Reviews - What do customers think about Aggression in Dogs: Practical Management, Prevention & Behaviour Modification?
Badly Needs an Editor and Book Designer Sep 24, 2008
There does seem to be some good information in this book, but it is so difficult to read that it easily gets lost along the way. Some of the problem is that the book looks like its been laid out using a late 80s word processing program attempting to create a "homey" feel, but fails to follow even basic layout principles, such as a consistent pattern flow of text from column to column on a page. Even if the text were to be more accessible, the content is badly in need of an editor, both for the overall structure and flow, as well as removing a Propensity For Capitals and "Overuse of Quotation Marks" in the text. Dennis is pretty much right on in that it wants to read like a scholarly work, but it doesn't and I believe it would have been much better presented in another style.
Definitely "Look Inside" at more than a couple pages before you buy this one!
The first third of the book is about reading "dog" and some categories of aggressive behavior. It is good content, but, as the text points out, unless you are a professional seeing a wide range of dogs and breeds on a regular basis, the subtleties are likely to be elusive. I was disappointed to find that fear-driven aggression was not one of the categories. The remainder of the book goes into what now seems to be well-accepted positive-reinforcement practices of training "replacement" behaviors for inappropriate aggression.
As the book is not only difficult to read, but may be a also bit dated (e.g., head harnesses seem to be more widely regarded as a negative reinforcer), there are probably some more easily accessible sources of information. Some that I have recent read that I find valuable include:
How to Behave So Your Dog Behaves -- General dog learning and training approaches. A good read for the non-trainers in your household.
The Power of Positive Dog Training -- 2nd Ed., 2008 -- Similar in scope to "How to Behave..." but more focused on clicker training and a little more "cookbook" in its approach (not a bad thing).
Click to Calm: Healing the Aggressive Dog (Karen Pryor Clicker Book) -- Covers similar exercises as those in "Aggression in Dogs..." in a much more digestible way.
Click for Joy! Questions and Answers from Clicker Trainers and Their Dogs (Karen Pryor Clicker Books) -- Think of this as the FAQ of clicker training. While not a "textbook" on training, helps to answer those nagging questions like, "Will I have to use the clicker and treats forever?"
One that has been recommended by many, though I have not yet read is On Talking Terms With Dogs: Calming Signals.
Best of its kind Aug 10, 2008
This book gives real, usable tools to people whose dogs already have aggression issues or want to prevent them - there just is nothing better out there.
I do agree with "Dennis in Michigan's" review that this is a book you need to focus on while you read it. But if you want to understand and treat aggression in your dog, I think you do have to really understand the complex concepts she shares in the book. This may be why other books on the subject are less helpful - they water it down too much. If you are already having issues with your dog or trying to help someone else who is, you know that it just is not that simple. Do yourself a favor - skip the other books and spend your time reading this one.
I've seen Brenda Aloff twice in person, presenting some of the concepts in her books to a group. Her practical approach is great, and I've seen her methods work on several dogs in these presentations - with the dog's owner implementing them. She has real experience helping dogs with serious aggression issues and is not the type of trainer that picked out the best, well-adjusted dogs to have as her own showpieces -- you can tell she speaks from the experience of actually living with dogs that have had these types of issues.
If you read this book, you will likely be far ahead of the trainers in your area on the topic of aggression unless you are extremely lucky to have this talented a trainer near you (and I say that as a trainer myself). Trainers, read this for practical and sound advice you can give to your clients.
Terrific Book Aug 16, 2007
This is really one of the best books out there for dealing with agression. It really clears up what it is all about and what to do about it in very practical terms. It helped me see what the real issues where and gave me a number of suggestions for training against the agression. Very practical where others are not. She doesn't waste time with too much philosphy but gets straight to the issues and the training. But the true measure is in the results and I am very happy about that. We had one very confused 6 yr old boy and he's coming along terrifically--I was really worried that he would spend his days angry, confused and mean. It's a turn around--so yes, things can be done to work with aggression. Thanks Brenda Aloff.
Four Stars for now, with the potential for Five Stars! Mar 14, 2006
This book actually has a lot of very good, practical, and very helpful information for the dog owner who wants to prevent (as I do) or treat agression problems, especially in agression-prone breeds like spaniels and some of the guarding breeds. I debated whether or not to give this book a five star rating. I settled on four stars for now because of my one "complaint" against the book -- it is a very, very COMPLICATED book to read and utilize. The author, apparently through many years of working with problem dogs, has developed a number of complex systems for treating and preventing agression problems which, while I'm sure will be useful and should work well, and just very complicated for the amateur to use. This is definitely NOT the kind of book one can read in bed when tired. It reminds me of some of my college texts -- a challenging and complicated read, and perhaps a bit on the dry side. I know that when I tried to read it recently, my mind often wandered. To sum it up, I would recommend the purchase of this book for the interested reader, just be prepared to sit down and devote quality time to reading the book and learning the system of training the author has put forth. Unfortunately, my life right now is just too complicated to really give this book the time it deserves. I hope in the near future to have a little more free time to carefully read the book, absorb the information, and begin to implement it with my own dog.
Very helpful exercises Jan 7, 2006
This book is terrific for owners of any dog. We actually rescued an dog-aggressive dog and actually went to Brenda Aloff for a few sessions. Her advice and exercises helped turn a stressed out little monster into my little princess. My dog isn't magically cured, but by using this book, we've taught her to look to her humans for guidance in stressful situations, instead of just attacking as she would in the past. She knows the rules and was taught them in a completely positive reinforcement manner. I highly recommend this book.