The Culture Clash

ISBN: 1888047054
ISBN 13: 9781888047059
By: Jean Donaldson Ian Dunbar

Check Price Now


Animals Currently Reading Dog Dog Books Dog Training Dogs Non Fiction Nonfiction Pets To Read

About this book

Winner of the Maxwell Award for BEST DOG TRAINING BOOK (1997) from the Dog Writers? Association of America. Voted #1 BEST BOOK (2000 & 2001) by the Association of Pet Dog Trainers?the largest and most influential worldwide association of professional pet dog trainers. The Culture Clash is utterly unique, fascinating to the extreme, and literally overflowing with information so new that it virtually redefines the state of the art in dog behavior and training. The Culture Clash depicts dogs as they really are?stripped of their Hollywood fluff, with their loveable "can I eat it, chew it, urinate on it, what's in it for me" philosophy. The author's tremendous affection for dogs shines through at all times, as does her keen insight into the dog's mind. Relentlessly she champions the dog's point of view, always showing concern for their education and well-being.

Reader's Thoughts


This was a great book and I highly recommend it for anyone that owns a dog. She touches on behavior, training and psychology. Her insights into why dogs do what they do and how they perceive the world are extremely valuable to me as a dog owner. Her training methods focus on positive reinforcement (which I agree with), but even if you don't I think some value could be gained from her methods. She has a witty way of pointing out some of the absurd things that have been done in the name of training.


Very good overall. The most common criticisms of this book are the tone and the organization. They are legitimate criticisms. The author is extremely sharptongued when it comes to dominance theory and anthropomorphizing. I personally find her derision amusing rather than insulting, but I concede that the tone isn't for everyone. I do appreciate someone who speaks bluntly and honestly rather than dancing around strong opinions, but I can see some readers being turned off by this. Personally, I found myself laughing at the just-so explanations I'd concocted for my dog's behavior, when the real explanation is probably a lot simpler.The book (as far as I can tell) has no index. Also, if you want information on a specific topic, you often have to look in several different places. Explanations of learning theory and specific instructions for training common behaviors are often intermingled. I solved this problem by bookmarking.What I like most about this book is the merging of practical step-by-step instruction with explanations of why the steps work. The author explains it in simple, scientific terms. And she doesn't just give recipes for specific behaviors; she explains why those recipes work so that you can train literally any behavior using a similar method. It's not an in-depth technical manual on operant conditioning, but it does give a general overview of how an animal learns. This is extremely helpful when you're trying to crack a problem behavior with your dog, or train him to do something complicated.A good example of this is one explanation of why dogs sometimes seem to "know" a command and then suddenly stop obeying it. We might say the command and then immediately prompt the dog in some way, taking advantage of instinctual behaviors. So we say "come" and then bend down and make inviting noises. The dog is naturally inclined (at least as a puppy) to come when we clap our hands or makes kissy sounds. That doesn't mean he's learned what "come" means. We assume he does, and then expect him to come when we say the word and label him stubborn if he doesn't obey. In reality, he's never made the connection. The author describes a process called "fading the prompt" (the prompt being the kissy noises or clapping or whatever gets the dog to instinctively come). You have to give the dog a chance to start coming without the prompt. You wait a few seconds and see if he gets it, even by accident. If he doesn't get it, then you prompt. Do this enough times, and eventually he'll connect the dots (if you're reinforcing properly, that is).Another example: generalization versus discrimination. We think the dog "knows" a command because he does it at home. Take him to the park and try to get him to do it and he looks at you like you've got nine heads. The fascinating thing about this is that it's not a problem - it's a feature. Dogs are so good at discriminating, at figuring out what is different this time, that they don't necessarily generalize what they've learned to new locations. As soon as you introduce a variable like location, as far as the dog is concerned this is a completely new circumstance that could require new behaviors. It's what makes it possible to train them in the first place: they notice what is new. But it also means that if you want them to always sit when you say sit, you have to practice in multiple locations and be willing to sort of "retrain" for each location, until the dog understands that this cue applies everywhere.I could go on, which is why I think the book is worth buying. Basically, the information in here takes a lot of the frustration and stress out of training by making the dog's behaviors explicable and thus mutable.


I cannot recommend this book strongly enough if you have ever wondered what's going on in your dog's head. Jean Donaldson writes clearly (most of the time) in lay person speak about why your dog is behaving the way that it is, and what you can do preventatively and remedially to shape your dog's behavior. Often, we humans tend to erroneously believe that our dogs "know" what we want from them even if we haven't really ever trained it into them, and this book helped me see why my expectations of perfect dog behavior were unrealistic and misguided, given the way that I was not-training my dog.I read this book through my local library, but I intend on purchasing it to refer to again. Highly recommended!


Embarrassing admission: I have known for years that this book was one of the "big" books on the topic of positive reinforcement dog training, but I never got around to reading it because I thought I was "beyond" it. I thought it was going to be about how to clicker train a dog to sit and why Cesar Millan is a moron. I thought, "I already know all that!" It turns out that this book is totally and completely amazing. It's full of valuable training games and tips, and it also shows you what life is like through your dog's eyes. Sure, there was plenty of stuff that I did already know, but a refresher never hurts, and Jean Donaldson's quippy, sometimes-snarky narrative style made reading fun and fast. If you have a dog, READ THIS BOOK!(The main thing in here that I don't necessarily agree with is that Donaldson is a fan of the no-reward marker. I have used NRMs with Faith, and they seemed to act more like a positive punisher than they should. Then again, Faith is a little quirky.)


This book is probably one of the best dog training books out there. It's the only book that I've found that really, truly, describes the positive reinforcement (+R) method which in a nutshell involves ignoring unwanted behavior and rewarding good behavior.Why only three stars? This vitriolic book is hard to read. The author is apparently so fed up with owners who don't have a clue that she rarely holds back any opportunity to disparage any and all owners. The book drips in hatred for the mistakes made by average dog owners.And I found a couple of huge mistakes. In particular, she talks about how dogs know when they've done something bad. She describes a boxer tearing apart the furniture when the owner is gone, and then cowering when the owner returns. She doesn't mention that if the owner was an incredible actor and made no reaction upon seeing the mess, that the dog would probably have no reaction - the point she missed here is how well dogs read just a flicker of our emotions. That boxer had no idea the owner was upset about the mess he'd made. He just knew the owner was upset from the instant she saw the mess. Had the place been pitch-black, the owner and dog would have greeted one another without incident. It bothers me that an "expert" like Donaldson would so completely misread something that I see clearly as an amateur. I feel I have to get my complaint about Donaldson in since she spends so much time yelling at average folk.Beyond that, if you really want to understand complex aspects of +R training, this is your book. Unfortunately, it won't go into the detail you'll want. For instance, you'll feel like a real dummy if you follow the section on avoiding "counter surfing" and still can't keep your dog from grabbing food off the counter.Donaldson lives alone with her dog. She doesn't understand the complex nature of family life. She doesn't explain the one down side of +R training: that when we share our dog's living quarters (unlike zoo animals in which +R training is often used and the animals are already living in a safe, enclosed environment) so ignoring unwanted behavior is just not always easy or practical. Her ideas for approaching specific training and behavior problems are usually pretty thinly described.

Kate Baldwin

This was my second time reading this book, with about 15 years in between. I learned so much more the second time, as a more experienced dog owner. There is so much valuable information on positive training and rewards based training and forgoes (and way pre-dates) the antiquated Cesar Milan philosophy of bullying your dog into what you want them to do. Sure, it takes more patience and time but the end result is a better relationship with your dog and a happier one. This should be required reading for anyone who brings a dog into their life.


This is a solid, simple, straight-forward book. I was surprised with certain aspects of this book: the strong tone, stance against 'dominance' theory, and, at times, bleak and grim language regarding unsocialized, older dogs. The last item is something I particularly struggled with -- our coton de Tulear is extremely unsocialized, has fear aggression and separation anxiety, and is well into his adult years -- all because he is a rescue from a horrible breeder. While there were times I felt sad about our dog's reality, this book does give a great starting point for understanding his behaviors. Hopefully with a ton of practice (for both him and myself), we'll start to see improvement in our furbaby.


This should be required reading for every person who gets a dog. This book explains how dogs learn (principles of reinforcement) and how they do NOT learn (choke collars, punishment after the fact, etc.), why they do what they do (classical/operant conditioning history, innate behavior), and what they are NOT capable of (spite, desire to please, "understanding" human language). There are countless dogs out there that could potentially lead much "happier" lives if their owners would just change the way they think and behave.

Barks & Bites

I'm marking this one DNF because I just can't bring myself to keep reading or to keep interested right now. I also adopted a puppy and, dare I say this aloud, who is so EASY it's unbelievable to me. I've always had nutty labs and retrievers who took years to settle down. My new little guy moved in, learned the routine and housemanners in only 2 weeks. I still can't believe my luck. He's cute and perfect too. I never get this lucky ;) So, for now at least, I'm putting this book aside because I'm not having any of the sorts of problems she describes in this book (mainly aggression issues) and am training him positively. I'll keep it around for a bit just in case something crops up but the technical language makes it more of a reference book than a pleasure read and I don't like the way she takes shots at clueless owners constantly. I preferred her book "Mine" much better. Possibly because it was shorter?

Justin Podur

This is my favourite of the positive dog training books. My favourite section is the one about Gorms, in which the author asks the reader to imagine being kept as a pet by intelligent social creatures whose language is mutually unintelligible and who expects its pet humans to avoid doing natural things like using a toilet and reading novels, and reads human responses to abuse as aggression and a reason to put the human down. That section is more devastating even than the author realizes, in terms of how we view and treat animals we supposedly love. The author is sometimes a bit hard on those who disagree with her, but she has solid reasons for all her arguments and proven methods for what she does. Very nice book.

Katherine Blocksdorf

This is an excellent book and is a must read for every dog owner, especially those who think their dogs have a favorite pink jacket and sparkly collar. The author clearly describes why the 'Disney Myth' is harmful to the dog/owner relationship. Training is discussed and the author thoroughly supports all of her theories. Now, it's time for someone to write an equivalent book about horses so horse lovers will stop expecting their horses to heal, bond, love and re-parent them. Let's honour and respect each species for what it is, and not expect them to be furry four-legged people.

Fred Dickson

One of the best dog training books ever. EVER. That being said, it might be a bit dense for people that are unfamiliar with the subject, the terminology can get a little confusing if you don't already have a firm grasp on what Donaldson is talking about. However, if I could make every dog owner read this book and actually put it's principles into practice I would in a heartbeat. I've heard some people complain that the book has an annoyed tone, and as someone who deals with idiotic dog owners fairly frequently I can say I completely understood where she was coming from and laughed out loud several times while reading this. Honestly, if you don't understand why she might be annoyed you haven't been working with dogs long enough.


Really enjoyed this book. Jean Donaldson pulls no punches with her views about the use of aversive dog training - she thinks its inhumane, unnecessary and shouldn't happen. I agree. She makes a significant effort to lead her readers to better understanding of dog behaviour and motivation and to dispel the "Disney Land" dog fantasies so many dog owners have; dogs exist to please us, are intelligent (like humans) and moral (understand the difference between right and wrong). Jean makes it clear that dogs are motivated by making nicer, better things happen for themselves, more often. More good stuff (food, chew toys, walks, games) less bad stuff (scolding, containment, isolation etc). The downside to the book is that she uses a lot of behaviourist theory and language and that could be hard reading for a lay reader (I use behaviourism in my work so it was no biggie for me). All that said, if you can persevere with the science and terminology this is a great book, a must for all dog lovers, whether your pup is trained or not!


I have never read a book on dog training as extensive as this one. Holy COW! I had a hard time keeping interested because she just kept going on and on without really telling you HOW very clearly, until the last chapter, which was the best chapter in the book. I really wanted to know what Ms. Donaldson had to say, but the length of each section was amazing. If she could have toned it down, just a tad, I would have definitely given her a 5.

Joao Topete

Devia receber 6 estrelas dos melhores livros de treino que li ate hoje

Share your thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *