Kyra Sundance is a well-known dog trick trainer. She runs the company Do More With Your Dog. Kyra has written several books. Her dogs have appeared in television shows and movies. In addition, Kyra and her dogs have performed for major celebrities. In recent years she has gathered a rather large following of people that previously hadn’t trained their own dogs.
The Dog Rules (2009) is a book that claims to hold “14 secrets to developing the dog you want”. There are literally fourteen chapters in this book. Each one talks about one concept or idea related to training a dog. These are grouped into categories.
The general idea of the book is that you need to communicate with your dog and teach them the rules of life. Dogs dog should be taught the rules of life, what expectations you have for them and how they should act.
What I Liked
The first half of the book is very well written and contains quite a bit of common sense. It is written in a way that encourages dog owners to start doing things with their dogs. It is also written in a very approachable way that should help encourage people to “Do more with your dog”.
In particular, the section called “Instill a Desire to Please” contains a lot of wisdom and great ideas. Nothing in it is new but the people that are following Kyra Sundance would be advised to pay particular attention to this section.
Areas for Improvement
Once you get to the halfway point in the book, Kyra then goes into a large section on corrections and consequences. This is an area that is not explored particularly well and the corrections are not defined well. She does seem to get the idea that a correction should be given at the precise moment of behavior occurs that is undesired. However she never explores the possibility of those corrections being misinterpreted by the dog or their possible negative effects.
Kyra believes in dominance theory, fully subscribes to the idea of “No Free Meals” and believes that dogs should always obey commands. There is even a photo of Kyra with Cesar Milan.
One thing that Kyra Sundance does very well is to promote Kyra Sundance. She used to run a podcast dedicated to The Dog Rules which eventually transformed into a podcast about her company Do More With Your Dog. Just like in her podcast, Kyra is all about Kyra and relates most things to Kyra instead of just providing a book about dog behavior.
If you are believe in “balanced” training and feel that you would like to use aversives as well as positive reinforcers, then this book is reasonably well written. However, for those in the Operant Conditioning school of thought, this book is a rather frustrating read and could easily be skipped. For, while it does do a reasonable job of explaining Operant Conditioning and reinforcers, it quickly devolves into corrections and dominance. I would personally recommend against reading this book or following it’s advice.