Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Book Review: It’s me or the dog: How to have the perfect Pet

In my opinion, this is an exceptional how-to book for dog people.

The author Victoria Stilwell is a dog-trainer who stars in the TV series It’s me or the dog. She uses positive techniques to train and build relationships with dogs, and helps dogs think on their own without having to physically manipulate, yell or scold, or otherwise be a brute to them. I love that she has a kind, calm approach that clearly demonstrates that you don’t need to “dominate” to train. As a bonus, the format is easy-to-read and is visually interesting, making this book accessible for even non-readers.

Highlights of the book are that it:

  • provides a very good overview about how dogs communicate
  • explains calm assertive, rather than aggressive manipulative approaches
  • gives very specific step-by-step instructions to train people in basic obedience skills such as sit, stay, come and impulse control
  • gives instructions that motivate dogs to think and want to do things because of the pleasurable consequences, rather than forcing them
  • offers solutions to unwanted behaviours like barking, leash pulling, biting, marking (peeing), and separation anxiety
  • without being preachy, explains basic animal welfare issues like avoiding pet store puppy-mill puppies, spay/neutering, choke chains/collars, shock collars and sheltering

Where this book is light is in its coverage of food and nutrition. I agree with Ms Stilwell’s overall recommendation to improve the nutritional quality of your dog’s diet. However, given that different dogs have different nutritional requirements based on their age, breed, activity level and health issues, and given that scientists, including veterinarians and small animal nutritionists can’t agree, I don’t trust her specific recommendations. (For example, my veterinarian recommends raw and Ms Stilwell says no to raw ... I trust my vet's recommendation.)

In summary, read this book, use her training techniques, ignore her specific advice about food, and talk with your veterinarian about how to improve the quality of your dog’s diet.

You can also access some practical training tips at Victoria’s web sites at and, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

This book is available at any book store and the Regina Public Library.


  1. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that not all vets will recommend what's nutritionally best. Many vets are not well schooled in proper nutrition, and what they are taught in vet school is generally taught by the reps of some big name brand kibble companies.
    Unless they choose to do their own research, sadly, most vets are just as uninformed as the majority of the population.

  2. raw is easily best its just common sense, dogs aren't cooking up crappy kibble that lasts for years in the wild