Help me be a great dog owner.
May 16, 2012 7:18 AM   Subscribe

I'm going to be a dog owner soon but I've only owned cats. I want to be a great dog owner. Can you recommend a good all-in-one book to get me ready for training and care?
posted by sharkfu to Pets & Animals (18 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
How to be your dog's best friend by the monks of New Skete, NY.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:33 AM on May 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

*there's also at least one documentary about those monks that I saw somewhere, it was very enjoyable.
posted by RolandOfEld at 7:35 AM on May 16, 2012

I'd suggest DVRing (if you can) as many episodes of The Dog Whisperer as possible and watching those. They don't go too much into care, but I think they provide a solid foundation of logical training. I have two 3 year old French Bulldogs that are willful as all heck, but utilizing what I picked up from that show has helped tremendously.

Here's a YouTube link that might be helpful
posted by EKStickland at 7:38 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

I can't think of any "All in one books" but these are 2 dog training books that really helped me.

The Other End of the Leash. This is more an interesting book about how people interact with dogs and what they can do better to communicate with them. Changed the way I thought about how my dogs view me and what I am trying to tell them.

This isn't a all in one book but and might not be for everyone if you have dogs that want to please you, but I found this super helpful as I have 2 super stubborn, what's in it for me terriers I was trying to train. When Pigs Fly.
posted by wwax at 7:39 AM on May 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

Oh just read The Dog Whisperer recommendation, my 2c worth on that are I tried his methods first and they made my dogs worse, but as a caveat my dogs where rescues with serious behavioural issues caused by abuse when I got them. Having said that my brother has used similar methods on his dogs, all of which he got as pups and all his dogs are well behaved and happy, so be aware that just as different people have different personalities so do dogs and what works for one might not work for another.

The ASPCA has a good general dog care book, I have seen copies of it at my local library. It seemed to cover all the basics quite well though.
posted by wwax at 7:47 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

We used Super Puppy and I think it was very helpful.
posted by brilliantine at 7:55 AM on May 16, 2012

- How to Behave So Your Dog Behaves by Sophia Yin
- Don't Shoot the Dog!: The New Art of Teaching and Training by Karen Pryor
- The Other End of the Leash: Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs by Patricia B. McConnell

I would highly recommend that you DO NOT use the Dog Whisperer as a guide.
posted by OsoMeaty at 8:42 AM on May 16, 2012 [8 favorites]

biscotti keeps a selection here. Scroll down to "Recommended reading."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:44 AM on May 16, 2012

While it does not cover dog training, The dog owner's home veterinary handbook is indispensable when it comes to both minor and major health concerns for your pet. It will help you learn how to keep your dog healthy and how to recognize when he is not.
posted by tr0ubley at 8:57 AM on May 16, 2012

Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know

"Alexandra Horowitz, a cognitive scientist, explains how dogs perceive their daily worlds, each other, and that other quirky animal, the human. Horowitz introduces the reader to dogs’ perceptual and cognitive abilities and then draws a picture of what it might be like to be a dog. What’s it like to be able to smell not just every bit of open food in the house but also to smell sadness in humans, or even the passage of time? How does a tiny dog manage to play successfully with a Great Dane? What is it like to hear the bodily vibrations of insects or the hum of a fluorescent light? Why must a person on a bicycle be chased? What’s it like to use your mouth as a hand? In short, what is it like for a dog to experience life from two feet off the ground, amidst the smells of the sidewalk, gazing at our ankles or knees?"
posted by donovan at 9:07 AM on May 16, 2012

I do not like the Dog Whisperer at all. I think Alexandra Horowitz (mentioned above) makes a good case for why his whole theory of wolfish dominance and pack-life, etc, doesn't really work as well with domesticated dogs. Plus, his techniques are just really regressive (mentioned above). I always recommend How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend by the Monks of New Skete. Also, if you want to be a GREAT dog owner you could consider meeting with an animal behavioralist for your first few training sessions, they generally are a lot more knowledgeable than the kids at PetCo.
posted by blue_bicycle at 10:13 AM on May 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

A good book is great -- and you have plenty of suggestions here, but also ask your vet to recommend a qualified trainer.

The trainer will spend more time training you than he or she will spend training your dog.
posted by notyou at 11:21 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Another vote for both Alexandra Horowitz and Patricia B. McConnell, and another vote against the Dog Whisperer.
posted by trip and a half at 12:13 PM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have most of the books that the Monks of New Skete have released, they are a good foundation. I too would recommend you read them BEFORE you get your dog! And, after watching countless episodes of the Dog Whisperer, have come to dislike the manner with which he subtly terrorizes his dogs, I'm not interested in my dog fearing me.

Does that mean that my dog is as well behaved as one of the DW's subdued pitbulls? Probably not, but I'll take my over active, leap on me once in a while, sleep next to me Husky over one of his terrorized and submissive dogs any day of the week.

Have fun, and good for you in doing the research first!
posted by HuronBob at 1:39 PM on May 16, 2012

Seconding Karon Pryor's book.
posted by Silvertree at 2:18 PM on May 16, 2012

nthing Inside of a Dog as a very interesting read.

I remember reading Mother Knows Best: The Natural Way to Train Your Dog by Carol Lea Benjamin when my parents got their Dalmatian puppy. I think it's mostly geared towards puppies, though. (They also had a New Skete book (that the dog chewed up — commentary?).)

If you're adopting an older/shelter dog, Benjamin also has a book geared to that: Second-Hand Dog: How to Turn Yours into a First-Rate Pet.

We also read Other End of the Leash and several breed-specific books before adopting our greyhound. If you're working with a breed rescue group, they likely have recommendations for things they think you should read.

Oh, and I found A Small Furry Prayer: Dog Rescue and the Meaning of Life by Steven Kotler fascinating and heartwarming.
posted by mon-ma-tron at 2:22 PM on May 16, 2012

Wow, I don't think I've ever had a answer pooped as much as my Dog Whisperer recommendation.

It's probably worthwhile to evaluate all the suggestions here- I have no knowledge of the Monks of New Skete book, nor the Horowitz or McConnell approaches. I can only attest to my experience with my dogs, who are neither terrorized nor paranoid as a result of my efforts.

The things about the Dog Whisperer approach that I feel most important are the focus on the human's energy and its effect on the dog and learning to recognize and respond appropriately to behavior (i.e. not lavishing attention on aggressive/fearful/anxious animals to make them feel better).
posted by EKStickland at 2:29 PM on May 16, 2012

If I were in your shoes I'd start with Patricia McConnell and Pat Miller. If you have time, read everything else, keeping your critical faculties open. Biscotti's recommended reading (scroll way down, linked above) is great.

Oh, and take a look at the Alexandra Horowitz book everyone else is recommending, plus Turid Rugaas's Calming Signals.
posted by tangerine at 10:10 PM on May 16, 2012

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