At one point or another many dog owners will encounter some form of problem with their beloved pooches, from the common issues such as jumping up, chewing, barking and pulling on the lead to more worrying behaviours such as aggression and dominance. When these behaviours become a daily issue it’s not surprising that owners can feel isolated and desperate to understand how to solve the problems, so that they can enjoy living with their dogs.
‘Psycho Dog’ sets out to work through these issues and give owners the reassurance they need to confidently understand and act upon their dog’s behaviours. Written by Janet Menzies, an author and dog correspondent for The Field, who works and competes spaniels, the tone from the start of the book is approachable and easy to understand. In the first section Janet explains how best to use her book and how to determine if you dog has an endearing, irritating, social, health-related or serious (psycho) problem. To do this she suggests the use of a simple dog day diary. Her straightforward approach to dealing with canine issues is methodical and sets the tone for the rest of the book. At this point she sensibly she outlines safety factors and tips for staying safe before embarking on any quest to re-train your dog.
In section two, Janet deals with the nitty gritty of behavioural issues, discussing some of the approaches that can be adopted to solve the problems dog owners sometimes face. Her pragmatic and upfront approach to dog training leads this section. One of the first, and very common, issues she deals with is with dogs jumping up at their owners or strangers. For Janet, who works with spaniels, this is a more acceptable or known part of their retrieving behaviour. She explains, what is acceptable for one owner, with a smaller dog or a ‘jumpy’ type breed such as a cocker spaniel, would not be acceptable for an owner who lived with a large breed of dog and small children. Throughout ‘Psycho Dog’, Janet’s sensible, reassuring, simple to understand and approachable style of writing explains a host of information about dog psychology, consistency. She recommends simple methods and tips that any owner can utilise to have a more harmonious, fun and happy relationship with their dogs.
In the last section, Janet discusses ‘The Canine Contract’, a thought provoking chapter on what we should, as owners, expect from our dogs, and what they, in return, should gain from us. This section really sums up Janet’s knowledgeable ethos to living and working with dogs. Her emphasis on considering behavioural situations fully from both the human, and canine perspective and acting with fairness and consistency is one of the ‘take home’ messages within the book. ‘Psycho Dog’ is a great ‘go to’ manual for dog owners, and one that can be dipped into, for support and understanding on a variety of situations from the low key to more severe.
by Nikki Goldup of Black & White Eventing
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