Having a realistic understanding of what your dog needs will allow you to adjust your expectations about your dog.
Why did I get this book?
I got this book because it’s supposed to be all the jazz. It has been sitting on my shelf for quite some time, but I finally got around to chomping my way through it, because notes of hype kept popping up around me.
What does the book do?
The book introduces the L.E.G.S® model, which is a tool that helps us get an overview of our dog’s behaviour by taking into account learning, environment, genetics and self.
According to the book, the model is the first of its kind and it does a fine job of describing how the model works and how we as humans can work with it. Each part of the model is then broken down in the book and described in detail, on colour-coded pages I might add, because that is absolutely delightful. These pages are also filled with beautiful pictures, which makes reading it a pleasant experience. Most pages in this book are dedicated to genetics (approx 150/250 pages), and the genetics part of the L.E.G.S® model rearranges dog breeds into a new classification system based on the original purpose the dog was bred for. It also includes a section to street dogs (or World Dogs, as the model names them), which is a good section to include given the rise in street dogs brought into modern pet homes. Each breed group is introduced with a breed list and a short overview of what the dog is – and what it is not. Then we’ll be taken through the history of the breed which is, if you’re a history geek like me, intensely interesting before the chapter changes into descriptions of how this type of dog will fit into your modern pet home lifestyle, from puppyhood to adult life.
The breed group chapters also include home-, public,- and personal life score charts to account for suitability in modern pet homes. These descriptions though, are highly generalised and feed into a general belief that dogs are no more than their breeding. Being a classification system of breeds, it is natural that the book spends most of its energy on the classification, but I have to say that I would have enjoyed for the Self-chapter to be more than a mere 4 pages squished into the back of the book because it fails to counter the number of sweeping generalisations and the notion of “unicorn dogs” in the genetics section when it’s reduced to a footnote. And a whole lot of people would also benefit very much from seeing beyond the breed when they look at their dog.
What does this book not do?
I must admit that while I found the breed chapters fascinating history-wise, I truly wish that the author would have refrained from adding specific training advice in the breed sections, as many of the “tips” given are old fashioned and likely to increase the very problem behaviour they’re suggested to solve due to scarcity, high frustration and excessive control setups.
It is also not exhaustive, which I find rather disappointing, even if the author herself mentions it on one of the very last pages.
This is because I feel that if you take a species such as the domestic dog and rearrange the breeds within it, it should really include all the breeds, otherwise it is half a system. I probably could live with just some of the obscure, rare Danish breeds being excluded because well, they are rare.
But it seems rather random which breeds are left out and included as you will find Swedish Vallhund and Belgian Tervuren in there, but not the Boston Terrier which is a rather common breed, or Danish-Swedish Farm Dog which is gaining popularity internationally.
So if you’re looking for general breed descriptions, you can pick up this book, but likely also a breed-specific book for your chosen dog breed. If you’re looking for solid training advice or material on how to live with dog individuals I would skip this book.
Where do I get this book?
I would say Amazon, but the book is currently close to being sold out. Local book stores may have some in stock still, so ask around. The price is around $35 for the hardback edition. It is also available on audiobook and while Amanda Ronconi does a wonderful job narrating it, you’ll miss out on all the wonderful colour pages and pictures. As far as I know, there is a new batch in the print, however, this will differ from the original first edition due to politics, so future prints will not include all the material you’ll find in the first edition.