Linda's Reviews > The Culture Clash

The Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson
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Oct 12, 08


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 mistakes made by average dog owners.

And I found a couple of huge mistakes. In particular, she talks about how dogs know when they've done something bad. She describes a boxer tearing apart the furniture when the owner is gone, and then cowering when the owner returns. She doesn't mention that if the owner was an incredible actor and made no reaction upon seeing the mess, that the dog would probably have no reaction - the point she missed here is how well dogs read just a flicker of our emotions. That boxer had no idea the owner was upset about the mess he'd made. He just knew the owner was upset from the instant she saw the mess. Had the place been pitch-black, the owner and dog would have greeted one another without incident. It bothers me that an "expert" like Donaldson would so completely misread something that I see clearly as an amateur.

I feel I have to get my complaint about Donaldson in since she spends so much time yelling at average folk.

Beyond that, if you really want to understand complex aspects of +R training, this is your book. Unfortunately, it won't go into the detail you'll want. For instance, you'll feel like a real dummy if you follow the section on avoiding "counter surfing" and still can't keep your dog from grabbing food off the counter.

Donaldson lives alone with her dog. She doesn't understand the complex nature of family life. She doesn't explain the one down side of +R training: that when we share our dog's living quarters (unlike zoo animals in which +R training is often used and the animals are already living in a safe, enclosed environment) so ignoring unwanted behavior is just not always easy or practical. Her ideas for approaching specific training and behavior problems are usually pretty thinly described.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Natalia I'm reading this book now and I could not agree with your review more!


message 2: by Brenda (new) - added it

Brenda Thanks for the heads up! I barely started reading this but so far so good


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