"How to Right a Dog Gone Wrong" will help anyone with a dog that has aggressive tendencies, whether it is a young dog that shows aggression when you remove the food bowl, a dog-aggressive dog that you are afraid to walk in the park, or a dog that is aggressive towards family and friends. Readers will gain an understanding of the causes of aggression and the various ways of dealing with it. Finally, they will learn a step by step program of rehabilitation that has been used successfully on hundreds of dogs, large and small, in all breeds.
What reviewers are saying...
How to Right a Dog Gone Wrong; A Roadmap For Rehabilitating Aggressive Dogs
Pamela Dennison, a dog trainer and certified animal behavior consultant, writes what she knows. After her adopted 1 year old Border Collie "Shadow," turned out to be aggressive toward humans, Dennison sought methods to rehabilitate her dog. Within 18 months, Shadow had earned his Canine Good Citizen certificate and Dennison had gained skills and expertise that have allowed her to help other people use positive methods to help their aggressive and reactive dogs.
Rehabilitating an aggressive dog takes work. "There are no magic potions, special tools, complicated training methods or mysterious mumbo-jumbo gimmicks I can give to you to work with your aggressive dog," Dennison writes. She explains that punishing aggression just suppresses behavior - and the aggression may eventually be expressed in other ways.
Her solution is a program of classical conditioning, operant conditioning, desensitization and counter-conditioning that changes the way the dog reacts to situations that once provoked aggression toward people or other dogs.
Before that program can be established, however, the dog must know some foundation behaviors, including name recognition, eye contact, a solid recall, heel on a loose leash, accept touching and a few others. The author gives clear, step-by-step instructions on training these behaviors. She then explains how to design a desensitization program - "a slow but extremely effective process."
Because she's been through this herself, Dennison writes with compassion for the owner of an aggressive dog and places no judgment on owner or dog. In addition to the rehab program, she also provides suggestions for handling real-life issues using the foundation behaviors she suggests, such as taking your aggressive dog to the veterinarian, or dealing with guests coming to the door.
Dennison presents her advice clearly and patiently and even manages to infuse humor into this serious topic.
APDT CHRONICLE OF THE DOG
“This book tackles a lot of information in its short 191 pages. Since it is directed at the owners of dogs “gone wrong,” I think Pamela Dennison was wise not to create a book so long that it would intimidate the intended audience.
The high points of this book for me are its easy-to-follow format which includes not just the typical end-of-chapter key points, but also frequent capsule summaries that contain a lot of important information—even if an owner only skimmed these summaries, they’d get some very good take-away messages.
I enjoyed Pamela’s writing style—it’s infused with just a touch of humor and some really wonderful analogies. One favorite is the comparison between a handler tightening their dog’s leash and the secure feeling of walking with a companion who cares enough to pull you aside if you get too close to something dangerous, such as a nest of stinging red ants. Another favorite is when she compares a dog reaching the age of five months to the Bar Mitzvah rite-of-passage—“Now you are a Dog!”
The content is really quite strong, though she makes a few statements that could benefit from supporting citations, such as that male dogs unsheath their penises to cool off and that dogs learn faster when trained using positive reinforcement techniques. Since many of the statements not noted as her opinion are backed up with references, I would have liked to see that carried out throughout the book.
I appreciate that Ms. Dennison takes a strong stand on her position against the use of positive punishment training techniques. There will be no doubt in the reader’s mind how she feels about certain training methods and tools and I admire that she takes that stand, though some may feel it’s a bit strong.
The book covers foundation behaviors in a brilliant way. The presentation of each behavior starts with a “Why You Need It” section and is then followed by a “How to Train It” section. This presentation technique is so simple and easy to follow that I think Dennison hits the mark for her audience. She also covers some areas that I haven’t often seen in dog books meant for dog owners such as the Rule of Sevens and an excellent section on context design that has many sample sessions to give the reader a real sense of how rehabilitation may progress with their dog.
As happens with many books, Dennison gets a bit bogged down in a discussion of classical and operant conditioning, schedules of reinforcement, and other terms like “scheduled induced aggression” that in my opinion are really not necessary for the typical dog owner and may make them feel they are in over their heads, especially when she does such a fantastic job, in general, of simplifying without “dumbing down” throughout the book.
All in all I found this a very well written book with some excellent practical advice for owners of aggressive dogs and some very effective presentation techniques. It also covers what I think most professional dog trainers would agree are the most critical foundation behaviors for most dogs (not just those with aggression).
There are a few areas that could be improved, such as a discussion of how to train heeling with 100% eye contact that I felt was a bit too complicated for the audience and also some overly technical terminology.
The good things in this book far outweigh any minor concerns and I would certainly recommend it as supplemental material for the owner of an aggressive dog who has first had a behavior consultation with a qualified professional.”