The Other End Of The Leash by Patricia McConnell, Ph.D.,
Ballantine Books $25.95
The Other End Of the Leash is a delightful book about the relationship
between humans and dogs. The author is a well known behaviorist and
television personality seen on Animal Planet's Pet Line. She has a
wonderfully flowing and easy to read writing style that allowed me to
devour the book in a few evenings. (This is no small feat when you have two
active toddlers !!) There are tons of tips for dog owners, professional
trainers and anyone else wanting to know more about how to get along with
dogs. I loved her very touching descriptions of each of her animal's
personalities ( she lives with 4 border collies, one cat and numerous sheep!) and her relationship to them.
Information abounds about how to better communicate with the dog
you live with, I especially like the advice about stopping a dog from doing
something you don't want him to do and redirecting his energies elsewhere.
This section reminded me of how we teach leave it and come at Canine
University. Patricia McConnell gives the reader the tools to better
communicate ideas, and helps clarify the reasons our dogs respond or ignore
us. She has some interesting ideas about the tone and pitch of your voice
and the way we move our bodies around dogs to communicate our intentions.
The author goes to great lengths to explain the difference between
the ways that dogs communicate with each other and the world around them
and how it differs from humans and other apes. She makes many reference to
our primate cousins the chimpanzee which are logical and humorous.
here were some particularly amusing parts of the book where the author describes
how humans acting like the primates we are can make problems worse despite
the best of intentions and instructions. It explains why so often if we
have a shy dog people insist on coming right up to pat her despite our
efforts to discourage them. A great suggestion she mentions is to throw
the person a treat or ball to give to your dog instead. The human instinct
to catch the ball or toy is so strong that he or she will often stop
advancing and catch the object instead. How many of us have been
frustrated with people who pursue us even when we've politely explained
that our dog isn't always people friendly.
The author's advice concerning aggressive dogs is right on the
money. She does not recommend any harsh or physical corrections and places
heavy emphasis on teaching, training and managing aggressive dogs. Her
words and wisdom about dog-dog interactions are brilliant. There are ideas
here that experienced trainers will sit up and listen to.
Overall this book was a pleasure to read, both entertaining and
educational. I think that both the average pet owner and the experienced
professional will benefit from it's ideas and explanations. My favorite
tip by far was how to get your dog to go away when he is pestering you for
attention. She refers to it as "happy slappies" and you'll find a full
explanation in chapter eight. I think this book is definitely worth a
read, enjoy !
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