It is often said that every dog is different and yet in training we often apply a one size fits all approach. Rather than agonise over the fact that your dog does not fit this mould, surely it is better to adopt an approach that focuses on, and celebrates, his individual traits.
In this book, author of the best-selling Dog Sport Skills series, Denize Fenzi, helps us to understand our dog’s personality type, showing us to tailor a training plan that fits and brings out the best in your dog.
Fenzi covers confidence, environmental versus handler focus, flexibility, drive, biddability, impulse control and more.
A ground breaking book that is sure to enhance and improve the lives of both dog and handler and a definite must have for all dog sport competitors.
Fenzi begins by explaining that although some dogs may be more accomplished than others, there is no such thing as good dogs and bad dogs, there are just dogs. She adds that with every strength comes a weakness, taking us through the positives and negatives of her own four dogs to illustrate this. Fenzi continues by explaining that rather than being simply good or bad, dogs instead show packages of temperament types and behaviour, made up of both components, which can constantly change.
In chapter two, Fenzi explores secure versus cautious traits. She shows us what is typical behaviour of these personality types, how we differentiate between the two, as well as outlining the type of training approach you will need to adopt for them. Fenzi also offers some words of advice on traits exhibited to the extreme, and what this actually means.
Chapter three looks at handler focused dogs, and environmental dogs, put simply this means, the dog is focused on his person or is more interested by other people, dogs, places and things. Fenzi explains why it is important to get a dog who is both handler and environment focused. She also gives us a quick test to determine which of the above your dog is, as well as explaining how to find out why your dog is such and what the underlying meaning of this is.
Chapter four moves on to obsessive dogs and flexible dogs. Fenzi gives us an example of a reaction of an obsessive dog versus a flexible dog to a particular situation, and then explains how we can use handler control and the premack principle in order to train an obsessive dog. She also looks at training methods for both these types of dog for dealing with intact and unneutered dogs and bitches, before finally explaining the positives of owning an obsessive dog.
In chapter five, Fenzi explores high drive and low drive dogs. She analyses what she describes as the often misunderstood term, ‘working drive’. We first consider low drive dogs, looking at why a dog may appear as low drive which includes: worry, boredom, low power, poor training, using the wrong motivators and health. Fenzi then provides us with some strategies for working with low drive dogs, before moving on to high drive dogs. She shows us how to determine whether your dog is high drive or frantic, also providing us with training strategies.
Chapter six examines high powered and low powered dogs. Fenzi describes power as the ability to get what you want, rather than being related to physical size or strength, giving us an explanation of both types of dogs. She also discusses the relative nature of power, explaining the ideal situation is a power split with the owner, giving us specific patterns to look out for when the dynamic between dog and handler is off. Fenzi also advises on the difference between power issues and impulse control problems, as well as how to change power dynamics.
Chapter seven focuses on biddable, handler sensitive and handler hard dogs. Handler sensitivity and biddability are the extent to which your dog wants to please you. Fenzi comments on training approaches for these types of dogs, before assessing and providing the same for handler hard dogs, described as individuals who do not mind making errors.
In Chapter eight, Fenzi concentrates on impulse control and self -control. She cites impulse control, the inability to control desires, as one of the biggest sources of unhappiness in both humans and dogs alike, explaining the difference between impulse control and self-control. She also considers the role of maturity on impulsive behaviour, how to teach self-control, and whether every type of dog needs this kind of work.
Chapter nine looks at movement. Fenzi explains that to understand movement, we first need to understand the reasons that dogs move in general. She takes us through working drive and stress related movement, reiterating the difference between self-control and stress, using real life examples.
Chapter ten, learners and performers considers dogs who love routine and are happy to repeat the same behaviour over and over (performers) and dogs who love to master new skills but get bored with repetition (learners). Fenzi takes us through each of these personality types in more depth.
Chapter eleven moves on to the ever changing dog. Fenzi stresses the fact that although this book has looked at dogs conforming to certain personality types, there will always be variables in place that can influence these. Therefore it is extremely important to always train the dog in front of you.
In the final chapter, Fenzi assess the dog-handler match. She comments that we sometimes don’t get what we necessarily want or need, citing the example of a novice owner with a high drive breed. She examines what you wanted in your dog compared to what you got, along with what your dog wants in you as an owner, and how the two of you can best work together.
A well laid out informative read on a critical topic that has long been ignored.