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See the wolf inside your dog
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Embracing the Wild in Your Dog
By Bryan Bailey
Outdoors & Nature, Nonfiction
Pub Date: October 6, 2015
The ontogeny of anthropomorphism, where we attach our human traits to our pets, is the most damaging and paralytic problem associated with dog ownership today. Believing in a fairy tale world where dogs possess the same moral consciousness and a sense of altruism as attributed to humans has led to consequences that include a drastic increase in leash laws, dogs being outlawed in a rising number of city and national parks, some breeds being banned in several states, an alarming escalation of aggression to humans, a rising cost in homeowner and business insurance, and a record number of clinically maladaptive dogs.
This book is not a dog obedience book. Rather, it is about developing a deep understanding of the authors of your dog's behavior; nature and the wolf. For all that man has done to carve the wolf from the wild to create a biological doll, today's dog is still a wolf at heart and the accompanying instincts borne from such ancestry defines how the dog approaches its world.
In this book, you will come to know the wolf in your dog and the tools that nature gave it to survive and coexist in both the mountains and in your home. You will learn how activating and deactivating the natural wolf impulses and mechanisms in your dog will lead to the harmonious existence and the control you always dreamed of. Most of all, you will come to embrace the wild in your dog and the grace and the peace that is breathed into its acceptance.
Embracing the Wild in Your Dog is for the most part a book written with great insight into how we neglect the wolf at the heart of our domestic companions. By neglecting their origins, we misinterpret natural behaviors. By applying anthropomorphism we weaken what would otherwise be a mutually beneficial relationship.
The quotes at the start of each chapter were well selected, and the descriptions of Bailey's early experiences helps the reader to understand how he acquired his knowledge of the wild.
Where Embracing the Wild in Your Dog falters is in its vehement attack on what is commonly thought of dogs as pets and the nature of training. So much energy is devoted to attack in the first third of the book, that it is likely to alienate readers to the extent that they stop reading - whether they agree with Bailey or not. People who would be persuaded by later portions may not read past the beginning. Bailey has many extremely valid points, but they at times get lost amidst the insults.
The other weakness is that while he points out instances where common training responses are wrong, he does not provide examples of a correct response. Even in a book that is not a training book, it is important to explain comparatively how to respond with the wolf in mind. Turning away and ignoring a jumping dog is wrong - what would be a better response? Examples help the reader to understand. Punishment is a natural part of learning in wolves, ok how is it best implemented when training dogs? What is the difference between effective punishment to correct behavior and wrongful application of force?
I was reminded a bit of an infomercial. Ie. Our product will solve all of your dog’s behavioral issues. We can give you lots of examples where other products fail and show you lots of happy customers. We won’t give you specifics, because then you won’t buy our product.
Embracing the Wild in Your Dog is a promising book, but needs work. In future, I would recommend Bailey eliminate or reduces the repetitive attacks, focus on content, and provide more specific examples so that readers understand more of how to change their actions. It is all well and good to see the wolf in your dog and know you need to act differently, but if you don't have any concrete examples of correct behavior you are still at a loss.
Regretfully I can't rate Embracing the Wild in Your Dog more highly. It needs too much work. I do, however feel that Bryan Bailey has a great deal of insight and a valuable message to get across. I look forward to seeing what he writes in future.
I received a copy of Embracing the Wild in Your Dog from the publisher and netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.