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How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend: A Training Manual for Dog Owners

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  2,401 ratings  ·  196 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
Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Published May 15th 2001 by Little, Brown and Company (first published January 1st 1978)
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Average rating 3.97  · 
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 ·  2,401 ratings  ·  196 reviews

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Mar 29, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 07, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 05, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Eugene Mah
Jul 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dogs, dog-training
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
Aug 12, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Read this book if you want your dog to be afraid of you and ruin any possible relationship you'd have with him.
Katie Boyer
Feb 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have never owned a dog but am doing some reading to prepare to get one soon. I like their overall approach and attitude. I can definitely see myself referencing this during dog training later too.
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.
Mar 05, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, dogs
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.
Jenifer Holland
Jan 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Full of good humor; insights into dog and human nature; and just general, all-around practical tips. This book was worth every page!
Jan 11, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
What a wonderful, promising title! And what a huge disappointment.

I had high expecations for this book given its great ratings and the great title, but wasnt only disappointed but in many parts actually shocked by the extremely outdated methods the monks recommend. Are you interested in reading how to be your dogs best friend (while actually also successfully training them)? Then this is definitely not the book to read.

Of course, the monks are no monsters, they genuinely try to teach an approac
Aug 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My family and I are raising a puppy this summer. It’s great fun but no easy job. My parents had a copy of this book on the shelf when I was a kid, so I picked one up too. We’re using some of the techniques recommended here and some from other guides. The fairly old-school methods described by the monks of New Skete often polarize opinion among today’s dog owners. What I appreciate most about the book is that it offers sane answers to two very important questions: “Are dogs wolves?” and “Are dogs ...more
Ambrose Miles
Nov 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh, those monks are a clever bunch! I, however am throughly biased...I trained my dog the New Skete way. Perfect.
Jun 10, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dog-training
I am hovering between a 1.5 and a is really hard to say. This is not a book for amateurs---if you want to learn to train your dog, check out Patricia McConnell, Jean Donaldson, Victoria Schade, Ian Dunbar, and a host of others. This book is more for someone who is well versed in Dog and is just curious about another perspective.

The Monks are, at best, highly hypocritical. Most things they recommend are just not something a "best friend" would do. Their idea of discipline is...well, archai
Jun 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 27, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
Oct 30, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
I got this book as a recommended dog training manual (from an internet list somewhere). Unfortunately, only maybe 50 of 350 pages were about actually training your dog, and the rest was,

"If you/your dog has a problem, make sure to take them to obedience training! / Solve it when they're a puppy! / Breeding takes out these undesirable traits! / etc."

Okay, but that doesn't ... help me ... that much now.
Plus, it's obvious the authors are pretty much elitists when it comes to dogs, and there's mayb
Todd Lewis
This book was recommended to us when we got our first German Shepherd puppy back in early '96. I can't recall if I read the entire book back then. Today we just got our third GSD from a local rescue organization, and I thought I'd dust off this book again.

The overall tenor of the book is great. It focuses on incorporating your dog into every aspect of your life, not just carving out a few minutes before work and a few minutes after. The idea of "inseeing," trying to truly understand your dog's a
Aug 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dogs
A loving, thorough manual for training and orienting a dog. My only complaint is the length. There is just a lot of discourse in each section and I'd rather get to the meat of each issue. Although, I guess there isn't enough discourse for all the reviewers who find the monks cruel (below). There are so many qualifiers for each thing they say. For example a reviewer is horrified at the remark "How hard should you hit a dog? A good general rule is that if did not get a response ... it wasn't hard ...more
Laurel Flynn
Feb 19, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: animals
One caveat to this review: I read the old edition of this book and some techniques given are outdated. Exercising your dog by "road-work", walking using a car, would not be tolerated today. But read along with other dog-training books I found the no-nonsense approach to bringing up your pup to be refreshing. There are points in the narrative where the reader is advised about the realities of dog ownership, to re-evaluate fitness to be an owner. If you can't devote time and consistent effort to y ...more
Jul 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Best book on the topic, hands down. We purchased this book many years ago and used it to train two rescue dogs, one of whom was a huge HUGE handful (especially destructive and out of control misbehavior). Using this book as a guide, we guided those two dogs into becoming extremely well behaved, loving life partners. And that "handful of a dog" was often cited by friends and neighbors as turning into the "perfect" dog. And he was. He lived a long happy life, but has since passed.

Since we gifted t
Jun 09, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
After finishing this book I read through some of the reviews and am mystified by people's attitudes towards this book. About 99% of the book is how to connect with and train your dog, with super specific technique, and 1% is teaching how to the physically discipline the dog in the very rare cases that the dog does not respond to any sort of correction. Leash popping is not physical discipline! It does not choke the dog! The monks are extremely clear that they do not advocate any sort of violence ...more
Thiago Marzagão
Lots of useful practical advice about grooming, socialization, exercise, feeding, how to read a pedigree. But the parts about disciplining your dog - shakedowns and the like - are awfully outdated. Ilana Reisner's "The learning dog: a discussion of training methods" is a neat review of the scientific research on training methods and worth reading. It shows that dogs that are "dominance-trained" have way more behavior problems than dogs that are trained with positive reinforcement methods. Also, ...more
Carey Nelson
Jul 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, game-changers
I wish I would have read this before getting our dogs. Truthfully, I really struggle with them. I wasn't raised to have the same wonderful feelings about dogs that it seems every single other person on the planet has. I started grinding my teeth and feeling anger after the dogs came into the house. That's not who I want to be.

Something about this book changed my perspective. I'm considering letting the dogs sleep in our bedroom now. We had private training lessons for our first dog. They were he
Nov 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a great beginner dog training book. It covered how to’s and problem solving for all your basic commands. I liked the back story on how the monks train their dogs and they even train other people’s dogs for a few. If I lived in England - I’d definitely have these guys train my dog!
Dec 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am down a rabbit hole of all things dogs right now. I really enjoyed this book. Great information, lots of game ideas for your dog, total emphasis on relationship—worth the read if you are looking for ideas in training your dog.
Jehanzeb Khan
Jan 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A radical and unorthodox approach to dog training. Some people might find it to a bit harsh; I think it's an important lesson in establishing the role of the alpha in a dog household. Highly recommended.
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Although there is a limited amount of good advice in here, it is far outclassed by the advice to HIT YOUR DOG and relies on alpha theory, which has been disproven. You are much better off taking a obedience class
Aug 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dog-ownership
A great read to prepare me for the adoption of my Catahoula mix. I definitely attribute the lessons I learned in this book to how smoothly the adoption went and how quickly we were able to bond.
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“Learning the value of silence is learning to listen to, instead of screaming at, reality: opening your mind enough to find what the end of someone else's sentence sounds like, or listening to a dog until you discover what is needed instead of imposing yourself in the name of training. — THOMAS DOBUSH, Monk of New Skete (October 9, 1941–November 7, 1973), in Gleanings, the Journal of New Skete, Winter 1973   I” 0 likes
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