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What Color is Your Dog? / by Joel Silverman

What Color Is Your Dog?: Train Your Dog Based on His Personality "Color" (Kennel Club Books) - Joel Silverman

I picked up this book after reading RedTHaws' post on this title, and I do think that there will be some things from this book that I will be able to apply to my little chihuahua's training.  My dog falls into the "orange" range (i.e., he's a spaz, but not a complete out-of-control monster), and our previous dog fell into the yellow/green range (i.e., she was mellow to, let's say, lackadaisical in her life outlook).  Training the chihuahua has been a very different experience from training our mellow Labrador retriever.  There are times when I don't know what to do with this high-strung dog, and as a result some of his training, such as "heel," and "no barking" have pretty much gone to pot.

 

Where this book helps is in teaching me how to tune into my dog's hyper nature, and reward him in a way that mellows him as opposed to amping him up.  Today we worked on "heel" during our walk.  When we first went out, he was extremely excited, and did not want to heel at all.  He wanted to smell, and pee, and run, and bark at whatever he could bark at.  By following the advice given in this book (be patient, be consistent, don't use food rewards when the dog is already excited), I was able to get the dog calmed down.  While the first part of our walk was devoted to getting him calmed down so he could respond to training, the second half of the walk was done with a calm, well-heeled dog, and we were both able to enjoy our time together.  So, success in turning my chihuahua into a pleasant dog to walk with is now something I can visualize!  Yea!

 

That said, I do have a couple issues with the book.  First, Joel Silverman advises using a chain collar when training your dog.  I have nothing against these collars per se, but collars of any sort are not really something that should be used on chihuahuas for the purpose of attaching a leash.  My vet informed me that chihuahuas need to wear harnesses because they have very fragile tracheas, and the pressure of pulling a leash attached to a collar can easily crush their windpipes.  Personal experience has also taught me that not even all harnesses are appropriate for chihuahuas.  Some of them are cut too high, or are too firm, and still apply too much pressure to the dog's trachea.  We use a Puppia soft harness, and for us that eliminates the issue of pressure on the dog's throat.  Silverman doesn't really address this particular issue for toy dogs in his book, and that is unfortunate, because it really is a big omission when the dog needing training is a little dog.

 

Secondly, although my dog is normally an "orange" dog, there is one specific time that he becomes, I think, a green, or even blue dog (i.e., a fearful dog) hiding behind a red dog facade.  When my dog sees other dogs he goes insane!  As Silverman suggests for red dogs, I have tried techniques for mellowing him when he sees other dogs, and this does not work in this situation.  I have discovered, I think, that my dog is actually afraid of other dogs, and responds with a "the best defense is a good offense" attitude.  Patient desensitization and providing the dog with a feeling of security is going to have to be the name of the game, I think, and this is what Silverman recommends for green and blue dogs.  The problem is, I don't really think that Silverman stresses enough in this book that sometimes the trainer may have to employ the training techniques from a different color to his or her dog, and the only way a reader is going to figure that out is to read the entire book, learning about the general personality traits of dogs in each color group. Silverman says in the introduction, "Once you identify the color of your dog, you can go to the corresponding chapter for the appropriate teaching style....  The great news is that although in this book there are five ways to train, you will only need to use one."  Well, with respect to my little pest pet, I am not sure that statement is going to completely apply.