A good book on basic dog training?
May 6, 2015 6:27 PM   Subscribe

We recently adopted a 7 month old dog from the local shelter, a 37 pound border collie mix awesome mutt. We really need a good book to give us direction in training him to be even awsomer and deal with a few problems.

We're currently choosing a trainer to work with us, but we'd also like a book that teaches us the basics. What we really need is a guide. The commands we need to teach him, and how. When he does this, this is how you correct him. Etc.

Some of the things, other than basic stuff that we need guidance on:

- he has seperation anxiety. Not as bad as stories I've heard, and we're working on it, but it's still a work in progress.

- he gets very excited when he sees another dog. He hasn't been aggressive. But he barks and whines until he gets to sniff the other dog.

- barking at random people. 99 percent of the time he 's great with people and ignores them. And he's fine with people petting him. But every once in a while we'll come across a jogger or person working in the yard and he acts aggressive to them. I don't believe he would be, but the reaction probably leads the other person to believe he would be (he's never bitten anything or showed teeth).

A book that laid out basic training, along with plans of action when these things happen, would be great. But there are so many books on dog training. We were hoping someone with experience or in the field could recommend one.

Thanks for any help.
posted by ratherbethedevil to Pets & Animals (9 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I like Patricia McConnell's The Other End of the Leash as a very good book about thinking about how to manage dog behavior just in general. As a specific primer to dog training, I LOVE everything Brian Kilcommons has put out; there is a lot of very good advice in there with some good explanations about how to teach certain things, plus pictures to give you a feel for how to position your hands. With respect to getting excited about other dogs, try googling "Look At That" training, which is a technique that is very popular in my circles that comes out of a book called Control Unleashed by Leslie McDevitt.

All of these are positive reinforcement-based methods, incidentally.
posted by sciatrix at 6:33 PM on May 6, 2015 [5 favorites]

Speaking of Patricia McConnell, Family Friendly Dog Training is a great little guide with week by week instructions for the commands you should teach the dog.
posted by Squeak Attack at 6:51 PM on May 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Not a book but watch a bunch of Cecar Milan's Dog Wisper and you will get the gist of training a dog. I am not a particular fan of him but you will see some key things that dog owners do wrong.
posted by Mac-Expert at 8:01 PM on May 6, 2015

It's Me or the Dog is a great show that focuses on positive reinforcement rather than punishment.
posted by jaguar at 8:03 PM on May 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

I actually contemplated warning you off Cesar Milan on the grounds that while he does have some good points, his methods are badly outdated and tend to rely heavily on force grounded in theory that has some, shall we say, dodgy foundations. (Alpha rolls are bullshit, canids do not normally force other canids into belly rolls for any reason, and the entire alpha-beta-omega concept is based off of observations of captive wolves in very artificial, stressful conditions. Wolf packs are generally structured rather like human families, and in any case dogs are not remotely the same as wolves.)

If you would like to watch a reality show full of people making terrible pet owner decisions and organized around a trainer helping them fix things, I recommend Victoria Stillwell's It's Me or the Dog. Also based around positive reinforcement, generally very sensible, and done with a minimum of theater. The British version has less "look how terrible these people are" reality TV flash than the later American version.
posted by sciatrix at 8:06 PM on May 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

posted by sciatrix at 8:06 PM on May 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh, yeah, if you can find the British episodes, they're much better. Sitwell gives similar advice in the American version, but you have to deal with all the annoying "reality"-tv fake-tension in the American version.
posted by jaguar at 8:09 PM on May 6, 2015

Patricia McConnels' Feisty Fido is a book I have used recently with my terrier who has become a little reactive to other dogs now that we are living in the heavily dog populated city of Portland OR.
Because my dog is a bit of a genius I have hired a trainer that I found on the CAAB website. She is an animal behaviorist and is helping me get over a stumbling block with my dog's training. Basically my dog figures out each step in the training process in a couple of hours, and then randomly starts doing all the steps on his own for the reward. He is a stinker. She has helped us get past that. He improved after one week and I am much more relaxed as well. We are expanding his training into the separation anxiety that he has also developed since we moved here but I am hoping that the calmness that we are cultivating on his walks will seep into other area's as well.
I am a big fan of positive reinforcement and not into the whole alpha dog philosophy for a shy or fearful dog. I believe my own dog has taken our move much harder than I thought he would and I need to help him know that all this new stuff is great!!!! And not something he needs to guard against.
Good luck with your pup.
posted by cairnoflore at 9:35 PM on May 6, 2015

My favorite, for the overall effect perhaps not so much for specific technique, is from the Monks of New Skete: http://www.amazon.com/How-Your-Dogs-Best-Friend/dp/0316610003/

Also here http://www.dogsbestfriend.com/

Like all the other offerings you can take part or all or none of their suggestions, but it's a great perspective. Some of the more strict techniques were a big help for me with my quite smart and strong headed Australian Shepherd mix.
posted by kris.reiss at 7:41 AM on May 7, 2015

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