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4.3 out of 5 stars174
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 12 August 2011
This intelligently written book presents an evidence-based case for enjoyable and humane relationships between people and dogs. It counteracts wide-spread beliefs about wolf packs, dominance and hierarchy in relation to domestic dogs. Highly recommended if you enjoy critical argument, and very useful for all dog-owners.
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on 10 January 2012
If you own or look after a dog then this book should be at the top of your list of priorities. After having spent years trying to figure out which dog trainers to believe I am finally getting the non-stressed, non-guilty relationship with my dog that I have wanted all along. Instead of always feeling bad for not managing to be the perfect 'pack leader' I can now stop blaming myself for the lack of 'obedience' in my dog and just enjoy his quirky and independent personality. It's a shame that I wasted so much time believing all those dog training approaches which kept banging on about how the 'perfect' dog ought to behave when he fully accepts the owner as pack leader.
After having read this book I can relax and enjoy my lovely, bouncy dog without worrying about his behaviour, which, it turns out, was just natural, loving dog behaviour all along. I have completely quit the 'dominant behaviour' approach and I am happy to report that my dog is no more boisterous, challenging or 'difficult' that he was before. In fact I am quite sure he feels more relaxed now that I am more relaxed about him.
Good to finally read a well researched, well thought through, easy to understand, scientific book about what dogs are REALLY like.
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on 28 September 2011
Those fo us who are working in positive reward based training are constantly battling against the Cesar Milan brigade who believe we need to treat our dogs as if they were wolves trying to dominate everyone and everything in our lives. This book presents a clear rationale for why this is utter nonsense. Not only are dogs not wolves but the research on wolves is seriously flawed meaning that the basis of the 'dominance' training model is also totally flawed. It gives good analogies to human behaviour which helps understand why punitive methods create dogs who do behave, but they are only behaving because they are scared to put a paw wrong for fear of pain and fear. I do not want to force a dog to live in constant fear and anxiety, that is why I am a reward based trainer, which is fully supported in this book. The book helps me to explain to others why they should use positve reinforcement and not punishment on their dogs.
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on 19 May 2015
I enjoyed reading this book and it made a lot of sense... However I have one major issue with it, in order to understand our dogs the author talks about the evolution from the grey wolf... completely agree with all the arguments for this. BUT he refuses to explore a topic that I feel is crucial. He says we should only study grey wolfs in their natural environment to understand dogs, because the grey wolf in captivity doesn't behave naturally, as the situation is forced, ie they live with wolfs from different families, they are more hostile, they form a pack hierarchy etc etc. However don't WE do exactly the same to dogs in our houses?! So therefore looking at the behavior of wolfs before and after captivity could help us truly understand how our dogs I feel. I think there is so much fear that people are going to dominate and punish their dogs that they are trying to get the message out that this isn't necessary and I do agree to a point, but a man with such potential to not only study wolf and dog in a natural capacity should also consider more a wolf and dog in captivity, especially our homes. This way we could truly ensure the right balance of communication and dedication for our dogs.

For the above I've knocked a star of, however it does open your eyes up to the evolution of dogs, and I would be so so so much more picky about selecting a breeder if I were to buy a puppy.

The second star I've knocked off is for the dismissal of a dog who has missed their key socialization periods. I have a rescue who missed this and the book makes me feel that I should give up on him because too much damage is done. He may be right but we will see!
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on 15 August 2011
An excellent book for dog owners and dog lovers. Erudite, informative and interesting. It's a real eye opener to their world, a world we dog owners thought we knew, but as it turned out we really don't. Bradshaw is a fine host to this ever changing world. He writes well, often quite wryly. His research into the millennia of dog history and subsequent domestication is impressive and interesting. I'll never see my dog with the same eyes again, but all the better for that. The accompanying illustrations by Alan Peters are fantastic. And there is a comprehensive and useful reading list for those that want to delve deeper into dog history and psychology.
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on 28 October 2011
After several years of trying to refine and better myself in the dominance 'pack hierarchy' approach to life with dogs. I really felt that for all my effort, awareness, discipline and strong belief in the pack leader style approach. My energy, enthusiasm, interest and relationship to my own dog and others had diminished.

Dog ownership had become a chore and a constant struggle.

My faith in those like Caesar Milan and 'the dog whisperer' (Jan Fennel) had begun to falter. I sensed that something wasn't right and so I went on-line to find a book that might offer insight.
As it happened this book had fairly recently been published and had reviews which suggested that the author's understanding of dogs was a very different one to that of the aforementioned authors.

This book proved to be an astounding eye opener!

It made brilliant sense, well explained, constantly backing up the theories expressed with hard evidence.
My relationship with my beloved hound was improved in weeks, made so much happier and a darn site easier too.

My view of canines had been radically changed. So much so that I could now say with confidence it has been thoroughly liberated!

Finally My blessings go out to this man for this great compassionate achievement he has laboured to make. This is a great service to a whole species, and one so close to so many millions hearts.
What an honour.
If you would like to have your whole understanding of those whom many call our best friends enriched.
Then I say, look no further.
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on 27 July 2011
Amazing book! It's really opened my eyes as to how dogs think and how they feel, and how wrong some people can be about that. There's a lot of information in the book, but the science is really clearly explained.

A couple of nights ago I heard John Bradshaw talking about his book on the Book Club show on London's Biggest Conversation - for anyone who's unsure about whether or not to buy this book, I can recommend listening to the podcast.
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on 31 October 2011
An excellent, academic book based on a scientific approach to animal behaviour that should raise serious questions for everyone involved with dogs. The author argues that using wolves as a starting point for dog behaviour is flawed; by tracing the evolution of dogs across the world, and highlighting the limitations observations of 'man-made' wolf packs in captivity who live an artificial, stress-laden and unstable lives. The author asks us to accept that dogs have left wolfness behind, evolving alongside us, developing a range of characteristics that make them a great choice of companion animal and that far from seeking to dominate us, they only want to live a happy life with understanding human companions.

The book has provoked strong reactions because it claims that the fashionable 'dominance' model is useless, based on bad science, and applying this kind of approach leads to dogs becoming withdrawn and depressed. It cites scientific studies that suggest dogs are emotional creatures, capable of strong attachment (but not guilt) and great happiness (both giving and receiving). They are not the social climbers out to be pack leader that contemporary dog trainers would have you believe, rather they are co-operative, sociable creatures who prefer human company over their own kind, making them remarkable in the animal world.

The first part, where the author hammers home his evidence that dogs are not wolves, is interminable and repetitive. Once you've made it past that part, the book is more rewarding and full of great suggestions as well as insights. Highly recommended.
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on 28 August 2011
An excellent book about man's best friend, which is well written and very comprehensive. This is the best book on dogs and promotes their cause and welfare.

Adrian Winbow.
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on 2 August 2011
So much has happened in the world of dog behaviour research over the last 15 years, and this book is well overdue in providing a clear but thorough summary of what this research has revealed and where we are now in our understanding of dogs. While a lot of scientists and trainers/behaviourists have shifted their thinking along with new findings, the problem is that a lot of books for dog owners that are still available in the shops are based on flawed research studies, or worse, just spin and hype created around the charisma of the 'personality' that is promoting the dog training method. This book brings us bang up to date and also prepares us for the road ahead in protecting, supporting and celebrating our best friends.
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