Your Dog Is Your Mirror: The Emotional Capacity of Our Dogs and Ourselves

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New World Library, Feb 22, 2012 - Pets - 344 pages
In Your Dog Is Your Mirror, dog trainer Kevin Behan proposes a radical new model for understanding canine behavior: a dog’s behavior and emotion, indeed its very cognition, are driven by our emotion. The dog doesn’t respond to what the owner thinks, says, or does; it responds to what the owner feels. And in this way, dogs can actually put people back in touch with their own emotions. Behan demonstrates that dogs and humans are connected more profoundly than has ever been imagined; by heart; and that this approach to dog cognition can help us understand many of dogs’ most inscrutable behaviors. This groundbreaking, provocative book opens the door to a whole new understanding between species, and perhaps a whole new understanding of ourselves.

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This book radically challenged my habitual ways of viewing life -- not the life of my dog, but my own life, and relationship to Life in general. I usually like other people's dogs a lot but I've never had any animal companion of my own. Although there were some chapters in Part Three that I found quite difficult to digest, I suspect the problem lay in my own limitations, and not in the author's lack of clarity or understanding. Behan uses concepts and a framework that he didn't borrow from any formal education, but rather developed himself through a long process of interacting with and observing thousands of dogs, starting in his childhood. His credibility derives from his overwhelmingly superior personal experience and exposure to dogs, his standing as an accepted expert dog trainer, and his obvious total sincerity in seeking to articulate the truth of what he sees and feels. I don't know, maybe there are flaws in what he's written; probably there are. But I know the book had a tremendous impact on me, and I'll be integrating the meanings captured in this book for a good time to come.  

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About the author (2012)

Kevin Behan is a veteran police-dog trainer, author of Natural Dog Training, and is the nation's foremost leader in dog rehabilitation. Originally trained under the dominance theory by his father, John Behan, who pioneered the use of trained dogs outside the military and was one of the first in America to make dog training a career, Kevin came to understand that what made the modern dog adaptable and trainable was not the dominance hierarchy as taught to him but the dog's ability to work as a cooperative group member in the hunt. After training thousands of dogs for both aggression and obedience, as well as bomb-sniffing and other security forces, he established his own kennel, Canine Arts, and the Natural Dog Training method. Since then, he has continued to transform the way people are looking at their pets, and has saved hundreds of dogs from being put to sleep. He lives with his family on a sixty-acre farm in southern Vermont.

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