Do Over Dogs

For a relatively compact book (under 200 pages), Do Over Dogs: Giving Your Dog a Second Chance for a First Class Life packs in a wealth of information. Renowned positive trainer and author Pat Miller targets a broad audience of dog parents — and manages to hit the target dead on.

A Do Over Dog is any dog who has had “issues.” This can be a dog adopted from a shelter, whether the dog was surrendered due to behavior issues or turned in by a family facing financial hardship or by an owner who was relocating and “unable” to take the dog along (Miller points out that many of these owners choose not to take the dog because of a behavior problem). A Do Over Dog can also be a puppy mill rescue or a puppy bred in a puppy mill or elsewhere and simply not socialized adequately. The do-over can even be the dog you have lovingly raised from puppyhood but who has developed a problem behavior.

The dog’s issue might be a major problem, such as dog aggression, that demands years of work and constant management, or it might be something that was a deal-breaker to the dog’s former humans but that doesn’t bother you very much.

In short, since there are no perfect dogs (or owners) out there, whatever your dog’s background and behavior issue — and no matter how much or how little dog experience you have — you are sure to find valuable hints and advice in this book.

Miller does not promise quick or easy solutions to problems. Her emphasis on managing problems while working on resolving them, as well as her sober admission that some problems require lifelong management are strong indicators of her knowledge, experience — and commitment to the dogs. After all, if all she wanted to do was convince readers to adopt dogs, she’d make it all sound easy.

Instead, Miller emphasizes the need for consistency and points out many situations where the only way to address a problem is for the humans to change their behavior. She recommends enlisting a positive trainer for assistance with difficult issues and for some problems, suggests consulting with a behaviorist.

Miller provides clear explanations and training instructions for addressing several common problem behaviors, such as digging and property destruction, offers advice on reducing stress (the dog’s!) and anxiety, and offers her thoughts on medicating dogs to modify their behavior. She effectively explains why positive training methods, besides being the humane choice, are more effective in the long run in teaching dogs the behaviors we want and discouraging the ones we do not want. She presents the science behind different approaches to dog training in easy-to-understand language with examples all readers will relate to. Despite being jam-packed with information and advice, the book is not overwhelming, nor does it drown readers in jargon.

Do Over Dogs succeeds at what many dog books attempt —  presenting advice and information that is helpful and relevant to humans while respecting and explaining the dogs’ viewpoint.

Published by Dogwise Publishing, Wenatchee, Wash., 2010

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