This month I will be looking at ‘Pointer Training Guide’ by Laverna Holloman first published in 2015.

I bought this book at the same time I took on my first dog a German Shorthaired Pointer x Labrador rescue aged 4 at the time called Fudge (who is still snoozing by my side as I type)

When I stumbled across the book on Amazon, I purchased it with the aim of making my first foray into having a working dog.

First Impressions

The book itself is around 133 pages long with a wide spacing between the lines and larger than expected text it is between A4 to A5 in size and is a similar size to the majority of other training books you can buy out there.

It became clear on arrival this was a self-published type book which for me was a little disappointing as I suddenly was a little hesitant as to the validity of the content.

The inner cover does state thanks to her publisher however on looking up the author I could not find any background or history in her skills in dog training or behaviour, lesson one to me is to do my research before buying!

However, qualifications aren’t everything and skills and knowledge shouldn’t be overlooked.

The Content

The book itself is split into 9 chapters

  • Introduction
  • Socialising
  • Housetraining
  • Crate training
  • Obedience training
  • Clicker training
  • Training the difficult pointer
  • Behavioural training
  • Conclusion

The book starts with an overview of the evolution of dogs and some discussion of some well-known research linked with dogs such as the fox farm experiment and I was pleased to see a much more updated theory around the family concept of a wolf pack rather than the more archaic alpha of yesteryear, the book also goes on to dispel those myths around dominance theory and puts forward a much kinder concept of mutualism as a way of relating to and working with dogs.

Chapters two and three go into the basics of socialising and housetraining and actually, I was very surprised about the balanced, positive advice that was given around being realistic about what to expect from your puppy and explaining developmentally what is going on with the dog, especially around house training and why it is not useful to use punishment. The author does however advocate the use of a bellyband (to prevent marking behaviour in male dogs) which I had never even heard of and had to google. Again, this may be down to personal preference and just variations in training opinions.

The author is a big advocate for crate training and gives some good tips about why and how to introduce your dog safely to the crate, interestingly however it also speaks about when not to use a crate or when to stop the idea of crate training. Again personally I may not agree with some of the opinions expressed here for example when discussing crating your dog overnight ‘This is wrong – your pointer should either sleep in your bed with you or sleep in a bed next to yours’.  It is clear this is very much her expressing her own personal opinion and experience with her dogs, rather than the unbiased view of a professional.

As the book goes further into obedience training there are some basics in there around sit, down and heel, and it is nice to see that there is a balanced approach to training and no mention of physical punishment or pain to the dog. There is also an interesting section about classes and training as well as what to look for when you look to select a trainer, something I haven’t seen in many previous books.

It also has an interesting part on types of collars including more aversive collars including, prong and shock which the author clearly advocates against. Interesting the slip lead wasn’t included.

I found the chapter on clicker training a bit confusing, it covered all the basics including some conditioning theory but then went off on a tangent about using pointers as therapy dogs, which seemed a little confusing and off-topic for the book. The rest of the book went on to cover common behavioural issues and how they could be addressed before concluding

In conclusion

I think what attracted me to this book was the fact it spoke about working with adult dogs and having got a rescue I felt it would be relevant to me, however, little was covered about adult dogs and nothing was covered about rescues.

For me the book was a combination of the author’s perspective, as well as some basic dog training guidance and theory and the bit that I felt really was missing was information about the pointer’s temperament, how this could be factored into their training, how you can work with their natural instincts to help them lead happy healthy lives, what kind of enrichment work would suit them e.g., gun dog work, scent work etc.

I was hoping for something much more breed specific and ended up with something more generic with a bit of personal experience thrown in. You can find more gundog books on our list here. 

Emma xx

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