY necessary, when other methods fail. Physical discipline is NOT a first recourse for the monks.
Having said that, they also try to emphasize (in a very helpful way) that a dog is not a person! All too often, people anthropomorphize their dogs. They are DOGS! The monks understand the animal that is a dog, and try to have this understanding be as independent as possible from humanity, aside from the human-dog relationship. Therefore, dogs expect a certain degree of physical discipline that is entirely appropriate (look at how a mother disciplines her pups) which MAY NOT BE APPROPRIATE FOR HUMANS! Do not mistake dogs for people... the monks are not suggesting that you use physical discipline on your children!
You may well find an effective approach that does not involve physical discipline... which is fine. According to the monks, however, this only serves to alleviate your own HUMAN feelings of guilt.
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