This book proved to be a very interesting read. The author writes openly and from first-hand experience of owning a reactive dog, one that sadly was ultimately beyond behaviour modification. It is this type of personal experience that makes reading Annie’s book so compelling; her writing speaks with the emotion and understanding that only comes from someone who has actually walked in the shoes of the reactive dog owner.
There are still pictures throughout the book with accompanying short descriptions of the canine communication signals displayed, perhaps planting a seed of interest to readers who may be encouraged to further investigate canine communication signals in more depth.
The author uses clear, uncomplicated language throughout the book, and provides the reader with a basic overview of the work of a few pioneering scientists such as Panksepp and Pavlov. She explores the development of canine behavioural problems and discusses how the environment influences canine behaviour from the time of conception throughout the life of the animal, and also how genetics play a very important role in this mix too.
Annie goes to great length to make it clear that inappropriate training methods are also very damaging, and she admits to using these inappropriate methods before she educated herself to know better. There is great emphasis put upon the detrimental results that are apparent when dogs have been mistreated as a result of the use of aversive training methods and tools, these tools being responsible for escalated aggression, fearfulness and the loss of trust, resulting in the breakdown of the human-dog relationship.
I really enjoyed reading this book, and found Annie’s candid, heartfelt writing style very engaging. This book is a well-constructed piece of work, especially useful for readers who are struggling to understand the reason for their own dog’s reactive behaviour. I would also like to think that this book would provide enlightenment to those dog owners who have not yet experienced the anguish and worry that comes with trying to cope with owning a reactive dog, an insight which may hopefully help to raise awareness of the difficulties faced by such a dog owner, encouraging greater empathy and a less judgmental approach from those who aren’t in the process of attempting to manage a dog who has behavioural issues.
Review by Mair Franklin, ADip.CBM, Member of ICB