11 December 2016

The Loved Dog: The Playful, Nonaggressive Way to Teach Your Dog Good Behavior


Synopsis from dust jacket flap: Every dog owner must make a choice: Do you want a fearful and submissive pet, or do you want a happy, joyful, and well-mannered member of the family?

Tamar Geller's mission in life is to teach her cruelty-free method of "life coaching" for dogs and their people. Her revolutionary play-training uses mutual understanding and respect -- and puts an end to outdated methods that rely on physical exhaustion, choke chains, prong collars, dominance rollovers, or stressful aggression of any kind.

A former Israeli intelligence officer who witnessed the horrors of military dog training methods, Tamar went on to observe wolves in the wild. She discovered that wolves educate and socialize their cubs with games, bonding, and body language, not dominance or punishment. As a result, she developed teaching systems that address a dog's authentic nature, part wolflike and part toddlerlike. Learning can be a positive experience that dogs enjoy and look forward to, and we can actually make it fun for our dogs to listen to us and behave as we want them to.

Tamar's insights have brought dog training into the twenty-first century, and her groundbreaking techniques have won the approval of the Humane Society of the United States, for which she is a longtime advisor. Her celebrity clients include Oprah Winfrey, Ben Affleck, Courteney Cox-Arquette, Owen Wilson, and the Osbournes, and she has appeared as an expert on the Today show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Animal Planet, and more.

In The Loved Dog, Tamar gives you all the instruction, insights, and tips you need to teach your dog good manners, as well as to troubleshoot specific problems and unwanted behaviors. She helps you and your dog learn a common language, resulting in a loving, respectful relationship that will bring you years of joy and companionship. Tamar's play-training approach is so gentle, even children can get involved.

Whether you use Tamar's methods to raise a puppy or teach an old dog new tricks, you'll love The Loved Dog.

Stats for my copy: Hardback, Simon Spotlight Entertainment, 2007.

How acquired: Thrift store find.

My thoughts:  I was browsing through the books at a thrift store yesterday when I came across this book. My daughter has a hyper pup who she loves to death, but who is driving her up the walls. They attend a training class each weekend, but he seems to forget everything as soon as he learns it. This book sounded interesting, so I thought she might like to read through it.

After eating dinner last night, I picked up the book and flipped through it, and this passage caught my attention:
Most people think of socialization in terms of taking a dog outside and introducing her to people, kids, and other dogs, but that is far from the truth. Just because your dog is exposed to different life experiences does not mean that she's ready to tackle any challenge. Exposure does not equal socialization.

I adopted an older dog a few months ago, after his previous owner passed away. For six years he had lived in her backyard, having very little contact with anyone but her. He wasn't abused or treated badly, and he's very well behaved. But he was completely unsocialized, and very fearful and timid. When I went to her home to meet him, where he was still living in the backyard while her daughters were slowly packing up and removing her possessions, he ran underneath a shed and refused to come out. He eventually had to be given a sedative with his food in order to be caught and brought to my house (after being taken to a vet for checkup). While he was still woozy that first day I petted him a bit. But after that, it was several weeks before he would allow me to touch him. It's been seven months now, and I can pet him and have finally been able to take him out for short walks, but he still has a long way to go.

Anyway, I turned back to the beginning of the book and began reading. I'd never heard of Tamar Geller, and until now Victoria Stillwell has been my dog training idol. But I liked what Ms. Geller had to say, and the methods she uses. The book starts out more like a memoir, as the author talks about her abusive childhood and her military training. But those periods of her life are important, because they laid the foundation for who she would be as an adult, and helped her to develop empathy for dogs.

After those chapters begins going through basic training techniques, such as sit, down, and stay, as well as potty training, leash walking and issues with jumping on people. Apparently Ms. Geller is a big name in dog training circles, and she works with a lot of celebrities – there is quite a bit of name dropping throughout the book, and stories about her clients and their dogs.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book, and I plan to try some of her tips and instructions with my boy. As my daughter has struggled to overcome her pup's potty training issues, separation anxiety and nipping, we've talked a lot about using positive reinforcement over negative, i.e., rewarding good behavior and not physically punishing bad behavior. Ms. Geller's methods are very much about positive reinforcement, and making training into a game for the dog. I'm eager to see if my daughter can start applying some of her methods and what kind of results she'll get.  

04 December 2016

STORM FRONT (The Dresden Files, Book One)

Synopsis from Goodreads: HARRY DRESDEN — WIZARD

Lost Items Found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates. No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment.

Harry Dresden is the best at what he does. Well, technically, he's the ONLY at what he does. So when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal creativity or capability, they come to him for answers. For the "everyday" world is actually full of strange and magical things—and most don't play well with humans. That's where Harry comes in. Takes a wizard to catch a—well, whatever. There's just one problem. Business, to put it mildly, stinks.

So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with black magic, Harry's seeing dollar signs. But where there's black magic, there's a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry's name. And that's when things start to get interesting.

Magic - it can get a guy killed.

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, New American Library, 2000

How acquired: From a BookCrossing member.

My thoughts:  A wizard named Harry, but living in a very different world than that other Harry! Harry Dresden lives in present day Chicago, where he barely makes a living as a sort of paranormal private detective. I love the world building here, with Harry openly proclaiming himself to be a wizard rather than hiding his powers from the general public. A client comes in and wants Harry to locate her missing husband. He tries to refer her to the local police, but she says her husband has been fooling around with magic, and since that's Harry's specialty...meanwhile, Lieutenant Murphy, director of the Special Investigations unit of said local police, has called on Harry to help investigate a grisly double murder.

The story is told in first person POV by Harry, who, during the course of his investigations, drops little facts here and there about wizards and the magical community, without info dumping. We also meet a faerie, a vampiress, and a talking skull that lives in Harry's basement.

The plot was fairly intricate, with lots of twists. Harry isn't out to be a hero, he's just trying to make a buck, but he has morals and he won't walk away when someone is in danger. I liked his character, and I enjoyed the story and the writing. His narration is often amusing and self-deprecating.
Paranoid? Probably. But just because you're paranoid doesn't mean that there isn't an invisible demon about to eat your face.
Entertaining and quick paced, building up to a climactic confrontation that had me sitting up a bit past my bedtime.