Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Books of the Month

My first pick for Book of the Month for June is "Building Blocks for Performance" by Bobbie Anderson. This actually is a book that my obedience instructor let me borrow. We talk off and on about puppies and my goal for the next puppy that we get and how to basically go about that from day one. She recommended that I read this book to help me get a clearer picture in my mind of what I'll want to do.

I will definitely be getting my own copy of the book. It's full of great ideas on how to make learning fun for the dog and how to make yourself the center of all things good. These are things that may sound incredibly easy, but until you actually start training for it, you don't realize how much effort goes into them. By starting out on the right foot and getting your dog to think that the obedience exercises (obedience is the primary example, but the author does give reference to how these exercises can carry over into other dog sports) are positively reinforcing and getting to do them with you is the best thing in the world. Who doesn't want a competition dog who steps into the ring and has not only that extra happy sparkle, but chooses to focus on nothing else besides you???

I thought that all the games and methods of teaching behaviors were all very clear and seemed easy to implement. I say seemed because I don't have a puppy that I'm currently trying this out with. Though I have implemented some of the play in with my dogs in the hopes that I can build the exercises up enough that I get less stressed dogs in the ring. It's a great reference book to have around to remind you of how to approach things and what you can do to amp up your training. It's also just a plain enjoyable book to read! I recommend it for anyone planning on getting a performance prospect that they want to start out right from the start.

My great dane related pick for Book of the Month for June is "The Great Dane" by Frederick Becker. This is definitely one of those books that's more interesting points are how very different things are viewed now as opposed to how they were viewed in the early 1900's. It's really more of an entertaining book than a reference manual.

There are statements at the very beginning of the book remarking that due to the often vicious nature of the breed, it's important to instill obedience in each dog. Okay, that's understandable and can be said for a lot of breeds. However, the method of "education" apparently involved a wip. No further detail was given, just that it was a method to educate great danes on how to respect and obey their masters. Yikes!

Even the standard in the early 1900's in England included a statement warning against a "vicious" nature. "He is easily controlled when well trained, but he may grow savage if confined too much, kept on chain or ill treated." Yes, that statement was in the breed standard!

There are a few illustrations in the book that are meant to help explain points of conformation, but unfortunately they fall a bit flat of that. There are two head studies that are supposed to be depicting an incorrect head and a correct head. The only difference that I can really see between the two heads are where the lines are drawn on them. Otherwise they look totally alike!

And finally, it's very entertaining to hear the author's philosophy on the physical and character differences between the colors. Especially around the conformation ring you will hear many breeders and exhibitors talk about this or that characteristic that's attributable to which ever color. For instance, harl people are crazy. Er, I mean, harlequins are rambunctious and vocal on average compared to the other colors.:0) In the book, the author noted that blues were on average throatier than the other colors; having an excessive amount of neck skin. I would chalk that up to individual variance or maybe a characteristic of a line more so than a color, but there are a lot of assumptions similar to this that are included.

All-in-all it was an entertaining read. I don't see it as a book that a great dane person couldn't live without.

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