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.


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