The other End of the Leash Patricia Mcconnell a Book Review

Patricia McConnell, Professor of Zoology, is an Animal Behavorist at the University of Wisconsin. She has had 13 years of teaching, researching, as well as training dogs and humans to improve communication.

McConnell shares both comical and dramatic anecdotes throughout the book; but her basic premise is: “Know that any small movement means huge changes to a dog.: It could be a life or death situation because of the way you move, breathe, or look at your dog.”

She says if the dog misinterpret the owner’s signals; even the owner could be in jeopardy. For example, some dogs feel threatened by their owner’s hugs; however, some dogs feel loved.

She goes on to say that bending forward means “Come to play.” Breaking eye contacts meaning avoiding confrontation. It is important to pay attention to your own behavior because your dog certainly is! For example, to stand erect with shoulders square versus having slumped over shoulders makes the differences. You mean business when you stand erect. Most of us understand that to be true with humans as well. Slumped shoulders, to most people, means uncertainty, worry, or fear.

McConnell shares a most dramatic anecdote where she dealt with a 200 pound aggressive dog at a workshop. This dog had a history of biting and snapping at everyone. As the dog entered the stage; she began staring at him. He then lunged at her face; however, she backed up. She said she learned from that experience; had she continued to stare or move forward; he would have grabbed her face! McConnell says what she did wrong was to stare. The dog interpreted her direct look as a threat and reacted.

McConnell disagrees with some trainers who teach owners to dominant their puppies. She says that is not the proper training method because it creates damaged animals and unsuitable pets. Many people have bought dogs who immediately begin snapping at children, or they are on the defense; these are dogs that have been damaged.

She stresses the importance of each tiny movement. It might not mean anything to you: it does to the dog and might make the difference as to whether you are “lunged at” or whether the dog sits quietly by.

She said there are endless examples of aggression that she can share; having had 13 years of dealing with aggressive dogs every week. McConnell says if you take anything from this book: “Learn the importance of each movement that you make; because this will make the difference between effective canine and human communication.”