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The Power of Positive Dog Training Paperback – April 4, 2008
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From the Back Cover
Updated with the latest tools and techniques—including the clicker method
Renowned dog trainer Pat Miller gives you the positive training tools you need to ensure that you and your dog share a lifetime of fun, companionship, and respect. Following her step-by-step, six-week basic training program, you'll learn how to develop a relationship with your dog based on friendship and positive reinforcement, not fear and punishment. Plus, you'll get:
Information on the importance of observing, understanding, and reacting appropriately to your dog's body language
Instructions on how to phase out the use of a clicker and treats to introduce more advanced training concepts
A helpful diary to track progress, suggestions for delicious treats your dog will respond to, and a glossary of training terms
Whether you've never trained a dog or are just switching over to positive training, with Pat's proven method you'll discover that training your four-legged friend is easy, fun, and effective. Now that's The Power of Positive Dog Training.
About the Author
Pat Miller has been a dog trainer for over thirty years. She is the founder of Peaceable Paws Dog & Puppy Training Center and is on the Board of Directors of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. She is a leading proponent of positive dog training techniques, and her columns on training are read by thousands in publications such as Whole Dog Journal.
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Although I will re-read relevant chapters at appropriate times, I think I could do a pretty good job just having read this book once. None of the other books offered anything close to this facility. Other books speak of "markers" but Miller tells you exactly the what, why and when. As a Biology teacher, this all made solid scientific sense to me.
All the training follows a few simple rules which provide a framework for each lesson. When done in this manner, the details for each different cue seem to follow naturally. I think my training will be a combination of 85% this book and 15% all the others. I also recommend:
The Other End of the Leash, Patricia McConnell. Less detailed training info but great insight into dog behavior and how to adjust your behavior to accomodate..
I immediately enrolled in a traditional "positive" training class, which used force training. The "positive" aspect was praise after the dog complied. If the dog didn't comply, he was forced using the leash and a pinch collar. Rusty freaked out at my attempts, and even more so at the trainers attempts to get him to lie down. The trainer's solution was to apply more force, putting Rusty into a mindless panic. Not wanting Rusty or the trainer to get hurt, I withdrew from the class and looked for a more effective approach.
I discovered Pat Miller in the bibliography and recommended reading sections of several dog training books by animal behaviorists, especially Patricia McConnell and Jean Donnalson (I highly recommend both). Pat Miller's approach is clear, scientific, sensible, and highly effective for ALL types, sizes, and ages of dogs.
One of her points, that I agree with, is that there are no vicious or "difficult breeds" of dogs. All dogs (and people) live to please themselves, to maximize reward and minimize punishment. Using reward almost exclusively to change behavior 1) is powerful because you can associate the reward consistently with the target behavior in the dog's mind, 2) results in quick learning depending on the trainer's skill in communicating to the dog, 3) builds the dog's loving relationship with the trainer, 4) results in a balanced, calm, and confident dog, and 5) is fun. In contrast, punishment 1) is not very effective because it's hard to associate the punishment with the target behavior (e.g. to a dog yelled at or hit for being on the sofa, "is he mad at me because I'm standing by the window, or because he's dangerous and unpredictable?"), 2) usually results in learning the wrong lesson (e.g. only go on the sofa when the owner isn't present) 3) creates a fearful and mistrustful relationship with the trainer, 4) results in a fearful, sneaky, neurotic dog (putting easily aroused dogs into the danger zone for attacking), and 5) isn't fun.
The book is well organized, well written, and is all you need for a comprehensive training program. Rusty has learned remarkably quickly using Pat Miller's approach. He walks well on and off leash, comes when called, likes people and other dogs, plays acceptably well (it's hard to completely correct for no socialization as a puppy), knows many tricks, is well behaved, and loves and trusts me and my wife. He loves to learn because it's fun and he always gets what he wants when he learns (a treat and a stoke). I love to teach him because it's fun, because I love him, and I get what I want, which is a happy and well behaved big athletic dog.
Other books will help you understand dogs and the relationship between dogs and people better, but for training this is the only book you need. You and your dog will be happy if you follow Pat Miller's approach.
The book has some lessons but does not give any advice if your dog doesn't perfectly follow the tutorials. Great for dogs who are puppies and are very moldable - but not so much for a more difficult dog.
Definitely a must have if you are a dog trainer or dog owner!