The Secret Language of Dogs: Unlocking the Canine Mind for a Happier Pet

The Secret Language of Dogs: Unlocking the Canine Mind for a Happier Pet

by Victoria Stilwell


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The Secret Language of Dogs: Unlocking the Canine Mind for a Happier Pet by Victoria Stilwell

The star of Animal Planet’s It’s Me or the Dog Victoria Stilwell reveals how to both interpret and “speak” the hidden language of dogs. 

Recent studies into the minds of canines show that they have a rich social intelligence and a physical and vocal language as complex and subtle as our own. In this fun and fascinating guide, world-renowned trainer Victoria Stilwell explores the inner world of dogs. This book is your guide to understanding your pooch, communicating effectively, strengthening your bond, and helping dogs learn in the most effective way possible so they feel confident navigating the human world with success. 

Along the way, you’ll learn the answers to questions such as:
• What do different tail wags mean?
• What does being right-pawed say about my dog’s personality?
• How can I tell the difference between boredom barking and warning barking?
• What does it mean when my dog spins around, arches his back, or gives me the whale eye?
• Do dogs feel guilt?
• How do dogs perceive human faces?
• Why do some scientists think dogs’ emotional experience is even greater than ours?

Filled with adorable full-color photographs and instructive illustrations, this insightful “dog decoder” will soon make you dog’s best friend.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781607749523
Publisher: Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/Rodale
Publication date: 10/11/2016
Pages: 160
Sales rank: 181,414
Product dimensions: 7.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

VICTORIA STILWELL is best known for her role as the host of Animal Planet's hit TV series It's Me or the Dog. Born and raised in Wimbledon, England, she has also served as a judge on CBS' Greatest American Dog and is involved with rescue groups around the world. Stilwell has been featured in numerous magazines and journals, has appeared on countless television and radio shows in the United States, Europe, and Asia, and her popular Positively Podcast series is heard by listeners worldwide. Named 2009's Dog Trainer of the Year at the Purina Pro Plan Dog Awards, Stilwell lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband, daughter, andtwo rescue dogs.

Read an Excerpt


When we follow the positive training philosophy, we encourage dogs and other animals to learn, using humane, fear-free techniques that help them problem solve. We never use force and intimidation, because positive training puts the emphasis on teaching dogs what to do rather than punishing them for not doing what we want. This is a much more effective way to promote learning. Thankfully, it also helps rehabilitate dogs with anxieties, fears, aggressive behavior, and phobias.

By giving dogs some control over their own choices while gently guiding them, we allow them to adapt to novel situations and environments much more successfully. Allowing dogs to learn what works in certain situations builds their confidence while providing a healthy balance of self-discovery. This gentle guidance allows dogs to become more socially adept and emotionally balanced. We may not be naturally inclined to give up control so easily, but maintaining a good balance of independent and dependent learning makes a significant positive difference in the lives of all dogs.

There are many effective teaching techniques. Some dogs learn well through problem-solving exercises; others learn better through clicker training, lurereward, or techniques that “catch” behavior. Some trainers prefer a more cognitive approach, establishing a bond first rather than having dogs work for human approval. Others take a more behavioral approach, teaching life skills through cues and techniques like “shaping,” whereby actions and behaviors are built through reward-based training. I like to do both: focus on building a bond as well as teaching cues without pressure, guiding dogs to learn and have fun while doing so. No matter how we choose to humanely and effectively change our dog’s behavior and teach necessary life skills, we should always respect the dog’s autonomy.

Unfortunately, dog training professionals on both sides of the debate are now so focused on “training” dogs that some dogs have lost the ability to think for themselves, relying completely on people to direct them. These naturally independent problem solvers are being overwhelmed and overtrained. The positive community is well ahead of the compulsion community when it comes to encouraging dogs to think and problem solve, but we can still benefit from taking the pressure off and doing less. Shifting away from more structured training and toward developing dogs’ natural social skills and problem-solving abilities will create even happier and more confident pets.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1


1: The Loving Dog 13

2: The Thinking Dog 19

3: The Emotional Dog 35

4: The Sensing Dog 43


5: Lateral Language 59

6: The Language of Socialization 65

7: The Language of Fear 77

8: The Language of Aggression 87

9: The Language of Vocalization 97

10: The Language of Pain 105

11: The Language of Aging 111

12: Strange Behavior Explained 117

13: How to Speak Dog 125

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The Secret Language of Dogs: Unlocking the Canine Mind for a Happier Pet 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
NatoshaM More than 1 year ago
Dogs are so adorable and smart! Many times you can be lost in translation when you don't know how or what the dog is trying to tell you. However, this book, The Secret Language of Dogs by Victoria Stilwell really helps you understand the different signs that a dog is trying to tell you. From the loving dog to the emotional, it's all covered inside. I do have to point out, the photos are so super cute of realistic dogs and the information is extremely helpful. Even if I know my dog, this book taught me a few things I haven't realized that my dog is telling me. It really helps answer questions I've had for awhile and now I can communicate and interact with my dog and understand everything! I so hope they come out with one for cats too! However, this book does a great job teaching me the signs and helping me build a better friendship and bond with my doggies. Finally, this is a wonderful book, something I'd highly recommend to any dog owner. It's full of information by a true trainer and really works! This book is an excellent guide to understanding the doggie in your life!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Highly recommend!
Vicki_Goodwin More than 1 year ago
Having a dog as a member of the family I felt I needed to know more about his secret codes and language. I really enjoyed reading about the different ways of interacting with your dog. Different options on training and proving that not one way is the best way. There is no actual training in this book, but there is knowledge so that you can understand the dog behaves as he does.

Victoria Stilwell is a popular trainer that has brought her personality to the book and made it an enjoyable as well as an instructional book. You might recognize her name from the Animal Planet's show called "It's Me or the Dog. She is the petite lady that arrives in the most fashionable clothing and gets right down to the business of repairing the dog and the pet owner. The fact-filled book was packed with so many details about the rationale of the dog, it really improved my insight. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. I loved the pictures and the easy to follow language. Each page had illustrations or dogs in various actions that helped drive the points home.