Friday, June 5, 2009

Book Review: The Power of Positive Dog Training by Pat Miller

Title: The Power of Positive Dog Training
Author: Pat Miller
Year published: 2001

I think this really is the go-to book for learning about positive training and how to implement it with your dog. I've never beaten around the bush with indicating that I'm very pro-positive training and I think Pat Miller is one of the best.

The book begins with a little bit about Pat Miller's history of training, namely that she was a "traditional" trainer at one point, which many were. Traditional trainers focus more on aversives and punishments: leash pops, choke chains, and the like. It tells briefly of her discovery and switch to positive methods. I think this is important: it says that anyone can do it, no matter how they trained beforehand.

From there, the book is divided into three main sections.

The first outlines the ins and outs of positive training: how it works, why it works, why it builds a better bond with your dog. It explains a little bit about how dogs think and learn and outlines some basic training tools you'll need with your dog.

The second gives instructions on how to get your dog to do some basic obedience: sit, down, stay, come, etc. She breaks each of them down into easy steps to achieve them and gives suggestions on common problems people might encounter when trying to teach their dog the particular command. At the end of each section, she gives "bonus games" which are basic tricks you can teach your dog. She stresses, time and time again, that this should be fun: both for the human and the dog.

The third addresses common behavioral problems, such as housetraining, separation anxiety, aggression, socialization, and what to do when there's a baby on the way. Each of these sections can (and are) books on their own, so in the context of a fairly short book they're somewhat glossed over. Miller is, at every turn, careful to note that if your dog has some more serious issues that finding a good positive trainer who can work with you and your dog in person is most important.

I recommend this book to anyone who wants to get started in obedience training with their dog. They'll end up with a really well-behaved dog who loves to work for them.

Buy The Power of Positive Dog Training by Pat Miller