Recomendations for keeping Pretty Boy Floyd happy
June 10, 2011 1:15 PM   Subscribe

What is the most valuable book or website about dogs, dog training, & dog behaviour.

Myself and Mr. Fence have picked up a puppy, Pretty Boy Floyd is 8 weeks old, his mother is a collie cross and the father is a labrador spaniel cross. We've had him two days and things are going well. He has had a little run in with our cat Lady Mew but she is mostly tolerating him.
I've looked through the past dog-book questions & gotten a fair amount of recommendations, but am still looking for more. Also for any websites. I'm more of a positive re-enforcement person I think.

Both of us have had dogs growing up, but Floyd is the first dog that is solely ours so I want to make sure I have the best of advice :)
posted by Fence to Pets & Animals (11 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
I was just about to ask a similar question! I just read Animals Make us Human (the dog chapter at least) by Temple Grandin and it made so much sense to me. She covers the basic origins and natural tendencies of dogs and why they react the way they do in certain situations. I'm hoping to find the next step from there, a) the book isn't dog specific, so there isn't as much pooch info as I would like, and b) it's more of a theoretical foundation book than a practical training tool and I'd like to find the practical version, if it exists.

I did try one technique mentioned, on the same principle that hugging is therapeutic to people, squeezing an anxious dog is soothing to them. So when my beagle started crying at the dog out the window I picked him up and bear hugged him for a while. When I put him down he was limp as a wet noodle, I've never seen anything like it; he's such a whiney sissy pants and we've had such a hard time trying to calm him down. Problem solved.
posted by Carlotta Bananas at 1:34 PM on June 10, 2011

So basically it's an excellent resource for understanding dog emotions and motivation, which is essential when training a dog. Can't stop behaviour when you don't know why they do it.
posted by Carlotta Bananas at 1:38 PM on June 10, 2011

Best answer: Pretty Boy Floyd is, in fact, so pretty that I almost can't answer your question. I'm too distracted by the cute!

I really like Ian Dunbar. I like his methods, which are much more positive reinforcement than anything Cesar Milan does. For example, he says that you can't get angry at a dog for doing something you don't want him to do if you haven't taught him the house rules. He can't guess at them but you can teach them to him. (and actually, he stresses that you really shouldn't get angry at a dog at all for being a dog; it's what they do best.)

I heard John Bradshaw on NPR a while back and I really connected with what he said, too. I'll be reading his books as soon as they come in to our library.
posted by cooker girl at 1:39 PM on June 10, 2011

Ian Dunbar is great. You'll also find a lot of good advice & discussion forums at Dogster.
posted by judith at 2:01 PM on June 10, 2011

Best answer: Ian Dunbar, Patricia McConnell, Karen Pryor, Pat Miller, Brenda Aloff etc. all have excellent dog training books, and Jean Donaldson's The Culture Clash is the best all-around dog behavior book there is, IMO.

Try not to get your information from one source (since what makes the most sense to you may be better expressed by one author than another), but most of the modern, science-based dog trainers are in agreement about the basic ways to change behavior (positive, reward-based motivational training that recognizes dogs have choices). Avoid the Monks of New Skete (even their new book is far too heavy on the dominance nonsense, although they no longer recommend alpha rolls, so there's that), Cesar Milan, and anything else based on "dominance", pack theory or corrections-based training, we know a lot more about dogs than we used to, these guys are still working on 30-year-old ideas, that were wrong even then.

Your pup still should go to classes (positive, modern, science-based, of course), since there is no substitute for actual hands-on help from an experienced and good dog trainer in a group setting (helps with socialization and proofing also!).
posted by biscotti at 2:22 PM on June 10, 2011 [5 favorites]

Best answer: I have a particular affection for this book, Smarter Than You Think, not for its training techniques, but for its general approach to thinking about dogs. I bought the book shortly after I got my first challenging dog, and I credit it in large part with helping me to understand just how intelligent and creative dogs can be, and how important it is to understand and respect your dog. That's really the foundation of a successful relationship, even with a dog.

If you can find it at a library, I think it's worth a read, although I wouldn't recommend it wholeheartedly enough to suggest you buy it, necessarily.

As I recall (I haven't read it in some time), a lot of the specific recommendations are a little weird and not that useful, so I don't think I can recommend it for that. For actual training, I second those who recommend positive training techniques, and avoiding dominance based training. A good local group training class is ideal for that--they'll call it 'positive' or 'reward based' training, usually. And if you already have cable, watch some of It's Me or the Dog if you get a chance. We've gotten a few really good tips and tricks from that show, particularly ideas for challenging puzzle games for keeping smart dogs interested and engaged.

Another resource I like is the blog The Other End of the Leash, which analyzes dog behaviors and approaches in detail, and always provides interesting perspectives.

Ultimately, though, get to know and understand your dog, first and foremost. The better you know your unique dog, the better you'll be able to pick and choose the right techniques and methods for him.

Also, please tell him that a crazy dog lady on the internet says he is a very handsome guy.
posted by ernielundquist at 3:57 PM on June 10, 2011

Best answer: A top notch resource IMO is Ed Frawley's Leerburg.

You can access tons of free content, and his approach is really excellent. You will learn
a lot about dog behaviour and how to deal with it.
posted by theKik at 7:34 PM on June 10, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks all, lots of reading to be done, I work at a library so that should help ease the costs. We do watch Cesear Milan's show, and I think that in certain circumstances his stuff might work, but I much prefer Victoria Stillwell's approach.

Carlotta Bananas I actually have that on my "library books" shelf so I must at least skim through the dog section.

theKik Leerburg looks interesting, plenty of free resources to which always helps.

biscotti unfortunately there aren't a huge amount of puppy classes near where we live. And in Ireland we don't seem to do dog parks either. But we do want to get him properly socialised so we'll keep trying for something like that.

Thanks all. And I'll tell him how handsome he is, don't worry :)
posted by Fence at 5:01 AM on June 11, 2011

I highly recommend a subscription to The Whole Dog Journal. For $20 per year you get access to their entire back issue archive online. It is a treasure trove.
posted by medusa at 9:29 AM on June 11, 2011

you can read Calming Signals by Turid Rugaas, a Norwegian dog trainer (formerly a horse trainer). Sue Ailsby and Suzanne Clothier are two other trainers that I like.
posted by catrae at 10:59 AM on June 11, 2011

I don't think much of his books, but we have found THE DOG WHISPERER's TV show to be quite useful in helping to deal with our troubled but wonderful dog. (I do think Cesar is a little too hung up on things like going through the door first, but I dig his basic thing--that a consistent calm, assertive attitude makes all the difference.)
posted by Lizzle at 4:32 PM on June 15, 2011

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