Sunday, August 18, 2013

Book Review: Dog InSight (dog training and behavior problems)

Dog InSight, Pamela Reid, PhD, CAAB (Dogwise Publishing, 216 pages, 2012, $12.95) 

At First Glance
Glancing at the organization, Dog InSight is excellent, covering Behavior (normal everyday dog behavior, ethology), Training (skills), and Behavior Problems - each with an introductory page and suggested books.
InSight is a Dogwise book and that means quality! Wonderfully easy to read and entertaining as well as informative. Unfortunately, the fact that these 43 short essays are previously-penned columns is apparent neither in the description nor on the cover. A few were updated in 2011, though the original year of publication is not noted.
Handy Chapter
The selection ‘Dog Behaviour Professionals’ (yes, Canadian spelling was kept intact) discusses certifications and trainers, veterinarians, veterinary behaviorists, and applied animal behaviorists. Astute readers will notice the bias towards professionals with postgraduate degrees (Pamela Reid has a PhD herself).
Reid and McConnell
If you liked Dr. Patricia McConnell’s Tales of Two Species, you will like Pam Reid’s book! Both are collections of canine columns from lay periodicals: McConnell’s behavior columns appeared in The BARk, while Reid’s columns are from Dogs in Canada (no longer available). Both books are uplifting and will bring a smile to your reading and warm memories to your heart. McConnell’s love for dogs shines through her essays while Reid successfully educates and supports dog lovers of all ilks. Read in any order, InSight chapters appeal to the average dog person, breeder, canine competition sports enthusiast, and especially beginning dog training and behavior professionals.
More Topics
Reid masterfully tackles canine issues from dominance, learning theory, play, packs, calming signals, temperament, separation anxiety, and shyness, to thunderphobia - all with aplomb, sensitivity and often humor. ‘Hush, Puppy! Controlling Canine Noise Pollution’ is very thorough but also states the methods will not solve every noise problem. My favorite chapter is ‘Saying “No”: How To Tell Your Dog He’s Done Something Wrong.’
Reid's Experience
Reid has owned unusual breeds with fascinating issues: knowing this tells us she understands, is experienced, and that this book is the next best thing to a private consult!
Intrique, Drawbacks
The title, Dogs InSight, intrigues me still (similar to Excel-erated Learning with the hyphen). What is meant by ‘InSight’? Information about dogs or is the book about dogs that are ‘in sight,’ the dogs we live with, who live onsite, in sight of us? The intriguing cover photo requires more than a quick look as well!
I prefer books that cite references, particularly studies mentioned: here InSight falls short. Yes, there is one page of Recommended Reading but the books listed include some from back in the ‘60s and no peer-reviewed papers (many readers are self-learner ‘education hounds’) are cited, even those referred to in the text.
Reid’s writing has vastly improved since Excel-erated Learning(1996) perhaps because the readership for InSight is wider. Each essay begins with an attention-grabber and ends full-circle. I dog-eared many pages and highlighted liberally.
Now, if I can only remember to grab this little book when I have a specific question that it answers!

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