Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Some Dog Books I Like

Here is a non-exhaustive list of general-interest dog books that I like. I'm mostly posting it just so I have the link handy to give out as needed. I am always on the lookout for new-to-me good books, so if you ask me in a week or a month or a year I may well have additional titles to rec. But for today, this is a starting point.

All-Purpose Basics:
-- The Adopted Dog Bible, Kim Saunders/Petfinder.com
-- How to Behave so Your Dog Behaves, Sophia Yin
-- Love Has No Age Limit, Patricia McConnell
-- Do-Over Dogs, Pat Miller
-- Successful Dog Adoption, Sue Sternberg (<-- this is the most controversial book on my list by far; Sternberg has very stringent ideas about how stable and tolerant a dog needs to be in order to be a good prospect for newbie owners, esp. newbies with kids. But there's a lot of good stuff in here regardless of your views on her temperament test, so I'll give it a rec.)

All of these books, except for Sophia Yin's, are geared toward adopters of shelter/rescue dogs, but they are all very good and useful for newbie owners of any dog. I strongly recommend that anyone who is considering getting a first dog read at least one of these books BEFORE bringing the dog home.

Basic Training:
-- My Smart Puppy, Brian Kilcommons and Sarah Wilson
-- Train Your Dog Like a Pro, Jean Donaldson
-- The Power of Positive Dog Training, Pat Miller

If you can't get to a good training class, or your dog is not suitable for a training class, or you just feel like spending a lot of time drilling the basics for fun (and it is fun! it is a lot of fun!), those are all good starting points that go into a little more depth than the books listed in the first category. They also do a good job of laying out the foundations (attention games, Doggie Zen, "Watch Me," etc.) and explain the hows-and-whys of positive ("clicker") training, a very powerful tool indeed.

Deeper Understanding:
-- Dog Sense, John Bradshaw
-- The Other End of the Leash and For the Love of a Dog, Patricia McConnell
-- Bones Would Rain From the Sky, Suzanne Clothier
-- The Intelligence of Dogs, Stanley Coren

Clothier's book is on relationship building and philosophies of training, the others are mostly about the science of dog genetics, perception, and behavior, and how this influences our interactions with our assorted mutt monsters.

Rescue and Shelter Work:
-- One at a Time, Diane Leigh and Marilee Geyer
-- Lost and Found, Elizabeth Hess

If you want to know what it's like to work in a shelter, why animals end up in shelters, why some of them get out and others don't, and the peripheral issues that affect shelters (irresponsible owners, puppy mills, hoarders, differing cultural views on the value of dogs and appropriate treatment of them). Frequently depressing, occasionally inspiring, will pretty much guarantee that you never buy a backyard bred or puppy mill dog ever ever EVER. May cause you to start fostering or volunteering. And that can only be a good thing, even if you have to walk through some heartache to get there.


  1. hi merciel!

    i've been reading your blog (and "lurking" the pets thread, my boyfriend boards there) and just wanted you to know that your foster dog posts got us thinking about fostering ourselves! and we now have a sliiightly smaller undertaking - foster kitties! (we're not allowed to have dogs in the building, otherwise that would be a likely possibility. one day!)

    best with stella (and others to come) and, of course, the nerd dog! :)


    My MOM doesn't even read this blog (regularly, anyway. Hi Mom!).

    Seriously though that's awesome, I'm so glad that you're fostering! Please post (or get your bf to post) pics and updates about your kitties on the board. I love cats but can't have them, so I have to live vicariously through others.

  3. i'll see if i can convince him to, he said he had, uh, never been in the pets thread..! *_* (blasphemous!!) it would be nice to hear about anyone else's experiences with fostering and/or rhino, since ours and almost all the foster kitties here have it to start with.

    anyway, until then, here's a pic of the little guy! (he only drinks out of his mug in the living room!) he's become a bit of a hellion now that he's back to full health, but he's super cute so we can overlook it most of the time, heh!


  4. omg that cat is SO CUTE <3 <3 <3

    You need to get an account and post more pics and updates on the pets thread so everyone can see them. Also make a video of him drinking out of a mug, because that sounds awesome. On behalf of the board, I demand this. DEMAND.

    Besides, maybe you'll encourage other people to foster cats too!

  5. i registered the username 'wino' (lolol) a while ago, if you feel like putting in a good word for me! i have loads of pet pictures, and a few facebook disasters too, haha. fostering has been awesome so far (although we haven't had to give him up yet... :-S), i'd love to spread the good word!

    one more, foster kitty eyeing up my friend's [twin] cat! http://i.imgur.com/bojYD.jpg

  6. I bugged bhat to activate your account, but he said a bunch of the requests were for ones that had already been purged, so if you tried to log in just now (after Monday afternoon, I guess) and it didn't work, you might have to re-register.

    Hope you can get on soon, I'd love to have another foster parent to blather at on the board!