‘The Culture Clash’ by Jean Donaldson

January 29, 2015 at 6:30 am 5 comments

While I didn’t read that much in January, I did work my way through a pile of dog-related books, the best of which was undoubtedly Jean Donaldson’s The Culture Clash: A revolutionary new way of understanding the relationship between humans and domestic dogs.

My little furry friend, Millie, (shown above and below!) has recently developed the quite noisy habit of barking whenever anyone enters the house. Millie was almost 100% silent prior to this, so I was at a bit of a loss as to how to deal with her new-found voice. To the books!

While other books provided a more step-by-step training approach, Donaldson’s The Culture Clash offered so much more beyond basic training tips. (Although the basic training tips were certainly helpful.) Methodically dispelling anthropomorphized notions of dog training, Donaldson passionately makes an argument for effective training methods predicated on humans better understanding their dogs’ thought processes and motivations.

For example, as in my situation, before training a dog to not bark, understanding why she’s barking is vital. From there, you can work on the trigger, rather than just the behavior itself.


The Culture Clash also provides amazing summaries of recent scientific findings about dogs, their behavior, and even their genetic make-up. Did you know, for instance, that a dog’s genes can be adversely influenced by their mother’s surroundings while pregnant? I certainly didn’t, but knowing that my little rescue dog’s natural inclination towards fearfulness may be a genetic result of her mother’s stressful circumstances while pregnant was a new and striking possibility. (Of course, Millie’s own rough first 1.5 years probably didn’t help, either.)

I’m generally a fan of dog books, but this one was a stand-out. It provided everything from scientific background, to practical advice, to some history of dog training. I highly recommend it as a way to kick-start your dog’s new year resolutions.

(And no, this post wasn’t just an excuse to parade Millie photos. The book is really good. Honest!)


Entry filed under: Non-fiction. Tags: , .

Things I didn’t read in January The Cormoran Strike novels

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Lisa Hill  |  January 30, 2015 at 2:21 am

    LOL Who needs an excuse?! My new pup Amber has just found her way into my review of a novel about philosophy! http://anzlitlovers.com/2015/01/30/wittgenstein-jr-a-novel-by-lars-iyer/
    Your Millie is totally gorgeous:)

    • 2. Corey  |  January 30, 2015 at 9:28 am

      Haha, thanks! I try and sneak Millie in when possible — she’s usually my lap blanket when I read anyway, so they go hand in hand. :)

  • 3. Eva  |  January 30, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    Oh this sounds so good! And I love Millie. :D

    Have you read Patricia McConnell? She’s my favourite for dog behavior advice.

    • 4. Corey  |  January 30, 2015 at 1:53 pm

      It was such a good read — not only training and not only science, but this amazing combo of both!

      Of Patricia McConnell’s extensive backlist, I’m sorry to say I’ve only read her Puppy Primer (which I thought was way too short!). Do you have a particular favorite I should check out?

  • […] A book you can finish in a day (Popsugar): The Culture Clash […]


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