The Loved Dog by Tamar Geller

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The Loved Dog by Tamar Geller
Buy The Loved Dog from Amazon.co.uk

Buy The Loved Dog from Amazon.com

Genre: Pets
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Not so much a training manual as a way of life with your dog. It's highly recommended if you'd like to have a dog who wants to do what you want him to do!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 208 Date: September 2007
Publisher: Vermilion
ISBN: 978-0091922252

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People tell me that I'm fortunate in my dogs: they're usually well-behaved and a pleasure to be around despite the fact that they're really rather big. In much the same way that Gary Player hit the nail on the head when he said that the harder he practiced the luckier he got, well-mannered dogs are generally the product of an assiduous training regime. In the past it was thought that this could only be achieved by dominating the dog by brute force if necessary and with the aid of such implements of torture as the choke chain. The one area in which I was fortunate is that once I saw the size and strength of a fully-grown Rhodesian Ridgeback I knew that I had no hope of physically dominating the dog. I would have to find some other method of training.

The book which opened my eyes to the kinder, happier method of dog training was The Dog Listener by Jan Fennell, which worked on the basic principle of rewarding good behaviour, ignoring the bad and distracting from what you simply cannot ignore. The book combined with a local dog trainer who worked on the same principles produced the two Rhodesian Ridgebacks (combined weight 75kg) who sit at the top of the stairs and wait until they're asked to come and greet visitors.

It was with a great deal of pleasure that I opened Tamar Geller's The Loved Dog as it perfectly reflects my own views on dog training. The author spent some time observing wolves in the wild and seeing the way that they interacted and how the alpha wolf dominated in a kind way including through play. It was this that led her, eventually, to set up a day care facility for dogs, where they could play together without the constraint of individual kennels.

If you're looking for a dog training book with pictures of a beautifully-groomed Golden Retriever then this is not the book for you. Thankfully there isn't a single picture in the book, which is more about a way of life with your dog than specific training methods. In fact, you're quite a way into the book before any instruction on basic commands is given. The basic principle is making your dog happy to do what you want to do, understanding what might be stopping him (including the possibility that he might need to see a vet) and overcoming any difficulties. It is necessary to be very outgoing with your dog - praise needs to be lavish and immediate - or the shrinking violet is likely to be trampled under paw. You have got to be the most exciting thing around for your dog to want to come back to you when there are so many exciting things for him to explore.

Anyone who follows these methods is virtually assured of a well-mannered dog and of a deep bond between animal and owner. Personally I'd recommend combining it with the services of a sympathetic dog trainer and plenty of socialisation at an early stage in the dog's life.

My only quibbles with the book are very minor. It is very American - and some veterinary practices differ in the UK. The puppy vaccinations are scheduled differently. It would not have been a big job to rewrite these paragraphs for the UK edition. My other quibble is personal. Much of the reward system in the book is food-based, which is not a difficulty for most dogs, but I have a dog with serious stomach problems and all her food has to be liquidised and no variation to her basic diet can be tolerated. There are ways around this problem but they can be fiddly and time-consuming. I'd like to have seen some mention of the possibility that food could not be used as a treat.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending this book to The Bookbag.

If you're looking for a complete dog care manual Bookbag thinks that you can do no better than Bruce Fogle's RSPCA Complete Dog Care Manual although I would urge you to ignore his advice that you can use a choke chain.

Buy The Loved Dog by Tamar Geller at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Loved Dog by Tamar Geller at Amazon.co.uk.


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Magda said:

The same principles would probably work quite soundly with older babies/young toddlers.

Sue replied:

My husband says that it works quite well with men too - but I confess I haven't tried it.