Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wordy Wednesday - book review

It seems that one award winning moment in my Monday post stood out for several readers. For those of you lacking the high speed internets, here is a reenactment...

Hey! It's all Mango! It's all good.

Now I will reluctantly turn my blog over to momma for a boring book review. But first I want to let you know that we are super busy around here so be patient with us if we are slow to post and comment.

Mango Momma here with a doggie book review
The nice folks at National Geographic sent me a copy of their new book, DogTips from DogTown for a review.

Let's cut to the chase. I liked this book.
The first part of the book is dedicated to understanding more about dogs and how to know whether you are really ready to have one and if so, how to choose a dog.

I particularly liked the section on dog body language. For example, a great explanation of the subtleties of tail wagging. Doesn't mean the dog is happy. Often I have had people approach Mango even when I could see he was stressed (oh, but his tail is wagging). NOT! They also go briefly into the mistakes that a well meaning human can make during training. Like one dog whose owners snapped at her for soiling in the house and the result was that "She learned if she had to go to the bathroom, she had better find a spot where people could not see her." Then they go on to share a better way to house train.

Lots of good advice about adopting a pet and how to at least try and be rational about your decision. This passage I really liked;

"At Best Friends, some adopters mistakenly believe their dogs will feel thankful for being rescued and taken to forever homes. Although the dog understands the value of a warm house and big backyard, she won't credit the adopter with the change and immediately show her gratitude by obeying every cue or signal."

I was amused by the section on how to condition your dog not to jump as it cited the danger of bending down to calm an excitable dog and getting a face butt. Mango has given me a bloody nose twice and Dexter has given me a black eye from just such encounters.

The layout of the book is great (better editing than their first book). It is divided into short sections with bold faced headers so you can easily skip to areas of interest.

Loyal readers know that I am NOT a positive training only person. That said, for an inexperienced handler, making a mistake using positive reinforcement will have less dire consequences than a mistake with a pinch collar. And the whole mindset of positive reinforcement rings true. Better to reward good behavior if you can catch it (that said, I would hate to see how my kids would have turned out if we had never spoken sharply with them or slapped a wayward hand away from a hot stove).

Plus, not all negative training takes the form of physical punishment. As my training pal, Wild Dingo has pointed out many times, withholding affection, removing desired objects, etc. are all forms of negative training to the dog. Now I will say, that training collars are not for the inexperienced handler and never ever ever use it for tricks of other funballs stuff. I reserve training collars for a brief reminder during obedience work and on walks and am mindful to not put myself or my dogs in a situation where I am going tug, tug, tug. It is really an extension of my arm (which is not long enough to get to Mango's face if he is in front of me). Hey, if he is being a dope during less formal work I give him a bop on the head to get his attention. It doesn't hurt him, just a quick "hello!"

My one criticism is similar to that I had with their previous book. I would like to see more cautionary tales of well intentioned, good people, who bite off more than they can chew and need to return their dog. As heartbreaking as it is, if the dog doesn't fit your home or life style, the best thing for the DOG is to help him/her find a more suitable settlement.

They stress repeatedly that you need to work with the dog you have, not with the dog you wish you had. That is important. Not every retriever will fetch and some mastiffs enjoy agility. You can't bring a dog home with an agenda. Sure, you might want an agility champion, but if your border collie decides that running about all jumping and whatnot is not his cup of tea, either re-home him or find something he likes. They also try to drive home that your training methods should adapt to the dog. Mango is very bull headed and does not get cowed by harsh language. Dexter, on the other hand acts like an abused dog if I raise my voice. So, more happy voice with Dexter and more reliance on targeting and body language with Mango. Get it?

I highly recommend this book to anybody considering a dog for the first time and first time owners. Having read about a gazillion training books, there wasn't anything new in here for me, but it was an easy read and did reinforce some of the work I do with Mango and Dexter.

While I have your attention, I also recommend On Second Thought.

This isn't a dog book as such, but will have you looking at both yourself and your dogs in a whole new way. The book discusses all the ways our brains are hard wired to react to different stimulus in ways that our logical mind would find peculiar if we could only step back and see what is happening.

The author cites tons of psychological experiments which are somewhat disturbing. It also is a good reminder that those looney psychiatrists are never testing what they say they are. After reading this, it is unlikely you will be able to change a lot of your emotional responses, but at least you'll have an awareness that your reactions might be based more on primitive survival skills than you think. I found lots of practical examples at work in the endless meetings I sit through watching group think and other maddening behaviors get in the way of logic (even to the point where one manager said the now infamous quote "let's put the data aside and go with what we know to be true" and everybody in the room except me was nodding in agreement). Oh save me!

And yes, we will be a bit absent from blog land the next few days and might employ the mark all as read by the time the weekend comes. All good, but very busy.

Mango Momma


Gus said...

Mango Momma thank you for the book reviews. You did a great job with both! We might even get the muzzer to abandon her mysteries and read one of them


gussie n teka

Hound Girl said...

Thanks for the book review, Im a huge fan of dogtown and send money there to support them. I didnt know about this book, I think it sounds like a good read. I do think that not many people or books help people with the decision to rehome/return a dog that is too much for them or their lifestyle like you said. I think that subject deserves more attnetion and for people to understand its ok to return the dog, its really better like you said for the dog.

Martha and Bailey said...

Well done with the book review. We do find it very sad that people don't research the breed they plan to buy/adopt before hand.
It seems to come as a surprise to many that bassets, for example, are not particularly obedient!
However if you understand that they follow their nose it does make life easier.
Then of course there is the drool .....and the smell......and the mess!
It is so very sad when you see dogs returning to rescues time and time again.
We actually had neighbours who 'rescued' a golden retriever - they then kept the dog in their garage as they couldn't stand the dog hairs in the house!!!!
Thankfully they did end up returning the dog - he was a beauty.

The Heartbeats said...

AMEN on the positive reinforcement training. 3 of our 4 dogs would be HORRIBLE if there were no "punishments". Lucy, however, would never recover from a "punishment". She is so sensitive. The other 3 are so stubborn and sure of themselves. The worst "punishment" is taking away a toy or putting them off the couch! It's always followed by that "WTF" look! LOL!

Khyra And Sometimes Her Mom said...

Dear Mango -

I take from this post it is akhceptable fur woo to bop the DOH on the head if she's not getting it -

Khyra and The Golden Khousins
PeeEssWoo: Nice work Mango Momma!

jen said...

Both books sound great!
You are very good at doing book reviews. Honest and to the point!

Peppy Sheppys said...

Our ma ape most definitely enjoyed your book reviews and says she does need some help training us and her co-workers. (AND HERSELF, say we!) She thinks your ape is most smart but we would like to kindly dissent on that point. You see, when the apes are typetyping away on their internet machines they cannot give us any snacks or belly rubs so I must assume that while typing that long review she was not giving you any snacks or belly rubs. If she was smart she would write BOOK GOOD. FEED DOGS SNACKS. (Note: our ape sez that is not much less than what she has gotten on some student papers.) And then she would feed you snacks.

Sheps w/Pep

Ps. REFORM SKOOL for OBST for sure. But ma ape sez Edgrr is too smart and too big for his britches which she sez needs to be nipped in the bud. How come we get in trouble for nipping him in the bud, then?

Ms. ~K said...

I appreciate the reviews and certainly respect your opinions.

Texas The Doxie said...

Good book review. Though I do have to point out that no one said that positive training doesn't use "punishments" or have consequences. (ie. taking away toys, or affection to lessen the likelihood of a behavior) I think the biggest differences is that we're not using aversion to "train"

~ Erin

Dennis the Vizsla said...

hello mango its dennis the vizsla dog hay i am a littel bit disterbd by yore hedder pikcher of dekster with the glowing eyes and prehensill tung i think that may in fakt be an alien imposter i am just saying!!! ok bye

Ina in Alaska said...

Very informative, Mango Momma! I think I will "nose" thru the book at Barnes & Noble.

Frankie Furter said...

I'm thinkin MY mom and Gus' mom must read from the same shelves.. hehehe

Samantha said...

What a thorough and well-written review on these books - monster thanks - they sound very interesting and the second... provocative. Hope there will be a little fun in the next few days. Mark this one as read heheh!
Sammie and Avalon

Levi Mac said...

Such good reviews- make my mommy get to Barnes and Nobles!

Bruce from Down Under said...

Hi Mango Momma. Thanks for the review. I too have read heaps of books about training, especially after Bruce came into our lives. I have gained more insight since viewing your blog and especially some of your video while walking Mango. I think you should write a book on extra large dog training, after all you must have, oh 3-4 minutes a day to yourself! No worries. Carol

Oskar said...

Great job, Mango Momma! We are going to check out these books & I'll have my mom person read them to me. I can't read yet.

Nubbin wiggles,

Clive said...

Great reviews, Mango Momma!

take care
Clive and Murray

Kari in WeHo said...

I think we will be adding the first book to our must read list


houndstooth said...

I think Mom is really curious about that second book. I'm glad, because it will distract her from the first book and any notions of making a trained monkey out of me!


Maggie Mae said...

Mango Momma,

Tank youz fur da book review. My mom tinks she is gonna buys it. :)

Woofs and Licks,
Maggie Mae

TwoSpecialWires said...

GREAT book reviews! (How does your moma have time to read and review, when she might be training and playing with YOU? Our moma has time, but she doesn't seem to fit it in. Maybe someday.)

We especially like the comment: "Work with the dog you have, not with the dog you wish you had/" expected to have/ is different than neighbors think should be/ you get the idea. Moma loves us for who we are. And that's a big part of what it takes.

Making baby steps in the shadow of a great big role model.
Jake and Fergi

Benny and Lily said...

sounds purrty good. Thanks for writing a review
Benny & Lily

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Mango Momma, for these very great reviews! My mom is always looking for new doggie books and behavior books. And she says there's nothing worse than buying a book you THINK is gonna be good and then, well, it's not.

We've had to do some of that "marking all as read" stuff lately but hopefully we're getting caught back up.

Wiggles & Wags,

Lorenza said...

Thanks for the reviews Mango's mom!
Sure they are interesting books!
I will be waiting for you!
Take care
Kisses and hugs

BRUTUS said...

Hmmm, you got mom to thinking about reading that book, whereas she would never have picked it up based on the cover and it;s description. Guess that makes it a good review!

Mom has a prong (aka pinch) collar in our training bag and uses it with me occasionally (supposedly when I'm being crazy, whatever...). She agrees that a human must have proper training before using such a thing. We even have a cover for it (so silly humans don't see it and think I'm vicious or something) that makes it look like a normal collar.

Mom took some great pics of me & Carmen lately, wants to use them for a new header on my blog. She didn't realized until after that I happened to have the prong collar on, now she's paranoid that people will think she's a meanie if we use thta (otherwise stunning) photo for our bloggie!!

Brutus the Frenchie

tula said...

Gosh. thanx fur the reenactment- would have hate to miss that one:) Hey bub-ba.. next time have yer there momma write her bor-ring book reviews with her there southern accent from the U.S. of A. heheheheheheheeeeee.

yep and she gave my mom a special mango training tool. supposedly it's fur the house but the note said it has multiple uses. huh.

carrots to ya,

Wild Dingo said...

WTF? you BOP Mango on the NOGGIN? And you wonder why he's not the brightest bulb in the crayola box? oh wait, I mean, sharpest knife in the lightbulb box? oh shoot, something's not right. let's put all the lightbulbs, knives and crayons in a box and go with what we know to be true: speak softly, carry a big skillet. Use skillet repeatedly on doggies and you will have good doggies. maybe unconscious doggies, but good doggies none-the-less! booowahahaha!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your thoughts. The second book sounds especially interesting to me. I don't read enough stuff like that these days. A little thinking about how I think would probably do me some good.

I think it comes down to knowing your dog. It becomes really important in all aspects of your life. When we first got the Shivster, I was totally clueless - though I thought I knew everything. Positive methods helped build a relationship between us. Once we had that foundation, and I got to know her individual body language, I also got to know what would fly and what would not.

But I digress. Have a good few days internet-free!

JackDaddy said...

Well for some reason I have missed your blog for the past while. I've got you bookmarked, but just didn't stop by :(

I'm glad to see that you're doing well and I will try to remember to drop by more often!!

Scruffy, Lacie and Stanley's Place said...

YOU'RE GONNA BE ABSENT FROM BLOG LAND? Does that mean I get the purple pillow and Lacie Kave all to myself...can your mom have it freshly laundered and liberally scented with lavender??

As for the dog you wished you had?? You know how we dogs can read our hooman's minds? Well, I'm tryin' to figure out why Mumsie keeps picturin' walking three Golden's when we walk?? All healing how bored would she be????


Darling Lacie Kakes

Oh...can you turn the heat's freezing in here...

Scruffy, Lacie and Stanley's Place said...

Mumsie liked Wild Dingo's skillet comment...Scruffy needs some kind of reinforcement....

1000 Goldens said...

Most excellent reviews Mango Momma, thank you for the recommendations :)

Sugar the Golden Retriever said...

Woof! Woof! Great one ... we love books and will definitely check it out. Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar

road-dog-tales said...

Mom loves to read and we think she could benefit from that second one - we think she might need some "rewiring." She would probably like the first one, too, but we've already got her trained :)

The Road Dogs

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a pair of good reads -- and maybe more related than they seem at first glance. I love reading about the neuroscience behind decision-making, and it strikes me that most the error that you see in dog training are errors of perception; failures of empathy, failing to think like a dog, and reacting with human emotional responses of feeling insulted or rejected by the animal's behavior.
- - - - - - - - - - -
dog beds and more

♥ Sallie said...

I'll check them out!


the booker man said...

thankies for the book reviews, miss mango momma! my mama gets really excited about books to add to her library list. she's kinda a big nerd, but whatevs. heehee.

the booker man

Holly and Khady said...

Sounds like a pretty good book. Thanks for the review! Our mom says that owning Sibes and a Malamute have sure taught her the meaning of "stubborn" and, especially, "selecting hearing". However, we just like to call it "independent thinking".

Holly and Khady

dewdana said...

Very interesting review. As for the decision to return a dog, this is definitely something that needs more attention. I don't like that some people might casually see it as a trial period but have to agree that if after you have done your best to get the right match and it is not a match (particularly if it is more than you can handle in terms of meeting the dog's needs) then returning it might be best. A homeless dog is sad but a dog living out its life in a home where it is not loved or even resented is heartbreaking too. Sometimes I see these situations where a badly abused or neglected dog makes the news and people come out of the woodwork to adopt this dog must often end in these situations. Well meaning people may feel differently about the dog after the drama of rescuing the dog and particularly if the dog does not respond with the 'gratitude' the rescuer is expecting. Just rambling really... but it is definitely a topic that needs more attention and it is nice to see this book address some of the issues at least!
And LOL at putting the data aside... as a scientist I see this kind of thing more than I should... frustrating! I think I might enjoy that book too though. I know after reading a few dog behavior books I had a different perspective on people behavior so can imagine the same could happen for a human behavior book!

Scruffy, Lacie and Stanley's Place said... are gonna be back for Halloween aren't ya?? Huh????

I'll be by in costume to trick or treat....I'm just sayin'....

Spooky kisses,


LucilleMia said...

Hallo boys!
I can see your human keeps on reading about us as mine...
I feel like a guinea pig at times...
She keeps on trying to change her behaviour and make me do new things, i.e. behave better... But I am an angel already!
She would love to get into my brain and understand what I really think... can you believe it?
Humans are really dangerous... ;)
Anyway.. my human was really interested on the second book..
I can see someone logging on Amazon later on in the day..

Ciao for now and forgive me if in the last month I was very naughty and did not come by to see you more often...

Your Lucille

Franco said...

What a beautiful pair! The size difference between them both is scary!

Keep of the good writing

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