Book review: Karen B. London’s and Patricia B. McConnell’s “Feeling Outnumbered? How to manage and enjoy your multi-dog household”
By Laure-Anne Visele, written Oct 2013.
This article is part of my collection of book reviews.
AUTHORS: Karen B. London & Patricia B. McConnell
PUBLISHING YEAR: 2001
SUMMARY: Step-by-step guide to dealing with common behaviour problems in multi-dog households
In the behaviourist’s caseload, multi-dog households often come hand in hand with fiendishly complex behaviour dynamics. I bought the book hoping for a miracle toolkit, but that hope was hopelessly naive. How could anyone cram the behaviourist’s Holy Grail in fifty pages? Instead of addressing complex behaviour problems, the book focuses on simpler, but relevant, training and self-control issues.
Drs. London and McConnell’s book centers around three basic principles:
- Train each dog one by one, then gradually ‘proof’ the skill with more dogs present;
- Focus on self-control, manners and prevention; and
- Manage/restraint if you cannot supervise.
The book describes the industry’s best practices to deal with front door rowdiness, meal time, the ‘leave it’, introducing the new guy, pulling on the leash, etc. with a group of dogs. With a couple of rare (and mild) exceptions, the authors exhort the reader to adopt an exclusively positive approach to dog training.
Added plus point: the authors show intellectual integrity around the controversial pack theory – they tread lightly and avoid speculation.
A couple of chapters give insiders’ tips even a single-dog owner could use (e.g. body blocks instead of yelling, what to do in a dog fight, etc.) .
Interesting angle for the pros: the authors use compelling turns of phrase to sell the usual ‘hard-to-swallow’ advice like the importance of management and of starting slow. I for one am certainly going to try this formulation on my clients, to see if it helps overcome the usual resistance.
On a couple of occasions, the advice appears to stem from a desire for revenge, rather than from pure didactic motivation (e.g. ignore your dog for up to 1/2 day after a fight). But I am really knit-picking here.
All in all, pick up this book to help you with problem prevention if you are considering a multi-dog household. The book is of limited value to the professional, in my view (contains no revolutionary new insights). Still, I am glad I have read it. It reassures me that I haven’t been missing this magic formula all these years: dog training, for multi- or single-dog households, continues to be about patience and timing.
Have you read this book? What did you think? Would you recommend it? Have you read a similar one that you’d recommend to Canis bonus readers?
- Hot dogs – Quick poll about hotly debated dog issues (e.g. leash/no leash, treat/no treat, etc.)
- Dogs, my philosophical position – My position on debated dog issues
- Does your large dog scare people? – Article about more intimidating dog breeds
Dog training and behaviour
- Separation anxiety – a treatment protocol
- Treating dog-dog aggression – some advice
- The perfect recall – fool-proof guide to getting your dog to come back when called