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Thread: Book review - Chill out Fido!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
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    Default Book review - Chill out Fido!

    I haven't finished it yet, but am halfway through the part on training specific behaviours.

    I love this book. The first part, which talks about symptoms and causes of stress and the basics of positive reinforcement training is a really good read. None of it was particularly new to me, but it was presented in a way that got me thinking and it had some interesting tidbits that I didn't know. The advice and information is based on facts (backed up by scientific research) and written in a style that is easy to read and never patronising or lecturing. It's not based on the experiences of one dog trainer (like some other books I know), but much broader.

    The second part is 10 training exercises to teach specific behaviours. All around getting a calm dog. It's basically about teaching a dog good manners, I suppose. There's relaxing on a mat, spontaneous eye contact, sit/stay, targeting, calm greetings, loose leash walking and being calm when handled and a few more.

    The method for training is described in minute detail. It describes the goal and benefits, recommends how often to do the exercises, how long it would take on average to proof the behaviour and then lists the steps involved. In each step you will be told exactly what to do, complete with suggestions on how much time there should be in between rewards for continuous behaviours, etc. It ends with troubleshooting suggestions for issues like "My dog keeps lunging at the treat in my hand".

    So I haven't actually done any of these exercises yet, but they look totally idiot proof to me. I intend to do a sit/stay refresher (there's some good exercises in there for proofing which we may need), then continue with touch and then have a really good crack at the 'say hi calmly to strangers'. The latter does require helpers though, so I'll have to find willing victims who can do a few sessions a week.

    Even though this book is not a comprehensive training guide - though when I think about it, recall is the only important behaviour that is not covered - I would totally recommend it to anyone whose dog requires some first or further training. It is written with owners of out of control (boisterous, reactive, manic) dogs in mind, but I think its value is broader than that. I would never describe Banjo as out of control and her only problem behaviour is jumping up and it is still improving and not a major issue anymore. But I am glad I got this book and the method used for dealing with boisterous greeting behaviour is different enough from others I've read to make me interested. And described in more detail than any youtube video could offer me.

    So highly recommended book! Would recommend it to new dog owners especially. And if they are committed to actually taking in the information and following the exercises exactly, they will not need another book after this one, I'd say.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
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    near Sydney NSW
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    Thank you. It's great to read other's opinions before spending money on a book.

  3. #3
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    I started doing the sit/stay exercises. I thought we were advanced enough already to just start at step 5, but turns out we're not. But it's easy to just go back a couple of steps and then start from there. It tells you exactly what you should be able to do before progressing to the next step.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
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    se qld
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    I am just about to buy this, but-
    Do I have to use a clicker?
    Do I have to use treats?
    Not sure if I can train myself with the above.
    He is a really good boy however I share the overexcited greeting to humans problem with you.
    He expects total strangers to fall upon him and shower him with kisses because he is cute and loveable.
    Women often oblige, but I find men are often terrified.

  5. #5
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    The book does presume you use clicker and treats but it also mentions that you can replace clicker with marker word and treats with whatever is of high value to the dog. There are some exercises in there which would only work with treats though as it involves regular rewarding for a sustained behaviour and throwing a ball or playing tug or any kind of activity would interrupt this.

    The exercises I'm doing first are sit/stay with distractions (including people approaching) and then touch. These behaviours need to be solidly trained to teach 'say hi' which teaches the dog to touch another person's hand and return to you. I like the idea because i don't want to prevent banjo from interacting with other people and this is a cute and calm way to do it.

    Anywho, those 3 exercises you could probably teach with rewards like tug or the ball.

  6. #6
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    Jul 2011
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    se qld
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    I could use cat bikkies in a bum bag.
    He regards these as high value, because they can only be obtained by being "nice" to puss
    or stealing them, sometimes with painful consequences.
    I like the "Say Hi" idea too.

  7. #7
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    Cat bikkies would be the perfect size for this kind of training, I reckon. I'm going to buy some hot dogs or similar to up the stakes.

    And I think I'll use "Say g'day" as a cue. For some reason I hear an American accent when I read "Say hi".

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