Videos and DVDs for new dog owners – what do you like?

Please DON’T stop commenting on the leasing post, because I am definitely still looking for information, but I want to help Bethany out.

Hi Joanna, this is off topic, but i am wondering if you have any good videos you could recommend to a future (pet) dog owner (that would be me. :) ) I suddenly have a lot of time on my hands due to a back injury. Thanks! ~B

First of all, OUCH! I am so sorry.

Second, I am going to ask the Internets to help with this one because I know a few but I do NOT know all.

The one that I have watched that’s a sort of a Puppy Kindergarten in a box is Jean Donaldson’s Perfect Paws in Five Days. It’s the stupidest name ever because it is NOT five days. It’s more like five or six weeks. But I guess they wanted to say that the five days equals the five puppy kindergarten meetings that you attend with your puppy (the first one is usually just you). Anyway, a good introduction to teaching basic puppy manners.

I like Sirius Puppy Training Redux by Ian Dunbar as well. Especially good is the idea of rewarding the dog and then letting it go again, so the puppy does not think that coming to you means the end of play. When a trainer told me this I noticed a huge benefit in terms of the recall obedience of my own dogs.

One note on these: Donaldson and Dunbar train in a very specific way, and the people who are passionate about that type of training will tell you that there’s NO OTHER WAY TO DO IT AND EVERYONE ELSE IS CRAZY AND ABUSIVE and a lot of other all-caps.

I totally disagree.

I think that you can be a GREAT trainer and use many different methods. Personally, I wouldn’t know how to raise a puppy without having a clear negative signal for when the dog is failing, and I do use (gentle) physical aversives. But I do use tons and tons of treats and positive methods and shaping methods for training specific behaviors. So while I love Dunbar and Donaldson’s methods for puppies and I want any puppy K class I attend to be very similar to one of their classes, I find it much more effective to train house and kid manners in more of a classical “no,” “off,” “What are you, crazy? We don’t let dogs on the counters” method.

The way I do it is not the only way or the right way for you. The important thing is for YOU to find a method or combination of methods that work to get your dog happy and stable and obedient.

So I would also recommend that you watch The Dog Whisperer, but NOT for Cesar’s corrective methods. He’s a good dog person but most people can’t do the leash corrections well. Watch it for his emphasize on exercise, for his body language, for the way the show demonstrates good dog-to-dog communication.

Also see if you can find Monks of New Skete books and DVDs; again what you’re looking for is those aspects of the method that you can see working for you. If you say “Oh, yes, I totally understand that and of course it works,” that’s something you can probably implement in your own life pretty well.

The only trainer in public view I really can’t stand is Victoria Stillwell (It’s Me or the Dog). WOW. She’s the kind of trainer who gets dogs euthanized. I’m watching her “assess” a big bully-breed puppy right and she’s freaking out because the dog has chewed on stuff, and she’s talking about how a dog who chews on furniture is going to bite people. That is nonsensical, wrong, and completely idiotic. It’s like saying that a baby who breastfeeds is going to grow up to suck people’s brains. TOTALLY different instinct and totally different needs. The puppy is just critically underexercised, needs appropriate chew toys, and needs somebody to tell him what he should do. She’s also HUGELY anti-breeding, talks about a desire to breed dogs as though the owner has basically announced that she’s going to go out and knife someone, and blames every problem on an intact dog’s testicles. I could go on and on (she’s anti-crating, she can’t read dog body language for beans) but suffice it to say that I start yelling at the screen every time I watch the show.

Moving away from training, Turid Rugaas’s DVD on dog calming signals is amazing. I know that there’s some controversy in the highest circles of dog behavior as to whether what she’s capturing is a deliberate signal or not, and a few other nit-picky things, but the fact is that she TOTALLY changed the way we look at dog behavior and she absolutely changed my life with dogs.

Rugaas helps us correct this:


It’s a huge moment when you realize that dogs have been talking ALL ALONG, have a rich and deep language and are having “conversations” ALL THE TIME, with us and with other dogs. We’ve just been too oriented on verbalizing or on our own primate-oriented behaviors to notice.

My final recommendation is a program that Animal Planet sometimes shows, called Wolf Within. If you have TiVo or a DVR, search for it periodically; it’s a good one.

OK! That’s my little list of recommendations for new owners; I own more that’s what you’d call “advanced,” but I never had tons of titles. I am hoping LOTS more recommendations come in so I can build my library as well.


7 thoughts on “Videos and DVDs for new dog owners – what do you like?

  1. Thank you for the quick reply! Good to have an idea of where to start. I have been going through all of the seasons of Dog Whisperer via Netflix–amazing (I think my husband is a bit bummed that I keep declaring “I love Cesar!” Heh heh) & I’m just bummed that I’m at the last season. 😛

  2. I also like the Monks of New Skete books.
    Any comments on clicker-training? I’ve never tried it or seen it done although I know its been around for awhile. Just curious.

  3. comes with a 90 minute DVD that looks REALLY interesting. I quite like Aloff, and would be interested in seeing what it’s about, but I’ve not had the available cash for it yet.

    I’ve not seen the videos of these either — — but I got to see McConnell in person, and she is the most amazing, phenomenal teacher and trainer that I’ve seen in a long time. Extremely good with dogs, and not only that but a really fun, entertaining speaker.

  4. It’s like saying that a baby who breastfeeds is going to grow up to suck people’s brains.

    BWAH! hahahhahaha. I just laughed for five minutes straight. As a puppy newbie, I like Dunbar’s books so far. He’s pretty straight forward and he makes a lot of sense.

  5. I highly recommend “The power of training with markers” by Leerburg ( )

    “The language of dogs” by Sarah Kaljnas is a great video of dog body language.

    I agree that anything with Dunbar and Donaldson will be great.

    I just got Patricia McConnells “Feeling outnumbered?” about managing a multi dog household but haven’t yet watched it.

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