You’ve heard of the Horse Whisperer – now meet the woman who uses similar methods to train dogs.
Jan Fennell’s remarkable gifts have earned her the nickname “the dog listener”. Her unique understanding of the canine world and its instinctive language has enabled her to bring even the most desperate and delinquent of dogs to heel.
This easy-to-follow guide to understanding Jan’s simple techniques draws on her countless case histories of problem dogs – from biters and barkers to bicycle chasers – to show how we can bridge the language barrier that separates man from his best friend.
In The Dog Listener Jan shares her secrets, telling us how she grew determined to find a more compassionate alternative to standard “obedience” training techniques and ultimately how to communicate with canines.
About the author
Jan will be appearing in the New Year on Channel 5 having finished her latest Yorkshire TV series (her previous series was called Problem Pooches). This is her first book.
Standard dog training has long advocated the use of force choke collars, sharp smacks, harsh language. Fennell, a dog trainer in England for 30 years, wants to change all that. Expanding upon the theories of horse trainer Monty Roberts (the basis for The Horse Whisperer), Fennell believes one can best train dogs by emulating natural behaviors, that is, by treating them as they would treat each other in the wild. Her intelligent, straightforward and humane method has engendered controversy and increasing enthusiasm. After Fennel's dog Purdey went manic, injured Fennell's young children and had to be euthanized, she was fearful of owning a dog again. Lured back into it by the pleasure of showing spaniels, she adopted a high-strung young shepherd, Sasha, and investigated alternative training methods. Fennell's simple and succinct method posits that domesticated dogs are confused, believing themselves to be the pack leaders, and humans their subordinates. Fennell retrains dogs to accept a human as their alpha leader. She spurns the use of force, even in training language, employing instead a system of Pavlovian rewards. Those wanting true canine companionship will find Fennell's commonsense approach attractive and easy to apply with puppies as well as with older dogs. She addresses common problems, from separation anxiety to barking at guests to the mistrust of strangers that rescued dogs often harbor. Her knowledge and love of dogs is expansive and her concern for their well-being balances kindness and appropriate discipline.