Time for a short story about the happy convergence of need and utility. As the owner of a perpetually puppy-ish old English Bulldog, I saw the early need for some training as soon as my furry baby came home. While I’ve had several big dogs, this would be the first that spent a majority of her time indoors (partially because of the extensive work schedule in my household, and partially because of the elemental intolerances of the breed- heavyset, short snouted breeds don’t take well to Florida’s summer temperatures). I opted for some professional help via our local PetSmart, and was very happy with the results (kudos to our trainer Katie; she taught me as much about how to communicate effectively as she did my pup). Emma excelled in her training, as we were merrily on our way.
As time passed little Emma became not-so-little Emma (finally stopping at 70 lbs!) and while she still remembers important aspects of her training like sit and wait, some things have been lost due to a lack of repetition on my part. Rather than return for some additional one-on-one training at PetSmart I opted to explore the power of my iOS devices. After a quick read and a recommendation from a pet-centered blog I downloaded Positively Dog Training: The Better Path to a Well-Behaved Pup. While I had originally thought the only option was to explore the various digital bookstores I had access to (primarily iBooks and the Amazon Kindle library), the concept of a book-as-an-app was more appealing. Positively Dog Training could easily have been presented in regular ebook format, but the layout and interface freedom that the Betterbook app format from Open Air Publishing offered made it much more attractive as an effective tool.
The difference is immediately evident. Rather than the typical ebook layout, the app presents an illustrated and annotated chapters accessed via a single icon tap. Selecting a chapter revealed a second column to the right further breaking down the contents of that chapter. The app makes the information a more visually engaging experience, and the writing style coupled with the presentation makes what could have been dry and hard to absorb material a great deal more accessible. The book itself is cleverly and humorously segmented in an appropriately doggy theme starting with the nose, then head, body, and tail; all corresponding to different aspects of training. The actual content of the material is in a very similar format to the professional training we had received at PetSmart; positive, reward-centered training that encourages desired behavior rather than punishing the unwanted. Anecdotally, I can affirm that this is not only a more successful means of training it’s the only method I, as a devout animal lover, could endorse. While I chose Positively Dog Training as a reference guide and reinforcement for what I and Emma had already learned, for some it could serve as a primary resource. It is intelligently and concisely written, covering not only the basics of training but building the necessary foundation for long term success, tools, and advice on how to go forward. Of particular use was the chapter on addressing common roadblocks like jumping (not a good idea when your overenthusiastic pup is built like a cinderblock) and door dashing (she doesn’t hate the Fed Ex man, she just really wants to greet him in her own overly-affectinate way).
Tools like Positively Dog Training aren’t a magical solution for better behavior, but they are a very valuable resource. Learning how to communicate with your pup is as much about your education as it is the dog’s, and given the right tools such as this app and the love and patience that all pet owners should have I have faith that you’ll be well on your way to a more harmonious household. Positively Dog Training is a comprehensive and well-written book masquerading in the iTunes App Store; and as an extra incentive it’s marked down to just $4.99 for the Easter Holiday.