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Dogs: Books on behaviour (canine ethology and behavioural problems) and training philosophies

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See also:
Dogs: General
Dogs: Health and Nutrition
Dogs: Books on single breeds
Dogs: Origins, canine evolution and wolves
Dogs: Puppy and manners training
Dogs: Advanced training, including working dogs
Dogs: Breeding and kennel management
Dogs: Fiction and biography relating to dogs
Books on Animal Behaviour including Animal Coginition

Mr and Mrs Dog

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Mr. and Mrs.Mrs Dog Our Travels, Trials, Adventures and Epiphanies

Donald McCaig excels at telling stories. Mr and Mrs Dog is a story about two sheepdogs, Luke and June, who travel to Wales and compete in the World Sheepdog Trials with Donald. The book has you turning the page to see what will happen next. First, Luke and June prepare for the trials in the US, learning to become more flexible by working different kinds of sheep in varied terrains. There are nerve-wracking moments - will they be ready to compete? Will their health certificates be accepted by the airport bureaucracy? Will they survive Welsh roads? McCaig tells the story with details that make you feel you're there, whether in arid Texas, or soggy Wales. He gives you glimpses of different sheepdog cultures, and the people who keep those cultures going. Luke and June each emerge as individuals with something to say. Few people can write about communication between human and dog as well as McCaig. He has learnt to listen to his dogs, and respect their points of view.

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In Defence of Dogs [Paperback]

John Bradshaw
Publisher: Penguin (5 July 2012)
ISBN-10: 014104649X
ISBN-13: 978-0141046495

John Bradshaw is a biologist who heads the Anthrozoology Institute at Bristol University. His 'In Defence of Dogs' (called 'Dog Sense' in the US) has become a best-seller, partly because it presents some interesting research in a way that's easy to read. The book certainly has some strengths, for example an account of feral dogs in West Bengal, where dogs show pack-like behaviour, with males sometimes helping to feed their young (p73). Bradshaw contrasts this with the less pack-like behaviour of feral dogs in Italy. So, while he argues that dogs are not pack animals in the way wolves are, he does recognise that environment plays a part in how canids organize their lives. Similarly, he's uneasy about the idea of hierarchies among dogs, but he does note that some groups of dogs, especially sled and hunting dogs, tend to show clear hierarchies (p128). The issues of whether or not groups of dogs tend to 'pack', and the extent to which they form hierarchies are complex. The evidence cited by Bradshaw reflects this complexity, even if his conclusions may be a little simplistic.

Bradshaw also explains the potential of dogs for bonding with humans and other species, which sets them apart from wolves. Wolves can be tamed, but a tame wolf isn't truly domesticated, geared for life with humans. His account of the risks of breeding dogs for appearance is a useful reminder to would-be owners who may be seduced by the looks of the dog. Lastly, Bradshaw emphasises that dog-owners need to be more considerate of non-dog owners, and use discipline, or control, to prevent their pets from annoying people.

Actually, These Issues Are Complicated

So, Bradshaw makes some important points in a persuasive way. What are the book's weaknesses? First, Bradshaw's throw-away remarks on supermarket pet food as safe and nutritious are misleading. Canine nutrition is a complex topic. Bradshaw is aware of this, since he has worked in the pet food industry. He could either explain the issue in some depth or simply omit the topic.

Secondly, his treatment of aggression and its links to breed is simplistic. He illustrates the topic of by showing a pit bull baring its teeth (p269). This contributes to popular fears, especially in the UK, where most people have never knowingly met a pit bull. Bradshaw quotes statistics which appear to show that a higher proportion of pit bulls are involved in reported bites, compared with other breeds. They're dubious figures, given that less is known about the total population of pit bulls than of the other breeds quoted, such as German shepherds and Rottweilers. Furthermore, as Bradshaw himself notes, dogs from similar breeds are often described as pit bulls. So why include these statistics, if he knows they are misleading?

A definition of 'aggression' would be useful, and more recognition that dogs using their teeth as weapons isn't a one-dimensional issue. A dog may, for example, be very tolerant of small children, and extremely intolerant of other dogs, or easily spooked by intrusive owner handling, but too fearful of strange humans to be a danger to the public unless cornered. It's also worth researching the circumstances of bites, which often point to the value of public education, especially for children. Adults are not always sensible either. Some people in the UK are prone to petting strange dogs, especially those which look cuddly and 'safe', like golden and labrador retrievers, but temperament can vary enormously within 'cuddly' looking breeds.

Thirdly, Bradshaw's book is geared to pet dog owners. His throw-away remarks at the end, that owners of gundogs, sheepdogs and guard dogs are more likely to see their dogs as tools rather than companions (p277) do beg questions. Pet dog owners often choose dogs unwisely, following fashions rather than understanding the nature of what they are taking on. The dogs may be left alone for much of the day. A shepherd has a good idea of the dog he wants, and spends more time working with the dog as a partner. Which is the tool, the fashion accessory, or the working partner? As a shepherd friend said when his dog was stolen 'They not only stole a valuable dog with useful skills, they also stole a companion'.

Do Bradshaw's Conclusions Fit the Facts?

The biggest flaw of this book, however, is that Bradshaw's treatment of training fits uneasily with his evidence. He argues that 'traditional' trainers are misled by studies of captive wolves into thinking that dogs want to dominate humans. Recent research has shown wild wolves to be friendlier than previously thought, and dogs as more sociable than wolves. So the advice that owners should assert dominance by status reduction efforts, like eating or going through doors before the dog, is suspect. So far so good. Interestingly, Cesar Millan, Bradshaw's bugbear, has rethought his ideas on dominance, some of which were drawn from Bruce Fogle's 'The Dog's Mind', published in 1990 (1).

Bradshaw goes on to argue that, because dogs aren't wolves, we should use training techniques developed by wild animal trainers such as Karen Pryor. These techniques are based on operant conditioning, a method of learning developed by B.F. Skinner in the 1930s. He was a founding figure in a school of psychology known as behaviourism. Pryor emphasises the reward element of operant conditioning.

A key figure in British training, John Fisher, doesn't fit Bradshaw's model of traditional vs modern. In 'Think Dog', which came out in 1990, Fisher argued both for status reduction efforts, and for Karen Pryor's version of Skinner's model, with her emphasis on rewards (2). Fisher's position was actually more coherent than Bradshaw's - Fisher saw dogs as similar to wild animals, and advocated methods that were used with wild animals. Later he changed his mind about status reduction efforts, but sadly died before he had a chance to develop his ideas in depth.

In contrast to Fisher, Bradshaw has had the benefit of recent research on the nature of dogs, so could weave this research more firmly into his ideas on training, rather than opting for Skinner's somewhat impoverished view. Skinner saw punishment as a stimulus that discouraged a behaviour, and a reward as a stimulus that encouraged a behaviour. The animal's desires, its feelings, and its relationship with its handler were irrelevant, only observable behaviour was important. Ian Dunbar, whom Bradshaw praises as a 'modern' trainer, stresses that punishment 'doesn't have to be painful or scary', and, though Dunbar emphasises rewards, he argues that 'you will not get reliability unless you punish the dog when he gets it wrong' (3).

Bradshaw, however, defines 'positive punishment' as 'learning that results from physical pain or discomfort' (p113). This confuses the technical notion of punishment as a stimulus that discourages a behaviour with its everyday meaning of an unpleasant stimulus which may or may not discourage the behaviour. Bradshaw's definition also doesn't fit the facts. There are many stimuli that can discourage unwanted behaviour, and not all involve physical pain or discomfort. Dogs can learn not to do something simply because it annoys or upsets their owner, which in turn may upset the dog - mental rather than physical discomfort. Furthermore, some stimuli may just convey the message 'I don't want you to do that', which a dog may accept as useful information rather than something upsetting. Skinner, who focused on observable behaviour, wasn't interested in explaining that sort of communication.

Neither was Skinner especially interested in individual personalities, and there's a great variety in canine personality. Some dogs can be very upset by a slightly cross tone, while others respond to an angry bellow with a look that says 'Did you speak?' The best guide to whether or not you're seriously upsetting a dog is what that dog is telling you. It makes sense to read the dog in front of you rather than to read a book that makes assumptions about your dog.

Now, under what circumstances might we accept someone telling us 'I'd rather you didn't do that', or even 'You really mustn't do that' without feeling attacked? When we need information, and we trust the person who is giving us this information. In general, dogs are constantly checking us out for cues as to what's happening, and when something interesting, like a walk, might be on the cards. Some dogs, especially those designed to work closely with humans, have a very strong need for information, and can suffer when we don't give it to them. Steven Lindsay, who has written a science-based work on behaviour and training, places a lot of emphasis on building up trust (4). When dog and owner have learnt to trust one another, the meaning of 'Don't do that' changes.

Overreacting, for example, bellowing at a sensitive dog, is obviously unhelpful. Millan, mentioned by Bradshaw as an example of a 'traditional trainer', says 'it's never, ever right to punish a dog out of anger'(5). Millan also argues that 'Punishing a dog does not cure aggression - usually if a dog is in the red zone, it exacerbates it' (5). He uses 'punishment' in an everyday sense, and prefers the term 'correction' as a way to set limits. This is actually closer to the behaviourist concept of 'punishment' than the everyday meaning of the word (6).

Clearly, the word 'punishment' arouses our emotions, and we're not comfortable with it. It's also clear that relying too much on punishment, in either the everyday or the technical sense, doesn't help foster a good relationship. Dogs need to know what they are meant to be doing, as well as what they are not meant to be doing. However, the opposite extreme is also unhelpful. If you're afraid of ever saying 'don't do that' in case it causes upset, then you're failing to provide useful information. One difference between dogs and wolves is that it's easier prevent a dog doing something it enjoys. Dogs care more about what we want, and are better able to learn to trust us.

Bradshaw is well placed to explain how to develop a relationship of trust, but the sense of a developing relationship is missing in his chapter on 'The Science of Dog Training'. Furthermore, it's not until the end of the book that Bradshaw mentions one reason for training, and recognizes that some suffering may be necessary if dogs are to be discouraged from behaviour that could endanger them - or others, especially children. And, as Lindsay notes, training can also greatly improve the quality of a dog's life, by allowing owners to trust their dogs more and give them more freedom.

Bringing Up A Dog

Bradshaw doesn't actually define 'training', though his chapter on the subject covers teaching commands, eliminating unwanted behaviour, and teaching skills like retrieving. In a broad sense, basic training goes beyond this. It provides dogs with the skills they need to cope with everyday life. This includes coping with the physical world, as well as learning the social rules of the species the dog interacts with. We try to bring up dogs and kids to be the kind of individuals people want to be with, and to have strengths such as impulse control and resilience. This task is easier if we have a relationship of trust.

Bradshaw quite rightly stresses that we can have a richer relationship with a dog than with a wild animal, because a dog is capable of bonding and co-operation. First dogs need to be socialized. Bradshaw argues that the term 'socialization' 'ought to be reserved for what happens during the sensitive period' (p137), not during the juvenile period. Such a narrow definition is perhaps unhelpful. Socialization during the sensitive period is important, but isn't enough to allow dogs to develop their potential, especially if they are then kept isolated as juveniles.

Furthermore, what Bradshaw doesn't explain is that the ultimate goal of socialization is learning the social rules which allow the dog to get on with humans, other dogs and other species such as cats (7). Bradshaw could spell out that socialization goes beyond just meeting individuals from another species. Youngsters can learn good habits from sensible children, calm, well-mannered dogs, and cats that stand their ground. Unfortunately, they can also learn bad habits from unruly children and dogs, and cats that offer exciting chase games!

The Good Guys vs the Bad Guys

A major problem with this book is that Bradshaw perpetuates stereotypes, not just relating to pit bulls, also to polarization within the world of trainers. He presents the 'good guys', such as Karen Pryor, Jean Donaldson, and Ian Dunbar, vs the 'bad guys', notably Cesar Millan. John Fisher, who doesn't fit into this picture, doesn't get a mention, nor do the significant differences between some of the 'good guys' such as Pryor and Dunbar.

So Bradshaw sets up a simplistic division of dog people into 'two camps' in his chapter on training. He later complains, at the end of the book, about the problem of polarization within the world of training! What do Bradshaw's 'good guys' have in common? A belief that Skinner provides the best model for understanding how dogs learn, so the best way to train dogs. Is this a 'scientific' approach to bringing up a dog? Given the limitations of Skinner's model, perhaps not. Take the process of becoming a sheepdog. A pup starts to learn the ways of sheep long before the shepherd allows the dog to actually work them. Inexperienced youngsters may learn from more experienced dogs. Shepherds and their dogs can communicate in ways that are mysterious to onlookers. Sometimes shepherd directs the dog, other times the dog uses its initiative. Behaviourism focuses on what can be understood from observing single interactions, but what we have here is a long-term process of development, both of the skills of the dog, and the relationship between dog and shepherd.

Most dog owners don't have sheepdogs, we have pets. One major drawback of Bradshaw's 'modern methods' is that they can turn bringing up a pet dog into a very disjointed process. Responsible owners who rely on professionals may first 'socialize' the pup, then take the youngster to obedience training classes, teaching commands with 'hands off' methods. Then they teach the dog to accept being handled in separate lessons. However dogs are learning 24/7, not just in the few hours a week they may spend with professionals.

The issues that Bradshaw tackles after his chapter on training, like socialization, bonding, canine cognition and emotions, are all relevant to understanding how dogs learn. A chapter looking at training in a broad sense would fit at the end of the book, drawing on previous chapters. Bradshaw, for example, complains about the behaviour of dogs in his local park. Here's an opportunity to spell out that dogs are capable of learning social rules, like 'be gentle with children', or 'a polite dog does not chase cyclists', that dogs are learning all the time, so can learn good or bad habits from walks in the park, and that it's easier to teach polite behaviour right from the start than to eradicate bad habits later on. Socialization goes beyond just meeting another dog or human, dogs need good teachers to help them learn how to behave.

There's actually a fair amount of consensus among trainers on some issues, for example that if we want mannerly dogs, we need to be mannerly ourselves, and be considerate of cyclists and small children. Trainers also agree that right from the start, owners need to be able to handle pups in ways that calm them, rather than overexcite them, and that raising a dog is a long-term process, requiring structured lessons pitched to the youngster's level of development, gradually becoming more challenging as the dog develops its abilities.

There's little sense of this long term development from puppyhood to maturity in Bradshaw's book, partly because of his narrow approach to training. Perhaps also, Bradshaw's vision of a dog doesn't include maturity. He argues that canine 'behaviour becomes arrested at the (wolf's) juvenile stage' (p58), a vision that to some extent infantilizes adult dogs. People sometimes expect too much of pups. Ian Dunbar believes that an 8-week-old pup should come housetrained, and be able to 'come, sit, lie down and roll-over on cue'(8). Conversely, we may expect too little of adult dogs. A very important role for canine professionals is providing owners with long-term goals, and a vision of what their youngster may be capable of, if they put in the effort.

Is it worth reading this book? It's easy to read, though it might make you sputter and fume at some of the more simplistic assertions. However, people who are seriously interested in dog behaviour, and in particular, cognition, will find Miklosi more rewarding, while those who want to link behaviour and training can find a wealth of resources in Steven Lindsay's Applied Dog Behaviour and Training, especially vol 3. Neither work is perfect, both require more commitment and concentration than Bradshaw's book, but both authors are more thorough, take more pains to ensure their conclusions fit the facts, and their arguments are more coherent. In short, both take a more scientific approach.

Review by Alison Lever, 2014

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The Culture Clash

Looking Back in Time

Dogs have been very successful in evolutionary terms because of their close relationship with humans. Dogs have travelled with us across the globe, sometimes as work colleagues and companions, other times living on the fringes of human settlements. Dogs can pull heavy loads for us, keep us warm at night, and in some societies, they are even eaten. Long ago, humans discovered that selective breeding could enhance certain traits, such as a desire to co-operate with humans, or the stamina to pull a sled in cold weather for long periods.

Dogs are more versatile than wolves, and this is the key to their success. It's not just that we have specialist dogs such as sled dogs, sheepdogs and lapdogs. Dogs have a longer socialisation period than wolves, so it's possible for them to learn more about how to get on with members of their own, and other species. Most dogs are smart when it comes to assessing humans. In contrast to wolf pups, which want to play with each other, dog pups prefer to be with humans. Dogs like doing things with humans, which means that they need to understand us, our body language, and our smells, as well as our words. In the last decade, research on how dogs differ from wolves, and how dogs communicate with us has flourished. Thanks to the work of ethologists like Adam Miklosi in Hungary, and Marc Bekoff in the USA, we have new insights into what makes dogs tick, and what feats even the humble family pet is capable of. We also have more idea of how dogs are, in some  ways, similar to humans. Dogs, like humans, are social animals capable of relating to two species, and like all social animals, dogs have social rules, so in this sense they have 'morality', though it isn't quite the same as human morality. They're also sensitive to human moods, and can show empathy, which many dog owners can verify.

Reading 'Culture Clash' today is like moving through a time warp, back to 1996, when the book came out. You're swept back to a time when a simplified version of behaviourism became fashionable among dog people in Britain and the USA. Behaviourism is a school of psychology, and one of its founding fathers was B.F. Skinner, who did work with rats and pigeons, and who publicised the notion of operant conditioning with 'The Behaviour of Organisms', which came out in 1938. If you use the terms 'positive reinforcement' and 'positive punishment', you're talking the language of operant conditioning. Behaviourists aren't very interested in what is inside dogs' heads, but in what you can observe of how animals react to rewards and punishments.

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

Alexandra Horowitz
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd (4 Feb 2010)
ISBN-10: 184737347X
ISBN-13: 978-1847373472

Review by Tiffani Howell

Inside of a Dog is a book written by an ethologist and dog cognition researcher, but her book is highly readable. Although it delves into the latest science behind our understanding of the dog’s umwelt, she really takes care to explain what umwelt actually means*, and writes in a way that is easily digested by any interested lay reader. This book will give you a brief run-down of science’s rapidly evolving insights into dog behaviour, interspersed with short anecdotes about her life
with Pumpernickel, her dog. Some of these are humorous, and others are poignant, but all give the reader a sense of the importance she placed on her relationship with Pump. Horowitz also gives small snippets of advice along the way, to help the reader understand what their dog really wants.  All of these things together create a book that is fun to read and gives the reader a clear idea of how differently humans and dogs perceive their world.

The biggest criticism that I have of this book is that it may not go quite far enough in any of these senses. It was great to learn about what dogs are doing in laboratories throughout the world, but she was not as in-depth in her evidence-based explanations of dog behaviour as Adam Miklosi is in his book, Dog Behaviour, Evolution, and Cognition. If you want a more textbook-style approach to recent dog research, you would be better off with Miklosi’s book.  Furthermore, the anecdotes about her
relationship with Pump also leave me wanting to know more. If you want a book about a particular relationship between dog and human, get Marley and Me by John Grogan.  Finally, the suggestions about how to create a harmonious home for your dog, and letting him live his life to the fullest, are hardly comprehensive, either. A training book like Jean Donaldson’s The Culture Clash gives far more training advice while still considering the dog’s point of view.

So, there are books that do each of these aspects better than Inside of a Dog, but where Horowitz excels is in synthesizing all this material in a new way. For instance, she spends a large chapter discussing how a dog will use his nose in ways that humans can scarcely conceptualize, such as detecting cancers in humans. Later in the book, she describes different types of walks, such as walks where Pump would choose the direction, or walks where Pump was allowed to wander all over the sidewalk on her leash instead of heeling next to Horowitz. Another walk was a ‘smell walk’, in which Pump was allowed to sniff anything she wanted to, for as long as she wanted to.  Her advice was to try this with your own dog. So, she used the three common themes of her book (science, Pumpernickel anecdotes, and training advice) to tell an interesting story about what she did with her dog and why you should do it with your dog. Incidentally, I decided that I would try
this with my dog, but we had considerably less success than Horowitz and Pump appear to have had: when Silver stopped for a long time to sniff something without me eventually pulling her away, she invariably proceeded to eat old chicken bones, cat poo, used napkins, or whatever other disgusting items were waiting just underneath the ground cover.  Oh well. Not every piece of advice is suitable for every person and their dog.

To conclude, Inside of a Dog is a fun book that gives a quick overview of the science behind our understanding of dog behaviour and training. It will give you pause to think about how dogs perceive the world differently than we do, and indeed it gives a great explanation of how a dog’s vision compares to human vision. It also highlights her relationship with her dog, and gives a few training tips which should be taken with a grain of salt. Although each of these three elements individually are not as comprehensive as other books dedicated solely to them, when put together in Horowitz’s book, they all work together to create an informative but easy read.

*umwelt (pronounced OOM-velt) is the way all the senses interact to create a person or animal’s perception of the world around him.

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Handbook of Applied Dog Behavior and Training: Procedures and Protocols v. 3

Steven R Lindsay
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; Volume Three edition (29 Sep 2005)
ISBN-10: 0813807387
ISBN-13: 978-0813807386

Steven Lindsay's Applied Dog Behaviour and Training is an extremely useful resource. It is in three volumes, and pricey. The third volume is the most relevant for tackling problems, because it is the one with solutions, but all three volumes are well worth reading. The first two set you up for understanding the third volume, and give you a wealth of information on how dogs learn, and what may cause behavioural problems.

Lindsay can be a little idiosyncratic, and sometimes takes a long time to explain something simple, but he is very thorough, and has dog-sense. He is American, but like Britain's late John Fisher, has a grounding in dog training as well as a passion for understanding dog behaviour. Lindsay strongly links behavioural issues to training in a wider sense, including how owners may, without realising it, train their dogs to behave badly, as well as looking at other causes of why dogs do things we'd rather they didn't. British professionals who specialise in dog behaviour problems are grouped in the APBC, or Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors. You have to have an understanding of training in order to become a member of the APBC, so Lindsay, despite being American, fits easily into the British tradition. His pragmatic approach also fits with the British approach to tackling dog behaviour problems, for example, he stresses that the key issue for owners of
multi-dog households is to prevent fights, rather than debate the finer points of theories relating to wolf packs. Lindsay is particularly good on ways to build up trust between owner and dog, and on training as a way to improve the dog's quality of life, the two goals forming the basis of what he calls a 'cynopraxic' approach.

American dog culture, from which Lindsay writes, is rich and varied. It is affected by economic factors, for example, owners of dogs with behavioural problems represent a potentially lucrative market for the pharmaceutical industry. Unfortunately, owners are often only too happy to have their dogs diagnosed with medical problems, rather than wonder whether they might have taught the dog to behave badly. There are also veterinary behaviourists who prescribe medication and behavioural modification, and who perceive training as unhelpful for dogs with behavioural problems. To quote Karen Overall, from 'Clinical Behavioral Medicine for Small Animals':

'Obedience training, puppy kindergarten and individual training all have their roles. They function best to help recognise early signs of possible behavioral problems rather than to prevent them' (Overall, 1997, Mosby, p101).

This is a very narrow view of training, and expresses contempt for trainers, many of whom not only prevent but also treat behavioural problems, and have a keen interest in dog behaviour. This contempt for trainers does help to explain why some skilled American trainers think that academic research on dog behaviour is a waste of time. But Karen Overall's view is not scientific, it is counterfactual, plain wrong. Some behavioural problems are primarily caused by medical conditions, such as brain tumours. Some dogs are untreatable, such as those that inflict unpredictable, severe bites, and represent too much of a danger to humans to be allowed to live. Most dogs with mild to moderate behavioural problems can, however, be helped by training in the wider sense, which involves looking at the whole of the relationship between owner and dog, and what they are learning from every interaction.

Just being in a university, or having a PhD doesn't turn everything you do or say into 'science'. Science is to do with a respect for truth, a systematic and disciplined study of phenomena, asking questions, checking ideas, and being prepared to accept you may be wrong. If some academic scientists design experiments badly on account of their lack of dog sense, that intuitive understanding that comes from long-term experience with dogs, such design problems point to a need for a dialogue between the more skilled and experienced trainers and those researchers who have the greatest passion for understanding dog behaviour, so that each can learn from the other. Lindsay's work shows what can be achieved when academic science meets dog sense.

Lindsay's analyses of recent research on dog behaviour are a joy to read, in particular his discussion of why 'dominance aggression' may be an unhelpful term. Trainers who disbelieve that academic science can be useful will find that Lindsay agrees with them, yes much research on dogs has been flawed. However he does point out where studies have been useful. There are very few people who combine being dog-savvy with a striving for academic excellence in the way that Lindsay does, and fewer still have his breadth of knowledge.

The most common problem faced by owners is aggression. There are three chapters on agression in vol 3, starting off with 'Neurobiology and the development of aggression'. Readers without a background in biology or vet medicine will find this chapter heavy going, but just read it, read it again, and then a third time, and each time it hangs together better. Lindsay's view is that 'most treatable aggression problems are best approached by training owners and dogs how to get on together more competently and affectionately, rather than targeting aggression with physical punishment, mechanical restraint, or pharmacological suppression' (p311). That of course is what most owners want, to be friends with their dogs. Lindsay isn't just dog savvy, he is people-savvy. He discusses common mistakes that people make, such as sending mixed messages and failing to provide leadership, and he stresses the need for persuasion and flexibility when training owners.

Some people shudder at the idea of owners wanting to be friends with their dogs, arguing that one cannot be friends with a creature from another species, and that owners should be aim to be leaders, not friends. However, if you enjoy being with an individual, and there is mutual respect, there is friendship of a sort, even if you are from different species. Teaching dogs manners and coping skills is compatible with friendship. Allowing them to behave badly is unfriendly, and puts their lives at risk. Treating them like animated cuddly toys is disrespectful. Enjoying their ability to live in the here and now is part of the friendship.

There are some important messages on ethics in this book. Lindsay, for example, stresses that the reason for training is very important. He gives an example of dogs trained in war time to carry explosives to tanks. The explosives are then detonated, along with the dog. In discussions of methods, reasons for training are sometimes forgotten, yet considering the reasons is essential if one is to make judgements on whether or not a training programme is ethical. When the goals of training include being able to allow a dog greater freedom, giving the dog a better quality of life, this obviously benefits the dog. When a dog is being trained for an activity, to do a job the dog has been bred to to, the training is relatively easy, and the job is play for the dog, so the training benefits the dog. But if the dog hasn't been bred for that task, training is harder, and the dog doesn't see the job as play. That doesn't benefit the dog, so is ethically dubious, and
a waste of time.

Lindsay favours reward-based training. This is not the same as 'pure positive' methods. If you have swallowed the cultural myth that such a beast as 'pure positive' exists, think about this: using rewards means that sometimes you give them, other times you don't, because you don't want to reward bad behaviour. Witholding a reward to stop bad behaviour is 'negative punishment' in operant conditioning terms. Not getting something you want and expect, whether food or affection, can be very painful. If you have never heard of 'negative punishment', read Mary Burch's 'How Dogs Learn', which gives a very clear account of how operant conditioning is used in dog training. Then reflect that dogs learn in other ways too. For example, your dog often asks you 'what are we going to do?' and you tell him. Dogs very often want information. Sometimes they look at you and their glance says 'Is this what you want me to do?' Other times they like to give you information.
They bark to tell you stuff they think you don't know. When you have developed two-way communication with a dog, and you trust each other, there is a lot more going on than can be explained by operant conditioning alone.

A very useful concept used by Lindsay is the 'dead dog rule' For example, a treatment cannot be said to improve a situation where a dog has bitten, simply because that dog has stopped biting. A dead dog does not bite. For a treatment to have brought an improvement, there has to be increased co-operation, and an improvement in the dog's coping skills, under circumstances when the dog previously showed a tendency to bite. The dog has to do something a dead dog can't, to show that treatment is working.

Who is this book for? Any dog trainer can learn a lot from reading it, however experienced, in fact the more experienced the trainer, the more the book is likely to make sense. Understanding dog behaviour in depth is essential for any competent trainer.

Any vet dealing with dogs would also benefit. Vets are often seen as sources of wisdom about dog behaviour. Lindsay can help vets give sensible answers to owners, including recommendations that they see a competent professional to help them tackle their dogs' behavioural problems. Lindsay can also help vets understand what it's like to be a dog, and how to handle their canine clients better. I once read a review of Vol 3 in a UK vet journal. The author must have skimmed it, concluding that it was just a book on a training method called 'cynopraxic', without bothering to work out what Lindsay meant by the term. Alas vets are often feel they are too busy to keep up with reading, but Lindsay has a lot to offer them.

Lindsay's work is also fascinating for anyone with an interest in dog behaviour, whether or not they are studying the subject formally as part of an animal care or animal behaviour course. As Lindsay says, if you have a problem dog, find a competent professional to help you. His work is not intended to replace dedicated, skilled, dog-savvy trainers and behaviourists who inspire confidence in owners, and help owners to become more confident. Rather his work aims to strengthen their ability to do their job well, and to help owners achieve a better relationship with their dogs. Very highly recommended.

Review by Alison Lever


Thank you to Heather Houlahan, Janeen McMurtrie, and Margot Woods for many informative discussions of dog behaviour and training. All three are skilled professional trainers whose work includes tackling dog behaviour problems. They have different training approaches, but share a delight in mannerly dogs who can think for themselves. They also share an interest in learning about dogs from anyone who has something interesting to say. They show what can be done by enriching first-hand experience with insights from academic research.

See Dog Blogs for Heather Houlahan and Janeen McMurtrie's blogs.

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Cesar's Rules

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Cesar's Rules

'Cesar's Rules' is a very interesting book. It is far from being a simple 'how to train your dog' guide. To start off with, Cesar Millan is ambiguous about the importance of training, a term he uses to refer to formal obedience training, or training in skills, like sniffer dog work. Millan quite rightly points out that dogs may be well-trained, ie able to obey a wide range of commands, but still cause their owners serious grief. So in his view, training is secondary to fulfilling dogs' needs, especially for exercise and leadership. Millan claims to train humans and rehabilitate rather than train dogs, and in the introduction, he explains that he called in the help of professionals since he did not see his own expertise as broad enough for writing a training book.

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If Dogs Could Talk: Exploring the Canine Mind

In the scientific community, there are two types of knowledge concerning dog research: things we have proven through rigorous experiments, and stuff we "just know". As a fairly recent addition to the field of dog research, I have witnessed firsthand the stark contrast between what is written up in a scholarly journal article and what is spoken behind closed doors. Vilmos Csanyi’s If Dogs Could Talk elegantly combines the two kinds of knowledge that we have about these beloved animals.

In this book, Csanyi takes great care to inform the reader about the scientifically-proven information we have gained about dogs, and is diligent in drawing a line between scientific studies and anecdotes, while also noting that, taken together, large numbers of anecdotal observations can sometimes eventually become accepted in the body of scientific knowledge. After all, his own field of expertise, ethology, is essentially the observations of animals in their natural habitat until conclusions can be formed about various behaviours of the animal. He successfully demonstrates the rather obvious fact that the average dog owner understands far more about dogs than is currently permitted by science. Because science won’t allow attribution of human emotions to animals, dogs cannot "love" their owners, but instead "form attachment bonds". The irony is that many dog scientists are also dog lovers and know full well the love that can exist between a dog and its owner. Csanyi bravely stepped into the public eye and bluntly illustrated this disconnect.

The best thing about this book is the mixture of hard science and dog knowledge that is yet to be scientifically proven (I say "yet to be" because some of what we "just know" about dogs will be proven scientifically in a matter of time, as the field goes from strength to strength). Coming in at a close, photo finish-style, second place are the adventures of Flip and Jerry. By the end of the book, I was dying to meet these two characters! Their behaviours and personalities – I can say that because the scientific community has started to accept that dogs do have personalities – shone through in every story he relayed, and it made me wonder what fantastic and weird things my dog has done that I have forgotten about simply because I have not kept records of every time she did something interesting or funny. Csanyi’s meticulous record-keeping made the book light-hearted when it could have become cumbersome, and I’d wager that it made his own efforts at writing the book a lot easier than if he had tried to remember everything later on.

My only criticism of the book is the last chapter, and even then only a few sentences. In his effort to explain the best way to be a dog owner (not scientific!), most of his suggestions are plain common sense. However, the breed-specific comments made me raise an eyebrow, as did the references to dog intelligence tests. Breed-specific legislation is becoming more and more common and lacks a scientific basis. In fact, many breed-specific studies have shown that there is often more temperament variability among individuals within a breed than between breeds. Perhaps he would have been better served to illustrate the public’s perception of these breeds, and highlight the importance of further studies to establish if there is a link between dog bites/attacks and certain breeds. However, those were about two paragraphs out of 300 pages of fascinating and thought-provoking information about dogs.

To conclude, Csanyi was courageous enough to say aloud what many dog researchers believe – the intersection between what we’ve proven and what we know. It is highly readable and, most importantly, a lot of fun.

Tiffani Howell

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Dog behaviour, Evolution and Cognition

This is a very important book, first because the author is part of a pioneering team which has been studying dog-human social interactions, using an ethological approach, since 1994. The head of the research team, Vilmos Csanyi, argues that dogs need social understanding to succeed in the human social world, and that this understanding probably came about as dogs evolved.

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Dog Language : An Encyclopedia of Canine Behaviour

Roger Abrantes, Alice Rasmussen (Illustrator), Sarah Whitehead (Translator)
Wakan Tanka Press
ISBN: 0966048407

This is essential reading for anyone interested in dog behaviour and training. Abrantes helps you to communicate with your own dog, as well giving you insights into how dogs communicate with each other. He is accessible enough for non-specialists, and provides a wealth of information for experienced owners. It's a fascinating read, and is very well illustrated.

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Ain't Misbehavin': A Good Behaviour Guide for Family Dogs

David Appleby is well known for his work as a pet behaviour counsellor. He takes a common-sense approach to dog behaviour, which should appeal to most pet owners. Like John Fisher (two of whose books are reviewed below) Appleby stresses that dogs are often seen as behaving badly when they are just doing what dogs like to do, which does not always fit in with what humans want from them! Appleby and Fisher both stress that it helps to understand dogs' natural behaviour, and to understand how our behaviours and lifestyles might be perceived by dogs, in order to get them to do what we want them to do It's worth reading widely if you find dog behaviour fascinating in itself. Ideas are changing all the time, and there are some areas of disagreement between people working in this field. Dog nuts who are interested in dog behaviour may find that this book presents some ideas with too little discussion. Appeleby has, however, written an extremely useful book for people who just want to know enough of the basics to teach their dogs to be good companions, and this book is an excellent starting point for anyone interested in dog behaviour.

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How Dogs Learn

Mary Burch and Jon Bailey
Howell Books
ISBN 0 87605 371 1

A book for anyone interested in dog training who's prepared to learn some of the science behind the ideas. This would suit animal care students, dog trainers and dog behaviourists. Some ordinary mortals who own dogs may find it a little heavy going, and this isn't really a book to buy children with an interest in training their dog, unless they are keen science students. This book does allow you to gain a clear idea of the logic behind training schedules, but be warned, it demands a lot of its readers.

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Raymond Coppinger and Lorna Coppinger
Scribner Book Co
ISBN 0684855305

This is a fascinating and controversial book, which presents a new view of the evolution of the dog as a species in its own right, as opposed to being an inferior type of wolf. The authors use both their extensive experience as trainers, and draw on biological science to develop their theories. They examine the development of different breed types, such as herding dogs, and guarding dogs, and their suitability as companion animals. They also examine the nature-nurture debate, and how the interaction between the two is important for understanding dog behaviour. It helps to have some understanding of zoology to be able to follow all the arguments in this book, but you can enjoy it without being a specialist. You may not agree with everything the authors say, but this book will certainly give you new insights to help you get the best out of your dog.

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How to Speak Dog

Stanley Coren
Simon and Schuster
ISBN 074320297X

Stanley Coren is a controversial writer, especially for his views on breeds and intelligence. You may not agree with him, but he is certainly entertaining, and gives food for thought. His 'How to Speak Dog' pushes the debate on canine-human communication one level higher, and will help many owners work out just how much human language their pets can understand. Coren is also good on non-verbal communication, and breed variations, both in terms of how dogs understand one another, and how they understand us. This is an inexpensive book, and well worth reading.

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Think Dog

Cassell Reference
ISBN 0304361720

Why Does My Dog?

Souvenir Press ISBN 0 285 63481 X

both by John Fisher

These books contain a lot of duplicate material, and 'Why Does My Dog?' is perhaps the better bet if you only want to buy one, though there are some useful points in 'Think Dog' which are not repeated in the later book. John Fisher is refreshing in the way that he examines the idea of 'problem behaviour' , which varies from one owner to another.

Fisher offers a lot of practical advice which is very useful for novice owners and those who have previously only kept well-behaved dogs, and suddenly find they own a dog with problems. Fisher has strong prejudices against training classes, perhaps from the days when they were more amateur. Not all dogs are suited to training en masse, as he notes, but they are more helpful than he gives them credit for. Well worth investing in.

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The Dog's Mind

Bruce Fogle
Pelham Books ISBN 0 7207 1964 X

Bruce Fogle is a vet, and a prolific writer who is well known for his general guides to dog and puppy care. The Dog's Mind was first published in 1990. It is very accessible. Fogle is good at explaining complex topics like genetics, and how the brain works, in a way that most people can understand. He is very skilled at writing for the general public, and he was an infuential writer in the early 1990s, even in the early 21st century. The Dog's Mind was a key influence on Cesar Millan. Fogle also influenced Karen Overall's writing, in particular her Clinical Behavioural Medicine for Small Animals (1997, Mosby). Re-reading this book, it is easy to see why. Fogle can negotiate technical topics with ease, he can be funny, lyrical, as when he describes canine play, and even passionate. He obviously likes dogs, so enjoys writing about them. So yes, this book has much to commend it, both as a good read, and as an important milestone in writing on dogs.

However ... this book should come with a couple of health warnings for people who buy it in order to understand dogs; firstly Fogle's treatment of aggression is confusing and unhelpful, and secondly he makes rather too much of some dubious research on breed and behaviour. While The Dog's Mind was up-to-date in 1990, now it is a classic, and if you want help with understanding canine aggression, or choosing a dog, look elsewhere, and just read it for fun.

Fogle defines aggression in eight ways, dominance aggression, possessive aggression, fear aggression, protective aggression, inter-male aggression, predatory aggression, idiopathic aggression and learnt aggression.

Fogle's symptoms of 'dominance aggression' include a dog objecting to being disturbed, to having someone approach his food, and to being petted. Fogle classifies 'fear aggression' as the opposite of 'dominance aggression'. However, owners of dogs that don't like to be petted may well see fear in their dog, a dog that is spooked, highly aroused, in 'fight or flight' mode, not wanting to fight, but prepared to do so if pushed. When Fogle talks about 'dominance aggression' he is not talking about the dog walking up to a human sitting on the sofa, and saying 'Get down human, that's my space', he's talking about a dog that objects to having to leave a comfy spot. And Fogle does not mention that sometimes owners shove sleeping dogs roughly off sofas, or yank them off by their collars, and are then surprised that the dogs react badly to being woken, or having their collars touched.

When dogs object to behaviour they see as intrusive, this often shows that they don't trust the person who is intruding. This lack of trust may arise for many reasons, not necessarily rough handling. The problem may be partly genetic. Wolves tend to go into 'fight or flight' mode much more easily than dogs. Dogs are generally much more easy-going than wolves, but some are more easy-going than others. Easily spooked dogs, or dogs with a tendency to go into 'flight or fight' mode very easily, need consistent leadership, careful handling, and a lot of work to build up trust so that they learn to relax and accept the owner as leader. Owners aren't always as consistent, careful or as trustworthy as they could be.

Much of Fogle's advice on preventing 'dominance aggression' could actually undermine trust, and make aggression more likely, for example taking a pup's food away in order to 'dominate' it. As many authors have since noted, dropping food into a pup's bowl is a better approach for teaching the pup to relax about approaches to the bowl. Some of Fogle's advice on 'fear aggression' could help owners unspook some dogs. However, he argues the dog should be given rewards for not showing fear aggression, and this assumes that the dog knows what he is being rewarded for!

There is another problem with Fogle's notion of 'dominance aggression'; it is highly unlikely that a dog wanting to sleep undisturbed, or eat its dinner in peace really wants to be the alpha. Subordinate wolves also try to defend what they have. Fogle also saw a dog seeking a cuddle as trying to be dominant, yet wolf cubs seek cuddles from dominant wolves. There was a fashion back in the early 1990s for seeing all sorts of behaviour as 'dominant', but the reasoning was often flawed.

Fogle's category of 'possessive aggression' is mainly related to aggression between dogs that live together, or between dogs and children in the home. Fogle sees 'possessive aggression' as a sort of dominance aggression, which arises when there is no clear pecking order. He argues that kind owners who punish bullying dogs are making the problem worse by not allowing the dogs to establish a hierarchy. However, he argues that if dogs are jealous of children, the dog should be taught that the children are dominant. Fogle's advice is to choose easy-going breeds - which is sensible, but his view that owners should reward a bullying dog by petting him before they pet a 'submissive' dog is not sensible. 

Fogle's next category, 'protective aggression', is also problematic, because it includes such a wide range of behaviours, from nursing bitches being reluctant for anyone to handle their pups, to guarding toys, chasing cars, and biting the postman. Fogle gives some fairly sensible advice on training dogs to behave well when visitors arrive, though his suggestion of smacking the dog as a punishment is not sensible, because an overexcited dog may bite in response to a smack.

'Intermale aggression' is a much simpler category, but Fogle is wrong on two counts in the way he describes it. Firstly, he does not see fights between bitches as important. However if they happen within the home, owners report they are far more difficult to deal with than fights between dogs, which tend to be brief spats. Secondly, today it is recognised that the big benefit of castration is not so much making a dog less likely to attack others, which the dog may already have learnt to do, but in making the dog less of an attractive target for attacks.

The last three categories are predatory, idiopathic and learnt aggression. 'Predatory aggression' is a term that is no longer used. Dogs are predators. If they want to chase small furry animals, it is because it's inbuilt, rather than 'aggression'. True, as Fogle says, dogs have to learn that some animals are not prey, and the best time to teach this is in puppyhood. Fogle mentions dogs that suddenly attack, in an out-of-character way, in his discussion of 'idiopathic aggression', which he sees as probably linked to an inherited trait. What is surprising for a vet is that Fogle does not mention in the chapter on aggression the many medical conditions which may lie behind aggressive behaviour, including brain tumours, though later in the book, he does note that illness can affect behaviour. In his discussion of learnt aggression, Fogle lumps together highly trained police dogs, selected for their stable personalities, with unsocialised guard dogs.
 However, a well-trained, stable police dog is likely to be very safe with the general public, while an unsocialised guard dog, who only sees the owner, and is sometimes kicked or beaten as a method of control, is potentially extremely dangerous if allowed loose and in contact with the public.

Owners who want to understand and treat canine aggression will find more helpful advice in Steven Lindsay's Applied Dog Behaviour and Training, which came out 15 years later and is reviewed on this page. Lindsay separates aggression into two main categories, in the home, and against outsiders. Owners, Lindsay stresses, need to help their dogs learn to cope, by providing leadership and developing trust. Both obedience training and games can help. Fogle recognises how important play is for dogs and wolves in Chapter Six, but does not explore play between dogs and humans, giving the traditional advice that owners should not play tug with their dogs. Lindsay, in contrast, prescribes tug and fetch games with a release or drop command, to help teach dogs self-control. As Lindsay notes, after an aggressive episode, communication between dog and owner often breaks down. The owner may try clumsy attempts to punish the dog, to show the dog who is boss, rather than  recognising that owner-behaviour may have encouraged the dog to be aggressive. Training games can help to relax the owner as well as the dog, helping the owner to understand and communicate better with the dog. Lindsay is also much better on child-dog relationships, stressing the need for supervision, especially of toddlers, who can plague dogs.

Both Lindsay and Millan note that owners sometimes dump their emotional baggage on dogs, constantly caressing them, and wheedling, entreating, or begging the dog to obey. This can lead to dogs becoming what some trainers describe as 'brattish', showing contempt for their owners. Millan argues that owners too often see dogs as human, but this is not really the problem. A child who is constantly fussed over, and who has adults beg him or her to behave well, would probably also turn out brattish. This is a human dimension which Fogle misses in his chapter on agression, though curiously he does note in Chapter Ten on anxiety and phobias that owner personality affects canine behaviour. Being 'brattish' may look like dominance, but the two are not the same thing. Likewise, some dogs are very pushy, and they need owners who are not pushovers, but being pushy just means telling your owner in no uncertain terms what you want, it's not the same as wanting to lead  the pack, nor are all pushy dogs aggressive.

Many dog people see the canine pecking order as important, and refer to groups of dogs as 'packs', including Millan. However, despite being a fan of Fogle, Millan does not reward canine bullies, he sensibly rewards the best behaved dog. As many writers have pointed out, it is not usually the top dog who does the attacking, but the wannabe. Sometimes humans create unstable situations by favouring one dog over the rest, often a small dog, which emboldened by its owner's attentions, and possessing an inflated sense of its own importance, proceeds to be obnoxious to other dogs in the household. The other dogs may well object. Rewarding bullies is not sensible, and nor is creating bullies by giving one dog far more privileges than the others. Despite Fogle's claim that 'dogs don't expect to live in equality with other dogs' (p117) dogs do have a sense of fairness. Grossly favouring one dog above the rest upsets the group as a whole. Dogs can wait patiently  for their turn, but if you have two dogs and just give one a titbit, the other asks 'Where's mine?'. If you have three dogs, and have to take out two dogs and leave one behind, it can help to give the abandoned third dog something interesting to occupy itself with, like a hollow rubber chew object smeared inside with something tasty. When it comes to the crunch, what counts is that all dogs who live together see their owner as leader, but leaders can be considerate.

Fogle's comments that owners should not favour the 'submissive dog', but instead first pet the bully, in any case raise the question of whether a dog that refuses to fight when provoked is submissive, or well-mannered. Say an owner introduces an ill-mannered bullying youngster into the home, and that dog attacks a well-behaved older dog, which dog is 'dominant'? If the owner backs the bully, the youngster is able to dominate the well-behaved dog. But the owner can obedience train, exercise, and play training games with the youngster until he becomes more civilised and co-operative, at the same time ensuring that the youngster knows his place when he is together with the older, better behaved dog. Rewards are given for good behaviour, not for bullying, so the oldster gets rewarded first, and the youngster learns to take his cue from the oldster. 

Letting dogs fight it out so they are able to work out their hierarchy is dangerous, and undermines the owner's control. If one dog attacks another, that dog needs to get the message from the owner that such behaviour is unacceptable. If two dogs fight, both need to get the message that Fighting Is Not Allowed. One time I have no hesitation whatsoever about using a confrontational approach is during and immediately after a dog fight. The dogs are hosed or otherwise startled by whatever brings them to their senses, and are then very severely scolded. Luckily fights among my three are very rare. My first top dog had a lot of self-control and did not respond to provocations. His successor, the next top dog, had to be taught to let me sort out the wannabe. A top dog is not an 'alpha', the human is the alpha, or leader. The top dog is the right-hand dog of the human leader, and sets a good example for the other dogs.

Groups of dogs vary enormously in terms of how quarrelsome they are, and whether or not they have clear hierarchies. Some dogs can get on very well without a clear pecking order. My two older dogs are littermates, and you would expect from Fogle's analysis that there would be sibling rivalry, but they have always got on very well. They are very playful. As Fogle notes in his excellent account of play in wolves and dogs in Chapter Six, play encourages co-operation. They played chase and wrestle games up to the age of ten, when one developed arthritis. Other groups of dogs may have a clear hierarchy which helps them get on with each other. Then there are quarrelsome dogs which may or may not have a hierarchy, where the owner needs to intervene a lot. Fogle does not explore the great variety of group dynamics one can find within groups of dogs that live together, and for all his emphasis on owner dominance, he underestimates the importance of the owner  providing leadership in a multi-dog household.

Lindsay gives much more detailed advice than Fogle on ensuring that dogs behave well with strangers. This topic deserves more space than Fogle gives it, given that a bite to a stranger has far more serious consequences than a bite to the owner. In short, Fogle is not helpful if you want solutions for an aggressive dog. If you are worried that your dog is aggressive, find a competent professional to help you, and read something more up-to-date.

The other key weakness in The Dogs' Mind is in Fogle's discussion of breeds and behaviour. He starts out well, in Chapter One, noting how rapidly one can introduce undesirable characteristics into a breed. He also notes that breeding for appearance can lead to the creation of dogs that are neither useful for work, nor desirable as pets. For too long, 'pet quality' has often meant either the sound-shy, easily spooked dogs, or the show rejects which have not been bred for temperament, so are often unfit for any role. In this, Fogle voices concerns which are only now being taken seriously.

However, in Chapter 12 on breed and behaviour, Fogle forgets his previous comments on variability within breeds, and presents some rather dubious research published in 1985 by Ben and Lynette Hart, that groups dogs into seven clusters, according to their reactivity, trainability and aggression. German shepherds are described as 'very high aggression, very high trainability, and very low reactivity' (p179). Now German shepherds have a large gene pool, and there are enormous variations within the breed. As anyone who knows the breed can attest, some German shepherds are very easily spooked, others have more stable personalities, so this doesn't really tell you much about German shepherds. Akitas are classed in the same group as German shepherds, yet anyone who has trained dogs from both breeds can attest that Akitas tend to be more of a challenge to train. As Fogle notes breeds can change rapidly over time, and can vary a lot from one country to another,  eg the US and the UK. Breed guides, then should be taken with a pinch of salt, especially guides written by someone who lives in another country.

Anyone choosing a breed needs to talk to people who own dogs of that breed now, rather than relying on a dated breed book. They also need to talk to owners in their own country, though it is interesting to compare what they say with the experiences of owners from another country. Today it's easy to do this, through joining a breed forum on the internet. It is also important to investigate any prospective pup's ancestors, to find out how long they lived, what they were bred for, and what their temperaments were like. For too long, 'pet quality' has been a derogatory term. Soft-hearted pet owners have been expected to care for the rejects from the world of working and show dogs. Today pet owners have become more demanding, but it has taken a long time for Fogle's message to be heard.

One of the big problems with The Dog's Mind is that Fogle does not link together themes in the book strongly enough, for example, his earlier comments on breeds and behaviour with his later chapter on breeds, or his earlier discussion of the benefits of play with his recommendations for treating aggression. This is also true for his discussion of anxiety, excitement and phobias in Chapter Ten, which could be more strongly linked with his discussion of aggression. Fogle makes some very important points in Chapter Ten, especially that an impoverished lifestyle, and mixed messages from owners can create anxiety. 'Impoverished' here means impoverished from the point of view of the dog, for example, dogs need to explore the world, and use their noses, and they benefit from contact with other dogs, who can understand them better than we can. A dog confined in a house for long hours is in a very impoverished environment. Dogs need exercise, a point made  strongly by Millan, and they need mental stimulation, which can come from long walks which allow them to explore, and also from training games played with owners. A dog living in an impoverished environment who also receives mixed messages is very likely to develop behavioural problems, not just anxieties, also aggressive behaviour towards the owner.

Dogs allowed to fulfil their needs as dogs are much more relaxed, and much less likely to develop behavioural problems of any kind. Dogs' needs include having a trustworthy leader who sends consistent messages. Dogs also need mental stimulation, a point very strongly made by Janeen McMurtrie, a trainer with an interest in canine cognitive research, whose Smartdogs blog is well worth exploring (there's a link to her blog at the end of the review of Lindsay's Applied Dog Behaviour on this page). Playing training games with dogs can both give the dogs mental stimulation, and help repair trust between dog and owner. There are other ways of encouraging dogs to use their brains, but training games are the most accessible for owners.

So, much of what Fogle says is still relevant, and he makes some very important points. If the book lacks coherence, it is partly because over two decades have elapsed since it was written, and it has taken dog professionals a long time to make the connections that Fogle failed to make in 'The Dog's Mind'. Fogle is an entertaining writer, and if you like dogs, you will find the book an enjoyable read. Just find yourself a good trainer or a behaviourist with an understanding of training if you are worried about your dog's behaviour, and do some serious in-depth research online if you are choosing a dog.

Alison Lever

Thank you to Rugby, who taught me that if the book doesn't fit the dog, trust the dog.

Further Reading
Steven Lindsay, Applied Dog Behaviour and Training vol 3 2005 There are various Cesar Millan books reviewed among the dog books, including one on this page.

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Man Meets Dog

Konrad Lorenz
Routledge, an imprint of Taylor & Francis Books Ltd;
ISBN: 0415267455

Konrad Lorenz was a Nobel prizewinner who has had a major influence on the study of animal behaviour, especially in Europe. "Man Meets Dog" is a charming account of his views of dog-human relationships, with anecdotes from his own experiences. It's a very entertaining and readable book, which talks about cats as well as dogs. The book first came out in 1954, but the questions Lorenz asked are questions that dog owners still ask today, such as how dogs see the world, how far their perceptions and behaviours are hard-wired, what influence breed and evolution have had on dogs, how they adapt to human society, how rewards and punishment affect their behaviour, and how owners can cope with the loss of their dogs. 'Man Meets Dog' is also interesting as social history, an account of how people lived with dogs at a time when they were allowed more freedom. This classic is a must read for anyone with an interest in dog behaviour.

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The Other End of the Leash

Patricia B McConnell
Publisher: Random House USA Inc; Reprint edition (13 Oct 2003)
ISBN-10: 034544678X
ISBN-13: 978-0345446787

Patricia McConnell is an animal behaviorist and zoology professor at the University of Wisconsin Madison, specialising in dog behavioral problems. Here she looks at how dogs see humans and human behavior, as canids seeking to understand primates. She is especially good on ways to use your voice with your dog, and how to play games that will help him behave the way you want. Her views on what makes a good leader are also clearly explained, and she contrasts this with old-fashioned ideas on 'dominating' dogs.

O'Connell is well-known for her work on nervous dogs, and her work is generally well-liked by trainers. She writes clearly, constructs arguments well, and bases her arguments on research and observation. Her passion for dogs also comes across clearly - this book has academic strengths without being dry, and there are plenty of anecdotes to keep you amused and interested.

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Don't Shoot the Dog: The New Art of Teaching and Training

Karen Pryor
ISBN 0 553 38039 7

If you like your dog behaviour books with a dash of philosophy, this is the book for you. This book explains how positive reinforcement can be used to change behaviour, not just in dogs, in any species, including humans. Karen Pryor is messianic in her approach, and has many fans. Whether behavioural science can work the miracles she claims is open to debate, but there are a number of good tips that dog owners can pick up from her work.

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Excel-erated Learning

This is a very useful book for anyone wanting to be a trainer, or who wants to understand the rationale behind training methods based on operant and classical conditioning. You need a certain amount of commitment to read the book to the end, since Pamela Reid takes you through some complex ideas. Reid is, however, much easier to follow than Karen Pryor, if you want a full grasp of operant conditioning, and want to apply your knowledge to dogs. There are many illustrative and thought-provoking examples of operant conditioning in use. It's not a 'how to' book, rather it helps with understanding the theory well enough for you to develop your own exercises. Classical conditioning is also covered, as well as terms such as adaptation, desensitisation, counter-conditioning, generalisation, and reinforcers. There is also a discussion of clicker training, and electronic collars. This book will help you learn the jargon, though it's no substitute for actually working with dogs! Would-be trainers can make best use of the book if they apprentice themselves to a trainer they respect, never mind if the trainer knows the jargon. Dog training is a craft, and skills, such as reading dogs can take years to develop. Many trainers obtain excellent results while using few technical terms, and the theories and explanations set out in this book make much more sense when you have some practical experience.

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Genetics and the Social Behavior of the Dog

John Paul Scott and John L Fuller
University of Chicago Press
ISBN 0226743381

This book was first published in 1965, and has also come out under the title ‘Dog Behavior: The Genetic Basis’. Why should we bother reading something that came out so long ago? Mainly because it is the result of a long-term experiment to try to tease out the impact of genetics on behaviour, taking developmental stages into account, and it was so thorough that it is still a key text for anyone interested in dog behaviour. Dog breeders will obviously find this book of particular interest, but trainers and pet dog owners can also learn a lot from it. Breeds do differ in how they behave,for example, how easily they live together and share resources, or solve problems, and Scott and Fuller’s work helps with understanding these differences. The book covers a lot of ground, including dog-dog relationships, various aspects of dog-human relationships, and the physical development of dogs. This is a must-read for any dog nut who wants to understand breed differences, and is especially useful when supplemented with works from modern ethologists. It’s by no means an easy read, but it’s accessible to the general public, and is well worth the effort.

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The Domestic Dog

James Serpell
Cambridge University Press
ISBN 0521425379

This is a collection of articles by different authors on a range of dog topics such as the evolution of dogs from wolves, and how dog breeds developed. There is a lot on the relationship between dogs and humans that can help you to understand your dog, and how what you do affects his behaviour. There are also discussions of the different breeds, and gender differences. There is interesting material on feral dogs in Italy which sheds light on pack behaviour. This book is for enthusiasts who want access to findings based on solid research, rather than anecdotes. It is essential reading for would-be dog trainers. It doesn't tell you how to train your dog, but it does give you a lot of information to help you to understand your dog, so be better able to train him or her.

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