Pat Miller has been a dog trainer for over thirty years. She started with classical dog training, using choke chains and corrections. Eventually she realized “The Power of Positive Dog Training” and wanted to share this with the world.
I recently wrote a blog post of the same name as this book. In general, it covered the same topic. However, I was completely unaware of the existence of this book when I wrote my post. A friend pointed it out so I felt I should read the book and find out what it was about.
In The Power of Positive Dog Training, Pat Miller attempts to show how using positive reinforcement can be much more effective and humane than other training methods. Her intended audience is both existing dog owners that have used traditional dog training methods (ie corrections) and new dog owners that have not trained a dog before. She talks about positive reinforcement and how it impacts a dog and gives several chapters of practical training exercises.
What I Liked:
This book is written in such a way that it is accessible for anyone. The concepts presented are easy to understand and follow.
Pat Miller starts the book with a very inspiring story of how she came from the world of traditional dog training, including choke chains and corrections. She discovered positive reinforcement and decided to make a switch. Now she teaches positive reinforcement dog training. We can all learn something from Pat’s story. Primarily that we shouldn’t beat ourselves up about what we used to do and, instead, focus on how to be better dog trainers.
The second part of the book is dedicated to a training plan, including exercises with descriptions and an actual training plan document that you can use with your own training. Each exercise is described in detail including photos. They are all easy to understand and implement.
One of the things this book does right is provide resources for positive training. Most books just cover the subject and don’t point you at additional learning. There are many books, videos, websites and more that you can use and return to later on.
Areas for Improvement:
Even though it has been debunked for decades, Pat Miller still talks about pack theory and dominance/submission. However, her discussion is much more palatable than that of Cesar Milan since she mostly looks at the behavior of dogs and puts it into categories based on Pack theory. Then she presents positive methods for dealing with pack behavior. If you still believe in Pack Theory, then this section of the book is worth a read. Otherwise, overlook the pack/dominance discussions and just read the parts about how dogs show their feelings with their bodies.
The first part of the book is primarily a rehash of Don’t Shoot the Dog by Karen Pryor. The Power of Positive Dog Training is a bit of a lighter read with a little more humor. If you haven’t read Karen Pryor’s book or you just want a refresher, then section one is a good read. If you have recently read Karen Pryor’s book, then you could just skim this section looking for nuggets of goodness.
This book suffers from a problem that many dog training books do. While there are references at the end of the book, these are intended for you to read and view to help improve your training knowledge. What is missing is actual references to sources of information, such as books and resources Pat Miller used when researching her book. The only reference I could find was to Don’t Shoot the Dog by Karen Pryor.
The Power of Positive Dog Training is a must read for anyone interested in transitioning from correction based or other training methods and moving towards positive, motivational training for their dogs. It is especially useful for people new to dog training or new to positive reinforcement as the detailed exercises makes this transition easy. It is much more accessible to the general pet owner than Karen Pryor’s landmark book Don’t Shoot the Dog. I wish I had been presented with this book before I read the Don’t Shoot the Dog because I struggled a bit with the concepts and I think this book would really have helped with that.
So yes, I would recommend this book.