I read a fair number of dog training books. The last four I read were The Good Dog Way by Sean O’Shea, The Dog Who Loved Too Much by Dr. Nicholas Dodman, In Defence of Dogs by John Bradshaw and Let Dogs Be Dogs by The Monks of New Skete. One was written by a balanced dog trainer who teaches about leadership and consequences. One is by a veterinarian and behaviorist that recommends pharmaceuticals. The third is by a zoologist, and the fourth book is by Monks that have been raising and training dogs for over 40 years.
Sean O’Shea is a self-taught dog trainer and YouTuber in California. I say he is a YouTuber because he has 625 videos posted, and a following of over 15,000 subscribers. He comes across well in front of the camera, so I am not surprised he’s successful.
His book, The Good Dog Way, begins with the story of how he got started. He’s been in your shoes – the owner of two American Terrier breeds that were lunging and uncontrollable around other dogs. He became a Cesar Millan follower and started putting Cesar’s teachings to practice. Low and behold, his dogs calmed down and he had the kind of control that every owner wants.
It is not a How To dog training book, but more of a “dogs need structure and consequences for behavior” story. Sean has dog training schools in Las Angeles, CA and New Orleans, LA. His methodology is based on “reward wanted” and “correct unwanted” behavior.
This is a good book for first time owners who want a well-behaved dog that they can trust. He teaches pet, praise, treat, and play for good behavior, and discipline for unwanted behavior. His philosophy is similar to Cesar Millan’s and I have recommended this book to some of my clients.
On Goodreads the book gets 3.2 stars out of 5, but only has 5 reviews. I am always suspicious when a reviewer gives 1 star but has no comment. Obviously, they didn’t like the book or his methodology, but they should at least articulate their reason for giving the book a poor rating.
The Good Dog Way is not available on Amazon, so there are no reviews there to go by. If you are interested in reading this book you’ll have to purchase it directly from Sean. His web address is https://thegooddog.net/product/the-good-dog-way-book-by-sean-oshea/
The Dog That Loved Too Much is primarily a book that discusses a variety of dog aggression issues, separation anxiety, phobias, and housebreaking Problems. As a behaviorist, Dr. Dodman has a 4-prong approach to addressing dog issues; exercise, training, psychology, and pharmaceuticals.
For many of the behaviors, Dr. Dodman recommends a structured training regimen, counterconditioning, and dog psychology. Something that I have picked up on from Dr. Dodman is the benefit that pharmaceuticals can have on behavior. From my personal experience, humans can work and have a normal life as long as they take their medications, but when they stop, they can be a danger to themselves or others.
Dogs most likely have chemical imbalances in the brain as well, and could get along nicely if properly treated. If you have gone through training and your dog is still having issues, it might be wise to try some medication. Your dog just may thank you for it.
On Goodreads, The Dog That Loved Too Much has 617 ratings and 35 reviews which average out to 4.1 out of 5 stars. On Amazon, the book has 4.5 stars with 71 reviews.
In Defence of Dogs by zoologist John Bradshaw is not a dog training book, but more of a science-based, All-Positive-is-best sort of a read. Mr. Bradshaw’s book is based on his own studies and the studies of other scientist’s and behaviorists. The book begins with how dogs are not wolves but do have some of the same mannerisms.
The theme is that positive training techniques work and punishment (hurting the dog) does not. I think we can all agree with that. Mr. Bradshaw goes on to say that some sort of corrective interaction may not be avoided, and that dogs learn from association.
Most dog trainers do not come from a science background, and they learn their trade by observing dog behavior, and, through trial and error in their learning techniques. He goes on to talk about separation anxiety, emotions, scent, and problems in pedigrees.
In Defence of Dogs gets 4 stars from Goodreads and Amazon. The one issue I do have with the book is that the author is making money on the same book but with a different name. His previous book, Dog Sense, is the identical book. If you already read Dog Sense do not waste your money on this one. You already learned that positive reinforcement works better than punishment and dogs learn through association.
The final book is Let Dogs Be Dogs by The Monks of New Skete and Marc Goldberg. If you enjoyed The Art of Raising a Puppy I think you will benefit from this one. The Monks of New Skete have been training and breeding German Shepherds for over 40 years. They are pretty good at what they do.
I read another review that stated they teach leadership and dominance in their training, and use such words as “drive,” which the behaviorists don’t like. Drive is used to describe a lot of dog issues by trainers and there are two groups that don’t like it – the All Positive trainers and the scientists.
I think people get way too caught up in the terminology and don’t listen to the story. If you don’t like leadership and drive, then let’s use parent and motivation. What difference does it really make? The Monks use balanced training techniques and have some good advice on crate training among other things.
Let Dogs Be Dogs get 4.5 stars on Goodreads and Amazon. I recommend this book for the new dog owner that would like some pointers on raising or training a happy and well-mannered dog.
I hope you enjoy reading any or all of these as much as I did. As always, if you are left with questions or need help with your dog please contact the West Michigan dog training pros at Adams K-9.