Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Our dog Puzzles (please see the photo above and note that she is the cutest little doggy in the whole world) came home with us in November. When she did my mother-in-law picked up a couple of basic puppy books from the Barnes & Noble discount bin so we could have the background we were looking for because all of us were pretty well out of practice with puppy ownership.
I caught on fast - I was the most recent dog owner - and everyone else in the house did too, but I'm the only one who bothered to read the puppy books anyway. Heather Dunphy's The Secret Language of Dogs has been my night-table between-books book since Christmas and I've only just now gotten around to finishing it.
This is a very, VERY good basic guide to understanding your dog. It's quite simple and is broken up into easy-to-read chapters with lots of tips in the sidebars and great photos. It's about canine body language, pack behavior, and how to make sure you and your pooch are on the same page when you're trying to communicate. There's a brilliant little chapter about the four basic commands dog owners generally want to teach (sit, down, stay, and come) that will be very helpful for first-time trainers. My favorite part was an excellent selection of games to play with your dog - everything from basic fetch for the attention-deficit dog to hide-and-seek for a curious canine.
If you haven't had dogs before, or if you are introducing children to dogs for the first time, this is a great way to get a handle on how to effectively communicate with your pooch: what your tone of voice means to them, what they're trying to say when they bark, grow, or yawn at you, and how to align intentions between two species.
Dunphy, Heather. The Secret Language of Dogs: The body language of furry bodies. Metro Books.
New York: New York. 2011.