It’s Good to Have Options

Last night, Shiva and I curled up on the couch together and witnessed an event I never thought possible. On the television in front of us was a dog training show that did not star a bully. I knew we had a winner when the television trainer only laughed at the sight of dozens of dog beds placed throughout the house. The Bully would have picked up every single bed and accused the unfortunate humans of dog abuse.

That’s right, It’s Me or the Dog has finally made it to Canadian television. After watching one episode, I couldn’t be happier. Finally we have a show that may actually help people and their dogs form better relationships. Finally there is another option on the airwaves. I wish it had been on the air back in 2009. Our struggles may have been a lot easier.

At the very least I would have had a little hope.

It shouldn’t have been so shocking that host Victoria Stillwell seemed to like animals and their people. She seemed to enjoy her job. She even did a happy dance when Cooper the Boxer achieved success. This – to me – is what a good dog trainer looks like. Enthusiastic, supportive, practical, and kind.

Even though she didn’t raise her voice the entire time or perform any death-defying alpha rolls, the show remained interesting. By the end, I was almost crying for the humans who now had the tools to help their dog. I could relate so well to their struggles. It wasn’t too long ago, I was thinking and saying a lot of the same things.

I just hope the people who need to watch the show will know it is on. I hope the people looking for help will come across It’s Me or the Dog before that other show about puppies.

In a roundabout way, this brings me to the central purpose for this post: a friend of mine has asked me for some dog book recommendations. She is thinking of adopting a dog but wants to have all the facts before making a decision. I commend her on doing her research and am hoping she makes some smarter reading choices than I did. It’s still incredibly mortifying to admit how closely I tried to follow Cesar’s “rules” for bringing home a new dog.

I have come up with the obvious selections – McConnell’s The Other End of the Leash, Clothier’s Bones Would Rain From the Sky, Donaldson’s The Culture Clash, and Dunbar’s Before and After Getting Your Puppy. (The one good choice I did make all those years ago.)

What training books have you read? Which ones would you consider essential for every dog owner to read? Hopefully together we can create a list full of positive options!

23 thoughts on “It’s Good to Have Options

  1. I think I have “Dummies” guide to positive dog training somewhere… can’t tell you if it works ’cause I haven’t read it. But now you know it exists! :)(It might be a Complete Idiot’s Guide– both would work for me.)

    Kari from Dog is God in Reverse does a lot of book reviews– I’m sure she has recommendations.


  2. Love that show!

    Victoria Stillman has her own book…can’t remember the name, but it was very good. I also like Clicking with your DOg, by Peggy Stillman. It covers the basics of clicker training.


  3. I’m so glad Canadians are getting the fun of Victoria Stillwell. I think the reason she’s done so well is because of her charisma and character. People who are in the positive training camp need to develop better marketing and I think Victoria Stillwell does that.

    Stillwell started out life as an actress. And the Emma Peel persona she puts on (wearing black with high heeled boots and the cute British car) gets people interested–even if they never saw the Avengers and have no idea who Emma Peel is.

    It’s Me or the Dog is one of the few shows that makes me regret not having a tv.

    I think you made some great book recommendations to your friend. I’d add Pat Miller’s The Power of Positive Dog Training which, despite the dry title, is really about building a relationship with your dog. A similar book I also loved is Victoria Schade’s Bonding With Your Dog: A Trainer’s Secrets for Building a Better Relationship.

    And also, Turid Rugas’ On Talking Terms With Dogs: Calming Signals. It’s a short book with lots of pictures demonstrating dog body language. It’s a great things to check out before going to the dog park.

    It’s a great time to have a dog. We have so many great resources out there now. 20 years ago it was a whole different world.


  4. I feel ill when I recall using “what’s his name’s” show and books for training advice when I first adopted Charlie. What on earth was I thinking?? Luckily common sense kicked in and I knew something wasn’t right. Just a few of episodes of Victoria’s show and I was convinced there was a better way! She is great isnt she? I soooo miss her now that I went ‘off the grid’ and back to antenna TV. With any luck Netflix will pick it up. I must say though, I get my so much advice and tips from blogs like this =) What a great network it has become!


  5. I really, really enjoyed Sophia Yin’s How to Behave So Your Dog Behaves. I’m also almost finished Alexandra Horowitz’s Inside of a Dog (this one is less training than it is general dog knowledge that every dog owner should know – essentially it’s “how dogs work”), and I LOVE IT.


  6. We actually don’t have TV so I always feel so far behind in the loop. I don’t know a lot about books, but I think all the blogs we read, along with the comments, are a very timely, honest, and valuable resource. You do so much to show the insiders view of living with a dog who can be crazy, but is also very trainable. I think these types of glimpses are very valuable to anyone considering a dog. We also did a post about things to consider before adopting a dog, and many of the comments were quite valuable. Here is that post:


  7. We like Victoria, too. 🙂

    Although I can’t recommend any other books, I know of a gifted dog person (who also has Cardigans and a blog) who has written several wonderful (and enlightening) posts/e-books about dog training/behavior. Here is her latest post (actually made me think of you and Shiva):

    There’s a Dog Behavior/Training subcategory in a drop-down at the top of her blog.


  8. I love It’s More Or The Dog. I actually DVR it so I never miss an episode. I haven’t read too many real dog training books, but I know that the ones that have been mentioned already are good ones.


  9. Victoria Stilwell is a terrific counter to “he who shall not be named”.
    As most people enjoy learning from tv and Youtube,I recommend the following links for your friend:

    KIKOPUP – an amazing young trainer with lots of videos on youtube.

    Dr.Sophia Yin: She has a variety of online videos that are helpful. She just released a new book for pet owners called “Perfect Puppy in 7 Days” – sounds promising!


  10. We love that show! We recently purchased When Pigs Fly!: Training Success with Impossible Dogs & it is an easy informative read. Kudos to your friend for wanting to adopt a dog 🙂


  11. Glad victoria is fainlly doing Canada. I love her, although in her early programmes here she dressed in very tight knee high boots, tight trousers and a leather jacket. With her long hair in a pony tail she resembled Emma Peel from The Avengers:)

    Not read any training books as such, but I do have a couple on Greyhounds, including The Restired Racing Greyhound for Dummies.


  12. I agree that it’s so refreshing and encouraging to see positive training methods on TV. It’s Me or the Dog is one of my favorite shows and I feel I always learn from the situations portrayed on the show.

    I’m reading The Power of Positive Dog Training by Pat Miller right now – refreshing myself on a training program for Mr Hurley. She contributes to The Whole Dog Journal on a regular basis – which is a great monthly publication that I recommend to anyone who does a lot of dog reading – they have great articles on health, training, gear, etc.


  13. That is so cool. I will have to check it out. I like Ian Dunbar’s Good Little Dog book. Our trainer worked with him and we even go the chance to work with him during one of our classes and I have nothing but good things to say about Dr. Dunbar and his work.


  14. The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Puppies by the Volhards is an excellent overall dog resource. Even though Jersey isn’t a puppy anymore, I find myself going back to it from time to time.


  15. I love It’s Me or the Dog… great show. 🙂 As for books, I’m not sure I have much to offer. Although I did love Edie’s (from Will my Dog Hate Me) book, “Am I Boring My Dog?”


  16. We get It’s Me or the Dog in New Zealand, but as I hardly watch TV I never know when it’s on! But Victoria Stillwell is great:)

    Your friend could do a lot worse than spending some hours wandering around the Dog Star Daily site, which is Ian Dunbar’s. and here is a link to an article about what to do before you get a puppy, which probably contains the same info as the book you’ve got:)

    My favourite books are Control Unleashed and Pigs Might Fly, but they are for after you get your dog and discover it isn’t perfect, lol!


  17. I like Victoria AND “what’s his name.” I think they both have a lot of good points. You just have to use common sense and take into consideration your own situation and your particular dog. I agree, it can be confusing to a new dog owner, though.

    I don’t think anyone mentioned the book “Katz on Dogs” by Jon Katz. It’s my favorite training book. I’ve read it three times. It was very useful for me to read it before I got Ace.

    For positive reinforcement, I like Tamar Geller, although her books are pretty simple. And I also love Patricia McConnell, as of course you’ve already suggested.


  18. Pingback: Cesar’s Rules: Your Way to Train a Well-Behaved Dog | Dog Training Super Tips

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