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How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend: The Classic Manual for Dog Owners
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How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend: The Classic Manual for Dog Owners

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  1,139 ratings  ·  121 reviews
For nearly a quarter century, How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend has been the standard against which all other dog-training books have been measured. This new, expanded edition, with a fresh new design and new photographs throughout, preserves the best features of the original classic while bringing the book fully up-to-date. The result: the ultimate training manual for a ne...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published September 23rd 2002 by Little, Brown and Company (first published January 1st 1978)
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This review became lengthier than I anticipated, but if I can dissuade one person from using the techniques prescribed in this book, it will have been worth it.

I would like to preface my review with a comment on my own experience. A few years ago, I taught myself nonviolent training methods studying the works of Paul Owens and Karen Pryor, among others. The books were recommended by the shelter where I planned to adopt a dog.

I started studying long before I even planned to get the dog, and felt...more
I don't think ANY dog book is the end-all be-all, so no dog-training book would earn 5 stars from me. No doubt, the monks are not going to win over everyone with their methods. Positive reinforcement is the the in vogue way to train a dog right now, and they focus a lot on effective corrections. Prong collars and the shake down will probably make a lot of people weezy. Which is fine. Their methods aren't for everyone.

However, I think they have an amazing approach, which mimics my feelings on dog...more
I've never been so confused from a dog training book in my life. "Hi, we are inspired by St. Francis" but then you discipline dogs by cuffing them under the chin, the "shakedown," and the alpha rollover. I don't believe for a minute that St. Francis would approve.

Here's what I like about the book: their concept of outdoor kenneling and making sure the dog has the right kind of setup, raising/training puppies, the "Round Robin Recall" exercise, and their suggestion of not training your dog to att...more
I appreciated some of the things they said, especially in the beginning. But this book drove home the point that every dog training book must be read with a grain of salt and an open mind. I was honestly a bit horrified with the discipline chapter. Everyone has their own opinion on this, but I feel that those methods are old school and very out dated. We've moved beyond that, surely! I know I have.
All in all, a book with some interesting viewpoints but not to be taken word for word.
This is an superb training manual but very rigid and strict. I agree that a dog must know who its owner is and have a degree of fear and respect...but I am softer. I prefer a positive training approach. Reward the positive. Despite this philosophical difference I do think this is an excellent reference and one I would recommend.
Well, at first I was all excited about it. I definitely prefer it to the Ceasar Millan book I checked out. It offers interesting history of dogs relationship with man, among other things.
But then I began training at Petsmart, and the trainer let me know that the monks have taken back much of what they propose and admit that their harsher techniques will create neurosis in the dog or some such thing.
So, now I've moved on to the Victoria Stillwell book, It's Me or the Dog, and I have to say that...more
Dec 27, 2011 Amy rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2011
Much more narrative than how-to. While I like the ideas and the sentiments, I'm not so keen on the personalized stories. For practical, "do this" advice, I prefer Brian Kilcommons. I used his Good Owners, Great Dogs to train my last dog (who was universally recognized as a beyond exceptional dog: when my husband and I began dating, we left half a pizza on the coffee table and went out to a movie. It was still there when we got home, absolutely untouched). I'll be consulting his new(er) book, My...more
Fifi LaFleur  nó Eglantine
Reading these books again as I have a puppy coming home tomorrow! I just love these books. Their philosophy on dogs and training totally appeals to me as a lover of large shepherd mixes.

Being Maurice Sendak approved gives it bonus points. He knows where the wild things are!
I have two well behaved dogs thanks to this book! My nine year old pug used to misbehave; however, using the techniques in this book have seemed to help. I bought this book before we adopted our four year old pug, and have used the monks techniques since she came to live with us. She has never developed any of the problems that our oldest developed. Visitors can enter our home without being attacked and they are well behaved around strangers in public. This is a wonderful resource that helps to...more
Good book but I mis-read the title.

I was just looking for a book that would teach me how to be one of my dog's good friends.
Read this book if you want your dog to be afraid of you and ruin any possible relationship you'd have with him.
Jean Marie Angelo
A friend gave me a book by the Monks years ago. It was then I discovered that their ministry is caring for and training dogs.

I picked up some very practical tips here. They are directly in saying that their dog-training books are not about religion. Still, they sneak in some wonderful spiritual observations. Here are some of my favorites:

• Living in close association with our dogs helps us avoid a temptation that is always present in contemplative life — the temptation to live narcissistically i...more
Eugene Mah
How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend by the Monks of New Skete was a book that one of the dog park people recommended to us. Thanks to the wife's aunt, we got a copy of it for Christmas, and dove right in. After getting through a few chapters, my first thought was "This is the book we should have read before getting Nala".

The Monks of New Skete have apparently been breeding German Shepherd Dogs for quite some time now and also run a boarding/training program for other dogs, so they have a good amou...more
I highly recommend this for new dog-owners, or anyone who is eager to reconsider mankind's history and relationship with dogs. Thoughtfully written, this book felt like a meditation and a prayer. While full of advice for dog training, I also greatly enjoyed the philosophical non-advice sections as well. I feel this book is great for those who are planning to become dog-owners, and want more than just practical preparation; this book offers an emotional and spiritual foundation too. Yes, I said "...more
Jen Hirt
So I got a puppy, and have been reading anything and everything about raising a dog, and this book is by far the best for a number of reasons. First, it's top-notch writing. Read it even if you don't have a dog. The monks are humble yet humorous, and they are excellent researchers -- this whole book is footnoted. They know dog mythology (such as the story of why St. Christopher was depicted as a dog in early Christian iconology) as well as Native American dog-god stories. But they also researche...more
Christine Hill
I read this book to improve my relationship with my dog. I have a greyhound, so it is a very particular breed, but I found the information in the book to be general enough to apply even to my sensitive dog. I did skip through parts, since a lot of it assumes you have or will have a puppy. Since I am a big believer in adoption, I found this a little off putting. But the focus of the book is great, which is obedience training is directly connected to the kind of relationship you have with your dog...more
I give this book four stars because I think its helped me a little. I like the Monks balanced view of training, including both discipline and positive reinforcement. They recommend singing to your dog, so I made my dog a playlist. They also recommend things like eye contact and being as jubilant with your dog as you would with a grandchild. They also recommend not making goodbyes and hellos overly dramatic, it makes the whole ordeal harder on your dog. They are very clear about their views and a...more
I enjoyed the background information and insight into how a dog's brain works, but I did not agree with many of the training techniques. I do love they believe dogs are family members too!
Excellent for every dog owner, no matter the breed or age of your dog. I've trained and been around dogs my whole life, but I still learned a lot. You will too.
This is a great, useful training manual. I like that the Monks emphasize that one should read more than one book on training your dog, so as to get a well-rounded view. Their methods make logical sense to me, and there are a lot of things that I wouldn't have thought of before that they make very clear and sensible, such as never calling your dog to you for punishment. The only thing I disliked about this is how often they promoted their other books and videos; it makes sense to refer to them, e...more
this book was great! i like the way the book takes a bigger look at raising dogs. not just from the aspect of pets but a dog being a family member. they monks of New Skete have the dog training down to a science. if you don't have a greater respect for your dog then you must have not read the book right. i have had a dog in my family my whole life and i still gained a lot of knowledge about them from the book. all i have to say is if you are ever planning to own a dog you MUST read this book bef...more
Tim Carter
Attractive book/lifestyle, overall I find it okay, it's very comprehensive, I just cannot agree with certain training methods of the monks, and certainly these do NOT allow to become my "dog's best friend"! I don't even dare to try them, common sense really (for me).
However, the monks have improved many of these over time. And improvement is much better than status-quo - where some other "dog trainers" seem to remain till they die (or won't get another show).
Recommended by friends with pups...appreciated more techniques to put in the toolbox...
There is no denying the Monks of New Skete have a passion for dogs but their methods are highly dominate with a strong emphasis on pack mentality. While the techniques and style were interesting, I found them lacking in a family approach. When dogs are more than just "pack members" but also family members there needs to be more accountability for emotion. Their methods were unyeilding with little room for flexibility and some methods did not work for my dogs. Overall, a good introduction to dog...more
Apryl Anderson
fantastic: this is exactly what I needed to know to finally reject most of the rubbish of dog ownership, and understand what's going on inside their canine mugs.

I've got the 1973 edition, so I guess the photos have been updated. That would be a shame.

The only information that seems to be lacking is WHAT DO WE DO ABOUT THIS HORRENDOUS BREATH?!!!

July 2013, i did a google search, and what joy! Its a blessing to see that this commendable stewardship continues. Plus, theres no shortage of videos on...more
I love this book. It is thoughtful, clear, gentle and soulful. The photos are marvelous (many beautiful German Shepherds!) and training techniques are presented in step-by-step photos.

I think many of the principles for training dogs could be used for raising children too -- show leadership and consistency, be aware of yourself, your dog, and your surroundings, involve your dog in your life, and be respectful and kind to living creatures.

Perhaps when we get another dog, we'll get the training vid...more
Aug 09, 2008 Dick rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who wants their canine companion to be much more than a "dog".
Shelves: help
A great book for yourself to let your relationship with your dog come through for you both. Recommend to anyone getting or having a dog they REALLY want to enjoy. I admit I didn't read the whole book as I already had my buddy as an adult, but when the time comes to establish a new buddy (my Bogie is getting old like me), we'll start from the beginning. This is also a book you just like. It just feels good to read from those who really love dogs. Being well linked to your dog is uncomplicated lov...more
A different approach to puppy training, this one involves physical corrections, long leashes and lots of extended stays. A bit much for my puppy since we don't have a huge yard to train in.

On the bright side, since this is written by monks they have a great philosophy of consistent training fitting into the routines of life, and of the companionship that dogs can provide. Loved also the history of dogs and monasteries of all religions as a way of demonstrating dogs ability to adapt and calm.
Sep 04, 2007 Inder rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: dogs
Every dog owner should have and know this book. I use it and refer to it frequently. I'm not quite as perfectly regular and consistent in my own training, I admit. The Monks set the standard almost impossibly high - the rest of us mortals can only marvel at such perfect discipline and order. But at least I know what to strive for! Plus, the pictures of German Shepherds and monks in their daily lives are irresistable. I wish I could be a monk. It sucks to be a woman sometimes!
I rescued Athena, my 5-year-old-husky, when she was 2 and I was her fourth home. Needless to say she had some issues. This was one of the many books I used in my aresnal of training Athena to enjoy life. I appreciate that they advocate being the pack leader, but still giving lots of love. You'd be amazed at how many books discourage dogs sleeping in the same room or spending lots of time with you. It was a relief to read this book where they actually encouraged it.
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