I read the back cover of this book, which included the word "spiritual." Knowing nothing about this author I picked it up because I love working borde...moreI read the back cover of this book, which included the word "spiritual." Knowing nothing about this author I picked it up because I love working border collies. What a horrible mistake that was! The entire book was NOT about Lass or her journey from scared city dog to happy working dog (in fact, there was little said about this). It was a bunch of Christian progaganda BS about not having free will. I regret spending the money on this horrible book. (less)
**spoiler alert** I will begin by saying I loved this book. It's not a training manual per se. It is, in essence, exactly what it says it is: a book a...more**spoiler alert** I will begin by saying I loved this book. It's not a training manual per se. It is, in essence, exactly what it says it is: a book about building a bond with your dog. The entire book is rooted 100% in positive ideals. And not only is it rooted in those ideals, but it also does not buy into the dominance myths (in fact, she calls alpha "the dirtiest concept in dog training:). Schade is a clicker trainer and she's proud of it. Like many positive trainers that's not where she began. She began with traditional methods she never quite felt comfortable with and discovered the joys of clicker training when someone suggested she try it in order to teach her dog to roll over (something she was struggling with). The dog picked it up amazingly fast and even more importantly, was joyful about it. She was a convert.
The book is broken down into two main sections.
Part I ("All About the Bond") explores what the bond IS exactly. What does a dog who has a good bond with his human look like? How does he act? And more importantly, she offers up several questions to get you to evaluate your bond with your dog (I'm happy to report that my dog passes on all accounts!). It also explores how we undermine the bond (everything from punishing a dog when it comes to you instead of rewarding the recall to not spending enough time with your dog to spoiling the dog to the point at which the dog becomes demanding), some body language issues (especially in regard to people believing they are rewarding a dog when the dog clearly is not happy with this "reward"), and the concept of rights vs. privileges (privileges are those things that the dog has to earn; she makes the statement that a lot of dogs run into problems when people believe certain privileges, like having free run of the house when no one is home, is a right and not a privilege).
Part II ("Build the Bond") gives you several exercises to help build the bond that you're likely struggling with if you're reading this book. Some of these exercises are simply basic obedience (sit, down/stay, recalls). Some of these are ways to stop "naughty" behavior. But most of the ideas are ways to incorporate training in such a way as to make it fun. And I am ALL about having fun with my dog! This was the section that connected with me the most. She has some fabulous ideas on how to play with your dog to help build the bond. I think one of my favourite things was the "magic ball" concept. She punches a hole in a tennis ball and loops a long, 15-foot string for it. Then she tosses it for the dog. And when the dog goes for it, she suddenly pulls it away across the yard. Dogs can't resist the chase and it adds even more fun to fetch. I think it's likely to make my fetch-uninterested dog get more into the idea. This is certainly something I plan to try. My other favourite section was on giving your dog a variety when it comes to walks. In other words, pick a different direction every day. We do this with my dog. But we go further, which she unfortunately doesn't bring up. I'm a firm believer in giving a dog the choice on where we walk. Usually our walks are split between her deciding a direction and me deciding one so that we don't get TOO far away from home. I also love the sections on keeping humor in your training as your dog WILL frustrate you and her somewhat crazy suggestions for stopping a dog from chasing squirrels and yanking your arm out of its socket.
I thought the whole book was excellent. She brings in a lot of examples from her clients, both the clients who were successful and the ones who continued to struggle. She has a good sense of humor and takes a few digs early on at the "TV dog trainer," which was amusing. She's very upbeat and positive throughout the whole book and she explains pretty well why she thinks that positive reinforcement (and negative punishment, which she does clearly use at times) work well for establishing and cementing the bond.
She and I don't agree on everything. I don't believe tug HAS to have rules unless the dog is completely out of control. I'm not against using flexis for walks. And I don't believe that the dog has to walk right next to you in order for you to have a good bond. She's not asking for heel position, but she wants the dogs to walk with a loose leash right at their owners side. She allows sniffing, but only for short periods and not very far out from the owner. I'm fully content to allow my dog out in front of me, to my side or even behind me at times. She checks in frequently enough on walks for me to know she realizes I'm part of the walk too.
Those are really very minor quibbles with the book. Overall, I think it's an excellent book for building the bond with a dog who you might feel needs a little bit (or a lot of!) brushing up on that aspect.(less)