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on 27 January 2014
I have a highly reactive dog, particularly towards other dogs when out for a walk.
After reading other reviews I expected this to be just what I needed... I was wrong.

The book explains the physiological aspects of the reactive dog in a way that is informative, humorous, and easy to understand. So far, so good.

Then the book puts the theory into practice. It requires the owner to train their dog to remain calm whilst ON A MAT. Now, this would be great if my dog was reactive in the house, but he isn't. The example in the book continues to use the idea of a dog that barks etc at the doorbell going/ postman/ visitor to the house.
My dog is reactive outside the house and the "tips" offered around this are ridiculously impractical. "Carry the mat with you on your walk" and another one includes having to train your dog whist getting someone else to come near with their dog (that is also an unknown dog that your dog will react to but that you can also direct at a distance!?!)

Great if your dog has a problem in the house, poor if (like mine) the issues are outside.

3 stars given as the price is great and I would recommend it to anyone who needs/wants to understand fear physiology in dogs and/or has a indoor doggie issue.
Would absolutely NOT recommend for any other issues.
45 people found this helpful
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on 15 March 2014
SUMMARY: The ins-and-outs of teaching a solid settle to serial canine over-reacters.

AUDIENCE: The author primarily wrote this book for owners, but the protocols may be too demanding for that readership without the encouragement of a professional.


In a nutshell: Another book in the recent trend of reducing prompting, and letting the dog work it out more. This one focuses on mat work, or how to teach your dog to relax at the mere sight of your training mat.

There is also a great chapter on puppy socialization - possibly one of the best chapters I've ever read on the topic (pragmatically concise, responsibly thorough, and surprisingly original).

Style: The book meets the big three's of non-fiction: it flows, it entertains, and it educates. The author has this knack for illustrating abstract concepts with great analogies. It turns out she is a professional writer (fiction and non fiction) in addition to her dog work. She certainly raises the bar for the rest of us on the style front.

Technique: She not only writes well, but she clearly masters the underlying theory. I have not face-palmed once. Not - one - single - time. Coming from this painfully pedantic theory nerd (i.e. me), it means a lot. Her reasoning and facts were as good as water-tight.

She also produces references for the facts she presents, which is a nice touch in a book written for the layman.

The book also got me to pause and think about some of the finer stuff:

Downside of prompting: a full-length discussion reviewing the dangers of over-prompting
Cue as tertiary reinforcer, when the cue itself becomes motivating.
Delivering the reward by throwing it away for the dog to chase, to allow him to shed tension.
Technique meets style: Her grasp of technique and style made for insightful imagery. Some extracts:

Dogs asking questions: A dog making a mistake is asking you a question. You have failed to answer it if he makes the same mistake twice.
Combat pay: That extra yummy piece of cheese for the really tough situation.
Poisoned cue: A cue with a history of unpleasant, or unclear, consequences.
Splitting, not lumping: About the importance to taking solid baby steps before running a marathon
On the minus front: The demands on owner compliance seem utopic. The need to keep records, and the micro-nano-mini-splitting (i.e. if the dog gets stuck, split the next step into five tiny steps) will discourage many 'civilian' readers, I fear.

I would love to see one chapter dedicated to training school settings. I am considering using it for our school, but I need additional guidance before I do that.

The verdict: I absolutely loved it. It read like a breeze, it was accurate, it added original points to old theories, and it was chock-full of analogies (always a plus for client communication). And, it gave me new things to add to my toolbox as a trainer. Consider me a happy customer.
12 people found this helpful
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on 25 July 2015
Initial everything seemed sensible. Dog responded to using the mat and I can get her to lie and stay on it anywhere in the house or garden.
But she would not completely relax on her mat as she was always waiting for another treat. The use of the clicker as soon as she saw (before she becomes fixated on) another dog did not work. As I suspected you shouldn't reward a dog for unwanted behaviour and soon the clicker had no affect. But she has learnt a lot from working on the mat and enjoys it.
4 people found this helpful
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on 2 January 2018
Better material on the market. Whole book is about click feeding your dog when calm to reinforce calm behaviour. Dogs need to be shown how to relax, it doesn't come naturally to them. Now that I have said this, you do not need to buy this book.
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on 23 August 2017
There were several places where chunks of pages were missing, up to 10 pages at a time in some instances. So if not familiar with training a dog, it means some following text makes no sense to the last read, plus you may have missed important information.
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on 26 November 2013
Written in a way that is clear, simple and easy to understand, this is a book for owners of manic dogs everywhere. Obviously there are no "magic" answers to dog behavioral problems - but this book definitely points in the right direction...
3 people found this helpful
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on 15 May 2015
This is a great book if you have a hyper, reactive dog. The exercises are easy and doable, even if you lead a busy life, and they work if you consistently do them. I was amazed at how quickly my Patterdale terrier calmed down and started focusing on me regardless of distractions. And I had tried a lot of other approaches.
The book is well written and a pleasure to read.
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on 21 May 2018
Still working my way through, so cant review.
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on 11 August 2017
Lots of useful advice even though I have owned dogs for over 40 years.
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on 29 March 2013
Extremely knowledgable author writes in an easy to understand fashion, and makes no assumptions based on untested beliefs.
This is a very useful book with a caring approach to addressing the issues of dogs that need help to be calm.
6 people found this helpful
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