BOOKS: Taking Care of Puppy Business

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 1999:

Taking Care of
Puppy Business
A Gentle Approach for Positive Results
by Gail Pivar & Leslie Nelson
Tails-U-Win! Canine Center (175 Adams
St., Manchester, CT 06040), 1998.
74 pages, stapled. $11.50 inc. postage.

Gail Pivar and Leslie Nelson teach
puppy-rearing as a parenting skill. Most of
their advice makes sense to me. One recommendation,
reinforcing and rewarding bravery
(not to be confused with territoriality), seems
especially important but often overlooked as a
means of preventing future behavioral problems,
including fear-biting.
But, having never had a dog who
was younger than about six months old, I
solicited outside perspective on Taking Care of
Puppy Business from people who have raised
and trained hundreds, also using affirmative
rather than punitive approaches, and was surprised
at the strength of the negative response.

It seems that even small differences in training
technique are hotly debated among training
professionals, and––as with parenting––many
of them take disagreements personally.
The closest approach to a consensus
I found on Taking Care of Puppy Business was
a grudging admission that, “It’s okay if you
have the time to spend with each puppy.”
That is an important point: if a person
doesn’t have a lot of time to spend with a
dog, the best dog to get is not a puppy, but
rather an already housebroken adult.
The most common complaint I heard
was that Taking Care of Puppy Business i s
rather pricy for the staplebound format. But it
is the quality of information in a how-to book
that really matters. If this book saves you even
one chewed shoe or TV cable, it will have
saved its own price and then some, though
you will never know what disaster you missed.

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