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Book Review
Canine Behavior: A Guide for Veterinarians
by Bonnie V. Beaver

Review by: Kate Connick, Jan. 2006

Although it would be dry reading for the average pet owner, Bonnie Beaver's Canine Behavior: A Guide for Veterinarians is an excellent reference for the trainer or dog enthusiast who seeks a greater understanding of dog behavior.

Sophisticated yet readable, this carefully referenced paperback provides a handy, comprehensive overview of normal and "problem" dog behavior. The 10 chapters and appendix include information about: the senses and neurology, communication, social behavior, sexual behavior, ingestion, elimination, locomotion, grooming, and relevant psychotropic medications.

Admittedly, a diagram and discussion of details like the dog's 12 possible urination postures may not feel compelling to the average reader. Nonetheless, the broad examination of canine behavior in general will give one a good sense of what it is to be a dog. Further, many of the lesser-known tidbits of information and/or statistics may be intriguing, if not immediately useful.

The book is a literature review that presents primarily scientific information rather than proffering the author's non fact-based opinion. What it may lack in depth on any particular topic is compensated for by its multitude of relevant, scientific and scholarly references. It's worth having for the bibliography alone. Normal behaviors, body language, brain physiology, and developmental progressions are particularly well presented.

Not a training book, per se, treatments for problem behaviors are nonetheless suggested and include a broad range of possibilities. Depending on the particular problem behavior, of course, everything from acupuncture to shock collars receives mention. Often the recommended solution is a somewhat commonsense approach that addresses underlying motivations or uses some pragmatic combination of management, obedience control, and/or counterconditioning. Given that this is intended as a veterinary text, psychotropic medications are discussed throughout.

Some information is bound to be outdated, and newest research information will be absent. The author points that out as a likelihood, especially regarding psychopharmacology.

Although this probably isn't the kind of book you give casually as a gift, it is a valuable reference for anyone with a serious interest in dog behavior. More concise and readable than some of the source material or reference books by Lindsay, this is a solid overview of dog behavior.

Canine Behavior: A Guide for Veterinarians
By Bonnie V. Beaver.
Published by W.B. Saunders, 1999. ISBN: 0721659659

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