The Dog Listener by Jan Fennell

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The Dog Listener by Jan Fennell

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Category: Pets
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: It's not quick-fix dog training but a way of life that you have to adopt with your dog. If you do, you'll both have a happier and more rewarding life. The book is simply written and easy to read. Recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 192 Date: October 2002
Publisher: HarperCollins Entertainment
ISBN: 0006532365

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Hi, my name's Luce, and I'm a German Shepherd Cross. I've kept humans before - my last owner was a right non-animal, and should have been put down, but I'll not go into all that. This time I've got two, a male and a female. They're a little old to breed from, but I'm not sorry, as babies are a lot of trouble, and then it's heartbreak when you've got to part with them.

I just want to warn all you dogs that "The Dog Listener" by Jan Fennell should not be allowed in the house, as it tells humans things that they should not know and it tells them it in language that they can understand.

I'm sure that you'll have noticed that they're not very intelligent - no dog would sit in front of a PC all day, and then watch television all evening to relax, so really it's essential that an intelligent dog takes charge. I took over as pack leader here five years ago and I'd got things licked into shape. Two years ago I was joined by my assistant, Rosie, who's a Rhodesian Ridgeback. We had a good routine - first thing in the morning we'd take the female human out for a walk, towing her down the road like flotsam and then running her ragged as she tried to control us in the park. I do feel it's so important to make certain your human gets plenty of quality exercise: just walking is not enough if you want to avoid all those dreadful visits to the Doctor later on and there's nothing more shameful to a dog than having a fat human, is there? After the walk we'd have our breakfast, and when we'd had enough the humans could eat. The day would be quite exciting. Any visitors to the house had to be barked at and generally made unwelcome, and when we weren't doing that we'd sleep on the most comfortable chairs until we took the male human out for his walk in the evening. He was harder to tow along, being a bit heavier, but a lot easier to get running about over the fields and then it was back home so they could get our dinner ready.

I'm sure you're all thinking that this is how any self-respecting pack leader lives, and you'd be right. It was all ruined when she brought THAT BOOK into the house. It's a very simple idea, but not one that most humans would work out for themselves. If a human acts like a pack leader his dogs will treat him like one! The book has even got a forward by Monty Roberts, the horse whisperer, backing up what this woman says.

Just in case you don't spot the book, I'd better brief you on the signs to watch out for:

1. Now obviously you'll have got your humans trained so that they respond to you. You'll know the obvious things like jumping up at them when they come into the house, or fussing round them when they come into a room. The first thing that you'll notice is that they simply ignore you until you sit down and are quiet! At first you think you'll be able to break them, but if they persist, it's very difficult to deal with. Once you've been quiet for five minutes they give you some attention. They rely on you catching on to the idea that it's no use fussing around - you might as well just sit quietly and get the five minutes over with. They tell visitors to the house to do the same thing, and if they don't we're simply put in another room! The book's got clear step-by-step instructions and it's so simple even a human can follow it.

2. The next thing you'll notice is that you don't eat first! Well, the first time this happened I was shocked! They sat and ate their meal, and Rosie and I just had to wait! I can tell you're horrified. I figured out that we'd cure this problem when they had to feed us before they went out to dinner, but they made this big fuss about picking something up and eating it before our bowls were served to us. You really feel put in your place when that happens, I can tell you. The book even gives examples of how this has affected different dogs.

3. When you go out for a walk you won't be allowed to go out of the house first to ensure that there's no danger to the pack! The human will go out first! You will not be allowed to walk in front of them. Eventually you reach the stage where you know that the only way to get anywhere is to walk quietly at heel!

4. Remember those days when they chased you round the park? Well, they'll be over. The first time Rosie and I tried it, she just walked away, and we had no option but to follow. All our friends were laughing at us, but there was quite simply nothing else that we could do. The worst thing was that I actually felt relieved that I didn't have to be in charge, but I'm sure that I'll get over that when I'm back in control.

I'm sure that you'll be realizing the dangers of this book by now, but I've got to warn you that it also goes into all those little control mechanisms that we've developed, such as separation anxiety, car chasing, those little gifts that we sometimes leave around the house - you name it - it's all there. It's clearly set out with reassuring examples and it can only give humans a confidence they shouldn't be allowed to have. Frankly it's infuriating, after all these years of evolution, for a human to put all this into print for other humans to read. I can only think that some traitor dog has been selling our secrets.

I've had a peep at the pictures. They're a little self-indulgent, but then I've never been very fond of photos of other dogs' humans, have you? I can only stress that you should not allow this book into the house or your lives will never be the same again.

I shall have to go. I'm being called.

Booklists.jpg The Dog Listener by Jan Fennell is in the Top Ten Books For Dog Lovers.
Buy The Dog Listener by Jan Fennell at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Dog Listener by Jan Fennell at

Buy The Dog Listener by Jan Fennell at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Dog Listener by Jan Fennell at


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