Dog Training the American Male

by Mary Haight on January 20, 2015

Dog Training the American MaleDog Training the American Male is not the type of book I would normally feature. It’s a novel. On its face, it’s an adult comedy about relationships between men and women and the universally recognized communications difficulties that happen when a couple decides to move in together.

Differences between the way men and women think offered throughout the story may make you smile or shake your head in recognition, but it’s when the “surprise” of an untrained, saved-from-certain-death-at-animal-control German Shepherd enters the mix that you might find yourself laughing out loud.

Dog Training and The Needs of the Many

On another level, and here’s what I think is interesting, Dog Training the American Male is a great example of how dogs come into people’s lives, the struggle with behaviors that need attention, and how unconsciously training choices can be made. That alone, as you know, can decide the life or death of a dog.

The first trainer in this story trained with treats and moved on rather quickly, unfortunately to another trainer who used a shock collar. It surprised me that an ex-military man, would be using a shock collar and other non-positive training methods given that currently dogs trained for military use are *not* trained with these negative, antiquated methods. I guess it shouldn’t have, given his service may have had nothing to do with dogs, or if it did, it could have been 20 years ago when positive training was not available.

I know it’s a novel, not known for correcting for factual accuracy, maybe that’s my general gripe with them. There is so much that so many people and groups are already doing to promote positive training, what else can we really do to combat this stubbornly embedded incorrect information about dog training?

Behavior Modification – Shoe Is on the Other Foot!

Modifying and eventually erasing the prevailing cultural notion of a quick fix by someone with shock collars and the magical thinking of “dog whispering” as a talent everyone has, is going to take the concerted efforts of many different types of meaningful connections across media, in print, movies, television, and with authors of books like this. People need to see it everywhere in their lives to change the dialogue about how dogs should be trained.

Rather than dismiss this book out of hand, as I would have and nearly did until I spoke with the author, I took it as an opportunity to modify my own behavior and shared some training science and what is happening in the field with author L.A. Knight. He was gracious and offered to relate that to his agent.

He may never write another book with a dog in it, but the idea that much of Europe was in an uproar over the recent visit of C. Millan and his dog training methods, as they have been here for years, makes using the language and tools of force masquerading as training not as attractive a touchstone in the cultural landscape. At least, that’s my hope.

L.A. Knight talks about Dog Training the American Male in the podcast below, the flack his pen name caused on a live radio interview, and briefly mentions his 16 other books in the Science Fiction genre, all on the NYTimes Best Seller list. We talked about his other passion, funding an FDA approved human trial for the cancer that killed his father – part of the proceeds from the book will be donated to that effort. You can reach him via L.A. Knight Entertainment.

 

15 comments
david529
david529

The book seems to have better idea on how to train dogs. I think I'm going to like this book.

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@david529 It's really about establishing a trusting relationship with your dog -- it's good to follow through with training that does not require a militaristic obedience -- that type of training is nonsense, and not even the military uses those alpha rolls, "I'm the boss" or "pack leader" stuff. Thanks for your comment and check out Victoria Stilwell's Positively.com and videos and books by Ian Dunbar and the fabulous Dr. Sophia Yin. Lots of good stuff available on her site, including "how-to" videos.

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HeartLikeADog
HeartLikeADog

I find myself getting all fired up when people use antiquated methods to train dogs. I imagine I'd be doing some eye rolling and muttering under my breath with with this one. :-)

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@HeartLikeADog I do too, Jodi! But for most this will provide some laughs, though most women will be doing some eye-rolling with the sexist remarks. What is a little funny is the author also makes men mad too, so...;)

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Iriska
Iriska

Sounds like a really good thing to read! I like your review and your style! I would also like if you could check out my photoaggregation project carde-app.com and I would be greatly thankful for your opinion! Regards, Iren. 

chasingdogtales
chasingdogtales

This sounds like a lighthearted read, not to be taken too seriously and we all need that kind of book now and then.

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@RascalandRocco @dancingdogblog We are a *lot* of work, aren't we? Nice to meet you and thanks for connecting =)

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@CarmaPoodale @dancingdogblog Quite possibly, but you might have to give him bacon!! Ahahaha...thanks for stopping by Carma =)

ruthcox
ruthcox

Interesting book review! I like when a reviewer digs a bit deeper and discloses what's in the book I may not like. 

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