Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Book Review: Canine Behavior (dog body language)

Canine Behavior, A Photo Illustrated Handbook, by Barbara Handelman, Woof and Word Press, 350 pp, 2009, about 50$ (www.WoofandWordPress.com)

Awesome Reference!

A dictionary, an encyclopedia, and a dazzling coffee table book - three books in one!

This is a breathtakingly beautiful, totally awesome reference for dog trainers, rescue and shelter people, and behaviorists as well as other veterinarians and dog sports enthusiasts (people who spend time with their dogs in agility, obedience, tracking, search and rescue, disc, flyball, dock diving, barn hunt, scentwork, playing at the dog park, etc.)

Clear Language Photos Tell the Story

The stunning photography is to die for! One thousand flawless photos by many talented dog photographers and scientists are so clear you can almost reach out and touch the dogs.

Spectacular split-second images of dogs in action! I want poster-sized versions of several of them.

One Picture Tells. . . .

Let’s see, if a picture tells a thousand words, and if there are a thousand pictures on 350 pages in Canine Behavior, that makes for a condensed version of one heck of a lot of words to describe some very dramatic signs and signals, appearing simultaneously and often for just a split second – don’t blink or you’ll miss them!

The value of such a handbook as this is that with these photos, we can study communication frozen in time: we can learn to understand what our dogs are saying.

“What Does It Mean When My Dog. . . . ?”

Here are the magnificent photos and interpretations agreed upon by experts that explain the behaviors of our dogs, all scientifically accurate.

Do You Speak Dog?

Dogs communicate (subtly to us because, being verbal creatures, we miss so much) with their bodies – the tail, the ears, the play-bow convey words and sentences most dog owners understand, but Barbara Handelman has studied the intricacies of canine communication for decades and Canine Behavior is the result of her life’s observations and testing.

For the POEM, too (Professional Organization of English Majors)

A literary connoisseur, Handelman also intersperses quotes* with cited scientific references: both are well worth the price of this entertaining and educational book.

Who is Barbara Handelman?

Handleman is an extraordinary dog trainer, one of a kind. With 40 years’ experience reading human body language working as a mental health counselor with non-verbal children, plus 20 years as a photographer, Handelman is also a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant, specializing in training assistance dogs. She specializes in training assistance dogs and blogs for dog people at The Canine Behavior Blog.

Superb Content and Organization

Canine behaviors are organized alphabetically in sections - most with one or more photographs of more than 25 different dogs and their magnificent relatives - wolves, foxes, and coyotes; and terms are defined, cross-referenced, and indexed. This makes a book brilliantly easy to navigate.

Canine Behavior includes extensive subsections on anatomy, how dogs learn and play, the predatory sequence and, my favorite fun photos - sleeping positions and stretching!

Quiz Yourself

Can you believe there is even a photo quiz with an answer key!

And. . . .

A bibliography is included in addition to a reference section of cited material (and author index). Handelman also provides an index of the literary quotes she used and includes a topical index of behaviors as well.

Don’t forget to read the introduction and learn that dogs, like people, are sometimes ambivalent; why it is important to see the whole dog (not just the tail, e.g., in isolation); the difference between neutral observations or descriptive statements and value-laden judgments about intention.

An amazingly thorough and well-done job, bound to be valuable and added-to for years to come. (I can see mine, just two years from now, dog-eared and highlighted to death!)

What’s Next?

I would love to see the next edition of Canine Behavior on the Internet and in a spiral-bound version so the pages lay open to enhance ease of using the reference in real time – while I am watching the dogs talking.

I’m convinced. Now I want to enroll in Handelman’s 10-week online canine behavior course and purchase her 4-part DVD, Clicker Train Your Own Assistance Dog (great training guidance for even the average pet dog owner!)

You need two copies of Canine Behavior – one for work and one at home on the coffee table!

Caveat: DogEvals purchased this book and was subsequently sent a copy for review. The review was written several years ago but misplaced. Canine Behavior is also available from www.DogWise.com

*Henry Ward Beecher, Coleridge, Goethe, Kafka, Kipling, Jack London, Groucho Marx, Melville, Andy Rooney, Charles Schulz (the Peanuts guy), Shakespeare, Thurber, Thornton Wilder, etc. – worth a read just to see what they have to say about our canine friends!

1 comment:

  1. I agree that this is a beautiful reference book. Can't wait to see it in e-book form (and/or spiral bound) - great gift ideas. :)