The Culture Clash

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

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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


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.


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.


Great info but tedious reading.


I believe Jean Donaldson is a genius. I went to the Pawlitically Incorrect Dog Symposium at Marin Humane Society in 2002 and I was blown away by her! There was a segment where they took some of the shelter dogs that had specific behavior problems, and then they had 4 dog trainers that each use a different technique. There was one lady who taught guide dogs for the blind, and another guy who taught police dogs, and Jean. Well, there was this one chow mix that kept pulling on the leash and choking itself whenever anyone would try to walk it. Each of the trainers went up there and the police guy was jerking the poor dog around, the guide dog lady said that first she had to "bond" with the dog and sat there petting it for 5 minutes, but no one could get the dog to walk properly on the leash! So Jean was last and what she did was put a pile of treats on the ground about 15 feet away. Then with the dog on the leash, she started forward towards the food and each time the dog went ahead of her she said "too bad" and went back to the starting line. Well, after about 4-5 tries, the dog walked perfectly next to her until he got to the treats (and then she let him eat the whole mountain of treats). That doesn't have anything specifically to do with the book, but it's just an example of her understanding of how a dog's mind works. I truly believe everything she says in this book. It is probably hard for most dog "owners" to grasp, but if you are one of those people, you probably wouldn't be reading this book in the first place. Anyway, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!

Kizz Robinson

Very clear. Tons of information. I now feel like I have so much to work on even around basic cues that I felt we already had down. Best part is the ending, "Final Note: If you have not already done so, please spay or neuter your dog."It was surprising to re-read this immediately after reading Karen Pryor's Don't Shoot The Dog. On first reading Donaldson's style didn't have a particular impact on me. After reading Pryor Donaldson's style seems much more urgent/harsh/strong than I remembered. Still chock full of valuable intel.


This was the book that really got me keen on dog behaviour. The author illustrated observations I had made over the years but hadn't categorised until I read her words. Ms. Donaldson knows her stuff and it shows. Though it was a book I was assigned to read, I wasn't able to put it down, which usually is the opposite of how I am with assigned reading.It has been 5 years since I've read this book but I still want to add it to my library. I feel it is an essential read for anyone interested in dog behaviour.


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.


Another reviewer (who gave it 1 star) wrote, "(Jean Donaldson) writes as though she thinks most (99%) humans are irresponsible morons." If I were the publisher, I would be like, "Yes. Nailed it! There's our pull quote for the cover of the next edition."


I admire Jean Donaldson as a trainer but this book does not get a high review from me. The book is very difficult to follow and at times makes the reader feel as if they are a complete idiot. As a trainer myself this is not a book I would ever recommend to my clients.

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.


Perfect book for me this past week when I was absolutely fed up with my [failed:] training of Mingus. Brought me back to Dog Basics through a well explained "culture" comparison of Dog vs. Human. Through easy to understand text, clear graphs, well organized chart comparisons, and an extremely helpful basis of having the reader (i.e., human) see the world through a dog's perspective -- Donaldson urges dog owners to give the dog a break in it's world, but also use this dog culture knowledge to best train your pet in a positive and constructive way. I'll remember many things from this book when I work and live with Mingus.


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!


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.


A very good book to explain behavior learning and how to train your dog using reward instead of punishment. She does a very good job of covering potential pitfalls and why other training methods (dominance, punishment) may not work. She does, however, harp on the downfalls of these other methods more than necessary, to the point where it is distracting from the rest of the information she is presenting. I especially liked the levels of training (kindergarten, high school, college) she presents at the end for several commands. I think that those instructions will be incredible helpful in training my own dog. She helps you to see things from your dogs perspective which in turn allows you to understand why your dog behaves the way s/he does.


Jean Donaldson is so mad at dog owners. I was sort of expecting her to punch someone in the first few pages. But she's 100 percent right."There is no question whatsoever that the second view [she's referring to B.F. Skinner as opposed to the Walt Disney anthropomorphism view] is correct. The question is really no longer which interpretation is the truth but rather why anyone still argues the point. Amazingly, this information has been around for decades, yet most people who own dogs haven't learned it yet. If people's knowledge about driving cars were similar to their knowledge about "driving" dogs, they'd try going across lakes and then sue the manufacturer when the thing didn't float." (from page 10 - Getting the Dog's Perspective).

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