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Book Review
Way to Go
by Karen London & Patricia McConnell

Review by: Kate Connick, March 2005

Even for pet owners who have no desire to formally teach their dogs anything else, housetraining is an obvious necessity and priority. Karen London and Patricia McConnell's 22-page booklet, Way to Go, addresses this limited topic in a very concise and focused manner.

The authors have a very readable and engaging voice that makes the booklet a pleasure to breeze through. They demystify housetraining by making it absolutely clear to the reader that the untrained pup must be either outdoors with the owner to observe elimination and reward with a treat, indoors under direct and attentive supervision, or confined in a crate or small, puppy-proofed room.

London and McConnell point out that, "housetraining is all about developing good habits and preventing bad ones," and acknowledge that although this is simple in concept, it does require patient effort to achieve. The authors hit on common concerns, including elimination on cue, ringing a bell to go out, and how and when to expand and expect freedom throughout the house. They discuss crate training and related issues like whining or soiling in the crate. Their two-page list of "clues that your puppy needs to go out" is very well done. What to do about accidents in progress or after the fact is addressed. Punishment is not recommended; good cleanup is. The overall tone is practical and helpful.

While paper training or litter box training is not within the scope of this booklet, it would be no great stretch to apply the same method towards that end.

The strength of this booklet - its brevity - is also its Achilles heel, as readers may have unanswered questions. One glaring and unfortunate omission is any mention of submissive/excited urination, as this is such a common, misunderstood, and frustrating problem for many puppy owners.

Subtitled, "How to Housetrain a Dog of Any Age," the authors quickly point out that - while the general concepts apply to new and relapsed adult dogs - the book really focuses on puppy training. They forego discussion of more complicated situations that may involve house soiling, such as separation anxiety or compulsive leg lifting. Instead, they note that, "adult dogs may have to unlearn inappropriate behavior."

This is a helpful booklet for the average pet owner, and both the limited scope and enjoyable writing style make it something that will be read cover to cover in a single sitting. That alone makes it the kind of resource that a breeder, trainer, or shelter would be likely to routinely recommend. I'm not entirely sure that it offers a whole lot beyond what's available at no cost online, and it could treat even its limited topic with a bit more detail. Nonetheless, this may be exactly what the reader is looking for, and it makes a nicely packaged, thoughtful gift for the new pet owner.

Way to Go by Karen London & Patricia McConnell.
Published by Dog's Best Friend, 2003. ISBN: 1891767089

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