A “transformative,”* inspiring book with the power to change the way we understand and communicate with our dogs.
Few people are more qualified to speak about the abilities and potential of dogs than Jennifer Arnold, who for twenty years has trained service dogs for people with physical disabilities and special needs. Through her unique understanding of dogs’ intelligence, sensitivity, and extrasensory skills, Arnold has developed an exemplary training method that is based on kindness and encouragement rather than fear and submission, and her results are extraordinary.
To Jennifer Arnold, dogs are neither wolves in need of a pack leader nor babies in need of coddling; rather, they are extremely trusting beings attuned to their owners’ needs, and they aim to please. Stories from Arnold’s life and the lives of the dogs who were her greatest teachers provide convincing and compelling testimony to her choice teaching method and make Through a Dog’s Eyes an unforgettable book that will forever change your relationship with your dog.
The good: The book is by an experienced trainer, espouses the current thinking in dog training using positive reinforcements as advocated by experts, debunks the BS that is dog whisperers false ideas on alpha dog and dominance, and gives a lot of great insight for regular dog owners.
The bad: mixing and matching references to research without recognizing which is good science and which is bunk. The chapter on ESP - really??? That inclusion of this chapter could make some readers question everything else presented in this book, even the information backed up by solid research (e.g. Patricia McConnell's work).
The interesting: I worry about the education and intellectual capabilities of some people who reviewed this book and thought it too "sciency". It wasn't, although this may explain why there are way too many people who don't understand the scientific basis for things such as climate change, evolution, etc.
This is a fantastic book - I'm a veterinarian with a special interest in behavior, and on an almost daily basis I find I have to battle against information that trainers such as Cesar Milan employ - dominance methods do NOT help in the vast majority of cases, and can often make many problems worse. Yes, he does say some common sense things that make sense (such as the importance of exercising your pets), but many of his methods are based on old research of wolf packs that were artificially formed in captivity and do not reflect how true wolf packs actually work. Also, dogs may have evolved from wolves, but they are NOT wolves! We have selected traits and behaviors over thousands of years that have created a completely different species with their own unique set of behaviors.
Jennifer Arnold promotes positive reinforcement, and truly understands how a dog thinks and works. And her views are not unique - many other prominent researchers, behaviorists, and veterinarians also have proven these methods. Unfortunately, Cesar Milan is more prominent in the media (I usually like Oprah, but I am still very angry at her for the introduction of Cesar Milan to the mass public). She intertwines personal stories from her experiences with her non-profit organization (Canine Assistants) with brief synopses of canine behavioral research. The book finishes with several chapters on basic behavioral "training" (I use the word "training" in quotation marks as she does not like this term) for many common issues dog owners face.
I will highly recommend this book to my clients, along with Sophia Yin's "How To Behave So Your Dog Behaves" and Jean Donaldson's "Culture Clash." These books should be on every dog owner's "Must Read" list.
What a treasure for a dog-lover! A rich mix of anecdotes, teaching suggestions and thoughts on current research, based on twenty years' experience training golden retrievers and labradors as companions for people with special needs.
The opening chapter describes Jennifer Arnold's personal circumstances and the background to her life's work as founder of Canine Assistants, one of the USA's largest canine service associations. This personal context is the basis of the whole book and I found the author to be good dog-loving company, with extensive experience in a particular sector of the dog world. I trust her integrity and her anecdotes ring true, reminding us of how wonderful the relationship between dog and human can be, beyond the current explanations of science.
I was already fascinated by dogs' unexplained capacity to predict epileptic seizures, so it was interesting to read of how this emerges in the training of Canine Assistants. I enjoyed all the tales of how various service dogs have enabled their new owners to live fuller lives. My favourite chapter, however, was that on play; it made me want to rush outside with my Great Pyrenees and bounce. I've spent hours observing and photographing my own dogs' play habits, and I've never read such detailed, accurate accounts of dogs' play behaviour, with each other and with humans. I couldn't agree more with Arnold over the importance of play for both our species.
I already agree with Arnold's principles, especially in ridiculing the idea that we should behave like wolves. She gave me some useful supporting evidence for my views, and I was delighted to learn that alpha wolves in the wild feed the weakest in the family/pack first, thereby suggesting that even the 'behave like a wolf' brigade are wrong in their theories of food control and 'eating first' to dominate.
I also fully support 'choice training', teaching a dog to think and to choose the desired behaviour, and she gives detailed examples, all useful, of how she works. There are limitations though. I have been taught by a top dogtrainer how to put principles into practice and in my view Arnold's techniques will not work with all dogs. She does warn the reader that the book is not a training manual for dealing with dog problems and she also states that you should get a trainer's help if your dog bites you or someone else, so this book does not pretend to cover all situations.
Arnold relies heavily on treats, works with golden retrievers and labradors, and matches the personalities of adult dogs with their new owners, and with their special needs. This is admirable but very different from establishing a relationship between any puppy/dog and any owner. I remember getting a Great Pyrenees after the death of my retriever, and discovering that chocolate buttons for dogs had lost their magic power, and toys were no better. Suddenly, I was not the wonderful dog trainer I'd thought myself; I was someone whose dog didn't come when called, and I'd run out of techniques.
This is an informative and enjoyable book on a particular sector of the dog world, and on specific aspects of training. If you're looking for a general book on training all dogs, I'd recommend 'Gentle Dog Training' by Michel Hasbrouck. In the wider context of all dogs, I think Arnold is naive in some of her statements, such as her assertion that using the leash to force a position is wrong (e.g. 'sit' or to stop the dog jumping up) and that positive reinforcement will bring the dog to the desired conclusions of its own accord, eventually. (Believe me, if you've had 70kg of Great Pyrenees knocking your glasses off, 'eventually' is not a word you want to hear).
Although I would disagree over some specifics of training, I would love to debate these with Arnold, and I have the impression that she would enjoy that debate, and have excellent reasons for the way she works. As she points out, most dogs want nothing better than to please us and communicate with us, so those brutal modern methods which promote domination are to be shunned.
I couldn't agree more and I see it as a sad sign of the times that Arnold has been targeted for vicious criticism by those who feel their methods are threatened. In a letter published on her amazon page she wrote, 'At times I am straightforward to the point of bluntness about the wrongs we are doing to our dogs in the name of training. In some circles, I'm already being criticised for what I have written. I wish I could say that the unpleasantness doesn't bother me a bit. I can't. I am all too human. But it won't stop me. I owe dogs too much to be silent. we all do.'
Good for you, Jennifer Arnold. Keep up the good work.
I didn’t think a book about dogs could be so infuriating. The ultimate problem with this book is that she presents good science along with utter crap and treats them equally as long as they coincide with what she believes anyway. Do dogs understand the concept of fairness, or do they stop responding when you stop rewarding them? Do dogs have ESP, or are they just really well attuned to small signals (especially after tons of dedicated training)? I’m going to be using examples from this book in my research methods class as examples of bad logic. Of all the books out there on dog behavior, this is probably one of the last that should be read.
4 Stars I really enjoyed reading this book for meany reasons. One reason is because you get a chance to understand what dogs see and also think about things and how they even react to things. The downfall for me was that I thought I would learn more than what I thought I would of. I guess the reason was because I have 3 dogs and I know how they react to things, but every dog is different. In this book it provided great facts about dogs but some of the facts I already knew form have dogs myself. I would probably wouldn't read this book again just because I knew more then what I thought. Overall I would recommend this book to anyone that is a dog lover and wants to learn more about dogs.
If you own or are planning on getting a dog, or if you just want to learn quite a lot about this familiar species in an entertaining and emotionally charged set of stories, you must read this book. It has great advice for training, and in particular training that doesn't involve excessive shame or rely on physical violence. But even if you have no dogs or already have well-trained dogs, there are the stories of dogs and the invaluable impact they have had on the lives of the humans who knew and loved them. And if that doesn't sell you on the book, the author has done an amateur but revealing and exciting investigation into current studies on dog psychology and cognitive capacity. Think your little Fido is just a dumb animal or is intentionally disobeying you and trying to defy your authority? Think again. The book has implications for how we treat this amazing species as well as for uninformed breeding goals. In short, whether you already think you know all about dogs or whether you confess you just know they are furry with wet noses, there is something inspiring and educational you can take away from this fun and easy read.
I suppose it's a good cursory look at canine psychology, but there are other more in-depth reads that I've found more helpful. One thing that bothered me throughout was the fact that "special" behaviors - like aggression - were tacitly mentioned and in a few cases, resulted in euthanasia due to owner ignorance (like the time she was bitten by a dog who she later learned was put down for his aggression). To the author's credit, she puts the blame squarely on the owners' shoulders, but there wasn't a lot of talk about rehabilitating those dogs or how the philosophies she proposes throughout the book apply to more headstrong kiddos. In the appendix, she does give a catch-all to see a behaviorist for those cases, but it did bother me that the implication here is that all dogs are happy and eager to be trained, when in reality, there are always special cases. Other than this big-picture thing, the book was fine and obviously penned by someone with a great passion for dogs, which is always nice to see.
For a unique perspective on dog training, try Through a Dog’s Eyes. It is written by Jennifer Arnold, who has a long history of training assistance dogs and is based on a show that Arnold filmed through PBS. She wrote this book as a direct challenge to current dog training styles that emphasize dominance and fear and instead calls for training methods that are focused on mutual respect and understanding of a dog’s mental and physical abilities. It is part memoir, part non-profit operation manual, and part canine biology and psychology textbook.
I'm looking for a dog now that 10 months have passed since we had to put down our beloved Lab 'Kimosabi' . He was the best dog ever to inhabit this Solar System , but I need a new companion . This book helped me to understand a dog's emotions and best respond to them .
This was a really thought-provoking and magnificent book that opened my eyes even more to the magical and intriguing world of dogs. As I am about to become a veterinarian (currently in University), this book played a significant role to my academic career as it taught me that dogs are far more intelligent and sentimental than the majority of people think they do. Overall, 4 out of 5 stars and I strongly recommend it to people who already own dogs, but even more to those who don't. Most animals -but especially dogs- have a wide range of feelings and reactions to these feelings, and it's sad that most people aren't able and willing to discover just how many they've got. Jennifer Arnold will totally make you fall in love with your little partner and, at the same time, she will help you grow this relationship to a deeper and more mature level.
purchased this book after hearing Jennifer Arnold talking about her work and the book on an NPR program. I am so glad that I did! Every person who has dogs or plans on having a dog needs to read this book. Jennifer Arnold made so many points about dogs that I never would have thought of or learned elsewhere. The back of the book has a lot of great tips on training your pups. It is a keeper on my perma-bookshelf.
What a wonderful book this is! Jennifer is the founder and Executive Director of Canine Assistants, a service dog school. She knows dogs and shares great stories about great people and their dogs. You will find out why dogs have wet noses--bet you don't know! I loved this book! "A good dog is a tired dog!" So, go out there and walk your dog and especially, love your dog--they love us! (Gerard's review)
I'm loving this one! It makes me think about (and love) my dog more. Did you know that a happy dog wags more on the right side of it's body, and if it's scared or agitated it's tail wags more to the left? Just a tidbit from the book. This was written by the founder of Canine Companions who train assistance dogs and their owners. Remarkable creatures. I recommend this to all dog lovers.
Sweet book by a woman who has trained service dogs for 20 years. At first I was worried it wouldn't give me the goods (i.e., how to train my own new-to-me beagles), but in the end it did. Great insights, touching stories.
Written by someone who trains dogs to do what their people cannot. Focused on positive training, this beautiful book about how dogs view the world around them and how we can build trusting, teaching partnerships with them that enable them to do some pretty astounding problem solving.
I usually only rate books that I have completed. And I rarely skim books. But this was absolutely terrible, so much so that I could not be bothered to read the last four chapters. I am a speed reader by nature, but I couldn't bear to read every word of this. The writing was all over the place. The author presents some valid knowledge, mixed in with super dramatic stories from her own experiences as well as her strong beliefs in "positive only "training and her absolute aversion to methods that do not fall into this category. I'm not here to debate dog training methodologies, and certainly, I am all for training approaches that encourage and allow a dog to think. I'm fine with people who have strong preferences over certain methods, but I really really dislike it when they bash what they do not like without clearly supporting arguments against those methodologies.
I also learned about the nonprofit organization Arnold's found it, Canine Assistance, Way more than I wanted to. I have read plenty of dog books over the years and this one was the absolute worst for me.
I have watched many of Arnolds's presentations and interviews, and I found her manner and level of professionalism lacking. I thought maybe her book would be better and I would learn something. Nope.
Kinda boring. I thought one of her stories was funny when her dog Nick kept stealing a whole stack of crackers from a cabinet in a box, and then he'd make sure to close the cabinet and eat them behind the couch secretly. LOL
‘Our dogs never grow past the point of seeing us as their universe. Is it any wonder we adore them?’
We have had our dog for just about two years now, and she is our first dog. Although I write this review myself, I say ‘we’ because she is certainly a member of the family - she is my dog and my husband’s, (and also very fond of my in-laws too!) We have been through puppy training with her, and gone to a beginner’s training class too, and have learned many useful tips along the way. There are always challenges though; she is still quite young and is very exuberant and enthusiastic about just about everything! I was therefore really interested to read this book and discover the author’s theories about looking at the world through the eyes of our dogs.
The subtitle to this book is key to the approach taken inside it -'understanding our dogs by understanding how they see the world.'
Jennifer Arnold has been training service dogs for over twenty years. These dogs go on to assist people with physical disabilities and special needs. The things they achieve, the tasks they are able to accomplish, and the support they can offer, is truly awe-inspiring:
‘Working with children and adults who have mobility difficulties or seizure conditions, these incredible dogs learn to do a variety of tasks, such as turning lights on and off, opening and closing doors, pushing buttons, picking up dropped objects, and running for help in an emergency. They transform lives with their constant companionship and unconditional love in ways that no human can equal.’
This book is an inspirational read, both in terms of the stories Jennifer Arnold recounts about the dogs she has trained, and in terms of inspiring us as dog owners to rethink what we know about our dogs, and to reconsider how things might look to our dogs. It offers us a wealth of ideas, drawn from the author’s experience of working with dogs every day, that we can think about when spending time with our own dogs, and thereby improve our relationships with them. I thought the sections on body language were particularly interesting and enlightening. There are sections where the author considers the origins of dogs – including discussing wolves and dogs, their personalities, language and characters, discusses play and also her choice teaching methods.
The author looks at the world as she believes dogs see it and experience it. She has leant so much in terms of understanding dogs – their skills and intelligence, the things they are capable of doing. In this book Jennifer Arnold puts forward her approach to training, based not on the alpha dominance type theory of physical correction but instead on encouraging the dog to make the right choice, and by using positive reinforcement, treating the dog kindly. She advises us to ‘use only positive motivation to convince the dog that it is in his best interest to do as asked.’ She explains that she herself only developed and moved over to this method over time:
‘My approach to handling changed as my understanding of dogs grew, until one day I realized that it was morally wrong to treat dogs with anything other than patience, understanding, and kindness. I have come to appreciate that dogs are capable of deep feeling, that they have individual personalities and intellectual capacities, extraordinary at times. Most of all I have learned that, beyond all other species, dogs have evolved to be our partners, protectors and helpmates.’
I enjoyed reading about the dogs Jennifer has worked with and learned from; there are some heartwarming and very moving true stories contained here, and the dogs that go on to make a positive difference are evidence of the efficacy of her methods. She offers scientific support for her theories. I think there is a lot to be said for the philosophy that this author puts forward. If anything I would have liked to have read even more stories about the dogs she has trained.
This is an enlightening read, and after finishing this book, I felt I looked at my dog in a new way and I have definitely learned a lot about dog behaviour. Additionally, I’ve learned different techniques that I might use to communicate better with my dog, and I developed a greater understanding of dogs as a species. This book is a fascinating, informative and worthwhile read for any dog owner.
Let me tell you how much I loved this book. I LOVED this book, and I wish I had read it when I got it years ago, you know, the to-read shelf is quite the shelf, but I finally picked it up. I have had dogs since I was 8. I wasn't super into training dogs until I became an adult and got my first Aussie. I did obedience with our first puppy when I was 9, and back then the archaic, force dominated, negative punishment, be the alpha, blah, blah was what trainers taught and what was taught to them. In fact, I am convinced that is why that Sheltie was neurotic and sound sensitive and all the things that made her a little left of a happy, normal dog.
Positive based training has really made leaps and bounds, and I get it. In fact so many things about dog training could easily crossover into raising a child. Many times the author compared dogs and toddlers and since I have both, and they can definitely test your patience, I find myself just in the last week trying things differently.
This book is not all about training dogs. In fact, it's a lot about the dog, it's history, it's development, its factors on the change of humans development, and a lot about how your dog sees the world. In fact, I found myself agreeing with so many things, and agreeing with her, that yes as a dog owner you didn't need a scientist to tell you something or prove something to you, because you live it everyday as a dog owner and dog lover. In fact, dog owners are not usually surprised by what science confirms, because we already knew that.
The chapter on emotions especially hit home. I wish more than anything I could tell my dad about this book. He's been gone almost 6 months and he left behind his Sheltie, he was her person, and my mom is dealing with her grief and the dog's grief. The paragraph on dogs can feel sadness and can cope, but dogs also feel grief, and this becomes an emotion they can't always deal with was so obviously spot on for me, that I wanted nothing else than to call my dad and tell him.
I have been "accused" of loving my dogs more than people and putting them first. Dogs are not something you get because sometimes you want a companion, dogs are something you get because you want a lifelong, every day of their life companion. The bond I have with my dogs is something I cherish, not that I needed a book to justify something I already knew and have, but there are several people I would love for them to read this book so they would get it. Also so they would get that they aren't doing right by their dogs, and basically knock it off. I have 4 extremely smart dogs, a Sheltie, 2 Aussies and a Lab. The Aussies have done so many different things, but excelled at agility, and the Lab and now Aussies are doing nose work. I love working with my dogs, seeing them get it, and being on this journey with them. This books will make me a better dog owner, trainer, and handler. And maybe someday I can take this passion and do more with it. I loved this book, will probably read it multiple times, and now every time I work with my dog, get a new dog, start a new dog sport, I will approach it differently because of this book. Dogs are highly intelligent, sensitive, amazing creatures. I will also try to remember that my dogs don't have to be perfect all the time, and lord knows, they aren't, but sharing their lives with me is a blessing, and I will continue on my path of doing all I can for them.
"We long for an affection altogether ignorant of our faults. Heaven has accorded this to us in the uncritical canine attachment." Jennifer Arnold provided a wealth of information that really helped me see my dog in a different light. As she notes, so much of what dogs do is about soliciting information, and the habits and quirks my own dog exhibits are attempts to interact with me to get more information about a particular situation. For example, my dog will sometimes bark excessively, though he isn't much of a barker, when people come to the door-particularly family he knows. Arnold made me see that he is simply seeking confirmation of what is happening/seeking to test a hypothesis, and how I react to him will greatly influence his next move. We are big Cesar Millan fans in our house because much of what he says just makes sense to us, but even understanding his techniques does not mean they are necessarily successful with Valentino. I "get" what Cesar talks about, but am also aware I'm not executing the techniques properly so I don't really feel comfortable employing them. Having read Arnold's book, I started to think a lot more deeply about what Cesar says with his alpha training techniques, and I've started to think twice about them given that Arnold explained how different dogs are from wolves. Dogs descended from wolves, but to fashion our training models on wolf behavior (usually through observation of wolves, and captive ones at that) has made me see that this practice could not only be erroneous, but dangerous to our dogs. I like that she was careful not to anthropomorphize the dogs she has worked with in certain situations, not lending herself to overly emotional recollections, but I really like that she made it obvious dogs have greater cognitive abilities than we sometimes give them credit for and that these have their limitations. Her method of Choice Teaching made me curious to learn more, and I may employ these positive reinforcement tips on Valentino, but like she wrote, I'm not letting anyone dictate how the bond my dog and I share should look like.
Jennifer Arnold is clear, concise, and very organized in her in-depth research of dogs and the reasons for their behavior. Yes, I sobbed at different parts that I found utterly endearing or heartbreaking, and laughed at others, and came to appreciate my own dogs so much more than I've ever done before.
I also got the answer I've been searching for in my frustrated relationship with dogs as a cat person. No, I don't have to shout to get my dogs to cooperate. No, I don't have to get mad at how unruly my dogs are acting. Yes, I can love my dogs unconditionally and look at the beauty of their characters, and how I might be able to tap into the "positive" behavior I want them to exhibit by showing positive behavior of my own.
I have been unknowingly cruel to far too many dogs in my life, and this book cold not have come to me soon enough. The approach that Arnold espouses is one that feels right to me, even if I never get to the training of assistance dogs. Just knowing what I've learned about dogs from her has changed my perspective to a much more loving and compassionate, appreciative and supportive view of my canine buddies.
Just one of Arnold's amazing recommended practices is, if you can't teach a dog out of a certain behavior, then take away the situation that would ever allow that dog to exhibit that behavior in the first place. Example: Counter-surfing. Instead of fear-training them to leave food on the counter alone, or squirting them, shouting, swatting with a newspaper or anything else, just DON'T LEAVE FOOD ON THE COUNTER. Situation solved.
I highly recommend this book for anyone who ever comes into contact with dogs!
I really enjoyed reading this book, from the human tragedy of the first chapter to the very succinct guidance on specific dog cues (as she calls 'commands') at the back.
I do sense a real desperation amongst many authors of books on dog psychology and behaviour who fundamentally want to scream at the public "PLEASE, please, please don't do what Cesar Milan does" but you don't sell more product than he does that way. There was a little of that here.
It's also quite a mishmash of 'how dogs and people got here' (which is covered at more length by John Bradshaw in "In Defence of Dogs") an account of her life and her organisation Canine Assistants, many moving anecdotes and scientific snippets. I felt she could usefully have provided proper references so people could follow up the original papers. I could personally have done with less on telepathy and ESP but the whole book is written in a very pleasant style. There was very little tone (as you get in some books) of "look at these stupid owners and look how clever I am"
I've been a dog trainer for many years, generally using lupomorphic methods based on some apparently flawed concepts of wolf pack psychology. "Through a Dog's Eyes" takes a different look at the way dogs and humans connect, and about the emotion-based behavior of our canine friends.
Jennifer Arnold, founder of Canine Assistants (a service dog organization), talks about the dogs in her life, the triumphs and the mistakes she made in teaching dogs to work with those in need of a service animal, and her own diagnosis with MS that led to establishing her organization. I enjoyed the first-person stories, as well as anecdotes about some of the dogs and people in the Canine Assistants program.
I also gained some insights that will be used with all of my dogs in the future. Ms. Arnold includes some useful "choice training" methodologies as an appendix in the book, which will prove useful to all who live with dogs.
A gentler way of teaching our dogs to be helpers and good companions. I am interested in the subject lately because I want to work with my Australian Shepherd as a service dog for me, since I'm losing the high range of my hearing. This book has some interesting theories about how dogs process learning and about how humans and dogs have interacted for thousands of years. I was already applying many of her strategies because of my dog's behavior but I picked up some interesting tips, especially with the service work. A good read!
Dogs are bright, loving splended creatures who deserve to be adored for exactly who and what they are--dogs. This book highlights their traits and the fact that we as their people have the responsibility for their well being. They in turn, will see to ours. As George Eliot said, "We long for an affection all together ignorant of our faults. Heaven has accorded this to us in the uncritical canine attachment."
All together a poorly written book. While I didn't disagree with everything the author had to say, I found she undercut the few points I could agree on by her poor critical skills. The use of circular reasoning, apples to oranges analogies, and a general disregard for the opposing point of view eroded what little good she could have acheived to support her cause.