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Katz on Dogs: A Commonsense Guide to Training and Living with Dogs Hardcover – October 4, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
As a journalist and columnist on the topic of dogs, and as a lifetime dog owner, Katz manages to breathe new life into the pet-care genre. Though occasionally preachy and redundant, the manual has an empathetic tone; Katz makes clear that he hasn't always been an expert: it was after living with many dogs and only after adopting "a demented border collie" that he was forced to "either learn how to train this hooligan or get rid of him." What Katz stresses above all is that every dog is different-due to breeding, environment and temperament, to name just a few factors-and therefore, every human-dog relationship varies. As a result, Katz's book says there can never be one universal, inflexible methodology for training-unlike most training manuals, which usually argue one practice is superior to others. Says Katz, "training methods fail... if they don't take into account the owner's psyche as well as the dog's." Despite these beliefs, Katz leans on positive reinforcement and offers numerous practical solutions to common behavioral problems. He reiterates that dogs are "comparatively simple animals" that we all too often personify-much to the detriment of the human-dog bond. Photos. Agent, Richard Abate.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Katz began as a reporter, columnist, and author of suburban detective mysteries, and had pretty much always had a dog. But when he began working out of his home, he got serious about dogs and dog training. The result was a series of superb dog books (A Dog Year, 2002, The New Work of Dogs, 2003, and The Dogs of Bedlam Farm, 2004) that explored the relationship between the author and his dogs as well as the place of dogs in human society. In his new book, Katz takes what he has learned from his dogs, other people's dogs, and various dog trainers, and synthesizes a commonsense approach to dog training. In 13 chapters he covers the basics--choosing a dog, why training matters, and basic training--as well as the more esoteric aspects of the dog-human relationship, including multiple-dog households, setting boundaries, and loving and losing dogs. Katz writes in a calm, measured tone (seeming to follow his own advice about calming a dog before training it) and fills the text with examples, both positive and negative. Nancy Bent
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Katz had me hooked half way through his introduction. His goal, he stated, was not to be all knowing, but to be useful. He offers a common sense approach which is in sharp contrast to the "tyranny [which] surrounds dog training" (p. XX). This approach leads him to address difficult questions like: why do you really want a dog, is it ever OK to give away a dog that you love, how do you face the death of a beloved pet? In the end, Katz doesn't really answer these toughies, rather he offers a framework for thinking them through in order to arrive at your own answers.
His case studies are sometimes poignant, occasionally humorous, but always worth the time to read and reflect on them.
In the course of 218 pages, which read quickly and easily as though they were many pages fewer, the author's messages come through. The major message: obedience is a lousy word to describe what is actually the ongoing development of a dialogue between two very different species. Katz, and I'm sure many of us, derives extraordinary pleasure from learning to communicate with this alien species. The minor message: be flexible, if one approach fails, try another one.
Don't expect to learn how to train your dog to sit, stay and come or how to pick a future Westminster winner from a litter of puppies. Katz climbs up on his tallest barn, finds a comfortable place to sit and looks down on his pack trying hard, and succeeding, to get perspective.
Nice job Jon. I got a lot more than just the useful read that you promised.
I had to get my training instruction elsewhere, and I used my own good common sense with the crate. Worked great; we have a wonderful year old dog, now, but no thanks to Mr. Katz.
UPDATE: It's been six months since I wrote this review, and still the book sits, untouched, on the shelf. What a waste of money and bookshelf space. Into the yard sale pile it goes.