from THE DOG ATE MY HOMEWORK by Jan Irving (2015)
Reader level: Everyone
Review of content/advice: A great concept, easy to read, but I have little niggles about this title.
The idea of a ‘how to’, ‘what to look for’ guide for puppy buyers is splendid, and this is a slim volume, even available free on many websites in PDF, in nice typesetting, and concise language.
There are small issues that spring forward when you read it that make me want to say “but”. This book was written for publication in 2001, I am reading it in 2010, the immediate issue of puppy millers in the author’s native continent isn’t quite as potent, and it is potentially a huge issue here in Australia, but while Dr Dunbar is obviously trying to direct buyers away from mills, he seems content to not use such persuasive language for pet shops – the outlet of the home breeder and the mill. He outright condemns buying from a kennel, yet, sometimes a kennel can be run to produce a superb domestic pet – it is in the technique and contact with the actual pups. To have kennel facilities and day yards is not to mean a pup never sees a human except at feeding, so I suggest a buyer checks all this out – he can if he visits the breeder, he can’t if he buys from a retailer or pet shop!

My other serious issue is the blanket suggestion to neuter or spay any pup a buyer gets. Hmm, the Hippocratic Oath requires one to do no harm; to remove organs does alter (and that is the word commonly used to describe a ‘de-sexed’ animal) a mammal. If it is not diseased or defective, is there a need to remove organs? Surgery poses risks. Can a dog lead its full life if ‘altered’ or at one time (unnecessarily) given does of chemicals to allow this surgery to occur? If you don’t have the facilities to keep an entire animal, perhaps you shouldn’t have one about. In any case, these, as you are the carer, are YOUR choices, not Dr Dunbar’s nor your vet’s, who I bet won’t offer the services for free, nor fully and in detail tell you of reported and known consequences of desexing. That said, I DO NOT advocate the wandering of entire (or any!) animals or the random and un-thought-out breeding of any animals.  There is a wealth of information you can easily source on the internet with a search about the perils of desexing, for example,
Dr Dunbar does explain that the buyer WILL have to make some accommodation arrangements, and gives the prospective owner nice information on basic training. The information is logically set out, maybe the text could occasionally be a bit more precise if a bit lengthier, and a little less ‘do this’, but as a guide the impact could be lost in that case.
Your canine newcomer is just itching to learn household manners. She wants to please, but she has to learn how. Before the young pup can be trusted to have full run of the house, somebody must teach the house rules. There’s no point keeping house rules a secret. Somebody has to tell the pup. And that somebody is you. Otherwise, your puppy will let her imagination run wild in her quest for occupational therapy to pass the time of day. Without a firm grounding in canine domestic etiquette, your puppy will be left to improvise in her choice of toys and toilet. The pup no doubt eliminate in closets and on carpets, and your couches and curtains will be viewed as mere playthings for destruction. Each mistake is a potential disaster, since it heralds many more to come. If your pup is allowed to make ‘mistakes’, bad habits will quickly become the status quo, making it necessity to break bad habits before teaching good ones.from Dr Ian Dunbar BEFORE YOU GET YOUR PUPPY (2001)
For prospective buyers, yes, read this book, but let my review encourage you to think for yourself and in any case, no one title can really be the be all and only way to do things. (review by: Jan Irving 2010-07-25)
Do I suggest you buy it? Mmmmm, yeees.
Table of Contents
1. Your Doggy Education
2. Evaluating Puppy’s Progress
3. Errorless Housetraining
4. Socialization with People
5. Bite Inhibition
6. Preventing Adolescent Problems
Which Type of Dog
Mixed Breed or Pure Breed?
Which Breed?
Movie DogStars
When to Get a Puppy
Where to Get a Puppy
Puppy vs. Adult
Shopping List
How to Select a Good Puppy
Handling and Gentling
Sound Sensitivity
Household Etiquette
Basic Manners
Personal Preference
Singleton Pups
When You Are Not at Home
Long-term Confinement
When You Are at Home
Short-term Confinement
Train Your Puppy to Train Himself
Errorless Housetraining
Housetraining 1-2-3
So What’s the Problem?
Doggy Toilet
Errorless Chewtoy-Training
What Is a Chewtoy?
Dinner from Chewtoys
Chewtoy Stuffing
Kong Stuffing 101
Settle Down and Shush
What to Do at Nighttime
Sit, etc.
Chapter Six: BOOKS and DVDS