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When Pigs Fly!: Training Success with Impossible Dogs Paperback – June 22, 2007
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Pigs is smart, well organized, has terrific exercises and catchy sound bites galore - verrrrry important in my opinion. --Jean Donaldson - Director, San Francisco SPCA and author of Culture Clash, Fight!, and Mine!
For those who believe that Bull Terriers are uncontrollable, strong-willed clowns, Jane Killion's When Pigs Fly will open your eyes. Highly readable! Read. Enjoy. Benefit. --Hon. David C. Merriam, Vice Chairman, American Kennel Club
A fresh, exciting, and thought-provoking way to look at your dog with new eyes and understanding. While there is some basic training in the book, seasoned trainers should take this book seriously. If you have tried other training books and been unsuccessful in seeing progress with your supposedly difficult dog, When Pigs Fly is the book for you. --Pam Dennison, Author of The Bringing Light to Shadow
About the Author
Author Jane Killion lives in New Jersey with a houseful of Bull Terriers and a very wise cat. She breeds and shows Bull Terriers, has successfully competed with five different Bull Terriers and a Cattle Dog in agility and obedience. She has contributed several dog training articles to various publications and magazines. Her house is the frequent site of Bullypalooza days, which involve lots of people getting together with their dogs to train all day and then staying into the evening for dinner and lively discussions about dogs and dog training.
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Even though I bought and studied those other books, eventually I just plain gave up. My dogs weren't motivated by food, praise, or toys and greyhounds care even less than your average cat about what you want. I figured I was lucky they had natural manners and were very easy to walk.
Then we added our first rescue bull terrier. Walking her was like trying to play soccer with a bowling ball so I cracked open the books only to once again be frustrated and unsuccessful. We simply stopped walking her with any of the other dogs, but when we added two more rescues, a bully-pit mix pup and later a pit bull, solo walks were just no longer possible. But we HAD to walk them, so when I saw this book with a picture of what could be my own LucyLiu soaring across the cover, I was elated.
Turns out there was nothing wrong with the other books except that they were written for collies, shepherds, retrievers...dogs bred to look to people all day, every day, just dying to be told what to do next and thrilled to repeat things endlessly. "Pigs Fly" dogs have been bred to think and act independently, as anyone who has one knows very well. No wonder we were so frustrated!
Now I can walk all four (over 250lbs of muscle) at once! This book broke everything down very thoroughly and explained the "why" and "when" of each step. It's suitable for beginners and offers plenty of information for standard necessities (sit, heel, lie down, etc) as well as some agility movements. Most importantly she teaches you HOW to adapt the techniques to whatever YOU want to do using what motivates YOUR dog, always using positive reinforcement methods. Aggressive, harsh techniques aren't appropriate for physically powerful yet emotionally sensitive breeds and it's wonderful to find an effective manual that understands that. It's also great to see photos of your type of dog doing things you never imagined possible.
My dogs and I loved the beginner box exercise and I really like how targeting was presented, neither of which ever explained in a practical way before. My greyhound is very large and enthusiastic greeter but won't sit for long because he misses out getting to say "hi". But allowing him to jump and aim his nose at an outstretched hand is a creative solution that's very satisfying for him and keeps guests safe.
Great book, whether or not you have a "Pigs Fly" dog. If you want to clicker train, the way it's presented here makes it very, very simple and clear.
And although shaping is certainly presented in the other books, I have not seen any present the idea that shaping, which requires the dog to do problem solving, should be the preferred approach for the independent, freethinking (unbiddable) dog. This was an eye opener for me, makes sense, and works. It provides a single framework that I can understand and, apparently, so can my dogs!!
Finally, this book is by far the clearest clicker training book I've seen. I have a number of others, including two that are "Karen Pryor Clicker Books", and they are by comparison much harder to follow, providing multiple methods of achieving some training goal, filled with apologies for using food treats rather than praise alone, etc, etc. This one gets right to the point and explains, step-by-step, what to do. Yes, it is very directive, but it certainly cut through my confusion.