Urban Dog: The Ultimate Street Smarts Training Manual


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Cis Frankel lives in the US city of Chicago where many of her clients work long hours and live in high-rise apartments. For many in the UK, this might sound quite horrifying, but none the less many people and pets co-exist quite happily under such circumstances, and in this book, Cis Frankel sets out to explain how to make the best of living with an urban dog.

To begin with, I found this book extremely hard to get into. I found that for the first few chapters, every time I put the book down, I would have to start from the beginning again. I can’t for sure say why, maybe because this book is so very much geared to an American reader; or the lack of colour – it is quite a large book for a training book of its kind, though design-wise it is nicely laid out. Once I was past that point, it became much easier but it still took me quite a long time to read.

For training method, Cis Frankel’s method is just a little different from the ‘run of the mill’ choke chain ‘jerk and praise’ technique. She suggests that when giving a leash correction, that you should never allow more than four links to slip suggesting to me, that she uses this more as a sound distraction than as a means of physical punishment. She also talks a lot about leash control and using her lead to guide and manipulate your dog into the required walking positions. Personally, I think that this technique might be easier to follow if demonstrated than picked up from a book because I found the illustrations quite confusing.

Cis Frankel also explains how you can use the natural obstacles about the city as training aids – curbstones, parked cars, mailboxes etc. She also lays a lot of emphasis on respect for other city dwellers and dog owners, with a great deal of concern for being a responsible dog owner.

This book contains some quite novel and imaginative ideas; although along side the good ideas there are a few that I would feel a little dubious about applying. For example I thought that she had some good ideas for streetwise traffic training, use of mats and throws for dealing with wet and moulting dogs, and taking advantage of your environment.

More dubious ideas in my mind are that of withholding water at night while housebreaking (her explanation being that it is impractical to get a pup down 4 flights of stairs if you are living in a high rise without a yard), roller blading with your dog, and there is a photograph of her jumping her dog over a large tin barrel, while the dog is attached to a lead and on a choke chain, which could be potentially lethal.

As a training book for the UK reader, I do believe it is a very worthy addition to your bookshelf. Apply your own common sense, but definitely be inspired.

Review by Diana Attwood.