How the book Good Dog! Can Help Parents

tan colored dog looking right at camera

I recently received a review copy of the book Good Dog! Practical Answers to Behavior Questions from Steve Dale. Mr. Dale is a certified animal behavior consultant and nationally syndicated pet columnist. The book is organized into chapters covering topics such as aggression, housetraining, obedience training, play, and various anxiety or behavior problems that pets can experience.

Each chapter is composed mainly of questions from pet owners and answers given by the author. It’s an engaging and comfortable way to write a book; readers can absorb the information in small chunks. This book is easy to pick up and set back down again without feeling like you have to start over because you’ve gotten lost. The format also is helpful to dog owners who want help with very specific questions. There’s enough variety of experience to apply to a wide range of people who own dogs.

Parents can benefit from reading this book specifically by looking at the chapter on aggression, housetraining, and obedience training.

Overall I found this to be a quality book and do recommend it to individuals who are having any kind of difficulty with their dog. (Mr. Dale has also written a book for cat owners titled Good Cat!).

I do have to say that I disagree with the author a bit with regard to overall philosophy. Mr. Dale seems to call out Cesar Milan on a few occasions and directly objects to the notion of the pet owner dominating the pet. I don’t know exactly how “dominate” is being defined here, so we may not be as far apart on that as it appears. But, I do believe that the dog owner should be the one in charge; the dog should recognize the owner as the boss and submit to commands that are given. Should the owner hurt the dog? Of course not. Dogs, like children, need lots of structure, encouragement, and love.

If you need a good dog training book that addresses specific issues with concrete suggestions for remediation, Good Dog! may be the book for you. Thanks to Steve Dale for giving me the copy to review.

Earnest Parenting: help for parents who are also dog owners.

Image courtesy of _dChris via Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.

FTC disclosure: I received a free review copy of Good Dog! in order to read and review for you. All opinions about the book are my own.

The editor-in-chief of Earnest Parenting, Amy is the mother of two sets of twin boys. Yes, they drive her crazy, but they also make her laugh occasionally. Amy enjoys writing, quilting, reading, and working on her burgeoning cyber empire.

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  • Steve Dale March 1, 2012, 6:04 pm

    Hi – thank you for your kind words – and for the review….We KNOW – through good science (and common sense)…..dogs know we are not dogs. There is no reason to dominate or demonstrate who’s boss…..A dog will be happy to generally listen to us, if they are motivate to and understand what it is we want. Being a good teacher, absolutely. Dominating or having dogs submit, irrelevant.

    Reply
    • Amy LeForge March 1, 2012, 11:27 pm

      Hi Steve,

      As I said in the post, I think the definition of the word “dominate” is causing a bit of a disconnect for me here. I believe in providing a lot of structure and leadership for my dog. It’s important for her to know exactly what I want. If she’s cooperating, I use the high-pitched happy voice she loves. If she’s clearly being disobedient (i.e. ignoring a command to “come”), I drop the tone and may even clap my hands at her to show disapproval. As soon as she even hints at obedience, I return to the happy voice and praise praise praise her. She’s most definitely the most praised creature in the house. 🙂

      The fact is, I am the boss. It’s my job to provide for her, to keep her safe and healthy, and to enforce limits that are appropriate. No chewing on the electrical cords or plastic toys, for example. I do all that to make her life safe and pleasant. I see nothing wrong with being the dominant personality of the two of us. There are plenty of situations in which her obedience guarantees her safety, so I do demand that she cooperate when I give a command. I’m never demeaning or hurtful to her, unless you consider chattering baby-talk at her to be demeaning. 🙂 My boys do.

      I’m not sure if you consider all that dominating, or if there are other specific behaviors that you find offensive. In dog training as in parenting, there are different styles and approaches that work for different people. It’s certainly the case that no one method is universally right for everyone. Neither children nor dogs are automatons; individualized approaches work best for each different family.

      Either way, I’m happy to have read your book. Thank you for sharing it with me and I wish you the best.

      Reply
  • Steve Dale March 2, 2012, 1:57 am

    What you wrote is great – not what Mr. Millan says – not at all !
    Steve Dale´s last blog post ..Our Pets Aren’t Getting the Care They Should, Especially Cats!

    Reply
    • Amy LeForge March 7, 2012, 1:36 pm

      Really? Huh. Well, the good news is that that is the message I got from him, which means others may as well. 🙂

      Reply