January Books in Review

January Books in Review

Hi Everybody, 

One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to read 52 books by year’s end. I wasn’t planning on reviewing them, but as I shared feedback on Instagram (@dogtraineramy) lots of people DM’d me, thanking me and asking me to continue reviewing books. That sprung the idea of writing a monthly book review on the books I read that month. I’ll try to keep it brief, just so you get the gist of what I think. I’ll also include stats (number of pages, number of typos and a 1-5 star rating based on content, quality and layout). Enjoy! Comments, questions and feedback are always welcome.

-Amy Pishner (Owner and Head Trainer of Valor K9 Academy, LLC)

Book #1

“Dog Sports Skills, Book 2: Motivation” by Denise Fenzi & Deborah Jones

Overall I was unimpressed with this book. It’s very wordy, and the information is basic. One of the dumbest pieces of advice given says letting your dog chase squirrels can and should be an alternative reward during training. I’ve trained hundreds of dogs, and not once have I had to incorporate squirrel chasing into my list of rewards. Such stupid and potentially dangerous advice. Throughout the very un-motivating book, I found lots of holes in the training philosophy when it comes to actual practical application. The book is like a maze with a bunch of dead ends; problems without solutions. If you know nothing about motivation in training you might find this book useful, but it’s not the first book on motivation and it won’t be the last. There are better reads out there. (152 pages, 1 typo, 2 stars)

Book #2

“The Focused Puppy” by Deborah Jones and Judy Keller

Overall this is a good book! I teach puppies using reward-based training and agree with most of what this book says. I loved the part about temperament testing, because that kind of thing always fascinates me. I like the overall book layout, although I think it could be fairly restricting to follow a training plan laid out for the first 12 months of a puppy’s life. By the time my GSD puppy Havok had reached 4 months of age, he was acing things in the 6-12 month section. One thing I noticed that I don’t agree with is in the recall section where it tells you to say your puppy’s name, give the recall cue, click then treat. I don’t use name before recall cue. The reason for that is that name means look at me (or pay attention to me), not come to me. If you teach your puppy “name + recall” then you won’t be able to use their name in the future to get their focus on distance training, because it’ll prompt him to come to you instead. Lastly, keep in mind this book was written by a Positive Reinforcement-only trainer and geared towards competition dogs, so take everything you read with a grain of salt. (205 pages, 0 typos, 4 stars)

Book #3

“Social, Civil and Savvy” by Laura VanArendonk Baugh

Another good puppy book! This book in particular focuses on socialization, which is a crucial aspect in puppy development and training. Too many puppy owners focus on teaching commands and forget the importance of raising a comfortable and confident puppy. I didn’t really learn anything new in this book, but I like the way Laura explains things. Lots of good analogies and examples that make sense of a somewhat simple yet oftentimes misunderstood topic. (152 pages, 0 typos, 5 stars)

Book #4

“The Evolution of Canine Social Behavior” by Roger Abrantes

After reading basic books on dog and puppy training, I was ready to get something meatier and expand my knowledge base. This book did just that for me! It’s a small book with lots of good content – I highlighted a lot! Genetically dogs are 98.8% wolves, and while I agree that domestication has changed things drastically, I think it’s important to study wolves in order to gain a better understanding of dogs. If you’re looking for a dog training book to help with your dog, this isn’t the book for you. But if you’re looking for a fascinating look at the inside life of wolves, you’ll thoroughly enjoy love this book! (73 pages, 0 typos, 5 stars)

Book #5

“Everything you need to know: E Collar Training” by Larry Krohn

This one is going to be tough to review, and I’m going to end up giving it 3 stars not because the content isn’t good, but because the book is a bit misleading. I really liked almost everything Larry had to say about dogs and dog training. I found myself nodding my head in agreement – reading a book by a balanced trainer is always refreshing to me! But for starters, this is a small book with large font, large pictures and lots of blank space. It’s more like a magazine and doesn’t focus specifically on e-collar training. It’s covers Larry’s training philosophy, business tips, life stories and other information which I found interesting but irrelevant to the topic at hand. As an e-collar trainer myself, I didn’t learn anything new except that dogs should be standing or laying down when putting the e-collar on -not sitting- to get a better fit. The book is overpriced at $9.35 (on Amazon). If you’re looking for a how-to book on e-collar training, keep looking. (62 pages, 5 typos, 3 stars)

Book #6

“Ruff Love” by Susan Garrett

The only reason I read this book was to get it off my “Not yet read” shelf on my bookcase. It’s another very basic book by a Positive Reinforcement-only trainer. The charts and training steps can be a bit much; I think what’s more important than knowing what step you’re on is knowing what your goal is and how to get there. I’ve found positive reinforcement trainers love graphs and charts and scientific-y things, and for the average pet owners it can be confusing. I like to help my clients understand the importance of the why’s of training in order to help them teach their puppy how. This book was basic and boring; not recommended. (95 pages, 0 typos but to be honest I skimmed a lot, 2 stars)


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