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The Culture Clash

4.29 of 5 stars 4.29  ·  rating details  ·  1,079 ratings  ·  100 reviews
Winner of the Maxwell Award for BEST DOG TRAINING BOOK (1997) from the Dog Writers? Association of America. Voted #1 BEST BOOK (2000 & 2001) by the Association of Pet Dog Trainers?the largest and most influential worldwide association of professional pet dog trainers. The Culture Clash is utterly unique, fascinating to the extreme, and literally overflowing with inform ...more
Paperback, 203 pages
Published January 19th 2005 by James & Kenneth Publishers (first published 1997)
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This book is probably one of the best dog training books out there. It's the only book that I've found that really, truly, describes the positive reinforcement (+R) method which in a nutshell involves ignoring unwanted behavior and rewarding good behavior.

Why only three stars? This vitriolic book is hard to read. The author is apparently so fed up with owners who don't have a clue that she rarely holds back any opportunity to disparage any and all owners. The book drips in hatred for the mistake
Bark's Book Nonsense
I'm marking this one DNF because I just can't bring myself to keep reading or to keep interested right now. I also adopted a puppy and, dare I say this aloud, who is so EASY it's unbelievable to me. I've always had nutty labs and retrievers who took years to settle down. My new little guy moved in, learned the routine and housemanners in only 2 weeks. I still can't believe my luck. He's cute and perfect too. I never get this lucky ;)


So, for now at least, I'm putting this book aside because I'm
Nov 12, 2008 Cathy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Cathy by: Yoon
Shelves: animals, dogs, non-fiction
A really interesting book. The basic premise is to stop anthropomorphizing dogs; don't believe the Disney fantasy of dogs who think like us and live to serve us. Just because they are supremely selfish doesn't make them any less enjoyable as companions. But understanding that will make you a better trainer and a happier family. Favorite quotes:

Dogs are not space intensive, they are time intensive. Given a choice between your time and a yard, virtually every dog on this earth will opt for more ti
I believe Jean Donaldson is a genius. I went to the Pawlitically Incorrect Dog Symposium at Marin Humane Society in 2002 and I was blown away by her! There was a segment where they took some of the shelter dogs that had specific behavior problems, and then they had 4 dog trainers that each use a different technique. There was one lady who taught guide dogs for the blind, and another guy who taught police dogs, and Jean. Well, there was this one chow mix that kept pulling on the leash and choking ...more
Another reviewer (who gave it 1 star) wrote, "(Jean Donaldson) writes as though she thinks most (99%) humans are irresponsible morons." If I were the publisher, I would be like, "Yes. Nailed it! There's our pull quote for the cover of the next edition."
This author is just so negative I am having to stop reading the book half-way through. She writes as though she thinks most (99%) humans are irresponsible morons. She scolds and complains continually throughout every chapter. Here and there she says something interesting about a training technique but those rare bits are simply not worth plowing through her insults.

The book might be useful for a first time dog owner with a puppy. Most of the training comments are directed towards small puppies.
This is not only a great guide about how to train dogs, but it is also very insightful about dog behavior. What I liked about this book is that she doesn't just tell you how to do things, but she gives very good reasons as to why. Because of this, I can't imagine training dogs in any other way besides positive reinforcement; positive reinforcement just makes so much sense. She explains all her training techniques from the perspective of the dog. She emphasizes that dogs and humans are very diffe ...more
Very good overall. The most common criticisms of this book are the tone and the organization. They are legitimate criticisms. The author is extremely sharptongued when it comes to dominance theory and anthropomorphizing. I personally find her derision amusing rather than insulting, but I concede that the tone isn't for everyone. I do appreciate someone who speaks bluntly and honestly rather than dancing around strong opinions, but I can see some readers being turned off by this. Personally, I fo ...more
Amy Vereggen-goeldner
This book is BRILLIANT! I have read my share of dog training books and have gone to several dog training classes with different training styles, and my personal opinion is that Jean Donaldson is a genius. In her other book, "Train Your Dog Like a Pro" (comes with a 2.5hr training video), I was able to train my Golden Retriever puppy rock solid sits, downs, stays, recalls. Her method works. Before reading "The Culture Clash", I was missing information, like not fully understanding why my dog does ...more
Embarrassing admission: I have known for years that this book was one of the "big" books on the topic of positive reinforcement dog training, but I never got around to reading it because I thought I was "beyond" it. I thought it was going to be about how to clicker train a dog to sit and why Cesar Millan is a moron. I thought, "I already know all that!" It turns out that this book is totally and completely amazing. It's full of valuable training games and tips, and it also shows you what life is ...more
Mary Nelsen
Although Culture Crash was originally published in 1996 the ideas in it were so new and revolutionary at that time that Jean Donaldson remains a leading thinker in the dog training world and this book has become a classic. Sadly, many of the abusive training methods she argues against (ear pinching, choke collars, and shock collars) can still be found in dog training schools today - also, many owners still believe in the Walt Disney dog; intelligent, moral, capable of revenge and planning, a pro ...more
Harry Steinman
Jan 01, 2010 Harry Steinman rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People who are in contact with dogs
Recommended to Harry by: One of my mentors, Carol Bradford, one of the the world's best t
Shelves: dogs
Humans apply human standards to dog behavior. This anthropomorphism mortally imperil dogs.

This theme underlies Donaldson's book--at once an objective (though eye-opening) exposition into canine behavior and an unabashedly polemic diatribe, railing against the harm we do by misunderstanding our Best Friends. We two-legs must understand that normal dog behavior includes behaviors that are acceptable and those that are not. Incessant barking, peeing on the carpet, chewing the shoes/furniture/handb
Really enjoyed this book. Jean Donaldson pulls no punches with her views about the use of aversive dog training - she thinks its inhumane, unnecessary and shouldn't happen. I agree. She makes a significant effort to lead her readers to better understanding of dog behaviour and motivation and to dispel the "Disney Land" dog fantasies so many dog owners have; dogs exist to please us, are intelligent (like humans) and moral (understand the difference between right and wrong). Jean makes it clear th ...more
Whether you are pure positive or not, an important book to read because she acknowledges the culture clash; lest we forget dogs are dogs and we are not. If we are going to live with dogs we have to find a way to communicate that is mutually useful and rewarding.
Tim Steele
My favorite all-time book on dog training. It's more theory than practical advice about how to teach your dog a trick. But, if you're willing to put in the effort of reading this you'll understand your dog better and be far more successful training him/her.
A very good book to explain behavior learning and how to train your dog using reward instead of punishment. She does a very good job of covering potential pitfalls and why other training methods (dominance, punishment) may not work. She does, however, harp on the downfalls of these other methods more than necessary, to the point where it is distracting from the rest of the information she is presenting. I especially liked the levels of training (kindergarten, high school, college) she presents a ...more
Fred Dickson
One of the best dog training books ever. EVER. That being said, it might be a bit dense for people that are unfamiliar with the subject, the terminology can get a little confusing if you don't already have a firm grasp on what Donaldson is talking about. However, if I could make every dog owner read this book and actually put it's principles into practice I would in a heartbeat. I've heard some people complain that the book has an annoyed tone, and as someone who deals with idiotic dog owners fa ...more
Jan 31, 2009 Nic rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: all dog owners
Jean Donaldson is so mad at dog owners. I was sort of expecting her to punch someone in the first few pages. But she's 100 percent right.

"There is no question whatsoever that the second view [she's referring to B.F. Skinner as opposed to the Walt Disney anthropomorphism view] is correct. The question is really no longer which interpretation is the truth but rather why anyone still argues the point. Amazingly, this information has been around for decades, yet most people who own dogs haven't lear
Justin Podur
This is my favourite of the positive dog training books. My favourite section is the one about Gorms, in which the author asks the reader to imagine being kept as a pet by intelligent social creatures whose language is mutually unintelligible and who expects its pet humans to avoid doing natural things like using a toilet and reading novels, and reads human responses to abuse as aggression and a reason to put the human down. That section is more devastating even than the author realizes, in term ...more
Shelley Rose
Terrific insight into understanding my relationship with Sawyer. Read this not long after he joined my life and it helped me realize that living with a dog is more complex than my just being the "leader of the pack."
I cannot recommend this book strongly enough if you have ever wondered what's going on in your dog's head. Jean Donaldson writes clearly (most of the time) in lay person speak about why your dog is behaving the way that it is, and what you can do preventatively and remedially to shape your dog's behavior.

Often, we humans tend to erroneously believe that our dogs "know" what we want from them even if we haven't really ever trained it into them, and this book helped me see why my expectations of
This is a solid, simple, straight-forward book. I was surprised with certain aspects of this book: the strong tone, stance against 'dominance' theory, and, at times, bleak and grim language regarding unsocialized, older dogs. The last item is something I particularly struggled with -- our coton de Tulear is extremely unsocialized, has fear aggression and separation anxiety, and is well into his adult years -- all because he is a rescue from a horrible breeder. While there were times I felt sad a ...more
Aug 13, 2009 Heather rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Dog owners & potential dog owners
Recommended to Heather by: Animal behavioralist on message board
Shelves: nonfiction
I got a copy of this book when we got our Boxer, Duchess. It was highly recommended on the Boxerworld message boards, and I needed all the help I could get!

I have to say that even though I normally find this type of book (nonfiction/how-to) very difficult to read, I had no problem finishing Culture Clash. Ms. Donaldson makes several very good points as to dogs' nature and why certain training methods work or don't. We began implementing her suggestions, and before too long we had a very well-be
Perfect book for me this past week when I was absolutely fed up with my [failed:] training of Mingus. Brought me back to Dog Basics through a well explained "culture" comparison of Dog vs. Human. Through easy to understand text, clear graphs, well organized chart comparisons, and an extremely helpful basis of having the reader (i.e., human) see the world through a dog's perspective -- Donaldson urges dog owners to give the dog a break in it's world, but also use this dog culture knowledge to bes ...more
One of the best dog behavior/training books I've ever read! Donaldson really opens your eyes to your dog's true intentions and style of learning and allows you to see what your dog is REALLY like instead of what we *want* them to be like. Wonderful information, very straightforward, easy to apply with some common sense, and allows no excuse for applying the given principles to everyday life with you dog. While I would really like to see an updated & revised version with the latest studies an ...more
Absolute best book on dog behavior EVER - this book changed my life (and all my dog's lives too!)
Katherine Blocksdorf
This is an excellent book and is a must read for every dog owner, especially those who think their dogs have a favorite pink jacket and sparkly collar. The author clearly describes why the 'Disney Myth' is harmful to the dog/owner relationship. Training is discussed and the author thoroughly supports all of her theories. Now, it's time for someone to write an equivalent book about horses so horse lovers will stop expecting their horses to heal, bond, love and re-parent them. Let's honour and res ...more
Joao Topete
Devia receber 6 estrelas dos melhores livros de treino que li ate hoje
Kate Baldwin
This was my second time reading this book, with about 15 years in between. I learned so much more the second time, as a more experienced dog owner. There is so much valuable information on positive training and rewards based training and forgoes (and way pre-dates) the antiquated Cesar Milan philosophy of bullying your dog into what you want them to do. Sure, it takes more patience and time but the end result is a better relationship with your dog and a happier one. This should be required readi ...more
Kizz Robinson
Very clear. Tons of information. I now feel like I have so much to work on even around basic cues that I felt we already had down. Best part is the ending, "Final Note: If you have not already done so, please spay or neuter your dog."

It was surprising to re-read this immediately after reading Karen Pryor's Don't Shoot The Dog. On first reading Donaldson's style didn't have a particular impact on me. After reading Pryor Donaldson's style seems much more urgent/harsh/strong than I remembered. Stil
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“So what is the fallout for dogs of the Lassie myth? As soon as you bestow intelligence and morality, you bestow the responsibility that goes along with them. In other words, if the dog knows it’s wrong to destroy furniture yet deliberately and maliciously does it, remembers the wrong he did and feels guilt, it feels like he merits a punishment2, doesn’t it? That’s just what dogs have been getting - a lot of punishment. We set them up for all kinds of punishment by overestimating their ability to think. Interestingly, it’s the “cold” behaviorist model that ends up giving dogs a much better crack at meeting the demands we make of them. The myth gives problems to dogs they cannot solve and then punishes them for failing. And the saddest thing is that the main association most dogs have with that punishment is the presence of their owner. This puts a pretty twisted spin on loooving dogs ‘cause they’re so smart, doesn’t it?” 2 likes
“The dominance panacea is so out of proportion that entire schools of training are based on the premise that if you can just exert adequate dominance over the dog, everything else will fall into place. Not only does it mean that incredible amounts of abuse are going to be perpetrated against any given dog, probably exacerbating problems like unreliable recalls and biting, but the real issues, like well-executed conditioning and the provision of an adequate environment, are going to go unaddressed, resulting in a still-untrained dog, perpetuating the pointless dominance program. None of this is to say that dogs aren’t one of those species whose social life appears to lend itself to beloved hierarchy constructs. But, they also see well at night, and no one is proposing retinal surgery to address their non-compliance or biting behavior. Pack theory is simply not the most elegant model for explaining or, especially, for treating problems like disobedience, misbehavior or aggression. People who use aversives to train with a dominance model in mind would get a better result with less wear and tear on the dog by using aversives with a more thorough understanding of learning theory, or, better yet, forgoing aversives altogether and going with the other tools in the learning theory tool box. The dominance concept is simply unnecessary.” 2 likes
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