Black box method, the (Black-boxmethode)

Beekman blackbox methodePUBLISHING YEAR: 2006

SUMMARY: Collection of a Dutch trainer’s thoughts and observations on how to steer dog behaviour.

AUDIENCE: Peter Beekman fans or people who want to read the influential Dutch classics on dog training. 01 Owner REVIEW  Author: Peter Beekman enjoys somewhat of a cult following in the Dutch dog training world. He is a trainer and behaviour therapist in The Netherlands. For a while you couldn’t go to a seminar without his name being mentioned. He remains a greatly influential player in the local dog training culture wars.

Style and contents:  The author shares his casual observations and philosophy about dog behaviour.  The philosophy in question boils down to focusing on the dog’s motivation. The book exhorts the owners to stop seeking for a dog with a “will-to-please” and to find what will motivate the dog to perform instead. This is a well-established tip in dog training so I was bemused as to why the book’s theme was so incensed in the local dog training scene. The book is written in unpretentious and highly accessible style and quite pleasant to read. The author is refreshingly transparent about his lack of formal qualifications and writes in reassuringly day-to-day prose.

Possible improvements:  The book sits uncomfortably between three genres: professional bio, technical manual and theoretical piece.

  1. Bio: It would need countless personable and vivid anecdotes, not just a handful.
  2. Manual: It would need countless insightful and original tips, not just a loose overarching philosophy.
  3. Theory: It would need a modicum of literature research to prove the idea is original or fundamental in any way.

I turned the last page still aching for meaningfully insightful, verifiable or tangible contents.

The verdict: I am glad I read it as it’s a classic. If, like me, you want to know what the fuss is all about, give it a go. If you’re after something more universal about dog behaviour, try these:

  • For owners looking for core tips and insights into dog behaviour: Dog Trainer’s Complete Guide.
  • For professionals looking for a manual on learning principles and motivation: Excel-Erated Learning.
  • For academics looking for rigorous all-encompassing volumes on dog behaviour: Lindsay’s classic compendium.

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Author: Beekman Peter
Genre: owner manual
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