Author: Skye Anderson
member IAABC and APDT
Do you have too many dogs? Going crazy, trying to balance their different personalities and needs – and your own? Or do you want another dog but just don’t know if it is feasible?
How many dogs is too many anyway – for you? This book will help you answer that question, help you decide whether or not your family should get another canine and how to select the best fit, and will teach you how to manage (and prevent) any chaos you or your dogs may experience, now or in the future.
In 2010, families tend to consist of a single parent raising a family or a family with both parents working outside the home. There are fewer adults home during the day in 2010 than there were in the 1950s: in addition, our pets today tend to be the larger breeds (the most popular breed today is the Labrador Retriever as opposed to the smaller Cocker Spaniel, popular when many of us were growing up). Many families have a second dog to keep the first one company during the day (and for other reasons). How to keep up and adapt to these societal changes is one topic of McMullen’s book.
With multiple dogs can come multiple problems unless you plan for that eventuality and manage it positively. How Many Dogs?! is just the book with all the answers to help you keep your sanity and enjoy all your dogs!
McMullen has a lovely conversational writing style – what a story teller! She is a dog trainer with several dogs (not as many as pictured on the cover, though!). When she presents a subject, she describes alternatives and gives the solution she prefers along with the reasons behind her choice. She then explains why other solutions might work for other households and emphasizes that if the situation is under control in your household with a different solution, don’t change it! (If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!)
McMullen uses brilliantly creative terms that describe her ideas succinctly – the person is the ‘crew leader’ who projects ‘benevolent leadership.’ I firmly believe these terms will catch on across the country and will replace undefined terms that don’t work such as ‘pack leader,’ ‘dominance,’ and ‘calm assertiveness.’ McMullen describes her new terms, defines them in a short glossary, and refers to them throughout the book.
I love the Table of Contents, too! (I never thought I would say that about a book!) Chapters like Tails are Tucked (canine body language), The Fur is Flying (what to do about tiffs), Tragedy in the Midst – Losing a Crew Member, Let Sleeping Dogs Lie – Where Do They All Fit? (and sleep). The index will come in handy and her Resources and References section not only lists other books by topic but gives further details about them.
Tidbits abound: lovely, lively photos of dogs playing and otherwise interacting as well as text boxes with key points for emphasis scattered throughout so you know what’s really important. Themes of trust and routine appear over and over.
And a few chapters include real-life examples from several owners of multiple dogs explaining how they solve different situations. Their dogs star in many of the photos and we follow these people and their dogs throughout the book for an authentic view of how to implement McMullen’s suggestions (like mealtime management and different sleeping arrangements).
A special bonus is the lengthy chapter on training – how to train skills like attention, wait, go to a mat (safe place for chilling out), recalls, loose-leash walking – all skills that are mandatory for making life with dogs easier. And for those of you who aren’t familiar with positive reinforcement training, think of it as reward-based rather than force-based. If you want to be a clicker trainer, McMullen presents a quick intro. Want to learn the difference between a bribe, a lure, and a reward? How electronic fencing systems can create behavior problems rather than solve confinement problems? It’s all here!
McMullen, in How Many Dogs?!, offers a wealth of step-by-step information for the multiple dog-owner as well as the single dog person. This is an excellent adjunct to training classes and a delight to read!