Review: The Latchkey Dog

The Latchkey Dog, by Jodi Andersen

I saw this book the library and was intrigued by its title and premise, even though I’d never heard of the book or its author before. The author, New York dog trainer Jodi Andersen, makes the case that our 21st-century schedules are profoundly influencing the behaviors of our dogs.

This sounds like a no-brainer, but it seems like most people assume that dogs will adapt to the busyness of our lives just like we do. Unfortunately, this is not the case–as anyone with a dog with separation anxiety can tell you.

Throughout the book, Andersen shares anecdotes of her many clients and the behavioral problems she helped correct. One of the main problems Andersen returns to is the issue of people treating their dogs like children. As couples delay the age at which they bear children, many take in dogs and start treating them like surrogate children. This sounds pleasant enough, but these pampered pooches develop untold behavioral problems. Simply, remember that your dog is not a human, Andersen urges. He may seem like he perfectly understands your rambling about the stresses of your work day, but in reality, he just wants you to stop talking so you can take him outside where he can smell stuff. Give him discipline and structure, just like you would to a child, but with the keen understanding that he is a dog and he will thus think, act, and react like a dog. This, Andersen notes, will save you a lot of heartache.

Although I didn’t learn a lot of new training techniques, I did come away from this book with a refreshed perspective on how to care for a dog while working full-time. Start training very early. Work on preventing separation anxiety before it even starts. Make your dog do chores. Lavish affection AND discipline. And then maybe your dog will bring you a bit more joy than insanity.

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