Review: The Well Dog Book

The Well Dog Book, by Terri McGinnis

Continuing in my vein of reading dog health books, I found a copy of the second edition (1992) of The Well Dog Book, by Terri McGinnis, DVM. It’s a bit old, but I reasoned that the field of caring for dogs hasn’t changed all that much.

I think I was wrong.

While the book is primarily about canine medicine and preventative care, I was utterly appalled at Dr. McGinnis’ recommended training techniques. Since the book was initially written in the 1980s, it is not surprising that she follows the now outdated dominance philosophy with regard to dog psychology. What was surprising to me is her strong statements that physical punishment is always necessary to establish “dominance” and “pack leadership.” The book even includes these horrible diagrams about how to push a dog’s head to the ground when it disobeys and how to pick you dog up by the scruff of its neck and give it a good shake. I was, clearly, mortified.

After reading that chapter, I’ll admit that it was difficult to take the rest of the book seriously. I don’t doubt that Dr. McGinnis is probably a reliable veterinarian. I imagine I’ll be returning to this book if I have any basic medical questions about our future dog, but I certainly won’t be looking to it for any behavioral advice.

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