Before and After Getting Your Puppy: The Positive Approach to Raising a Happy, Healthy, and Well-Behaved Dog

ISBN: 1577314557
ISBN 13: 9781577314554
By: Ian Dunbar

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About this book

Very few dog trainers have not been influenced by Dr. Ian Dunbar's dog-friendly philosophy. In the 1970s, Dr. Dunbar sparked a dramatic shift in dog training — away from leash corrections and drill-sergeant adult dog classes based on competitive obedience and toward a positive approach using toys, treats, and games as rewards for teaching basic manners, preventing behavior problems, and modifying temperament. Before Dr. Dunbar there were no classes for puppies, very few family dog classes, and not much fun in dog training. His positive approach to training revolutionized the field, especially in training puppies.Now in Before and After Getting Your Puppy Dr. Dunbar combines his two popular puppy-training manuals into one indexed value-priced hardcover edition. In clear steps, with helpful photos and easy-to-follow training deadlines, he presents a structured yet playful and humorous plan for raising a wonderful dog. Dr. Dunbar’s guide is based around six developmental deadlines: completing your education and preparation, assessing a puppy’s prior socialization and education, teaching errorless housetraining and chewtoy-training, completing a socialization program of meeting strange dogs and people, etc.

Reader's Thoughts


If you can get past the stern "do this or permanently screw up your puppy" tone to the book, the advice here is great. This is one of the best books I read before bringing puppy home, and I highly recommend this book (along with ones by Suzanne Hetts and Sophia Yin) for any novice puppy parent.


A little too much emphasis on developmental dates. He makes you feel as if it's hopeless to start with a 4 month old puppy.


Very glad I read this before getting a puppy. With a few months left before we get our puppy, this is a well-written and very informative book about how to create a life with your dog. I wouldn't even say that it's about training a dog. It's more about how to create error-proof habits in your puppy so that you have a wonderfully well-adjusted and well-behaved dog. The book is broken into digestible sections and offers not only big picture advice, but directions for implementing the techniques. I plan to follow this advice very closely when we get our new puppy.


This has been on my to-read list for a loooong time. I didn't know anything about dogs until Faith was not a puppy anymore. (Poor Faith had to go through a LOT of mistakes.) By the time I realized this was kind of a famous book that I should read, I didn't have very much incentive to read it. Now I have incentive because I'm getting a puppy!To be honest, I was a little disappointed. There's some great advice in here and (I think) some not-so-great advice. I liked the parts about bite inhibition and the long-term confinement plan. The socialization parts are kind of opposite of the advice in the puppy CU book; I think a happy medium and an owner who understands her puppy are the best bet. I didn't really like Dunbar's attitude of ONE MISTAKE IN PUPPYHOOD AND YOU ARE DOOOOOMED! Of course, yesterday I came downstairs to discover that Faith had helped herself to a decorative votive holder that was on the dining room table and destroyed it. So maybe the fact that she peed on the floor about three times when she was a puppy did signal many more mistakes to come! (Actually, Faith's belief that anything in her environment is fair game positively punishes me to clean up after myself, which makes me a happier human. Sometimes we have casualties, though!)


This is an awesome book for puppy training and a must read before you bring your pup home. The book teaches a method of positive dog training. Dunbar does a great job teaching you how to effectively communicate with your puppy so that you can be a successful trainer. Chapters on house training and bite inhibition have been especially useful for me. I am continually going back to the book as a reference whenever behavior modification is necessary.

Vienna X

This book helped my husband and me tremendously when preparing for our first puppy, an excitable Boston Terrier. Dunbar breaks down the training process for you and makes it less overwhelming and more logical. He definitely seems to understand the canine mind and what ways work best to communicate with our favorite furry friends.Some highlights that helped us:* Crate training within a larger confined area* The joys of kibble- & treat-filled Kongs and other chewtoys* The need to socialize pups with people and other dogs--for a multitude of reasons, one being to help the pup obtain a "soft mouth" and learn that biting is badHouse-training can be challenging and not all dogs take to the same toys, etc. Puppies might take a few weeks or months to want to eat out of Kongs. My advice is to stick with the things you really want your pup to learn--whether it's eating habits, potty training, or cute tricks. Have patience--puppies take awhile to learn new things, just like human babies!There are different schools of thought with puppy training. Dunbar definitely sides with positive reinforcement and is not keen on emphasizing the negative by punishing dogs (which could cause the dog to fear you and make more mistakes). All I can say is, his techniques worked for us and we have a happy, healthy, loving dog and never have to worry about him biting anyone!


Excellent ideas, especially the encouragement to strongly integrate all kinds of puppy-training into every day life. However, I do think Ian Dunbar is rather unrealistic and terribly discouraging. As I began reading this book, I thought this was IT, the Holy Grail of dog/puppy training. But I quickly realized that with my 9 week old puppy, according to Dunbar, I was already a total failure. Dunbar emphasis error-free house-training (and what new puppy owner wouldn't be excited about THAT concept?), except that this means that once your puppy urinates or poops in the house, EVER, you have now completely destroyed all progress you might ever make with your puppy and are at risk of having to have the dog sent to a shelter where it will be sentenced to death.Once you decide to just take Dunbar's perfectionism with a grain of salt, it's easy to follow many of his instructions and work extensively with your puppy, when you can, to teach new tricks, to play, to encourage compliance. I found the section on bite-inhibition to be particularly helpful. Dunbar emphasizes that the puppy MUST bite, and that the owner must work toward making it increasingly clear what level of puppy biting, then mouthing, hurts, and will not be tolerated. This is in such stark contrast of other advice I've been given, as a new puppy owner. Our vet immediately grabbed our then 9 week old puppy, said he needed to teach us how to discipline our dog, and gave her an alpha-shake by the scruff of her neck. The Petco dog-trainer-wannabe also pronounced as necessary her version of a "therapeutic grab and hug" by rolling our puppy over on her back, snarling "OFF" at her, while putting her hand in the puppy's mouth, holdng the bottom of the mouth, and shaking her. (Our puppy backed away into a corner by the dog food, and peed on the floor.)Dunbar encourages making it clear to the puppy what is acceptable in biting/nipping, by shouting "ouch", and stopping play for a minute or so. He does not recommend being highly punitive, and proposes that there is value in the puppy learning, very early, with baby teeth, what is "too much", and how to inhibit force. Dunbar strongly encourages using an entire arsenal of dog toys for chewing to establish acceptable items for chewing and off-limit items. Encouragingly, these methods seem to be working well with our now 12 week old puppy.Dunbar can be overwhelming, however, making puppy training seem like you might not only need to quit your job, but perhaps hire an entire platoon of servants to help with the work load. (Then again, maybe I'm just now tired, as we enter our 5th week of puppy parenthood.)

Victoria Martin

The last of my invaluable puppy books. I love how this one breaks things into 6 key goals of puppy development, which I have been working towards with my dog. So far, so good, and I definitely recommend this to anyone getting a puppy, or thinking about getting a puppy since it talks a lot about the before period as well (hence the title, though I didn't read it until after I had selected mine).

Barks & Bites

This book is a comprehensive guide to selecting, preparing and caring for a puppy and a must read for anyone considering adding a canine baby to their lives or for anyone who needs to housebreak and train an older pup from scratch.The author tackles everything in a way that is understandable for even the newest puppy owner and he doesn’t talk down to you and has a great sense of humor about things instead. As an example he says if your puppy dog makes a potty error inside the house, you should pick up a newspaper and smack yourself with it because it’s your fault for not following the rules. The puppy doesn’t know the rules. I thought that was a very cute and tactful way to handle owner stupidity without calling out said stupidity in an insulting way as some trainers are prone to do. The rules can look intimidating at first glance and I won't be doing them all (there's no way on earth I can introduce my pup to 3 new people a day) but training a pup/dog is a huge time investment and an on-going process that will pay-off in a well-trained dog for the rest of its life. Letting the dog out every hour on the hour, training him to sit, stand, come, be gentle, take food from your hands -- all that stuff is so important in the beginning. My older doggies, who are now in doggie heaven, were angels only to me, LOL. They were what many would call naughty. They jumped on visitors, begged for food and barked like lunatics at strange men (well, I must admit that “quirk” never bugged me at all) but I was young, busy and yes LAZY when I got them and didn’t follow through on the basic training. I was just happy they did their business outside, didn’t eat the house when I left and never bit anyone but they could have been so much better if only I’d invested the time and found this book way back when. I highly recommend this book to anyone pondering a pup.


I loved how this book focused entirely on the reward based training model and completely frowns on leash corrections. I have found so many books where the authors want to have it both ways.


This book is an unforgiving guide to living with and training puppies. So far it has some good advice. Other advice is decidedly not working for our puppy, but that may be our puppy's baggage and nothing to do with the value of the book. For instance, no matter how hard I try to encourage it, Patrick just doesn't seem susceptible to chew toy-aholism. Perhaps he doesn't have an addictive personality. Probably too early to tell.

Tamara Ward

I recently got a new puppy and read almost every puppy book in the library. This book was THE BEST, most informative, most comprehensive one I found. I loved it so much I checked it out before, and after, getting a puppy. (Ironic, no? But true.) It's a great reference and I can't say enough about how helpful it was... and continues to be.


A good book for people who want to have a fun happy dog that listens. All based on positively reinforcing your dog's behavior without resorting to hitting or other cruel punishment. Love your dog!!!

Deirdre Keating

So far this has been my favorite, and the fact that most of this book is available as a free download means the author is more interested in spreading his ideas than just making $. I wish we had started heel/lead training as described in this book (instead we were so focused/eager to get him worn out, we just went for long walks regardless of how well he was obeying). I love the focus on soft-bite and training a dog to never put his mouth on a human...but I wish there were more specifics on how to establish that. I'm reading a lot of reviews about Dunbar as naive and only part of the story...I guess I'll have to wait and see.


Excellent, easy to follow book for new puppy buyers/owners.Not so great for experienced dog people, but that's not its target audience!

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