Cheryl May Looks at Books

Welcome to my books page. Here are recommendations and reviews of books about the many aspects of living with dogs: behavior, feeding, training, competitive obedience, agility and tracking. If I read it and have an opinion, I'll share it with you here. At the bottom of the page I've included a list of the books I recommend. As I have time, I will post reviews about most of them.

Books on feeding a home prepared diet

These are the books I use and rely upon to safely feed my dogs a home prepared diet. More on this topic.

HOME PREPARED DOG & CAT DIETS by Donald R. Strombeck, DVM, PhD. Dr. Strombeck advocates cooking the food, and although I believe that probably is the safest thing to do, I feed raw for convenience. My dogs have done very well on this, and I've been feeding this way for about two years. I follow Strombeck's guidelines on diet, to be sure I am feeding a balanced diet.

An easy way to get started with a raw diet is with a charming little book by Carina Beth MacDonald, RAW DOG FOOD: MAKE IT EASY FOR YOU AND YOUR DOG. The author also moderates a Yahoo!Groups e-mail list, Barf-lite, where the members assist people getting started with a raw diet.

When I decided to switch from commercial dog food to a homemade diet, I read everything I could get my hands on. I read Lonsdale's Raw Meaty Bones" and the classic Give Your Dog a Bone" by Billinghurst. After a lot of research I concluded that these diets were not what I wanted to use for my own dogs. Because your conclusions may be different from mine, I've included these books for your consideration.

Book reviews

  • "Aggression in Dogs: Practical Management, Prevention & Behaviour Modification" by Brenda Aloff. Available from Dogwise.

  • "The Culture Clash" by Jean Donaldson. Available from Dogwise.

  • "Fear No More: Competing with Confidence" by Barbara Cecil and Gerianne Darnell. Available from Dogwise.

  • How to be the Leader of the Pack ... and have your dog love you for it by Patricia McConnell, Ph.D. Available at and Dogwise.

  • The New Work Of Dogs: Tending To Life, Love, And Family by Jon Katz. Available at Dogwise Review by Pat Scott

  • The Complete Idiot's Guide to Getting and Owning a Dog by Sheila Webster Boneham, Ph.D. Available at

  • 50 Simple Ways to Pamper Your Dog and 50 Simple Ways to Pamper Your Cat by Arden Moore. $9.95 on

  • Real Food for Dogs: 50 Vet-Approved Recipes to Please the Canine Gastronome by Arden Moore, and Real Food for Cats: 50 Vet-Approved Recipes to Please the Feline Gastronome by Patti Delmonte, both illustrated by Anne Davis. List Price: $12.95 U.S.; $10.36 on
  • Puppy Owner's Manual -- Solutions to all your puppy problems in an easy-to-follow question & answer format by Diana Delmar. List Price: $12.95 U.S.; $10.36 on

    These are books I recommend. Reviews of many will be posted in the future.

    Basic training
    How To Behave So Your Dog Behaves by Dr. Sophia Yin, veterinarian. This is my new favorite book to recommend to new puppy and dog owners to assist with teaching basic home behavior. Dr. Yin also has a Web site with videos. Her site is a wonderful resource for trainers who want to use operant and classical conditioning to solve their pet's behavior problems. Dr. Yin has posted many excellent articles, but the best part of her Web site is the video section where you can watch training problems being solved. Available from Dogwise.

    "Building Blocks for Performance: Give Your Puppy a Head Start for Competition" by Bobbie Anderson. You don't need to be interested in competition to like this book. It includes great suggestions on basic training for puppies and newly-acquired adult dogs. Will help trainers bond strongly with their puppy, build a solid foundation of teamwork, and encourage the puppy to develop a "send me in, coach!" attitude. Available from Dogwise.

    "Simply Living with your Dog" by Dawn Jecs. The basic obedience program that Jecs teaches her students before they begin their competition "Choose to Heel" work. I use this book in my basic obedience classes and recommend it highly. Very good resource. Available from Dogwise.

    (everyone needs non-confrontational methods of leadership)
    "How to be the Leader of the Pack" by Patricia McConnell. (See review above.) Available from Dogwise.

    "Take the Lead: Alphabetize Yourself" by Terry Ryan. Another inexpensive booklet with how-to information on leadership. Available from Dogwise.

    Solving behavior problems in dogs
    "Cautious Canine" by Patricia McConnell. How to help dogs conquer their fears with desensitization and counter conditioning. Step by step method can be used for any problem behavior that is motivated by fear. Available from Dogwise.

    "I'll Be Home Soon" (for separation anxiety) by Patricia McConnell. Includes techniques for solving separation anxiety. Note: if your dog sleeps anywhere other than your bedroom, it doesn't suffer from separation anxiety. Available from Dogwise.

    "New Better Behavior in Dogs" by William E. Campbell. Good reference for solving behavior problems. Available from Dogwise.

    "Mine! A Guide To Resource Guarding In Dogs" by Jean Donaldson. This is a how-to guide on resource guarding/aggression - food bowl, object, bed, crate, owner, etc., in dogs. Jean also wrote "The Culture Clash," one of my favorite books. Available from Dogwise.

    "Aggression in Dogs: Practical Management, Prevention & Behaviour Modification" by Brenda Aloff. For anyone who wants to know more about aggression or dog behavior. Learn how to avoid common mistakes that may promote aggression, build trust using positive reinforcement, and prepare for a long-term regimen to keep your dog safe. Available from Dogwise.

    Better understanding our dogs
    "The Culture Clash: A Revolutionary New Way Of Understanding The Relationship Between Humans And Domestic Dogs" by Jean Donaldson. This is one of my favorite books. Wonderful advice for behavior and training, but its greatest strength is helping us understand canines. (See review above.) Available from Dogwise.

    "On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals" by Turid Rugaas Understanding of the dog's body language, especially signals used to maintain the social hierarchy and to resolve conflict within the pack. Available from Dogwise. Rugaas also has a video on Calming Signals.

    "Don't Shoot The Dog" by Karen Pryor. This is the classic book on operant conditioning. A definite must-read. Uses behavioral training on people, dogs and other animals to make changes, end undesirable behavior. Available from Dogwise.

    "How Dogs Learn" by Mary Burch & Jon Bailey. Discusses learning methods and what works (and what doesn't) in training. Mary Burch is AKC's director of the Canine Good Citizen program and was instrumental in starting the CGC program. Available from Dogwise.

    "The Other End Of The Leash: Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs" by Patricia McConnell. Review coming soon! Excellent discussion of the differences in perception and preferences between people and their dogs. Wonderful book. Available from Dogwise.

    Competition obedience
    "Choose To Heel" by Dawn Jecs. Dawn's innovative training program for competitive obedience, with emphasis on novice exercises, taught off-leash, proofing from the very start, and using positive reinforcement. This is the next book to buy after "Simply Living." This is the training method I use with my own dogs and I have found it enjoyable, fun and successful. Available from Dogwise.

    "Competitive Obedience for the Small Dog" by Barbara Cecil & Gerianne Darnell. Both authors have multiple OTCH titles on papillons. This book is unique, in that when the authors have a different viewpoint, they both share their thoughts. I've used the information in this book to train all size dogs. Their chart on when to train which behaviors/exercises is especially helpful. Also included are special techniques for those training small dogs in competitive obedience! Covers novice through utility. Available from Dogwise.

    "Competition Obedience: A Balancing Act" by Adele Yunck and the late Judy Byron. Excellent training manual for all levels of competitive obedience with a balanced approach using positives and negatives. Available from Dogwise.

    "Positively Fetching: Teaching the obedience retrieves using food" This video, by Adele Yunck and the late Judy Byron, shows how to shape a retrieve. With some dogs a correction is necessary to communicate the concept of "must." For other dogs, the shaping is plenty. For all dogs, it is a kind and fair way to teach retrieve. By the time the handler has taught the program, the dog will understand why it is being corrected. A wonderful alternative to the forced retrieve. I've taught three dogs of two breeds to retrieve using this video. It comes with a helpful 45 page booklet. Available from Dogwise.

    "Jumping from A to Z" by M. Christine Zink, DVM, and Julie Daniels. Excellent jumping program to teach your dog correct jumping technique Available from Dogwise.

    I use and recommend the Simmons-Moake books and videos.
    Excelling At Dog Agility: Book 1, Obstacle Training" by Jane Simmons-Moake. Step by step instructions for training your dog to master each agility obstacle with safety, fun and competitive excellence in mind. Available from Dogwise.

    "Competitive Agility Training: Obstacles Video" by Jane Simmons-Moake. Illustrates how to teach your dog to negotiate each of the competition obstacles safely and efficiently, with competitive excellence in mind. Available from Dogwise.

    "Excelling At Dog Agility, Book 2: Sequence Training" by Jane Simmons-Moake. Follows Excelling at Dog Agility, Book 1, teaches how to sequence smoothly from one obstacle to the next, and how to develop a consistent set of cues for communicating with the dog on course. Available from Dogwise.

    "Competitive Agility Training: Sequence Training Video" by Jane Simmons-Moake. Shows how to sequence smoothly from one obstacle to the next, allowing you to reach your dog's highest potential for speed and accuracy. Available from Dogwise.

    "Excelling At Dog Agility: Book 3, Advanced Skills Training" by Jane Simmons-Moake. Illustrates how to isolate and train many of the higher-level skills necessary to successfully compete at the most advanced levels of competition. Available from Dogwise.

    "Competitive Agility Training: Advanced Skills Video" by Jane Simmons-Moake. Shows how to isolate and train many of the skills necessary to successfully compete at the most advanced levels of competition. Available from Dogwise.

    "Agility Training: Fun Sport For All Dogs" by Jane Simmons-Moake Her newest book. My review of this book appeared in Clean Run magazine. Available from Dogwise.

    Do-It-Yourself Agility Equipment. Jim Hutchins has developed detailed construction plans for making 27 different agility obstacles. His table design alone is worth the price of the book. Each of his plans is very easy to read and understand, and there are lots of illustrations to show how to construct each obstacle.

    More Books on Agility and Flyball

    Because agility competition changes so rapidly, I recommend subscribing to Clean Run magazine.

    Dogwise, All Things Dog!

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