Good dog trainers know that they are really training the dogs’ owners. So what should a dog owner know in order to have a well-behaved dog? Melissa Berryman, a former animal officer, notes on her book cover that she “witnessed every failure imaginable among dogs, their owners and her community.” In this book, she sets up a clear path to successful dog ownership.
Berryman bases her training tips on the idea that the natural instinct of a dog is to be a pack animal, and she uses military terms to describe the canines she encounters: the pack leader is the “general”; “privates” are those in the lowest ranks. “General” dogs are “strong-willed, forceful, bossy, unyielding, strict, powerful, aloof, stressed and dominant,” she writes. “Privates” “never give orders. They can be characterized as being very tolerant, easygoing, and obedient, and they never aspire to lead.”
Using this concept — that dogs are born to either lead or follow — Berryman’s training guide takes dog owners through a regime of exercises designed to help them recognize which type of dog they have and to make them confident and successful with their particular animal.
Berryman spends the first several chapters justifying her concept, often repeating herself, but once she gets to the point, she offers valuable information about setting clear boundaries and establishing rules that will bring respect, as well as ensuring safe interactions between dogs and others (including other dogs). She ends her book with a safety and liability assessment questionnaire that might just be the best part of this guide to dog ownership, as it forces owners to think of their unique relationship with their individual pet.
This book is a fine choice for current or future dog owners who want to affect healthy, safe relationships between themselves and their dogs.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.