At the other end of the leash, by Patricia B. McConnell
There are numerous books about dog training; what you should do, what you should not do, and what you should do and what you should not do often differ, and even contradict from one book to another. Confusing? Yes.
In my opinion, the best thing any dog owners can do is to try understanding their dog. The next best thing is to analyse how they interact with their dog, because the person at the end of leash is important too. Dogs do things that we don’t understand, but so do we. And this is usually the cause of many frustration and conflicts.
“At the other end of the leash” is not a book about dog training, it is a book about behaviors, and it adds another dimension that often lacks in books about dog behavior: ours. The author knows a thing or two on the topic: she is a PhD in zoology as well as a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist.
The book goes over how different we, primates (yes…), are from canines, and how those differences create some communication issues between our dogs and us. We first learn how attentive our dogs are to our slightest movements, trying to find meanings in all the little things we do, most of them we are not aware of. We also understand how they perceive ourselves and the world, what senses they use and how different these are from ours.
The chapter about how we should talk to our dog to be clear gives valuable advices, and it can perhaps make us realise that our “stubborn” dog is maybe just very confused, not because he is not smart, but because we are very inconsistent and confusing.
The author also goes into the social dynamics of dog packs. There is a complete chapter about dominance, explaining what it is, and most importantly, what it is not, as there is a lot of misbelieves on this topic. According to the author, it is not about being a “boss”, but more about being what she refers to as a “benevolent leader”, a reference to your dog who can be trusted. There is some information about how you can be that person. Her numerous references to “politeness” are interesting, especially the way she links it to our own human social dynamics.
As a dog lover, you most probably already know that your dog has its own personality. Well, she goes over that too, and explains how both genetics and environmental factors have an impact on personalities. The same dog can also have very different reactions depending of the situations, which shows how important it is to socialize your dog in all kind of different contexts.
I personally enjoyed the read very much. I recommend it to anyone who wants to understand their dog better, as well as learn how they develop a more harmonious relationship with their canine friend.