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Decoding Your Dog: The Ultimate Experts Explain Common Dog Behaviors and Reveal How to Prevent or Change Unwanted Ones
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Decoding Your Dog: The Ultimate Experts Explain Common Dog Behaviors and Reveal How to Prevent or Change Unwanted Ones

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  1,074 ratings  ·  134 reviews
More than ninety percent of dog owners consider their pets to be members of their family. But often, despite our best intentions, we are letting our dogs down by not giving them the guidance and direction they need. Unwanted behavior is the number-one reason dogs are relinquished to shelters and rescue groups.

The key to training dogs effectively is first to understand why
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published January 7th 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published January 1st 2014)
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Average rating 3.95  · 
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 ·  1,074 ratings  ·  134 reviews

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Debra Brunk
Jan 22, 2014 rated it it was ok
I was looking forward to reading this book once it was published - I even ordered it early. But I was disappointed. I learned a few things, but much of the book seems to be written for folks who either don't have dogs (yet) or who have dogs and have never bothered to spend much time with them. Solutions for problem behaviors seemed to fall into two groups: 1) give the dog a food toy or spend all your time with the dog, or 2) call a veterinary behaviorist. For the former, they don't address how t ...more
Cyndie Courtney
Aug 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: All Dog Lovers
Recommended to Cyndie by: American College of Veterinary Behaviorists
This book was all I hoped for and more.

As a veterinarian, finding training books to recommend to clients is very frustrating. Some training advice is downright dangerous (see Cesar Milan) and many books have enough significant inaccuracies to prevent me from endorsing them (an unseemly number of training books make unnecessary and potentially dangerous feeding recommendations.)

This book echoes all the current science and focuses on safe, positive reinforcement techniques, appropriately emphasiz
May 18, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, 2014, dnf
For beginners only. This is really a series of essays from different vets and as a result you end up with an incohesive manual for dog owners. My favorite WTF was the essay on choosing the right dog. Basically, don't adopt an adult dog from a shelter unless you are sure it is a well behaved well adjusted dog. Um, no matter how well the shelter evaluates the dog you don't know 100% what you are getting! and so then what is to be done with adult dogs that don't fit this description? Listen, I thin ...more
Feb 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Best book on dogs!!! Better than Cesar Milan that's for sure. Debra Horwitz went to med & vet & dog behaviour school.

But every other time is too easy to predict, so you’ll have to start offering rewards randomly—every second time, every tenth, every fifth, and so on. He can’t predict when the reward will come, so he’ll keep offering the response in hopes that next time will get him the payoff. This is called a “variable ratio of reinforcement,” which means the frequency of the reward (the
Feb 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: behavior, doggies
Even though the behaviorists at AVSAB are kind of my personal gods on canine behavior, I am still miffed with this book even after the newest edition. Most of the content is from 2014, when several things that are recommended in here had already been proven to be detrimental to canine welfare in long term studies way before then. How on earth is it still ok to recommend Citronella collars? Yes, if only given two options on earth, a shock or citronella collar, choose the citronella. Thankfully we ...more
Apr 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read this book twice now, once when my doggies were well past the house training stage and just recently, having acquired a puppy. It helps me understand what NOT to do, but I wish this book would give more details about what to do with house training. Some tips are there, but they just are not enough. My puppy needs more decoding in that area.

First reading, I would have given this five stars. Second reading, I give it three. That's why I gave it four stars.
Aug 10, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: adult, nonfic, abandoned
Wow! This book comes with an 'Acknowledgments,' a 'Foreword,' a 'Preface,' and an 'Introduction.' After all that, you get 315 pages of nothing you cannot find online, a 'Conclusion,' an 'about the editors,' 'about the authors'.... Seriously, these people could not stop writing!!!
Jul 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-reads
An insightful book that gave me many helpful hints to better understand my new pup!!
Aug 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: dog-training
Decoding your Dog is a decent book as an introduction to dog training and behavior. It summarizes the main points that you will read in more detail in other books. I think the biggest draw back is the level of redundancy found throughout the chapters. This is most likely in part, due to the fact that several people are writing this book. It would have been wiser to put a disclaimer at the beginning of the book about seeing a vet first prior to behavior modification and seeking professional help ...more
Apr 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2014
I really felt like I got a lot out of this book being a first time dog owner. I have had family pets as a kid, but never was the primary care giver until now. I really enjoyed learning about dog behavior and have been applying a lot of the training techniques with great success. I recommend this to anyone who truly wants to understand their dogs behavior and even learn a trick or two in creating a well balanced and happy relationship with their pet. :-)
Jane Weeks
Sep 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book very much. Even though I've had various dogs through most of my life, I still found lots of information that is helping me with my 2 3/4 year old rescued coonhound. I first read about the new(ish) scientific discoveries about dog behaviour with John Bradshaw's "Dog Sense," and this book makes that information useful, with practical approaches to behaviour modification.

I recommend this book to any prospective dog adoptor or old hand at the joy of canine companionship.
May 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
A must-read for veterinary professionals and dog owners. Good emphasis on positive reinforcement and the fact that everything takes patience and time. Everyone can learn something from this book!
Mar 16, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: animals
Like many other, I got this book in the hopes of learning something new about dog behaviour and psychology. However, like many other dog owners have commented, this book is more of a training manual for novice owners, but it is not a guide I would recommend as despite the fact that it was written by veterinary behaviouralist (who should be experts in all things dog) there is actually a lot of very bad and harmful advice in the book.

For instance, whether intentionally or not, in the chapter about
Charles JunkChuck
Jun 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I've had some good dogs in my life, and I've read more than a few books about how to best manage the transition of those dogs as they joined my household. I can't recommend this book enough. It is fantastic and, if you take it seriously and put in the time, will help you to have a great relationship with your dog.

In early February, while delivering some donations to a local no-kill shelter, my wife suggested that we look at the puppies. I was unimpressed, still smarting from the previous year's
Dec 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Fair enough. You get a bit more than decoding your dog. Where and how to get a dog is a whole other subject, and I skipped through most of that, since I already have a dog. I do like that this book dispels popular notions about dog behavior (many of which I've heard over the years), and they explain facts based on science. I wanted to know about aggression, and this subject is covered in the book. Aggression can't be cured, but it can be handled. You have to pay close attention for the clues you ...more
Brandi D'angelo
Apr 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent book that brings us all up to speed on the latest science of dog behavior. It challenges the old theory of humans needing to be dominant over their dog. I highly recommend it, especially if you are having any behavioral issues with your dog. The book starts out with choosing a dog, general training and then addresses specific issues such as separation anxiety, aggression, housetraining, etc.

One helpful tip that everyone can use right away is how to properly greet a dog. "Th
Katsim Simons
So, this was a bit of an odd duck. Quite dry, but it defined words that I didn’t need a definition for - it seemed aimed at high school reading level at the most. But while it was informative, it was definitively not engaging. I ended up skimming a fair portion, partly because I’ve read similar books and it was repetitive, partly because the book itself was repetitive from chapter to chapter.

It certainly didn’t make me excited to get a dog. I’ll refer to it if any problems crop up, but it isn’t
Emily Evans
Feb 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing
As a dog owner who adopted from a high kill shelter, this book has opened up so many possibilities on getting my not-so-perfect pooch to living his best and most well-behaved life. Charlie (the dog in question) came with a lot of baked-in problems at 9 months old. They were manageable at first and then got way worse over the course of time resulting in plenty of hardships in our relationship and a few very urgent vet visits. Since reading this book and learning how to really understand how he's ...more
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
For complete dog novice's such as my family with our first puppy this book was reassuring and made me feel my instincts had led me down the right track when it comes to training our puppy. I got this book from the library after we had our puppy for about 8 weeks so did not follow the advice on selecting a puppy. I agree with another reader that writing off rescue pups or in our case a pup from an unplanned pregnancy (farm dog) is not ideal. I am glad I didn't read that advice before getting our ...more
Jul 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I read this book at the request of an animal behaviorist I saw regarding my own pup who has anxiety.

In truth, I am not the average reader, as I have past experience working in animal environments where I learned many of the elements that are covered in this book.

Regardless, even for someone who is not a newbie to dog behavior, I found nuggets of wisdom within this text. Additionally, I feel this book is a good reminder/guide for all dog owners, especially those who may be seeing some strange beh
Jan 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Decoding Your Dog is a perfect introduction for first time dog owners, but anyone who owns or works with dogs will benefit from this. All of the information is backed up by studies and I love that it is compiled by veterinary and veterinary behaviorists. I have 2 dogs that have been through all levels of training, this book reaffirms everything that I've learned.
While some of the information does seem repetitive, that is because a lot of issues overlap. This isn't the be all, end all of trainin
Of Course I'm Reading This because of a Bad Dog

This book presents a lot of behavioral information for dogs and their people. Much of it is targeted for pups, but there are chapters in adult and senior dogs, which provide some interesting insights. Still haven't decided if the info is going to be useful for my fur nephew's issues, but it has given us some things tho think about, at least.
Jan 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great insights on dogs behavior

One of my two senior dogs currently started to become aggressive towards our other senior dog. I bought this book to try to find out about what would have caused the issue. I really enjoyed the reading and I got a lot of information I needed to understand a dogs behavior
nancy jill kennedy
Very informative

I found it worth the time and effort it took to read this book about dogs and behaviour issues. It is written so that anyone can understand and hopefully put the techniques in action. It is reassuring that a frightened dog can become calm and relaxed during stressful situations.
Edi McNinch
Sep 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good resource

Good resource for helping train your pet or figure out the why's and 'what fors ' when your fur baby has out of character behavior or before your pet has any behavior issues. Interesting to know what you makes that fur baby 'tick' and what you thought was true may be just an old wives tale.
Dawn Richards
Mar 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Limited but informative

I wanted to read this for information on senior dogs and concerns relating to changing behaviors. The last chapter dealt with this and was good, but limited. As to majority of the book, it seemed to cover many dog behaviors and advice mainly for newer owners. It would be very helpful.
Jun 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Good tips and advice for those who have just adopted, brought an older dog into the family, have a new puppy and/or are experiencing behavioral problems. In short, something for any dog owner! I especially liked the chapter on separation anxiety.
Allison Springer
Sep 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Just got my first pup 3 weeks ago, this book was incredibly helpful as we navigate puppy life. So many great tips, training advice, and general information that has shaped the way we are raising Loki. New and seasoned owners alike can definitely get something out of this quick read!
Dawn Lajeunesse
Nov 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
I admit to not reading this cover to cover. I focused on the areas that applied to issues with my own dog. But the coverage is comprehensive enough, that any reader with any dog would find useful and applicable help for their own dog.
donia eastman
Jun 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lots of good information

Lots of good information and the chapter titles allowed me to read what I wanted in the order that interested me. Followed from puppy to older dog. I liked that.
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Dr. Debra Horwitz is an expert and leader in the field of veterinary behavior with decades of experience. Past president of the ACVB, she was named 2012 Ceva veterinarian of the year and NAVC small-animal speaker of the year.

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