September 12, 2010

Book review: Through a Dog’s Eyes: Understanding Our Dogs by Understanding How They See the World (Jennifer Arnold)

This warmly written and easily read book advocates for treatment of our canine companions as partners rather than just as pets, and training as an exercise in cooperation and choice making instead of domination and control.

Without getting anthropomorphic or overly sentimental, Arnold effectively advocates for her chosen and developed method for working with dogs. As the founder of Canine Assistants, a Georgia-based service dog organization, the author has extensive background in training dogs. Initially subscribing to traditional method of training, she soon realized that those methods were largely ineffective for quite a number of dogs, leading her to explore and develop a more compassionate and partnership-based method of working with dogs.

Through a Dog’s Eyes uses a combination of research and anecdotal evidence to illustrate how Arnold’s approach has proven effective, especially with service dogs, likely the most remarkable examples of what dogs can and will do for their human caretakers when allowed to build trust and when trained using a method that is both non-violent and parts from the “alpha-wolf”/domination methods so popular today by using a technique of offering the dog choices instead of following commands.

While a suggested reading/resource list would have been nice, the appendices at the end of the book cover a wide range of topics from teaching and dealing with behavior issues to grooming, safety, and more. Through a Dog’s Eyes will help you see dogs in a whole new way.

From Spiegel & Grau (an imprint of Random House) and available from your local, independent bookseller. NOTE: Jennifer Arnold will be appearing at the Tattered Cover in Denver on September 14 and at the Boulder Bookstore in Boulder on September 15 to talk about and sign copies of her book. The Boulder Bookstore event welcomes dogs.

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