- Paperback: 246 pages
- Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 034544678X
- ISBN-13: 978-1863253208
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (704 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,452 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Other End of the Leash: Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs Paperback – April 29, 2003
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The Other End of the Leash begins with an eloquently simple premise: "All dogs are brilliant at perceiving the slightest movement that we make, and they assume each tiny movement has meaning." With that in mind, all of Dr. Patricia McConnell's recommendations for communicating with your canine make immediate sense. Don't we all automatically bend forward when coaxing a dog to come and play? Break eye contact when we wish to avoid a confrontation? While these instinctive behaviors are right on target, a number of other habits aren't so positive, and McConnell helps us break them with both humor and common sense.
Chapters are categorized by senses such as sound, sight, and smell; specific pack behaviors such as dominance and play also merit their own sections. McConnell uses the same humor and patience she recommends with dogs on her readers. Whether she's referring to maggots as "a value-added commodity in canine economics" or ruminating on attempts to verbally cue her dogs to exit the house one at a time, her wise and gently self-deprecating book brings training--of both dogs and humans--to new levels. Jill Lightner --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
It matters greatly that people who love dogs understand enough about them to provide a good environment, writes McConnell (Feeling Outnumbered? How to Manage Your Multi-dog Household) in her thoughtful exposition on improving human-canine communication. An animal behaviorist and adjunct professor of zoology at the University of Wisconsin Madison, McConnell offers sound advice for dog owners: Pay attention to your own behavior. Believe me, your dog is. Drawing on anecdotes from her professional practice (she specializes in canine behavior problems), research into the work of other dog trainers and personal experiences with her beloved Border collies, the author explains how a dog might be misinterpreting signals from its owner. For example, although humans express affection through hugs, a dog may feel threatened by them. McConnell also provides tips on how to play safely with dogs (she recommends games of fetch rather than rough-and-tumble wrestling) and how to get them to do what you want (the best way to get a dog to stop demanding attention is simply to break off visual contact). She has harsh words for trainers who tell owners to establish dominance over dogs by behaving aggressively to them when they are young, and also for owners of puppy mills. These dog factories, she says, create damaged animals and unsuitable pets. This is a helpful guide for pet owners by a specialist who clearly loves her work. B&w photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
However, if you accept this book for what it is, it is truly wonderful and quite unique. "The Other End of the Leash" is simply a informal discussion on the similarities and differences between canine and human communication. McConnell has studied human behaviour as well as dog behaviour, and has come to the conclusion that many behaviours and verbal tones that seem friendly and natural to humans are aversive to our canine companions.
When used inappropriately, these human signals can trigger a fearful or aggressive reaction in dogs. Less seriously, using inappropriate body language or vocal tone can undermine our obedience work. When teaching a recall for example, signals that might seem appropriate to a human (leaning forward, looking directly at the dog and barking a loud cheerful "come!") can in fact inhibit the dog from approaching.
This book also contains one of the most sensible discussion of dominance that I have ever read. McConnell contends that dominance is a much misused but still useful concept. She discusses the way that we can mistakenly give up our "Alpha" status to our dogs by using the wrong body language, and explains the severe behavioural problems that can be caused when we do this. Most importantly, she tells us how we can earn back Alpha status without resorting to physical violence. However unlike some other dog trainers ("Dog Listener" Jan Fennell springs to mind!), McConnell does not try to ascribe every behavioural problem to a lack of human dominance or leadership. She is careful to include anecdotes about dogs that were misdiagnosed as having dominance issues when they were merely untrained, and explains how this misdiagnosis actually exacerbated their behavioural problems.
Her explanations of canine body language are excellent, and far superior to any other book of this type on the market. Unlike many other dog trainers - Turid Rugaas, for example - McConnell discusses the body language of aggression and fear as well the language of submission and "calming". This information is essential for anyone dealing with a potential aggressive dog.
The only complaint I have with this book is that McConnell appears to deal mainly with herding breeds, and although she briefly mentions a few other dogs in the book (mostly retrievers and a few smaller terriers), her anecdotes are mostly about border collies. This bias is relevant as border collies are a breed that was developed to work closely with humans, and specifically selected to be alert and sensitive to the nuances of human and animal body language. I know from experience that some of McConnell's conclusions aren't necessarily going to be quite so accurate with other types of dog - for example, dogs that are bred to guard, dogs that are bred to fight, and dogs that are bred to work independently of humans.
Her point is simple: dogs and humans both communicate, but because we are very different animals, we often misread each other's nonverbal cues. The nonverbal greeting signals for a human, for example, are threat signals to a dog. What she does is help dog owners learn to send the nonverbal messages they intend to their dogs, to speak to dogs in the nonverbal dialog that dogs understand.
It's an important, even critical point, in dealing with dogs. Mixed signals, unintended signals and the wrong signals can confuse a dog, and even trigger hostility and attack. It's especially important for stranger dogs. Her points can help you a lot in dealing with dogs.
But what this book isn't is a primer on training your dog. It's a guide to dog behavior, it's not a book on how to train your dog. Make no mistake, Dr. McConnell's insights can be of immense help to you in training and dealing with dogs. A dog that is relaxed and comfortable, that isn't getting the wrong nonverbal signals, is easier to train. But it's not a training book.
As other reviewers have noted, sometimes Dr. McConnell repeats her points a few extra times. Perhaps it is a consequence of dealing with difficult dogs and difficult dog owners for a long time. But that's a minor annoyance. This is a valuable useful book to anyone with a difficult dog or any dog owner who wants to understand his or her dog better.