Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Decoding Your Dog : The Ultimate Experts Explain Common Dog Behaviors and Reveal How to Prevent or Change Unwanted Ones

by American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, Debra Horwitz, John Ciribassi, Steve Dale



The top dog behaviorists in the country - the top researchers, scientists, and veterinarians - have teamed up with a renowned media personality to create the most cutting-edge, scientifically accurate, definitive book on  why our dogs do what they do and how we can prevent or solve common canine behavior problems.

Format: Hardcover
ISBN-13/ EAN: 9780547738918
ISBN-10: 0547738919
Pages: 384
Publication Date: 01/07/2014
Carton Quantity: 12

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More than ninety percent of dog owners consider their pets to be members of their family. But often, despite our best intentions, we are letting our dogs down by not giving them the guidance and direction they need. Unwanted behavior is the number-one reason dogs are relinquished to shelters and rescue groups.

The key to training dogs effectively is first to understand why our dogs do what they do. And no one can address this more authoritatively than the diplomates of the American College of Veterinary Behavior, whose work, the culmination of years of rigorous training, takes them deep into the minds of dogs in an effort to decode how they think, how they communicate, and how they learn.

In Decoding Your Dog, these experts analyze problem behaviors, decipher the latest studies, and correct common misconceptions and outmoded theories. The book includes:

• Effective, veterinary-approved positive training methods

• Expert advice on socialization, housetraining, diet, and exercise

• Remedies for behavior problems such as OCD and aggression

With Decoding Your Dog the experts’ experts deliver a must-have dog behavior guide that ultimately challenge the way we think about our dogs.

Subjects

Dogs/General

Related Subjects

Pets

American College of Veterinary Behaviorists

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Debra Horwitz

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John Ciribassi

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Steve Dale

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Other Books By The Author


Foreword

I’m a dog trainer and behavior consultant—not a veterinary behaviorist. Although good dog trainers spend a lot of time dealing with canine behavioral issues and need to stay abreast of what the scientific community is continually discovering about how our canine companions think, feel, and learn, there is a difference between trainers and behaviorists. Good trainers rely on the medical and behavioral expertise of the veterinary and scientific community so that we too can use hard science to unpeel layer after layer of that unique and wonderful animal we call “man’s best friend.” This task is never ending, and we are constantly learning new and more-effective ways to harness the power of scientific knowledge in our work with dog owners on the ground.

   Sadly, we live in an era when, as is the case with most generational shifts in thinking, there is a good deal of resistance when it comes to employing the concepts and ideologies that science is proving for us regarding our relationships with dogs. For decades, we relied on since-disproved theories of canine behavior to teach our dogs, and we ended up using misunderstood and misapplied concepts of domination and “alpha wolf” theory as the most natural and effective ways to control them. This put the emphasis on punishing dogs for misbehaving rather than teaching them what to do in different situations. But gradually we began to see the light: although dogs descended from wolves, dogs are not wolves, and they behave very differently. Dogs are not on a quest for world domination if left unchecked, and we don’t need to be their dominant “pack leaders.” Using harsh “teaching” techniques on dogs can, in fact, make many common behavioral issues much worse, or at least much more unpredictable—not to mention the fact that confrontational methods cause mistrust and compromise a dog’s ability to learn and can damage the human–dog relationship.

   Modern behavioral science has taught us that dominance and punishment are less effective and more dangerous than positive training philosophies, even for so-called red zone—or very aggressive—dogs, while conscience has told us that positive training also just feels more right. But in this debate over how best to build our relationships with dogs, proponents of the dominance- and punishment-based old-school training methods are not going quietly. There’s too much money, history, and (mostly) pride at stake for them to reverse course and cross over from the “dark side,” and that’s a tough combination to overcome.

   But fortunately for us (and dogs!), while you are free to not like what science tells you about a given topic, you can’t really argue with it if the scientific research has been done carefully and methodically. You can certainly try, but chances are you’ll be wrong.

   The debate about training methods is over, and positive, force-free, reward-based training has been validated as the most effective, long-lasting, and humane choice by an outstanding scientific behavioral community that is made up in part of the very people who have contributed to this book.

   As a dog trainer on TV and in private practice, I have dedicated my life to better understanding dogs, where they come from, how we got to where we are, and how best to give them the tools they need to succeed in our strange, domestic, human environment. Some of this is achieved by staying aware of common sense and our inner moral compass, but a lot of it also comes from understanding and assimilating what behavioral science tells us about our four-legged friends. Use the information you’ll find in this book, as countless other positive trainers like me have done in our careers working with dogs, and you’ll be building relationships the right way—relationships built on mutual trust, respect, and love instead of pain, fear, and intimidation.

   Positively,

        Victoria Stillwell—dog trainer, author, editor in chief of Positively.com, and host of It’s Me or the Dog

Preface

The vision for this book arose from the collective desire of the ACVB to make available to dog owners scientifically correct information about dog behavior problems and to correct widespread misinformation about dog behavior. Each author of Decoding Your Dog is an ACVB member, expert at interpreting canine behavior.

   Not a “bricks and mortar” institution, the ACVB (www.dacvb.org) is an organization of veterinarians with advanced training and experience in the field of applied animal behavior. Recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association (www.avma.org) and founded in 1993, the ACVB certifies members, called “Diplomates,” after they complete a rigorous training program. Required credentials include a veterinary degree followed by many years of education and training. In addition to intensive study, candidates applying for membership must publish in a scientific journal, manage hundreds of clinical cases in the field of veterinary behavior, write suitable case reports, and pass a rigorous written examination. Thus, the authors have advanced training and extensive experience in treating the behavior problems of dogs.

   The editors of this book, Drs. Debra Horwitz and John Ciribassi, are experts and leaders in the field of veterinary behavior, with decades of combined experience. In their respective specialty practices, they have helped thousands of clients resolve their dogs’ behavior problems. Dr. Horwitz, past president of the ACVB and 2012 Ceva Veterinarian of the Year, is author and editor of numerous books for veterinarians, focusing on how to treat pet behavior problems. Dr. Ciribassi, past president of the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, is a popular speaker and author.

   Steve Dale, a well-known pet journalist, radio and TV personality, and pet advocate, has assisted the editors and contributors. Steve has long emphasized the critical role of the veterinarian in solving pet behavior problems and the importance of behavior in the human-animal bond.

   Behavior problems in our canine companions can erode the relationship we share. Even the closest ties, the deepest affection can be damaged. Behavior problems are common, reported by the majority of pet owners. And although some problems are minor, others have serious consequences. Without successful treatment, the result may be loss of the dog to a shelter or euthanasia. The goal of this book is to help you prevent or manage behavior problems so that you and your dog can live in harmony together.

   The authors will recommend first that if you note a change in your pet’s behavior, consult with your dog’s veterinarian, to be certain that a medical problem is not contributing to it. Your veterinarian may be able to help, or he or she may refer you to an ACVB Diplomate or other qualified behavioral professional, such as a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist. (See Recommended Resources at the end of this book.) The following pages will show you how to interpret your dog’s behavior and to work with your veterinarian or specialist to manage or prevent specific behavior problems. Solving canine behavior problems is a bit like solving a mystery. Veterinary behaviorists need to know who, when, where, why, and what, to best manage the problem. For example: Who is the dog with the problem? (In multidog households it might not be


"Kudos to the Veterinary Behaviorists! Decoding Your Dog is a welcome addition to the voices supporting science-based and benevolent dog training. Read this book and your dog will thank you for it!" -- Patricia B McConnell, PhD, CAAB, author of The Other End of the Leash: Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs

"Behavioral problems often risk damaging the canine-human bond. Veterinary behaviorists are uniquely qualified to consider potential medical explanations while also understanding how to appropriately treat a wide array of behavior problems. This wonderful, practical book can help dog owners to insure that their relationship lasts a lifetime. Highly recommended for anyone who loves a dog." -- Dr. Doug Aspros, 2013 president of the American Veterinary Medical Association

"The very best information to help your best friend from top veterinary behavioral experts. A must buy for the caring dog owner. Two paws up!" -- Dr. Nicholas H. Dodman, Director of the Animal Behavior Clinic at Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine and author of The Well-Adjusted Dog

"What makes your dog tick? Do you wish he could talk? You don’t have to! "Decoding Your Dog" is all you need speak the language, thanks to a Dream Team of top veterinary behaviorists. This is one book every dog-lover needs to have, for better-behaved companion who’s as tuned in to you as you can be to him." -- Dr. Marty Becker, veterinary contributor for Good Morning America and The Dr. Oz Show and author of Your Dog: The Owner’s Manual and Your Cat: The Owner’s Manual "Well edited...Decoding Your Dog is an important addition to the canine canon, one that will go a long way toward increasing your understanding of your best friend."--The Bark


"The American College of Veterinary Behaviorists is an organization of veterinarians with advanced training and experience in the field of applied animal behavior. More than 90 percent of pet owners feel
that their dog is part of the family so the need for good communication between dog and owner becomes obvious if that familial relationship is to be positive for both species. Behavior problems in pets can erode that relationship, and without successful training or treatment, the result may be the loss of the dog to a shelter or to euthanasia. In 14 chapters, veterinary behaviorists walk dog owners through the stages of dog ownership. A basic chapter on learning to speak “dog” starts us off, followed by essays on choosing a dog, house training, behavior training, and training tools. Chapters on common issues, such as separation anxiety, aggression, sound phobias, and compulsive behaviors, teach how to retrain the dog, and a final chapter on the aging canine rounds out the book. Boxes defining terms used in the chapter or containing in-depth coverage of a behavior fill many sections, and each chapter ends with a “What Did We Say?” summary. Libraries and dog owners may have found the holy grail with this title."--Booklist, STARRED review

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