Dogs Are From Neptune

Second edition, by Jean Donaldson. Dogwise Publishing. $14.95.

9781929242658If you own a problem dog or know someone who does, “Dear Jean” is here to help.

This deft presentation and laser-like focus of each subject is both fascinating and spot on. It should be, for the resourceful Donaldson, founder and director of the San Francisco SPCA Academy for Dog Trainers, has more than three decades in the business.

She tackles a different subject in each chapter, under the general categories of training, behavior, naughtiness, fear, aggression toward people, dog aggression and people in general, dissecting off-leash control, pulling on leash, puppy head starts, counter surfing, garbage raiding, dirt eating, separation anxiety, food guarding, lunging and fighting and many others.

You need read no more than the first sentence of this well-polished manual, however, to find the key to success: “I think I speak for a good many dog trainers,” Donaldson emphasizes, “when I say if we could wave a wand and instill one idea in dog owners, it would be that dogs must be motivated in order to do what we want.”

Donaldson has revised actual how-to content from her first edition (1998), updating some recommendations and changing emphasis in many cases, plus has added some favorite recent essays to the mix.

Throughout, her advice is persuasive and delivered in a clear, compelling manner – the type you’d like to file in your mental rolodex for use when Fido chooses to challenge your authority next time.

While she addresses specific behavioral issues with a sharp, authorial eye, a chapter entitled, Top Ten Behavior Myths, is packed with a vast array of hot-button topics.  A few of those in no specific order are: rewards are bribes and thus compromise relationships; dogs have an innate desire to please; dogs are naturally pack animals with a clear social order; if you let dogs exit doorways ahead of you, you’re letting them be dominant.

Donaldson presents a compelling argument for her selection of each, and addresses the dynamics of dogdom elsewhere in a flavorful fashion always firmly tethered to reality.