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Teaching the Dog to Think: My Year of Dog Agility Training with My Collie, Willow [Paperback]

Kimberly Davis

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Book Description

Dec 20 2011
TEACHING THE DOG TO THINK is Kimberly Davis' engaging memoir about her crash introduction to the sport of dog agility-with its jumps, tunnels, balance beams and weave poles. An award-winning poet and blogger, Davis vividly describes her frustrations trying to get her dog to "mind." We then watch as her first steely-eyed agility coach shames her into giving up choke collars and scruff shakes in favor of the "positive" training methods used by agility instructors. Davis' breezy, often humorous account shows how these new techniques allow her to communicate with the "alien" mind of a dog. Also how they transform her unruly yearling collie, Willow, into a loyal, hardworking teammate. Davis ultimately carries the lessons she has mastered in dog training class into other areas of her life, particularly into parenting and teaching creative writing. In the end, this memoir becomes a soul-searching exploration of how to get others to do what we want without bullying or cruelty-by using our heads and forcing ourselves to be a little smarter. A subtly subversive book about dealing responsibly with those less powerful than ourselves, Teaching The Dog To Think speaks not only to dog lovers, but also to anyone who has ever felt helpless, angry, or frustrated as a parent, teacher or pet owner. "You MUST read this book if you have children or pets, and want to change their behavior without coercion!"--Richard McManus, Founder and President, The Fluency Factory "An interesting story of how switching to clicker training vastly improved one agility fan's dog and also changed her own approach to family life."--Karen Pryor, author of Don't Shoot the Dog and Reaching the Animal Mind "A wonderful entry point for anyone learning about these important new methods for teaching skills and enhancing creativity."--Catherine S. Mayes, Independent Autism Advocate and Autism Project Advocate, Massachusetts Advocates for Children

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 233 pages
  • Publisher: Climbing Ivy Press (Dec 20 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0983449201
  • ISBN-13: 978-0983449201
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 13.3 x 1.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 318 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,515,517 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Kimberly Davis is an award-winning poet and the author of Kim's Craft Blog, a blog about creative writing craft and the writing life. Her work has appeared in many fine literary journals. She is the author of the poetry chapbook Alchemies of Loss, and of the memoir Teaching the Dog to Think, about her crash introduction to dog agility. Davis was the winner of the 2009-2010 James Wright Poetry Award. For more information about author Kimberly Davis, visit her website at: http://kimberlysdavis.com/.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  38 reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book about dogs, dog training, personal growth and love Feb. 20 2012
By ursula wong - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a beautifully written story about a collie named Willow and his handler, author and teacher Kim Davis, during a year of change. The story begins with Willow attending an agility training class, where he learns to navigate obstacles such as walking on an elevated plank. This type of obedience training rewards desired behavior as opposed to older methods that advocate controlling the dog with for example, a pull to the choke collar.
Kim discusses the reward method in detail as Willow becomes a more responsive and obedient dog. She comes to understand how and why the technique works and she applies its principles to her own life. She gives her son time for a favorite hobby when he finishes homework as opposed to demanding it be done now, as many of us parents do. She applies the technique to her creative writing students by singling out good writing and having them "do more of this", in order to coax new levels of accomplishment.
The story is funny, heartwarming, and thought provoking. It winds along many surprising and pleasurable paths. It offers information we can use in our own lives to become more thoughtful people. Read the book and take a walk with Kim along the road of self-discovery, through the woods of south coastal Massachusetts, the scent of the sea in the air, with Willow running ahead but looking back for guidance on which way to turn.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Really liked this book June 17 2012
By Cat Lady - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book and I don't even have a dog. I started reading it because the subject was intriguing. I do believe that animals have their own intelligence and that we can communicate with them. I loved the emphasis on reward/positive reinforcement and it confirmed my teacher husband's talk about this. Unlike a few readers, I found the author's admissions of problems dealing with control issues and the need to excel rather informative, and I think her brave to admit them. And I particularly enjoyed how she used rewards with her son. All in all Definitely worth a read.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful about dogs and people! Jan. 21 2012
By Daniel M. Jaffe - Published on Amazon.com
This book is certainly an enjoyable and well-written read about the relationship between human and canine. But it's more than that, too--it's also a thought-provoking examination of relationships in general, how to coax the best from others while being true to self.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Descriptions of Dog Training Techniques Aug. 1 2012
By Linda F. Kurtz - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I liked this book so much. I have been through the process of training a dog for a sport and I could identify with all of the writer's experiences in her agility classes. Her information on historic dog training covered ground I had read before, but she left little out and I learned more than I thought. The description of clicker training almost made me want to go back and try again. I had never learned the proper way to do it. The struggle with Willow's health problems was suspenseful and interesting. This book is beautifully written and I highly recommend it.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Changed my training style.. May 1 2012
By Joe Fisher - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I borrowed this book for my kindle (I'm an amazon prime member) I was just browsing for "dog training books", this came up. I thought Hmmm, sounds interesting.

It is no exaggeration to say that I changed my style of teaching my dogs! After reading this book cover to cover, I did clicker training with my young dog. First thing I did was "down." She's had a decent down, but I've always had to stoop down and lure her with a treat.

*5* minutes and she was dropping down when I asked for it.

the one thing that was kind of odd was when she was training willow for the dogwalk in agility. Her trainer had her luring Willow onto the "plank" I was wondering why bother? Just use shaping?

Joe Fisher
Kalispell, MT

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