Thursday, August 30, 2012

Book Reviews

AM/CAN GV SEL CH Tazzman's Aregon
I've read many dog-related books while waiting for the puppy to arrive. Some are better than others. I'd like to share a few. The first one is The German Shepherd Today by Winifred Gibson Strickland and James A. Moses. Ms. Strickland is a very successful German shepherd breeder, handler and judge, as well as a respected author. Mr. Moses is the Jimmy Moses we've seen at our annual specialty shows with his many beautiful dogs, including the gorgeous Aregon (pictured above). Jimmy is also a successful breeder, handler and judge. (Just announced: Jimmy is judging at next year's Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Pretty cool!) The German Shepherd Today is an older book, copyrighted in 1997. Some of the information is a bit outdated. However, there is A LOT of good information that I have not been able to find elsewhere including:
  • How to read German pedigrees
  • What to look for when buying a puppy if you want to participate in Conformation
  • An analysis of the ideal body, including gait, top line and angulation (I hear these terms all the time, but this book has pictures. I now know what is meant by "hare foot.")
I haven't finished this book yet. It can get very technical and sometimes takes a while to completely digest. I bought the book used for around $5. Money well spent! One thing I don't like is some of the suggested training methods. They are old fashioned and a bit more violent than I feel comfortable with (i.e. kneeing the dog in the chest when he jumps.)

I prefer the training outlined in The Power of Positive Dog Training by Pat Miller. Her method steers away from dominance and punishment, instead focusing on luring and positive reinforcement. It expands upon the operant conditioning studies of B. F. Skinner and his belief that "The consequences of behavior determine the probability that the behavior will occur again." (Side note: another interesting book on this subject is Don't Shoot the Dog!: The New Art of Teaching and Training by Karen Pryor.) I'm looking forward to trying the exercises from this book with the new puppy. If Ms. Miller is right, my guy will be well-behaved with an entire repertoire of fun tricks in no time. My biggest reservation is the clicker. I don't "click" well. The big question is: will we succeed, or will it be a big mess? Either way I will be blogging the whole thing!

The last book I want to share is Don't Give Up on That Dog!: Raising a German Shepherd Dog: The Many Lessons Learned by Denine Phillips. This book is an absolute joy to read! It's an easy read, not nearly as "heady" as the two previous books. It's essentially a diary of Cooper, a German shepherd puppy the author impulsively brought home. Ms. Phillips honestly shares the good and bad times with this new dog over the next fifteen months. At the end of each chapter is a "Lessons Learned" section full of great tips and resources. I just got the book and can't put it down! And you know I'm going to check out every web address in the book. I'll share the good ones, promise.

I've got the house to myself tonight, so I'm not going to waste any more time on the computer. I've got books to read! Until next time, -- K

P.S. All the books mentioned are linked to, just in case you're interested. Let me know what you think!

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