Wednesday, December 21, 2011
I recently finished Control Unleashed: Creating a focused and confident dog, by Leslie McDevitt. This book is designed for people training dogs in agility who are having issues with their dogs’ ability to focus, so you might imagine that the book isn’t useful to people with fearful dogs like mine. But it turns out, unsurprisingly, that if your dog is having issues focusing, he may well actually be nervous about something in his environment, such as strange people or other dogs. This book is full of exercises for helping your dog be more comfortable and relaxed, whatever his reason for being distractable. It was incredibly helpful to me in thinking through exercises for my shy dog Jenny, to help her learn to trust the world a little more. Even if you don’t do agility with your dog, this book may be helpful in making you a better trainer. It includes many examples of specific training exercises to try, and stories about situations in which they were particularly helpful. It was also an enjoyable enough read that I got through it while working long hours on some difficult rotations — I looked forward to finding ten minutes to read it before bed. I recommend this book to everyone who has has basic understanding of positive training and learning theory, and wants to learn more.