Monday, August 29, 2011


Tonight is the last night of agility for Oscar and I.  I'm bittersweet about the end of our lessons...we've had a lot of ups and downs in class.  When Oscar and I have had a real connection, it has been a magical feeling.  We both glide effortlessly through the course - being truly one - with such a great sense of accomplishment at the end of our run together that we smile at each other without saying a word.  We both look at each other with mutually happy brown eyes and butt wags.  This is the dance that Suzanne Clothier talks of...and my-oh-my is it wonderful.

It is the right thing to do for both Oscar and myself, though.  Our current agility class has gotten to be too stressful for Oscar and there is no need to force him into participating because I want to do something fun with my dog, that would be down right selfish.  We are moving onto something different, something a bit more low-key, a class appropriately named "Focus and Control" at a great facility out in Pewaukee.  I'm looking forward to working with Oscar - creating that harmony, choreographing together, understanding how to read each other better and be around other dogs and their owners who are passionate about developing the relationship with their dog.

So, for now, I say "Farewell!" to agility and perhaps we will meet again some day!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

That's What I'm Talking About!!

The "BATTING 1000" book, due out in a few weeks!  
Super stoked today.  I met a lady in my area that I'm going to met up with (hopefully regularly!) and practice some BAT!  Oh, you don't know what BAT is?  No, it's not the scary creature associated with Halloween...why would I write about that on my forum?!  It has something to do with dogs, of course.

"In a nutshell, BAT is a dog-friendly application of ‘functional analysis’ that gives the dogs a chance to learn to control their own comfort level through peaceful means. It’s very empowering to your dog, in a good way."  BAT was founded by Grisha Stewart and is a very progressive method of training that can be used to raise a puppy (by letting them know they have a choice), rehabilitate reactive, fearful or aggressive dogs and so much more!   I stumbled across BAT several months ago and was amazed by how simple it was and LOVED the fact that it didn't rely on you having to have food on you all the time.  Don't get me wrong - I wear my little treat pouch everywhere, but knowing that there is a way to use environmental rewards to rehab reactive dogs is so empowering!

Of course, like every other method of training - and maybe even more - you need to be able to really be in tune  with your dog and observant to the tiny cues they give off to be the most effective. 

Checkout Grisha's site devoted to this training method!!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Beautiful Thoughts from Silvia Jay

I have no idea how I came across Silvia Jay and her training methods, but they are beautiful...very much in line with Suzanne Clothier. Check out her website when you have time

There are a couple quotes that I would like to share with all of you that I found on her website...simply beautiful.

The First Quote:
"Don't ignore your dog when you are out together. Connection within a group is mutual. Attention reciprocal. Practice to stay connected to your dog while you walk. Changing directions often teaches your dog that he has to stay attentive if he wants to know where you are going.

Be fun and reward offered attention and voluntary spatial closeness. Not by shoving a food treat in your dog's mouth, but by playing a game, for example a short chase in which the dog chases you, or throw the ball once, or have her target a stick, or jump a creek. If you use food, throw the treat out for your dog to find. Make your dog walk together an experience and you don't need a rope, or choker. " ~ Silvia Jay

The Second Quote:
"Don’t compete with the environment; exploit it.

Free learning should be applied in conjunction with structured learning, because a dog also has to learn to follow cues and commands. And it takes skill to decide when it is safe for the dog to make the decision. But done right, the relationship and learning benefits are incredible. If dogs are allowed to free learn, to problem solve, the cerebral cortex is trained; cerebral pathways are build.

Dogs have a thinking brain, like humans. Not to the same degree, but more convoluted than a cat’s. The more cerebral the dog, the easier it is for her to remain in her thinking brain, the more responsive and owner connected she is when there is a conflict, the less emotional, reactive she is; and if charged up, she can be easier redirected.

Free learning and patience are part of mindful leadership. Waiting for 20 or 30 seconds to give your dog the opportunity to respond correctly to a request is patience, and also strengthens the cerebral cortex."  ~ Silvia Jay

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"Finished" Book: The Dog's Mind

Spoiler alert: I didn't actually read the entire book - and I'm not going to read the entire thing any time soon, but I got 92% of the way through it.

Bruce Fogle wrote an excellent book, especially considering when it was published (1992).  He goes into a lot of detail on the actual brain functions of the dog as the causes of a log of behavioral problems in dogs.  I stuck it through this part until he starting getting into the super science jabber and then I had to skip to the next chaper.

One of the reasons I really liked this book was because he, rather thoroughly, goes into detail on how the most popular way of doing puppy temperament testing (that a lot of breeders use) don't end up being accurate.  (Another reason to love Suzanne Clothier even more! - her CARAT method seems to make a lot more logical sense). 

Overall, it was a great book for a D.B.N. to read.  Definitely not one that I would recommend for my pet-owning friends.  This one should be left to the professional dog trainers or behavior nerds, like me. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

I'm Doing Too Much (There, I said it!)

They often say that a dog reflects his owner.  Remember the beginning of the movie "101 Dalmations" with the humans walking their dogs (or the dogs walking their humans!).  Everytime I see that part of the movie I always chuckle.  Now, when I look in the mirror, I don't see myself as a short, white-haired, perky earred human with a slightly curled tail.  So, what do I have in common with my dogs? 

Lately I've been thinking a lot about what is driving the anxious behavior Oscar has and I keep coming back to my own behavior.  I'm really starting to see that his is stressed because I am stressed.  I work full-time, from 8am - 5pm, 5 days a week.  Then I come home, play and train Oscar, then cook his food a couple nights a week, do bills, clean-up the house, do laundry, try to tackle the backyard landscaping/gardening (I cannot wait for that to be DONE!), then train dogs on the weekend part-time.  Why am I doing this to myself, my husband and my dogs?  Seriously.  I think I need to stop trying to do so much.

It's very humbling to think that Oscar's behavior is reflecting my own.  He can't stop himself to just sit and be a dog.  So, what can I do to help myself...and ultimately help him (and then help me right back!)? 

Well, I'll tell you what my plan is, as of right now.
- Stop taking agility classes with Oscar (Unfortunately he just cannot handle being in class with the bearded collie, Garfunkel and, honestly, I don't see that dog going anywhere any time soon.  He has gotten so stressed now that he is starting to react when other dogs are running the course and that is not the state of mind he wants to be in.  We have two classes left and then we are done.)
- Put him in a much more quiet, obedience-style class that is geared toward calm behaviors (We're starting that the second week in September)
- Taking him out of doggy day care one of the two days that he goes.  (Although it will mean more exercise provided by my husband and/or I, I'm starting to think that his chronic state of arousal is being effected by day care 2x/week)
- Putting him on some supplements that will hopefully help with anxiety (We started Lactium the second week in August and L-Theanine last week...fingers crossed that we'll see some results).
- Be more realistic and honest with myself.  Oscar is a dog and every moment of the day he is being exactly who he knows how to be...that should be respected and appreciated for what it is...

Other thoughts that are in my noodle that need to get out in this post or it's going to drive me crazy...
- I've been so willing to try different things (animal communicators, energy workers, TTouch, flower essences, herbals, essential oils, phone consults from Trish King and Suzanne Clothier) that I find it hard to settle, stay on track and give these things ample time to prove themselves out. 
- I still need to get a thyroid panel done on Oscar....just to put my own mind to ease that there is nothing going on (or maybe there is!) with his thyroid that is causing him to be so anxious and have a hard time gaining weight.
- I'm not getting another purebred shepherd again.  I owe it to myself to have an "easy" dog after these two boogers.  I love both of them dearly and wouldn't give them up for anything, but Jesus Christ have they caused stress in my life where I didn't need it.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Reactivity: Part 3; Shut up and listen

So much of our dog's behavior on-leash is dependent on our own behavior.  It's no news that dogs tend to act "better" off-leash than they do on-leash.  Is it really surpising, when you think about it?  Dogs weren't born to be on leashes...that was an idea by a human and humans, well, we tend to ruin a lot of stuff.  We get our noses in things and mess up a lot of things. 

One of the turning points my relationship with Fanny was shortly after we moved into our house.  We were taking a nice, leisurely walk around the neighborhood when I suddenly heard a lady yelling at her dogs to come back.  I started to scan around the area we were walking just hoping to God that we wouldn't run into these dogs.  Fanny didn't exactly have the best track record with meeting dogs on-leash.  She had gotten into scuffles and always came out with the one needing stitches...the top of the head, the space between her eyes, and one time right under her eye that I thought we would have to have surgery.  Luckily that didn't happen.  Anyway, back to the excitement...

Much to my displeasure, here come these two dogs running full speed towards us.  One was a golden retriever, one was a medium-sized mix (I would say a pointer/lab/dalmation mix).  My typical response to situations like this would have been to 1.) try and turn around and go the other direction or 2.) if it was too late to turn around, I would pick Fanny up by the collar and hold her head high enough off the ground so she couldn't latch on and bite the other dog.  Since these dogs were too close and I was feeling outnumbered...I had the instinct to do something completely different than I had ever done before.  I dropped the leash and calmly backed myself away and didn't say a single word.  I guess I figured that if she would start some crap with either dog I would blame the owner off in the distance that their dogs ran over to us (crossing the street in the process) and confronted us and my dog was just acting out of defense.

Well...what happened next completely floored me.   Fanny froze, but then started wagging her tail and politely sniffed the other dogs.  "Who stole my dog?" I thought to myself.  After a couple minutes of sniffing, the two dogs took off to go back to their home and Fanny happily trotted along with them.  What this simply because I dropped the leash and let the dogs have their own conversation without me right there attached to them?  Do I get in the way of my dog?  Absolutely. 

As it turns out, Fanny ended up loving the golden retriever, Otis, and we still see him every week (or so) when we walk past his house.  Fanny looks up to us and gives her ever-so-sweet tail wag and starts to whine...and, of course, we cave in an let her go say "hello" to her boyfriend. 

So, what's the point of this post?  Well, it's simple.  We owe it to our dogs to shut up and just let our dogs be dogs.  Let them do their thing and figure things out on their own - on their time - at their comfort level.  I leave you with one, simple suggestion (even to myself).  "Shut up and listen."

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Oh Bananas!

This is one (of two) meals Oscar gets on any given day...what a spoiled brat!
Num, num, num.  Leave it to my dog to help me think about food...not that I need him to do that (I'm currently eating a rather tasty peanut butter cookie).  Since I have been making home prepared meals for Oscar since mid-May, I have started to take note on just how good of food he is eating.  This dude eats ground sirloin (not the cheaper ground chuck!), chicken breast, sweet potato, russet potato, turnip, carrot, pumpkin, beef (not chicken!) liver, coconut oil, bananas and we're just starting to add sardines in.  Gosh-golly!  On top of this, all of the meat and vegetables are cooked (the latter mashed as well).  Oh, and on top of that, I paid a very well known canine nutritionist to work us through the entire process making sure we are giving him a completely balanced diet that is specific to Oscar (he's so spoiled).

Why do I do this?  Well, because I love my little monster and I am bound and determined to get the bastard in the best physical shape possible and give him the best I can afford.  Are there times that I am up until 11pm during the week mashing stubborn russet potatoes, sweating my butt off and swearing under my breath as to why the hell I am doing this.  In some dillusional thought, I think my dog really appreciates that I do this for him.  Meanwhile Fanny is just laying on the other side of the kitchen doorway just looking at me saying in her head, "Laura, Oscar is soooooo not worth all this trouble."  I always toss her a piece of food when I'm preparing to make sure she isn't left out of the action. 

Some dogs do just fine on dry kibble (thank you, Fanny...from myself and my wallet!), but there are some dogs that just need more TLC.  Oscar has always had a rather sensitive digestive system and since he's been on a home prepared diet I've seen a complete change in the texture of his coat and he is always excited to eat...something I know other dog owners struggle with at times.  His poops are fabulous (yes, I said fabulous and poops in the same sentence), his energy is top knotch, his breath no longer smells bad and he has clean, bright eyes.  In his own little way, his outward appearance and aura say "Thank you, Momma Laura, for taking such great care of toss the tennis ball already!"

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Finished Book: On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals

I'm on fire!  Woo-hoo!  I plowed through Turid Rugaas' 73 page book this afternoon and what a lovely read.  I highly recommend the publication to anyone with a dog (whether you are a trainer or not) to gain a better understanding of a dog's native tongue...using their bodies in a highly sophisticated manner to communicate calming signals. 

My Secret Crush

"The pursuit of excellence is a wonderful idea. At its best, any partnership seeks to find the indefinable spot where each partner has given their best, and together, the highest abilities of the partnership are brought to bear on a given goal. It may not be Olympic level performance. It may even seem laughable to those looking on. But excellence is not always judged by external measures. Hold tight to the excellence within your heart, for when it exists, free of ego and outside pressures, the joy of the dance itself shines through." ~ Suzanne Clothier

Suzanne Clothier has, admittedly, become my secret crush.  Her amazing ability to communicate what I strive for in my relationship with Oscar has her high on a pedestal in my living room.  I'm hoping to have the funds that will allow me to, at the least, attend a seminar she is having in October.  If I have it my way, I will take Oscar with me so he can meet one of my most admired trainers on the face of the earth today.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Reactivity - Part 2; Sometimes it's just hard

It's hard for me to remember just how far my dear Fanny has come since bringing her home from the humane society almost 8 years ago.  She was a reactive mess.  A lot of her reactivity stemmed from her uncertainty and fear of other dogs, of "scary" new people.  She definitely had the "I'm going to get you before you get me!" mentality that so many dogs exhibit and get punished for.

8 years is a long time for me to go back in time and remember where we started, where we are now and what we did to get where we are.  There is no doubt, she has made tremendous progress.  Thanks to my wonderful husband, I am finding myself reflecting how how much work I (actually, we) put into getting her to where she is today.  It was a lot of work...some days were good, some days were horrible.  With patience, understanding and firm, but fair leadership and lots of hot dogs(!) we made progress. 

Aaron and I are blessed that we have a great group of friends and family who have helped us along the way (a current "thank you" goes out to Kristin the "Chicken Tossin' Lady") by being amazingly understanding and willing to work with us.  You guys make the difference in helping our household move forward.

That said, it is still hard.  There are days were I have seriously thought about giving up the dogs (although I would never do it).  Days where I find myself daydreaming of a white-hair-free house and sleeping in past 7:30am on the weekends.  Days where I go home and almost cry when I see people taking advantage of the fact that they have the "perfect" dog who does not react to anything...they don't know how good they have it.  Days where I ask myself, "Why did you have to get a second dog?  Things were just fine with just Aaron, Laura and Fanny."  (sigh)

I'm sure 8 years from now my relationship with Oscar will sing a different tune.  It will no longer sound like the spaztic - goth punk rock jazz station on the radio.  It will mature into a nicely conducted, classical station that is on in the background on a lovely afternoon.  I am hopeful for the connection with Oscar, I really am.  I know we will get to a better place where he isn't such a butthead, such a complete lizard brain.  I know we will find the perfect harmony that I have seen glimpses of in the past couple months.  He is teaching me as much as I am teaching him...we are in this dance together, but we are just in that awkward, adolescent, stepping-on-each-others-toes phase.  We'll grow out of it, but it will take time, nurturing and patience.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Reactivity - Part 1; Bark-Lunge-Growl

A recent post on an online GSD forum got me thinking about dog reactivity and the many facets that are involved in any dog behavior, not just reactive dog behavior.  Living with two GSD's, both of which have their own triggers that cause them to react, has been very enlightening.  These dogs (damn them at times!)have forced my husband and I to become better dog owners and better people, in general.  They have also opened our eyes and made us appreciate dogs for what they are...they are just dogs, reacting to any given environmental "ingredients" the best way they know how. 

Take, for example, the post I wrote about the freak out session Oscar had at agility one week ago.  He was just acting in a manner that he thought was right for that, specific situation.  I often times ask myself, "Do dogs really know right from wrong?"  Some people would say yes, but I tend to think of it more if I was a dog.  If I were a dog, I would view the world more as either safe or unsafe and act accordingly.  Some situations might have me freaking out and wanting to run away, other situations might leave me with no other choice than to physically express my frustration, anxiety and panic with a good bark-lunge-bark-snap-growl fest. 

When you do think about it - and I don't like to anthromorphize dog behavior - humans act out much in the same way dogs do, but it seems to be more accepted.  People raise their voices, yell, flail their arms, stomp their feet, slap, punch, name it.  We have our own freak-out sessions when we are pushed past our threshold because of a series triggers (or just a single one!) that pile up and we just can't take it anymore.  Different people cope in different ways.  Why should we expect our dogs to be perfect all the time then?

If you're still reading, and are interested, I hope to make a series of posts on reactivity...talking about different facets along the way.  Triggers, thresholds, management, counter conditioning, caning body language, etc. 

But for now, I leave you with a unrelated photo of the current state of our backyard.  OK, I is somewhat related.  A brief history; the back portion of our yard had gotten torn up from playing countless hours of fetch with Oscar.  He officially turned "his" area into a burn out zone where he would slide on the ground into his frisbee.  Being an understanding doggy momma, I really didn't care, but as spring moved along I knew we needed to do some much needed beautification.  So, here's where we are at. The part area will be mulched so we can toss the ball back there without grass being torn up.  The middle area will be a hardy grass blend - once rooted - that the dogs can romp around on.  Next year we hope to put in the second half of the plan, which will finish up the new patio and plantings along the long fence line.

The back area with the relocated compost bin (that huge wood thing) and the new plantings.

That's a lot of dirt!  The area along the fence line will be a new hardscaped garden bed.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Gas Mask Needed...Holy Moly!

Seriously!!! Why do dog farts smell so bad?!  Blech.  Oscar just let one rip while he is taking his ever-so-peaceful afternoon nap and, holy crap, does it wreak! Yowsers!

Oh wait, he got his first try at sardines today - that would explain it...eekk!!

Thursday, August 11, 2011


What a difference a couple glasses of wine can make!  As promised, I had a few glasses of red on Tuesday night and had a much needed decompression from Monday evening's mayhem.  I'm feeling much better now, thank you very much.  Aaaaahhhhh...delicious red wine.  My cryptonite.

My little butthead, Oscar had a check-up at the holistic vet last night and he did amazing.  I was completely floored by his behavior, but I will take some credit...tee hee.  In order to put the odds in our favor, I put his ThunderShirt on prior to leaving the house and was marking and rewarding him the during the car ride (about 40mins.) for calm behavior - NOT easy to do while driving a stick shift in stop-and-go rush hour traffic, by the way. 

The installation of the wonderful ThunderShirt.  What a great product!

When we arrived at the vet, I did both of ourselves a favor and took my time getting him out of the car and into the building.  We both sniffed around outside a bit and then started doing some BAT work in the parking lot.  I also clipped on the head halter to help manage him better if he decided he wanted to be a butthead...and proceeded into the building.

In my "Doggy Diaper Bag," - wait...that's an actual marketed product?! - I had packed a ziploc bag full of chicken and liver for the vet to give to Oscar when he came in the exam room and Oscar was very happy to be getting such super num-num treats from Dr. M.  He sat down politely and was just perfect.  (OK, OK...he did one little "woof" when we didn't give him treats in an orderly fashion, but that was it - I swear!)

So, once again, this dog has proved that he does have the ability to be a nice little member of doggy society...what a Wednesday!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

D.B.N. Library Additions

More books are on the way for the Holder D.B.N. library!  Super excited to get them...should arrive next week.  I don't know what order I'll be tackling them in, but will probably read Bruce Fogel's book first.

First up, and one that I should have had a long time ago, Karen Pryor's Don't Shoot the Dog! The New Art of Teaching and Training.

Next, Turid Rugaas' On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals.

And lastly, Bruce Fogel's The Dog's Mind: Understanding Your Dog's Behavior.

Blowing Raspberries

You all have seen those cheesy bumper know, the ones that say, "My dog is smarter than your honor student."  Then there are those ugly pillow that say something like, "My goal is to be the person my dog thinks I am."  I laugh every time I see one of those and I don't know why. 

Since Oscar's Monday Night Meltdown, he has made a complete 180.  I don't understand it, but I'm not complaining either...and the more I talk to people, the more I am starting to believe that humans, as a race, could really take a lesson from dogs when it comes to getting over stuff.  Having the ability to simply move on really struck home when I looked at Oscar this morning.  As I looked into his soulful brown eyes, his expression was telling me, "Lady, I was just living in the moment and now I'm totally past it and we can move along to more fun things."  SO, to that I say, "F-it!  Let's move forward." while blowing raspberries at the world.

Oscar blowing raspberries at the camera around 12 weeks of age

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Crash and Burn

Well, Oscar did it.  He finally made me cry last night.  We were at agility for the first time in two weeks and his nemesis, Garfunkel - a 5 (?) year old Bearded Collie, and him locked eyes after Oscar went over a jump and Oscar ran over to him and bark-bark-barked at him and wouldn't stop for, gosh, what seemed like minutes.  I'm sure the whole thing was 20 seconds, but oh man, was it scary.  He didn't bite or anything, but still...

I don't know what was going on in Oscar's head, but whatever it was, one thing was clear - he did not want Garfunkel as a spectator last night.  I can't blame him...he was just being a dog and doing what he thought was right. 

So, Ms. Laura lost it after that and started crying.  I know, I know...those of you who know me well enough just dropped your jaw on the floor.  Yes, Laura does cry.  I doesn't happen often and I can't remember the last time it was.  I could have filled up the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewage Districts back-up system with my waterworks.  (sigh) 

We have three agility classes left then Oscar and I are going to be taking a break for a while - maybe forever - and do some more low-key training.  I have him enrolled in a Focus and Control class and I'm looking forward to working with him in a more low-key classroom setting. 

For now, pass the glass of wine...and brush it off as another learning experience.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Finished Book: The Other End of the Leash

I'm feeling rather smart lately.  I finished another book.  I can't remember when the last time I finished two books within a week of each other was and I'm sure that won't happen again for quite some time.

The last leg of our vacation I whipped open Patricia McConnell's fabulous book The Other End of the Leash.  I had read it several years ago (thanks Kristin!) and thought that I needed a refresher.  Patricia writes with such lovely humor and doesn't fluff around blathering about nonsense.  For anyone looking to read a great book on overall canine behavior, this is one of the best...right up there with Bones by Suzanne Clothier.

Now it's decision time.  Should I pick up and read Patricia's other book, For the Love of a Dog or, as orginally planned, finish reading Brenda's book on aggression?  Decisions, decisions, decisions...I think some double duty reading is in order yet again.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

We're Back...

Back from vacation...well, really we've been back since Friday night, but some good, quality time was requested from the dogs to get back into the swing of things. 

Aaron and I had a lovely vacation, but were glad to be back home.  Myrtle Beach was OK.  It was so hot that I felt sorry for the people who saw me sweat like a lady doing that bikram yoga exercise for hours on end.  Can you say BUTT SWEAT?!  Nasty.  I've never loved a shower more in my entire life.  Blech.  I can honestly say that Myrtle Beach is not some place that I would want to go to again, but it was very nice to get away from home for 9 days. 

We picked up the pups on Friday evening.  They were very happy to see us, but not in that desperate "GET ME OUTTA HERE!" way that made us feel bad for leaving them at the boarding facility.  The place they stay is fantastic.  The ladies who run it really know what they are doing and treat the dogs very well.  I've never felt nervous leaving either dog there.

I was expecting Oscar to be a total wreck when he came home, but he settled in nicely (after a nice game of frisbee, of course)...Fanny was a little unsettled but that's because she had to take the biggest pee of her life after she drank an entire dish of water after coming home.  After that, it was smooth sailing.

It's nice to open the door to the house when coming home and smell those familiar smells (in our house it's the old, weathered woodwork), see those familiar sights (white dog hair!) and feel those familiar things (the creaky stairs underfoot).

 Just a quick picture from our trip.  Aaron celebrated his 30th birthday while we were gone and we actually got a picture of the two of us.  :)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Finished Book: Canine Body Language: A Photographic Guide: Interpreting the Native Language of the Domestic Dog

I'm loving my vacation so far.  The weather is a little hot down here in Myrtle Beach, SC, but there is water everywhere so it's easy to cool down.  

During the drive down from Wisconsin I started reading Brenda Aloff's book

Canine Body Language: A Photographic Guide: Interpreting the Native Language of the Domestic Dog.  I finished it this morning (well, except for the "Quiz Section" which I'm doing on the way back home tomorrow) and WOW, what a fantastic, comprehensive read!!  There are tons of pictures and the book is broken up into really nice chapters with thorough explanations.  Brenda writes with a great sense of knowledge and communicates in a straight-forward, matter-of-fact tone, but sprinkles in humor here and there.  I especially like her description of dogs who are in a reactive state (in hind-brain) as being Lizard Brains.  Lovely!  I have a new nickname for Oscar and Fanny when they are being nuts-o! :)

So, so all my doggy buds, give it a read.  If you're nice to me, I'll even loan it to you (I've marked the size spine with the infamous "HOLDER" so you won't be tempted to steal it!).

BOOK on deck: Brenda Aloff's Aggression in Dogs: Practical Management, Prevention & Behavior Modification.