Ingrid's Reviews > Through a Dog's Eyes: Understanding Our Dogs by Understanding How They See the World

Through a Dog's Eyes by Jennifer Arnold
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Feb 22, 11

Read in February, 2011

"We long for an affection altogether ignorant of our faults. Heaven has accorded this to us in the uncritical canine attachment." Jennifer Arnold provided a wealth of information that really helped me see my dog in a different light. As she notes, so much of what dogs do is about soliciting information, and the habits and quirks my own dog exhibits are attempts to interact with me to get more information about a particular situation. For example, my dog will sometimes bark excessively, though he isn't much of a barker, when people come to the door-particularly family he knows. Arnold made me see that he is simply seeking confirmation of what is happening/seeking to test a hypothesis, and how I react to him will greatly influence his next move. We are big Cesar Millan fans in our house because much of what he says just makes sense to us, but even understanding his techniques does not mean they are necessarily successful with Valentino. I "get" what Cesar talks about, but am also aware I'm not executing the techniques properly so I don't really feel comfortable employing them. Having read Arnold's book, I started to think a lot more deeply about what Cesar says with his alpha training techniques, and I've started to think twice about them given that Arnold explained how different dogs are from wolves. Dogs descended from wolves, but to fashion our training models on wolf behavior (usually through observation of wolves, and captive ones at that) has made me see that this practice could not only be erroneous, but dangerous to our dogs. I like that she was careful not to anthropomorphize the dogs she has worked with in certain situations, not lending herself to overly emotional recollections, but I really like that she made it obvious dogs have greater cognitive abilities than we sometimes give them credit for and that these have their limitations. Her method of Choice Teaching made me curious to learn more, and I may employ these positive reinforcement tips on Valentino, but like she wrote, I'm not letting anyone dictate how the bond my dog and I share should look like.
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