Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Training the Hard to Train Dog: Book Review

I finished the book "Training the Hard to Train Dog" by Peggy Swagger a couple of weeks ago and am just now getting around to putting my thoughts down about it after mentioning a couple of times that I would.
I purchased this book hoping to get some insightful tips about how to deal with some of Kobi's barking at home and just in general how I could ramp up our training to make him more focused on me. I liked the book and it had some great tips, it wasn't very long and I did like the way it was laid out with bright pages and pictures. I did find the pictures weren't at all helpful in most cases it was just an image of something easily understood rather than using the images to show more complicated things.

A lot of the advice in this book are things I already do on a daily basis now, so, I wish I had had this book when I first got Kobi or even prior to getting him. This book is a fantastic resource if you want a stubborn pig headed dog to become more focused and connected with you, but I think most practiced and experienced dog owners know much of the material covered in the book. Therefore, I think this book should be renamed, How to prevent your new dog from becoming a hard to train dog. Great tips to use before a dog becomes stubborn and set in their ways. The book does do a fantastic job of explaining how to make stubborn dogs more compliant but again this information is probably more useful to inexperienced trainers.

One of the other reasons I was interested in this book was it did cover some breed specific traits, why some breeds are more stubborn, reactive, hyper, etc. than others. This book does a great job of breaking itself into types of behaviors that a dog may have and going through each behaviour in detail and how to train with those traits, ie. stubborn dogs, shy dogs, etc. What I did find with this is a lot of the training came back to gaining a dogs compliance, meaning there tended to be a decent amount of repetition.

I did also enjoy that this book uses positive methods of training and in certain cases even went so far as to explain why the positive method was better than more traditional methods, the author gave some great case studies about why not to train with choke chains for example. With that being said she does mentioned how to train using positive reinforcement, but stays away from the nitty gritty details of it making this book  great resource for someone who already knows about positive reinforcement training but is having some difficulty with some more challenging behaviors from dogs. Some of the behaviors she covers are "treat blackmail" where a dog refuses to preform a task without first seeing the reward, leash dragging where a dog refuses to move forward, bolting out doors, etc. Reactivity is covered slightly but not as in depth as it should be as reactivity is a very complex issue and she doesn't mention any other resources for learning about the topic.

I enjoyed reading this book but felt I knew most of the material in it at this point in my training or felt some of it didn't apply to what I'm going through with Kobi. I truly wish I had known about this book this time last year and could have started off on the right foot with Kobi and I think others would agree it is better to prevent than to correct. That being said it is a great book if you have little experience with training but want to change some of the more stubborn behaviors in your dog making them a better pet.

1 comment:

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