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The Dog Listener: Learn How to Communicate with Your Dog for Willing Cooperation

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  1,231 ratings  ·  120 reviews
In The Dog Listener Jan Fennell shares her revolutionary insight into the canine world and its instinctive language that has enabled her to bring even the most delinquent of dogs to heel. This easy-to-follow guide draws on Jan's countless case histories of problem dogs—from biters and barkers to bicycle chasers—to show how you can bridge the language barrier that separates ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published January 20th 2004 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published 2001)
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Average rating 3.87  · 
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 ·  1,231 ratings  ·  120 reviews

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Jul 16, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dogs
Things I like about this book: Use of positive and dog friendly methods instead of intimidation or physically hurting the dog. The things described in the book are basic polite dog behaviour things.

Things I don't like about this book: Fennel concentrates way too much on dominance. Dominance theory has been disproven with later studies of wolves and feral groups of dogs. There is no strict or unchanging social hierarchy between them. The things Fennel describes in amichien bonding do work, but fo
Last year I adopted a little sheepdog from a shelter, and he's one of the most caring and clever creatures I've ever met. He's given me hope and unconditional love when I've needed it the most. However, he came with considerable baggage from his puppyhood: the early months spent neglected and possibly abused, followed by being shunted between different shelters, didn't make for a very optimistic or trusting outlook on life. Things that I had taken for granted with dogs that I'd had previously - ...more
Mar 11, 2009 rated it liked it
I loaned this book to a friend with dog troubles. She gave it back to me explaining that she couldn't finish it. The book was just too large. She was just too busy to process it all.

This is ironic as Fennel's methods easily blend into ordinary daily person <-> dog interactions and are very simple.

The problem is that the book is 4 times larger than it needs to be. Her methods could have been explained in about 50 - 100 pages with plenty of room left over for some illustrative anecdotal accounts.

I recommend this book to dog owners all the time. If you want to simply and effectively understand how your dog thinks and how to fit that knowledge into your expectations of dog as pet, then read this book. It will show you how to help your dog 'be good' and unburden your dog from having to be what your signals would otherwise likely make him/her - top dog... a role a dog in a human environment simply can't handle, and one we humans simply don't want!
Jul 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Part memoir with numerous case studies from her practice as a dog trainer and part training guide, this book provides the basis for Fennell's Amichien training. I loved it.
Y.K. Willemse
Aug 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Practical and extremely helpful.
Oct 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Categorically unsurpassed, this revolutionary method is simple but effective. A must read for all dog owners!

I cannot recommend this book highly enough to all dog lovers and owners, who want to gain an understanding of how their canine friend communicates and acts in the way that he/she does. With a foreword by legendary and highly renowned horse trainer Monty Roberts, one knows instantly that Jan Fennell’s advice and study of canine behavior is going to be spot on. Learning the language of you
Oct 10, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone with a big dog
When we decided that we would take on the responsibility of a dog, my mother in law sent us this book from England. It sat on the shelf until we eventually rescued a four month old Chocolate Labrador who was already weighing in at 47 lbs. Charlie started out fine, but it became quite obvious that he was going to need some pretty serious training. I picked up Jan's book and started practicing her preach right away. The theory behind her book is the wolf pack mentality and how a dog must know it's ...more
Apr 03, 2020 rated it liked it
As I don't own a dog, but have relatives who own them (big ones) - I wanted to learn something about how to get along with them. I learned a bit, and that's all I really was looking for. Sorry... not a dog owner, so limited interest here.
Natasha Acres
Apr 01, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a really interesting book for those that have dogs that don't fit in with your idea of the perfect pet!

We have a 'spirited' (at best) or 'hyperactive' (at worst) border collie that has given us plenty of fun but also plenty of concern. He fits in well at home but anything out of the norm (like visiting other people) makes him pretty manic.

I read this book in the hope to see if I understood what makes him tick and it's given me a really good insight into dog behaviour. Its simply written
Apr 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dogs
I first read this book back in 2001, when the original came out. (Such was my infatuation with dogs, that I would read a dog training books when I didn't have any of my own.) I loved it, and recommended it to everyone I knew who'd gotten dogs. (There is a chance that I earned a "pushy" label during that time.)

Ten years later (two months ago), I adopted two dogs from our local shelter and immediately requested this book from the library. It is as insightful as ever. Jan's ideas work. One of the t
Nov 03, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: could-not-finish
I'm an avid dog lover and had decided to start dog sports with my Border Collie and German Shepherd, so I devoured every "dog" book I could get my hands on. This book, to me, was a horribly written rip-off of many of the better known authors in this genre. If you want a good book on interacting with your dog, or better understanding your relationship with your canine companion, check out Dr Patricia McConnoll's For the Love of a Dog: Understanding Emotion in You and Your Best Friend or her first ...more
Aug 25, 2012 rated it liked it
Excellent outline of how to communicate with dogs, including working on several problem behaviours. However, I would have loved a bit more detail in each case study, some felt a bit like Step 1) I meet a dog with a behaviour problem Step 2) I use my magic skills of ignoring the dog to make the dog view me as its leader Step 3) I teach the owners to also ignore the dog Step 4) The dog is cured!

I would recommend this book to anyone who is adopting a new dog because it contains fantastic ideas in t
Aug 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
In my opinion this is the best book on dog "training" currently available. Jan Fennell talks about what is really important to dogs and how to be a non-confrontational leader in those situations. When my business partner and I tried her techniques with our clients, we saw amazing results in very little time. I whole-heartedly recommend this book to all dogs owners and everyone who works with dogs.
Feb 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
Interesting book, but I would recommend Patricia McConnell or Nicole Wilde for a more complete training method.
I like the fact that she uses only humane training methods, but I question her emphasis on pack leadership being the root of all behaviour problems.
Read this book if you are interested in dog training, but read Wilde and McConnell as well.
Tami Roof
Jan 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I know it's pathetic, but at one point I cried reading this book. I was reading a part in the book explaining the behavior of a dog and it just hit a soft spot. Very good training book for any dog owner.
Jeanne Daly
Jul 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: scanned
Everyone will find something helpful in the book. Great resource for positive training methods. No matter what problem you are having with your dog this book will help you find a method of training to help you and your dog.
Jul 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
You'll find a million training books out there for sit, stay, heel, but ultimately what we need is for our dogs to be calm and receptive to our requests. If you are training or having problems with your dog, this is a simple guide to having a better relationship with your pet.
Aug 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Very good. Makes sense. Tactics seem to be helping a 7 year old, separation anxiety ridden dog.....somewhat. May just take more time.
Lynn Pribus
Mar 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very similar approach to Cesar Milan's. An older book from the UK with few reviews. Her gimmick is to be the alpha wolf in the pack, which pretty much translates to Milan's pack leader.
Diane Anderson
Feb 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
should be required reading for anyone planning to get a dog or who already has one
Oct 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, 2017
Some good advice on raising a calm and responsive dog, surrounded by unnecessary anecdotes that I mostly skipped.
Jun 04, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
“The reality is that any fool can wind up a dog: it takes a genuine dog lover to create a happy and contented pet”
Jorgen Lundgren
We just adopted a 6 year old Romanian rescue dog and as a first time dog owner we started to read up on the subject. Evie as she is called is a very frightened dog and we have no knowledge of what her experience in Romania has been. We assume she has been a street dog and that she could have gone through some horrific events over her years. Reading Jan Fennells book and try to understand and implement amichien bonding as Jan refers to throughout the book, we are trying to become leaders of the p ...more
Ruud de de Voogt
Jul 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I also know views assuming the dog is not descended from the wolf. Read John Bradshaw's excellent book "Dog Sense". So I have my reservations about the book being based on the idea of ​​dominance, that the dog naturally wants to take over the lead of the pack (especially in case of insecurity of other pack members), hierarchy in the pack and thus' Amichien Bonding ': determine who is the leader of the pack. On the other hand ... it turns out to work, Ms. Fennell has built a huge reputation and t ...more
Leanne Kidd
Oct 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It's not the writing style that I love about this book, but the content. Jan Fennell can be compared to the Horse Whisperer (Monty Roberts) in that she uses the natural communication of the animal to build the human/animal bond. Currently, my dog does not have much time remaining (he is suffering from congestive heart failure), and after reading this book over the past couple of days, I feel sad that for years my poor little guy thought that he was alpha and felt that he was responsible for me. ...more
Nov 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I have seen Monty Roberts work with horses and was intrigued to read this book by Jan Fennell who brought into play some of Monty Roberts' ideas. I have worked with or around animals all my life and found her tips based on sound research, some of which lots of people who work with animals had already concluded for themselves but none the less useful, especially for people new to this field.
I found the first few chapters the most useful, subsequent chapters were demonstrative case histories which
I really tried, but couldn't make myself finish this book. I appreciate that the author wanted to use humane methods (which is why I gave an extra star), but her entire training philosophy is based on Pack Theory which has long been summarily debunked. Besides the fact that captive wolves that have to form a pack behave dramatically different than wolf packs in the wild do, domesticated dogs are like wolves only to the same extent that humans are like chimpanzees. Many of the behaviors discussed ...more
Dustin Holloway
Oct 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
I don't know that I buy the central premise of this book: that we need dogs to see us as "alphas" in order to get them to behave. But that doesn't mean that I think the practical training processes that she lays out are incorrect. Basically: don't punish; ignore bad behavior, as it's often used to get attention; wait for your dog to calm down before you offer affection or attention; and build a solid foundation at home before taking it out into the wider world where more distractions exist. Not ...more
Vanessa Condez
Feb 02, 2020 rated it liked it
Useful to learn the basic rules of boundaries and limitations to have a less anxious dog. However, the more I read the more I got thrown off by her repetitive and constant self congratulating speech. I'm also not sure on the effectiveness of these methods for absolutely every behavioral issue... as I hear more and more often that dominance is not the most enlightened way to truly respect and understand dogs or their true happiness.
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