Saturday, September 4, 2010

Book 2: Get Connected With Your Dog

A few years ago I saw Brenda Aloff present at the IAABC conference. It was a really cool body language presentation. She had been trying to get a group picture with her dogs (and in fact, I think it's the one on the cover of this book!), there were many not-so-great pictures and silly dog moments. She used all of those photos, of the same set up, to talk about body language and where the dogs were uncomfortable with proximity and where they were trying to play with each other. And just how complicated body language can be, yet it's always a part of our interactions.

While Aloff supports positive dog training, I found _Get Connected with Your Dog_ to be primarily a manual on how to use negative reinforcement. She frequently references horse trainers, where negative reinforcement is the primary training method and seen as more than acceptable. Unfortunately, this doesn't necessarily fit well into a positive reinforcement framework and it would be very difficult for a beginner to differentiate. Yes, she uses R- well and it's the best written manual on non electronic collar R- training. But all the same... not what I advocate.

I was also surprised to hear mentions of "clickers and treats" "not working" without commentary on why or how it may have been misused or how criteria may have not been adjusted properly. There were a few errors with performance titles not being correct and a few training definitions incorrect as well. I was disappointed with the mentions on how the Get Connected Protocols were great when it seems like one has gone as far as possible with R+ and is still missing something in the relationship or training.

The book is very long and it may be able to have been condensed. Some of the analogies and descriptions or stories ran on for a very long time or seemed repetitive. There were periods where I read for a long time but did not feel I had covered much ground.

I would pass this on to what types of people...? Dog trainers who want a theoretical understanding of how R- can be applied and taught, but promise not to be using R-! Some of the sections may be very applicable for people who do well with analogies and longer descriptions. It also could be good for those that think R- requires a lot of force. It really does not, and sometimes it makes R- seem like a risk-free and appropriate option....this book sure makes it feel that way!
Will I re-read this? Not in it's entirety. But I will probably re-read parts.
Favorite part? The level of detail. The book makes me appreciate how much I do (or do not) tell clients.
Least favorite: Constant application of R-.

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