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Canine University 71 Clinton St. Malden, MA

Required Reading

The Other End Of The Leash by Patricia McConnell, Ph.D.,
Ballantine Books $25.95

The Other End Of the Leash is a delightful book about the relationship between humans and dogs. The author is a well known behaviorist and television personality seen on Animal Planet's Pet Line. She has a wonderfully flowing and easy to read writing style that allowed me to devour the book in a few evenings. (This is no small feat when you have two active toddlers !!) There are tons of tips for dog owners, professional trainers and anyone else wanting to know more about how to get along with dogs. I loved her very touching descriptions of each of her animal's personalities ( she lives with 4 border collies, one cat and numerous sheep!) and her relationship to them.

Information abounds about how to better communicate with the dog you live with, I especially like the advice about stopping a dog from doing something you don't want him to do and redirecting his energies elsewhere. This section reminded me of how we teach leave it and come at Canine University. Patricia McConnell gives the reader the tools to better communicate ideas, and helps clarify the reasons our dogs respond or ignore us. She has some interesting ideas about the tone and pitch of your voice and the way we move our bodies around dogs to communicate our intentions.

The author goes to great lengths to explain the difference between the ways that dogs communicate with each other and the world around them and how it differs from humans and other apes. She makes many reference to our primate cousins the chimpanzee which are logical and humorous.

here were some particularly amusing parts of the book where the author describes how humans acting like the primates we are can make problems worse despite the best of intentions and instructions. It explains why so often if we have a shy dog people insist on coming right up to pat her despite our efforts to discourage them. A great suggestion she mentions is to throw the person a treat or ball to give to your dog instead. The human instinct to catch the ball or toy is so strong that he or she will often stop advancing and catch the object instead. How many of us have been frustrated with people who pursue us even when we've politely explained that our dog isn't always people friendly.

The author's advice concerning aggressive dogs is right on the money. She does not recommend any harsh or physical corrections and places heavy emphasis on teaching, training and managing aggressive dogs. Her words and wisdom about dog-dog interactions are brilliant. There are ideas here that experienced trainers will sit up and listen to.

Overall this book was a pleasure to read, both entertaining and educational. I think that both the average pet owner and the experienced professional will benefit from it's ideas and explanations. My favorite tip by far was how to get your dog to go away when he is pestering you for attention. She refers to it as "happy slappies" and you'll find a full explanation in chapter eight. I think this book is definitely worth a read, enjoy !

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