I see this tag in department stores, boutiques and clothing tents on Venice boardwalk. Yes, one size fits all, unless your hips are too big, or if they would just put a teensy more elastic in the waistband. But what, you ask, does this have to do with dogs? What is my point? My point is that if you read only one book on dog training or behavior solutions it’s probably not going to solve all your issues and you shouldn’t assume you will be successful when the suggested methods are applied to your dog. In other words, one size does not fit all.

There are a lot of excellent books out there to help you with your puppy or adult dog, but sometimes reading these books may result in a lot of confusion. The reason for this is that although many books may provide similar methods of solutions for typical problem behaviors such as jumping or barking, you might also read several books that each has a different solution. How do you determine which one is right for you?

Although all dogs learn through conditioning and repetitive, consistent training, like humans they’re apt to react differently to any given situation at any given time. For example, some dogs may be shy or submissive and have issues with loud sounds, like a slamming door. Some dogs might have issues with men – this happens quite frequently with adopted or rescue dogs. So, although all dogs are wired to learn the same way, you may need to modify training techniques in a way that is compatible with the personality of your own dog.

The authors of these training books can’t know for sure if your particular dog will respond successfully to what they suggest in their book, because every dog is different. Training techniques used for a German Shepard are not necessarily the same ones you should use to train Havanese or small mixed breed. They are two completely different beings. I often suggest to my human students that they read and learn as much as they possibly can about dogs in general. I emphasize that while dog training books can be helpful, reading books about dog psychology (the way they think, what makes them tick), and their co-evolution with humans, offers much more insight on how to avoid problem behaviors altogether and will help them train their dog more than most “how to” training books.

There are a plethora of resources (books, magazines, journals, websites) to help you learn why your dog behaves like a dog, i.e. eating cat poop, jumping the fence, digging, etc. Dog owners need to be familiar and comfortable with what makes a dog, a dog. Don’t take everything you read in the training books as gospel, use your common sense as well. If you happen upon a method to solve a barking issue and you’re just not quite comfortable with it, don’t be afraid to tweak it a little or combine it with other information you’ve read regarding the same issue. Don’t think that you’re doing something wrong if you don’t follow one trainer’s methods to a “T.” It’s up to you to know your dog better than anyone else.

Here’s a sample of informative, interesting books I suggest:

Culture Clash – Jean Donaldson
The Dog’s Mind – Bruce Fogle, DVM
The Toolbox for Remodeling Your Problem Dog – Terry Ryan

Good Dogma