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K9 Behavior Basics -- for all dog trainers

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K9 Behavior Basics: A Manual for Proven Success in Operational Service Dog Training (second edition) by Resi Gerritsen; Rudd Haak; Simon Prins, published by Brush Educational, Canada, ISBN: 978-155059451-5, 241 pgs, $44.95

My first impression of this book was the quality of the book itself. The pages are top quality, glossy and the corners of the pages are rounded. This is not often seen in today’s books. It is a soft cover book but the cover stock has a linen look to it. These “extras” will help preserve the book as the reader goes back to re-read the material many times.

The authors do an excellent job of explaining dog behavior and body language. The illustrations and photos are top quality and the text is easy to understand. The book is written primarily for the police/military dog with search and rescue dogs included as well.

I was delighted to see that the authors promoted positive training methods in a training environment that has traditionally used harsh training methods. Their explanation of how both methods work was excellent. I liked the fact that they illustrate why positive methods are more reliable than harsh methods.

They did a wonderful job of explaining the four quadrants of operant conditioning and how each works, which is essential for successful training. They also cover the developmental stages of puppies/dogs and how it impacts the adult dog.

This book is not a step-by-step training manual. It is a theory book which is sorely needed because many dog trainers do not understand training theory. They operate on the “it has always been done that way” mode. The authors explore this attitude and provide excellent material to give trainers the background and reasons to learn theory.

The book is well researched and my only disappointment is the comparison between dog and wolf behavior, some of which is outdated. However, the authors do acknowledge the flaws of these theories and explain them adequately.

All in all, this is an excellent book and I highly recommend it for everyone who wants to understand dog training theory.

1) Operational Service Dogs
2) Ancestor Wolf
3) Basic Concepts in Dog Behavior
4) Developmental Stages
5) Expressions, Gestures, Signals
6) Reading Your Dog
7) Operant Conditioning, Development and Basic Principles
8) Physical Punishment in Dog Training
9) Training Service Dogs Using Operant Conditioning



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