Puppies for Dummies by Sarah Hodgson and Dog Training for Dummies by Jack & Wendy Volhard


Puppies for Dummies
Sarah Hodgson
(Wiley Publishing Inc., Hoboken (NJ): 2000)

Dog Training for Dummies
Jack and Wendy Volhard
(Wiley Publishing Inc., New York: 2001)

READ: May-June 2005 (incomplete)

I am reviewing these two books together for, I assume, what are obvious reasons. I also must come clean at this point: I didn't finish reading either one. But these are reference books and so I feel OK with that decision. I have them to consult when I need them, and I like having them around.

The books in the Dummies series tend to be fairly well-written, at least in my experience (not extensive, but a number of different titles - Art, Scuba Diving and Snorkeling, Sailing, Homebrewing, Canadian History, etc. - can be found on my bookshelves), and they provide a good overview to the subject. The Puppies and Dog Training books are no exception.

The Puppies book started off at a very basic level and in fact made me wish we had purchased the book before getting a dog.* It surveys the various breeds and would be very helpful for someone unsure what kind of dog would be most appropriate. Of course, it also discusses mixed breeds as well. There were further useful chapters on topics such as housebreaking and puppyproofing - another chapter that would have been useful about 8 months sooner. (He's now 100% housebroken** but there were some unnecessary tears shed along that route.)

As for the Dog Training book, while Rion was decently trained by the time I started reading this book (well, OK - "sit" and "lie down" was virtually impeccable, "stay" was sometimes optional, and "come" was contingent on the bribery being proferred), there have been multiple tips and tricks in the book that have helped us improve his training regimen. Consistency, as any dog owner will tell you, is key. Consistency is also the hardest thing to achieve at times (I'd like to see if you are able to tell Fido that he must give up the sock at once even though he is the cutest little thing in the world, sitting with it all pretty in his mouth).

So while the books are basic, they are useful as reference texts. And I've learned some interesting snippets: For instance, have you ever wondered why, while scolding your dog for something he should not be doing, his tail starts wagging? He looks shameful but the tail says otherwise. Well, apparently a wagging tail is not necessarily an indication of a happy, carefree dog but can also often indicate that the dog is trying to calm you down (diffusion of a tense situation). Also, a leash-free Jack Russell is almost never a good thing in cities (good to know).

*A comment not to be construed in any way to imply that I would trade my little Rion in for a million other dogs - no way!
**Statement may only be 97% accurate.

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