A comprehensive technical manual, written for dog behavior professionals. It discusses understanding aggressive behavior in dogs, functionally assessing the behavior and constructing systematic behavior change programs, as well as consulting skills and case management. Comprehensive and systematic, it favors a behavioral approach. It includes an extensive glossary and functional assessment forms.
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What reviewers are saying...
MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW
“AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOR IN DOGS: A COMPREHENSIVE TECHNICAL MANUAL FOR PROFESSIONALS should be in every dog professional's collection: it provides a comprehensive, technical manual on assessing the behavior and behavior change programs for dogs. From undersocialization and single-subject designs used in the experimental analysis of behaviors to behavior change programming, this packs in bibliographies for reference, assessment sheets, and everything the professional trainer needs to assess and handle dogs aggression. Few other surveys contain the technical, in-depth assessment of this guide”.
James A. Cox
APDT CHRONICLE OF THE DOG
“This book is different because it is written specifically for the professional training consultant, rather than for owners, or veterinarians. James O’Heare, CABC, is the President of Cynology College, Director of the International Institute for Applied Companion Animal Behavior and owner of DogPsych Publishing. He has written several books and has been working in the field since the early 1990s. Mr. O’Heare states in the preface, “... this book is comprehensive and technical, written to provide a solid introduction to systematically working aggression cases from a behavioral paradigm called the Dog Aggression Workbook.”
I found the book to be primarily written from an empathetic point of view in regard to the position of the dog behavior consultant. The author clearly understands the complexities and problems inherent in working with families whose dogs are suffering from aggression issues. For example, in Chapter 1, the author spends several paragraphs discussing Bradley’s assertions in her book, Dogs Bite, but Balloons and Slippers are More Dangerous (2005) that “dogs almost never kill people, and they don’t actually bite very often, and when they do, we’re seldom injured, and when we are, it’s seldom serious” and he then states that, “if a client’s dog is displaying aggressive behavior, this is a different population from the average dog population and the probability of harm will be much higher … the potential for trouble has already been realized.”
The author defines aggression as “acts performed by living things towards other living things, excluding accidental or benevolently intended harm … I refer to attacks, attempted attacks or threats to attack.” (p.63). He goes on to explain in greater detail various definitions of aggression, and why they might occur. From this point Mr. O’Heare proceeds to produce a lengthy and detailed discussion of working with aggressive behavior in dogs, including chapters on ethical considerations for consultants; liabilities; understanding breed tendencies regarding aggression; biological explanations for aggression; pharmacological intervention; various tools; as well as several training set-ups for the treatment of various issues, such as resource-guarding and dog-dog aggression. There is an interesting well-made discussion of the “Doctrine of Least Aversive Intervention” outlining the care one must take if choosing to use any aversive techniques in the treatment of aggression, and *why* one must be so careful.
As with any book of this length, which covers so many topics, I found areas in which some aspects were perhaps somewhat simplified, such as in the information regarding inherent breed tendencies: some of the breeds are described fairly specifically while others are just glanced upon. However, the book is not intended to be a handbook on breed characteristics, so interested readers could of course do research to gain more information if necessary. The area discussing pharmacological use is also a bit “short,” but since this is not a veterinary manual, nor one written for veterinarians, perhaps that is appropriate. At the end of each chapter the author includes a “Summing Up” portion, which sums up the main points of the preceding chapter as well as Suggested Reading, which is very helpful in keeping track of the main points as the book moves along.
There are several diagrams and some drawings in the book which are also helpful—particularly the illustrations of Affiliative Signals (p. 81), which clearly demonstrate the behaviors being discussed in each section. The diagrams throughout the book are well done, though it may have benefited to have more illustrations in various places, or perhaps some photographs as well. In the appendices the author includes a very interesting graph of the Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program as well as a Sample Functional Assessment Interview which readers can use as a model if they don’t already have an assessment questionnaire of their own.
Mr. O’Heare does make it clear that he prefers clicker training, perhaps this could have been mentioned in the title in some way for those who are searching for this preference (or not).
In general I found the book to be very readable and clearly arranged. The author covers the important aspects of working with families who have aggression issues with their dogs. I would recommend this book for those professionals who are considering working with aggression as well as for those currently working with those issues as an adjunct to their basic knowledge.”