Two years ago I had an office job, and I hated every second of it. I frequently had screaming, crying panic attacks on the way to work. I broke out in stress rashes and had trouble sleeping. Then one night, I woke up at 3 AM, and Fight Club was on HBO. Then the next night it happened again, and the next. I took it as a sign from Tyler Durden to quit my soul-crushingly terrible job. So I started looking. I knew office work just wasn't for me, and that I needed to do something that I would actually enjoy.
Previously, my fiance and I had taken dog obedience classes at our local pet store. We took the classes with our three dogs, and really enjoyed learning positive training techniques to communicate with our dogs. One Saturday afternoon, trying to kill time, we went back to the pet store to look around and ran into our old trainer. She was walking her foster dog, a beautiful Basset Hound, who immediately jumped up on me and licked my face. And I fell in love. She then told us that she would be leaving to become a full-time teacher, and she wished someone would take over her classes that actually cared about dogs. My response was, "Me me me me me me me me!!!!!!!"
Two years later, and I'm a dog trainer, and we adopted that Basset Hound, Murray. We also have six other dogs, all rescued, and we both volunteer with a local rescue group. Hell, right now I have a dog in my garage that my fiance found at work today. My life is dogs and I love it!
As a professional dog trainer, I didn't learn earth-shatteringly new techniques from Tamar Geller's book, but I do appreciate that there is another advocate for training dogs humanely and respectfully. How can you expect a dog to remain "Man's best friend" if your method of training involves alpha rolls, prong collars, shock collars, and outright abuse?
The first half of the book focuses on Tamar Geller's history. Tamar grew up with abusive/neglectful parents. She witnessed her parents abusing her dog when she was 12. She joined the Israeli Army and also witnessed animal abuse there. Then one day, she watched wolves playing in the wild. She realized that they didn't teach each other by bullying and intimidation. The older wolves trained the younger ones using playful games. She decided that she wanted to work with dogs, and opened a doggy day-care center.
The second half focuses on Tamar's training techniques. She states that dogs have seven needs: sense of security, companionship, understanding the hierarchy, surprises/excitement, food and exercise, mental stimulation, and love and connection. Then she spends several chapters teaching various standard training commands.
This book was very easy to read. I have read some training books in the past that put me to sleep. I really enjoyed the way she described the techniques, and why it is important to be PATIENT when working with dogs. That is definitely the most frustrating part of my jobs. It's rarely the dogs, it's usually the owners!
At the end of the book, she has a small chapter on Puppy Mills and the horrors that go on there. One of my dogs was a puppy-mill throw away, and he is scared of everything and everybody. I have seen first-hand what the effects of these doggy concentration camps can do. Do not EVER buy a dog from a pet store. It has probably come from one of these death traps. Please, please, please check your local shelter first. I can almost guarantee you will find your new best friend there. And if you come to Alabama, I'll even train him for you!
Don't breed or buy while shelter pets die!