Dog Training Revolution: The Complete Guide To Raising The Perfect Pet With Love
George, Zak Roth Port, Dina Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution New York, Ten Speed Press, 2016, 240 pp. $14.99
Earn your dogs respect rather than demand it and you will have a meaningful bond built on communication, trust, love and understanding, so says Zak George in his book Dog Training Revolution.
Zak George has starred in Animal Planet’s SuperFetch and BBC’s Who Let the Dogs Out. His YouTube channel, Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution, is the number one destination for dog training video content in the world.
Zak’s goal is to raise the standards in the dog-training industry as he advocates for the latest in scientific understanding of dog behavior while balancing this approach with twenty-first century ethics.
He writes this book in response to the ever growing debate in the dog training industry between employing traditional methods of dog training which rely heavily on dominance theory (often meaning punishment-based training) or using positive reinforcement training to raise dogs.
“People are told to use force and intimidation to teach their dogs to be submissive. This has always bothered me, not just because it can be very unpleasant for the dog, but also because it focuses on making dogs act a certain way rather than encouraging them to want to do so.”
In his new book, Zak introduces dog owners to a different way of raising their pet. A strong proponent of positive reinforcement training he discusses choosing the right dog and how to properly care for them, all the way through debunking dog training myths and lastly to basic training, tricks and troubleshooting common behavior issues with his key principles.
Zak presses his point to his readers in his book by presenting an overwhelm of up to date research that doesn’t go back further than 1996. Here are just some of the evidence of support he provides. One is that the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and other professionals have come out against dominance theory (4). Another is that traditional trainers are basing their philosophy on an archaic understanding of wolf behavior that has been discredited by researchers such as L. David Mech who study wolves extensively (73). Lastly, if you have a dog with aggression issues studies have shown that using forceful methods will likely make the behaviors worse (75).
In Zak George’s Complete Guide he covers all the basics without going too textbook deep, provides helpful tips and is never judgmental towards the reader when addressing training techniques. I really appreciated that he addressed one of my favorite topics which is Socialization and Vaccinations. And true to form provided two credible sources for the information provided in that section.
I would have enjoyed more personal stories from Zak as well as actual testimonials within the book. Understandably, Zak makes several appeals to his audience to think about their children or to think back when they were children so as to relate more accurately to their dog’s experience of being taught. The weakness in that presentation is that people who already use force, fear or intimidation to raise their kids may not be able to relate to Zak’s plea for humanity in that sense. I do have to say any dominance theory believer would be hard pressed to change their outlook on training after reading this book. Including at least one cross-over trainer’s perspective would have been useful to further Zak’s goal in writing this book.
Zak’s audience may already take pointers from his youtube videos but his new book details the entire guidelines for training. It covers the nitty gritty Zak can’t put in a video and presents the information in a well organized and actionable manner. Easy to read for the dog enthusiast without technical terminology.
“..it will teach you not only the most humane training techniques but also the most effective. It also takes in account that all dogs are different and will show you how to teach your dog.”