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Publisher's Summary

More than ninety percent of dog owners consider their pets to be members of their family. But often, despite our best intentions, we are letting our dogs down by not giving them the guidance and direction they need. Unwanted behavior is the number-one reason dogs are relinquished to shelters and rescue groups.

The key to training dogs effectively is first to understand why our dogs do what they do. And no one can address this more authoritatively than the diplomates of the American College of Veterinary Behavior, whose work, the culmination of years of rigorous training, takes them deep into the minds of dogs in an effort to decode how they think, how they communicate, and how they learn.

In Decoding Your Dog, these experts analyze problem behaviors, decipher the latest studies, and correct common misconceptions and outmoded theories. The audiobook includes: Effective, veterinary-approved positive training methods. Expert advice on socialization, house-training, diet, and exercise. Remedies for behavior problems such as OCD and aggression.

With Decoding Your Dog, the experts' experts deliver a must-have dog behavior guide that ultimately challenges the way we think about our dogs.

©2014 American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (P)2014 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"A fascinating and detailed exploration of the reasons behind common dog behaviors and of how to interpret dogs' communication signals in order to train them to be happy, healthy, obedient companions." ( Library Journal Starred Review)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Karen
  • Louisville, KY, United States
  • 03-30-14

I thought there was an agenda

There was a lot of helpful information about dog behavior. However, I felt they over-stated the potential liabilities of adopting an adult mixed-breed dog, say from a shelter. They seemed to suggest that you'd be better off purchasing a pure bred puppy from a breeder. Puppies come with their own set of liabilities, which I felt they understated.

33 of 35 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Good book, but may be better to read than listen

This book provides solid scientifically based information to help address specific dog behavior issues. It is also helpful for people who have just adopted a dog or puppy, and provides advice that will help prevent these issues from occurring in the first place. This book was recommended to me by my dog trainer. I have worked with her using some of the methods advocated in Decoding Your Dog to help my dog overcome significant anxiety issues, and it has worked miracles on him.

Each chapter is written by a different author (all members of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists) and addresses different concerns, and could work on its own. This is a strength, as people may choose to read only those chapters that pertain to their dog's issues. But this also leads to a certain repetitiveness in the material. For example, every chapter reiterates the book's main premise, which is that the (all too prevalent) type of training based on dominance hierarchy is based on a flawed understanding of dogs' social behavior, and often leads to anxiety and behavior problems.

The narrator did as good a job as could be expected, but some of the material does not lend itself to reading out loud. For example, there is a list of dog foods with their nearly unpronounceable ingredients - all read out, word for word. Also, from the way certain passages were read, I suspect that they were bulleted lists that do not work well in this format.

Also some of the material may be useful to return to at another point in time. I found myself wishing that I had bought the Kindle book or the "real" book so that I could more easily flip through it to return to certain sections. I will probably purchase a written copy at some point so that I can do that. I am not sorry that I bought the audio version, however; it was a good way to get the initial read-through.

21 of 22 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Bring your dogs relationship to the next level

What did you love best about Decoding Your Dog?

Being a collection of individual essays from different writers, this book brings a broad perspective that is not biased in one particular direction. The only common thread is that coercive discipline does not work and positive reinforcement is the only way to build a lasting relationship with your puppy, build on trust. Citing multiple scientific research also brings credibility to a discipline that is often led by emotional whims and old wives' tales.

Any additional comments?

If you will only read one book about dog behaviour, this is THE one.

The reader does a great job.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Must have information

This book delivers the critical message that there are always alternatives to dominance-based dog training methods, and explores these alternatives, justifies them scientifically, uses real-world examples to illustrate them, and explains how our misguided attempts to dominate our dogs can produce the very behaviors we were trying to correct.

There are many philosophies (which this book refers to as "fiction") which endorse inhumane treatment of animals, while this book relies on "facts" - proven through scientific behavioral studies to justify its approach. This, alone, is a great start!

Regarding style - While they were obviously included with the intention of illustrating the credibility of the authorities cited in this book, the painstakingly reproduced mantras of alphabets after each person's name - DVM, MA, MSc, PhD, DVM, DACVB, etc, and this really does detract from the overall user experience of listening to this book. They are titles, not names, and consequently should have only been read once per citation. I was duly impressed during the introduction and unfortunately the reading must stop as the reader conducts a synopsis of every educational experience the person cited had enjoyed.

If a future edition of this book were to be recorded again, I hope a less painful method could be use to do justice to the work the clearly informed people did to earn these various degrees, without subjecting the reader to this ridiculous alphabet soup fire drill every time someone is mentioned.

The book is absolutely worth this cosmetic blemish. And we can even believe that the authorities know what they are talking about, even if they have to remind us - at each and every drop of their respective names - of their full educational curriculum vitae.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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snotty

Would you try another book from American College of Veterinary Behaviorists and/or Karen White?

no

What was most disappointing about American College of Veterinary Behaviorists’s story?

It is a tie between the long bloated intro trying to prove only "they" are the true behaviorists, and the horrible reader that made it sound so very snotty.

How could the performance have been better?

Maybe a calm male reader or one that didn't sound so superior and condescending.

What character would you cut from Decoding Your Dog?

The whole "we are on tv" people involved in the book.

Any additional comments?

I just can't get past the first half hour, it is so condescending and desperate to prove they are on tv and famous as well as the ones not on TV have a large amount of education which makes them the professionals and only having a vet degree, and large amount of education makes them absolutely correct over other people.

I understand they need to prove why they should be acknowledged as professionals and have the education to write the book, but the way they went about it was extremely off putting. the fact they talk down about other behaviorist that are not signed up with them, in a snarky way stating they can't change their ways due to pride, is not very professional and does not instill my faith in them as a professional, because there is too much bias.

I have watched Stillwell's tv show, and I was not very impressed by the way she interacted with the families or the dogs. I did not realize she is associated with the writers of this book until I downloaded it. I am all for positive reinforcement and actually do clicker training with my dogs, thanks to Karen Pryor.

So based on their presentation, I am not confident in the content that may be in the book past their horn tooting. I feel that they come across too biased, and snotty. I will look for more Pryor like books and stay away from crap that tries to hard to be the new kings of the dog behavior world.

If you want to give the book a try, do yourself a favor and skip the intro and don't allow it to cloud your view on the book, and maybe you will enjoy it and find it beneficial.

The book, Science of dogs, is a good substitute if you want an interesting audible dog behavior book.

24 of 30 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Monotonous

Though most info was good, it was easy to zone out instead of really listen. The reader was just not lively enough to keep the listeners attention.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Insulting to professional dog trainers

The content and advice in this book is very good. I'm a professional dog trainer who has spent hundreds and hundreds of hours on education, and I've successfully trained hundreds and hundreds of dogs. I was way ahead of what the book was saying lots of times. I did learn some things, which is why I bought the book. But the author almost exclusively advises dog owners to seek out "certified veterinarian behaviorists" for problem correction and even obedience training. There are certainly reasons to engage a certified veterinarian behaviorists, but educated, skilled dog trainers are capable of doing FAR more than this author seems to think. Also, many dog owners don't have easy access to certified veterinarian behaviorists, but do have access to multiple skilled dog trainers. The author should acknowledge the value of a skilled, responsible dog trainer for dog owners.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Cepwin
  • Northern VA, USA
  • 02-22-14

Highly Recommended

Where does Decoding Your Dog rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This is one of the best books I've listened to in terms of practical advice by experts

What other book might you compare Decoding Your Dog to and why?

The Other End of the Leash which I'm currently reading (which also is good.)

Have you listened to any of Karen White’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Too long for that but I did want to get though it quickly.

Any additional comments?

If you have a dog, especially one that has any behavioral issues get this book. They cover some of the major issues dog owners encounter including aggression, separation anxiety and dementia (older dogs.) If you're getting a dog I'd also recommend it to avoid any pitfalls and have an idea of how to deal with issues *before* you see them in your dog. The authors and top experts and discuss the latest (force free) methods of resolving problems and working with a dog that has behavioral issues. I know it pointed me in the right direction in dealing with my newly adopted Chi-mix who came to me with potty training and fear aggression issues. While there is a ways to go he's slowly starting to trust me in part to following the philosophy discussed in this book.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Not what I expected

Would you try another book from American College of Veterinary Behaviorists and/or Karen White?

No

Has Decoding Your Dog turned you off from other books in this genre?

I will continue to purchase these types of books. This book is too much for a person that has never owned a dog and in the market for one. The discussions are not a fan of rescue dogs, and the targeted audience appears to be too much towards purebred enthusiasts and looking for a dog with expected personality types.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

Her voice inflections contained too much sarcasm and was distracting. I couldn't tell if the book was supposed to be funny or informative.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

no

Any additional comments?

I expected some information on why dogs behave the way they do. I did expect redundant information from other books, but was hoping for more. Sometimes just one more clue makes it all worth it. This book provided nothing like that.

10 of 14 people found this review helpful

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a joke

It is just another Victoria stillwell positive only book. this woman has recommended to have my doh and other dogs put down because they show aggression but aren't food or you driven. if you want any if this knowledge go to petsmart and have a trainer teach a puppy. if you have a problem dog that you rescued look else where.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful