This is one of the few books that really does live up to the promise of its title. It should be a mandatory read for the vast majority of dog owners, not least those who have had a succession of dogs and think that years owned and numbers of dogs equal expertise as in the "I've had dogs all my life" syndrome.
It is written in very accessible prose with excellent references and opportunities for further reading without cluttering the text with in-line citations or being overwhelming. Although largely aimed at the North American market (it does cite the PDSA PAW Reports), it should be noted that some details are not pertinent to the UK. It is illegal to crop dogs' ears in the UK and non-clinical tail docking can only occur under limited circumstances in working dogs. I have some minor quibbles too: I think that it could come down on the side of non-aversive training a little more but it is clearly attempting to enter such debates in a commendably non-antagonistic manner. I am especially delighted that the authors mention over-exercise as well as lack of exercise and explain why running with dogs is rarely a good idea.
Best of all, it discusses dogs' need for mental stimulation as well as exercise. It covers basic skills in observing canine body language including common misconceptions (growl=bad, wagging tail=good for instance). It explains why hugging dogs is rarely a good thing and why so many of the behaviours that people dislike need to be accommodated, modified, sublimated or plain old allowed because they are natural canine behaviours. It mentions the imperative for undertaking lifelong training and dips into some of the most recent research to whet the appetite of the inquisitive reader for more.