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Monday, July 20, 2009

cover of The Loved Dog

I was pleasantly surprised with how readable and interesting this book was. It starts off almost more like a memoir, as Geller tells some of her story and how she came to her view of how dogs should be trained. She has a great story of trying to use foreign toilet facilities in a strange land, and then compares this to dogs, who she says don't know what we want them to do and don't know how to ask us. She also describes her observation of wolves, who teach pups how to behave by playing games. Geller is apparently a dog coach to the stars, and at times it feels like she is name dropping, but she tells plenty of other stories about non-celebrity dogs and families when it suits the purpose of what she is trying to communicate. Geller claims that most of what passes for dog training these days is actually abusive, and she has some horror stories of dogs with broken feet and crippled legs that bear witness to this.

The training ideas are easy to follow along with and Geller generally provides reasons why you should do things a certain way. I found new ideas and insights that were helpful to me with my dog, who is mostly pretty well trained (and some thoughts about why he has trouble with a couple of commands he doesn't always do so well). The idea of different levels of treats to help reward different kinds of behavior is helpful, and even the notion that dogs need structure but also like a surprise now and then. I found Geller's opinion on training dogs to heel interesting and sort of emblematic of the rest of her thinking-- she says it goes back to a time when dogs were soldiers, and had to be on the opposite side of where the rifle was carried, but that dogs aren't soldiers anymore and we don't need to treat them like they are.

Geller is clearly very passionate about her work and dogs, as evidenced by the organizations and campaigns she describes in the back of the book: Stop Puppy Mills, Another Chance for Love, and Pets for Life.

Title:The Loved Dog
Author:Tamar Geller with Andrea Cagan
Date published:2007
Genre:Nonfiction, Dog Training
Number of pages:227
Notes:gift from Ardis


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