On Talking Terms With Dogs: Calming Signals by Turid Rugaas

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On Talking Terms With Dogs: Calming Signals by Turid Rugaas

Category: Pets
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Ground-breaking information which will help you to understand and communicate with your dog is let down by the editing of the book.
Buy? No Borrow? Yes
Pages: 82 Date: November 2005
Publisher: Qanuk UK Ltd
ISBN: 978-0954803216

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I've long been aware that my two Rhodesian Ridgebacks can communicate with each other in ways far more subtle than any human being can muster. A glance, a tilt of the head or a flick of the tongue and the message is received and understood. Our older dog is known as Rosie Glare. I don't know what the facial expression does to the younger dog, but it certainly puts me in my place.

Turid Rugaas has observed canine interaction and this book is a ground-breaking study of the social language used by dogs. Despite having owned dogs for decades much of the detail was completely new to me. I've now discovered a way of calming my younger dog with a quick flick of the tongue and my older dog yawns when she's uncomfortable in any situation. I know a lot more about the way in which dogs approach each other and how they signal their thoughts with a turn of the head. It's wonderful, thought-provoking stuff and I can spend time just watching how dogs interact. It's as though I've suddenly mastered a foreign language.

My older dog has been ill recently and I knew that something was brewing simply because of the way in which the younger dog was reacting to her, but that seemed too nebulous to tell the vet. I now know that I was right and I wouldn't be worried about using what I know in future.

So, why am I not raving about the book? Unfortunately there are quite a few reasons. Firstly Turid is not a native English speaker and sometimes the phraseology didn't seem entirely natural, but that's a relatively minor quibble and the problem wasn't insurmountable. Slightly more important is the way in which the photographs are described. Many of the breeds of dogs are common in Scandinavia but less common elsewhere, so when I'm told that Taku the Malamute wants to play… I'm immediately unsure of exactly what I'm looking for. Similarly, dogs are sometimes referred to by their given names. I'd have been far happier if I'd been faced with the dog on the left or Vesla, on the right…

The pictures are of variable quality and I wasn't always certain that they illustrated what they were said to illustrate. One dog intervenes in a potentially threatening situation… left me uncertain of who was intervening and when an unknown dog dashes up to Turid I would like to have seen enough of the unknown dog to know that was the situation.

Those points are quibbles though – and I do know it. But for a book with superb build quality the contents seemed to have been thrown together without a lot of care or thought. There's a foreword by Terry Ryan and I'd like to have known who s/he is without having to resort to Google. I suspect that it's Mrs Terry Ryan of Legacy Canine Behavior and Training, but I'm only guessing. In a section headed Foreword by Terry Ryan in which the final paragraph is entitled Terry Ryan: (so who was writing before?) and then goes on to summarise much of what has been said in the four preceding paragraphs, surely a little space could have been found to explain her presence?

I was really looking forward to reading this book - I'd just read Turid's book on how to stop a dog pulling on a lead and been very impressed. There's information in this book which should be fascinating to any owner who is serious about the health and welfare of their dog, but it's let down by the book itself. I'd love the publishers to edit the book to make it more readable and to look carefully at the photographs and captions. Then – and only then – I'd like everyone who has anything to do with dogs to read it.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Communication between dogs and humans is possible and if the subject interests you have a look at The Dog Listener by Jan Fennell and The Dog Whisperer by Graeme Sims.

Buy On Talking Terms With Dogs: Calming Signals by Turid Rugaas at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy On Talking Terms With Dogs: Calming Signals by Turid Rugaas at Amazon.co.uk.

Buy On Talking Terms With Dogs: Calming Signals by Turid Rugaas at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy On Talking Terms With Dogs: Calming Signals by Turid Rugaas at Amazon.com.


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