In a Dog's Heart: A Compassionate Guide to Canine Care, from Adopting to Teaching to Bonding

In a Dog's Heart: A Compassionate Guide to Canine Care, from Adopting to Teaching to Bonding - Jennifer Arnold A Goodreads First Reads review:

This seemed to me to be a book for first time owners of dogs. I'm always curious about these books and want to see if I can glean things that I may have not thought of before. However, after reading the chapter, "Keeping Our Dogs Healthy", I would not recommend this book to a first time dog owner. I don't just sort of disagree with what was said, but disagree to an extent that it bothered me.

One of the things I disagree with is soy. She says that dogs can become vegetarian if you provide a complete protein in the diet. This is true, however she suggested soy as the substitute. Dogs cannot completely digest soy, so therefore it is not a good substitue for the protein. Second, she actually advocated synthetic preservatives. That was the huge NO to me. Ethoxyquin, a common synthetic additive and is used as a pesticide and a agent in making rubber. It is not allowed in any human foods we consume. BHA is also commonly used and is allowed in human food, however, it is currently under attack and is on a possible list of those that may be removed one day. She made the point that natural preservatives have a much shorter shelf life and that you should be aware of dates and how often the foods either sold or refreshed on the shelf. That is true, but not a reason enough for me to even consider the synthetic preservatives over natural, especially ethoxyquin.

She also suggested that the brands she listed and any others who are large dog food companies are safer than a local brand. Not sure what those local brands are since the ones I see are all big or med companies. She suggested that the big brands are safer because they manufacture the food and ingredients. This is false. Big companies buy from other companies parts of their ingredients like most packaged foods. Some of these companies they buy from are very bad. There have been recalls because some of these ingredients were manufactured in China and had rat poison (which is legal in China) traces in the ingredients. There is also a recall of some treats because of antibiotic residue which is not allowed in America, but is, again, in China. So what she claims is completely not true and the foods she recommends are ones I stay away from.

The other thing in that chapter she attacked was raw diets. It is a huge commitment to do a raw diet but it is not dangerous as she suggests. Her biggest complaint was the possibility of salmonella poisoning (I'll specifically talk about that one although it can apply to other things she said). Samonella is a consideration especially if you have small children or do not like washing your hands and dog bowls. Second, you can get that same poisoning from even dry dog kibble. There was a recent recall of dry dog food and treats because it contained salmonella. It's one of the reasons very small children are discouraged from handling/eating any dog food. So, again, her reasoning is faulty if that is her main complaint. It is false to suggest that commercial foods are extremely safe in comparison. She had suggested learning from a nutritional veterinarian about cooked home diets (I actually have consulted one about raw food diets). I think she should have done the same before writing that whole chapter.

Sorry for climbing on my soapbox. Not the forum for that, but a book review. So, let me continue on with that...
*gets off soapbox*

I also have to question her methodology she supposedly created called "Choice Teaching". It is a good methodology, but not one she created. It is basically positive reinforcement. Karen Pryor has a great website and training articles that are great for anyone wanting to learn this method of training. I do like what she says and how she trains, it's just not original. She also bashes dominance training. I don't disagree with her about that, but I could do with a little more information and less bashing is all. It wasn't her examples and then what she thought was wrong with it but how she continually bashed one particular well-known person. It was the continual bashing that got old quickly.

Now if you think I hated this book (aside from the nutrition chapter) then you are wrong. I actually loved the stories she had about the canine companions. The dogs who assist people with disabilities and how they came together. This is where the book shines. It also had a great story of one of the Vick dogs that I really enjoyed. I actually think she should have made it a book about those stories and have her positive training tips for the average dog owner. I think the book may have then made it to one of my fave dog books. However, as it is, I have to say that I have to give it 2 stars. The stars are for the stories because they are stellar. I can recommend it for those stories which are quite moving and will often put a smile on your face.