During my five, post-retirement years as a shelter volunteer, I've accumulated over six shelf-feet of dog books, most relating to behavior and training. Many were skimmed and forgotten; others required several readings to achieve maximum effect; some I kept only as examples of what I have come to consider bad practice.
In contrast, OTTWD produced an immediate "Ah ha!" reaction, and I reread it occasionally as much to renew the sense of inspiration as to glean more information from its scant pages. (As other reviewers have pointed out, there are other, far more exhaustive treatments of the vocabulary of dogs -- such as those by Roger Abrantes and Stanley Coren.)
I had barely finished reading the author's first, rather sketchy, case-study (which describes the role of her dog, Vesla, in communicating with the client's dog -- a recurring theme throughout) when I started to think about a pair of Border Collie mixes, Amelia and Cinder, at our shelter.
They are as close to feral as any dogs I've ever been around. We suspect they grew up from puppies as junkyard dogs. Among the dozens of our all-volunteer staff who have tried to befriend them, only three of the most empathetic, female volunteers have progressed to the point where they can leash them for a walk. Amelia and Cinder always responded to me by barking and retreating, even though I already knew to avoid assertive body posture, eye contact, use of my deep, male voice, etc. I eventually quit trying to connect with them.
The possibility that Ms. Rugaas opened for me was to use another dog as an intermediary. I decided to enlist the services of Mercedes, a young, high-strung, female Pit Bull that I was already teaching basic obedience. She will do anything she can understand to earn a quarter-inch cube of doggie salami.
After Mercedes had learned the "down" command, both by hand signal and verbally, we began practicing it closer and closer to Amelia and Cinder's run. At first they barked constantly whenever Mercedes and I were within sight. However, after daily repetitions over a few weeks, "the girls", as I call them, would stop barking and posturing within a second after Mercedes would lie down. After a few minutes of calm, sometimes the girls too would lie down -- often at a closer distance to me than they had ever approached when I was alone. I rewarded their calm by flipping tiny treats into their run.
Within a few weeks I was able to approach the girls without Mercedes, enter their run and feed them by hand. Although they still approach me with great caution, I am now able to touch each of them around the muzzle.
I don't know where my efforts will lead. I do know that what little progress I have made would not have been possible, were it not for the breakthrough I achieved with help from Mercedes -- and Turid Rugaas.