It’s not very often that I get excited about a book to the extent that I want to recommend it to my clients and colleagues. “In Defence of Dogs” by John Bradshaw is one of those books. This book was first published in 2011 and although it was a best seller, it somehow missed me until recently. The book jacket itself recommends “Every dog lover, dog owner or prospective dog buyer should read this book”. I would include anyone involved in the business of dogs whether professionally or not. John Bradshaw is well qualified – he is a “biologist who founded and directs the world-renowned Anthrozoology Institute, based at the University of Bristol.” He’s studied canine behavior, as well as canine owner behavior (perhaps more importantly), for 25 years. The information is based in science and not handed down presumptions. It doesn’t read like a text book. You can begin at the beginning or you wish or you can use the index which is thorough or randomly pick a page. I guarantee you will learn something new on every page or at least give you a new perspective on some old myths. I believe it dispels, once and for a all, old thinking around punitive training, the alpha dog myth and other such previous controversies while providing the science around how dogs learn. This is book you will want to read with a pencil and stickies in hand – really, it’s that good. So many ‘a ha’ moments, so many opportunities for the lightbulb to go off, with easy to read explanations of complex ideas. There are copious notes for the student who wants to investigate further and read more about the science of dogs.
One thing I discovered during this read is that dog is, indeed, man’s best friend but probably not because of us, but in spite of us. They have been patient teachers!