The Dog Owner's Manual

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Not Just Another Dog Owner Manual

Jul 2, 2008
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Layout, behavior topics, photographs, succinct, explanations, index, pre-introduction, everything

Cons:Everything that wasn't a pro in other words, no cons

The Bottom Line: Dr. Fogle's reference book will appeal to fans of DK books but don't let the appearance fool you; this is packed with valuable information on breeds, health, behavior, and more.


The dog is one of the animal world’s greatest success stories.” The dog is versatile, intelligent, social, designed for endurance, communicative, and challenging. Dr. Bruce Fogle’s book, Dog Owner’s Manual, details all aspects of our canine friends in a way that both new dog owners and long-term dog owners can value.

From the very start I was captivated. Before the introduction, before the table of contents, readers get to enjoy a 12-page colorful overview of what a dog is…it is a pack animal, it is driven by its senses, it is full of energy, it is our best friend, it is an adaptable opportunist, and it is a companion for life. Filled with great photographs, graphs, diagrams, and text, this intense pre-introduction compels the long-term owner to read on. In full agreement with every page I suspected our thoughts would parallel each others. They did.

Dr Bruce Fogle, a practicing vet, and Dorling Kindersley books (DK Books) combined talents to create a beautifully illustrated and extremely helpful reference book for dog owners. This is not just another dog owner manual.

The Dog Owner’s Manual covers everything from what makes a dog a dog, to breeds (70 of them), to behavior, co-existence, and health concerns. It’s a small (8.5 x 5.8 inch) book with 287 pages packed with a whole lot of information. The author illustrates each topic with a variety of graphics including side bars, shaded text boxes, and bulleted highlights. Everything is set against a bright white background using DK’s signature format. This reference book even has an overflap on the front cover to help mark your passage through the pages. This is so easy to read that I did, front to back, as if it were a novel. (But, then I’m a self-professed lover of dogs and found this intriguing.)

The author begins with explanations about canine physical characteristics (this is Dog Design). Design works from the outside in with skin and coat, skeleton and movement, brain and mind; through breathing, communication, and living with humans. Did you know that “it is not unusual for a male dog to mark 80 distinct sites with his urine in a four-hour period.” (If you didn’t come walk with my dogs.) The second chapter reviews qualities and characteristics of 70 of the most popular canine characters, err dogs. Starting with small dogs, Dr. Fogle’s overview, works up to the large dogs with each having a brief description and history. Side bar tables provide key facts (country of origin, date of origin, life expectancy, and maintenance) and physical characteristics (head, eyes, ears, body, coat, and tail).

The Breeds
The Chihuahua is a toy lap dog, it’s a good traveler and perfect for city dwellers. The entire body of this dog is smaller than my blond Labrador’s head. Each description has at least two dog images with one showing height (inches and centimeters) and weight (pounds and kilograms). The Chihuahua is 6 to 9 inches tall (smaller than my dog’s head). He has fragile bones, which makes him an ideal indoor pet. At the opposite end of this are the extra large dogs such at Great Pyrenees, Akita, Rottweiler, Bullmastiff, Saint Bernard, Alaskan Malamute, Great Dane and Newfoundland. Even though my labs weigh in around 90 pounds they don’t qualify as extra large breeds. The author also explains the value of mixed breeds stating that although mongrels have bad reputations you should give them a chance. I agree, my first dog was a mix and he was absolutely wonderful. Dr. Fogle highlights personality traits that make the dogs popular or desirable for families. The Newfoundland is a brave, devoted, gentle, and docile dog that loves water.

This is all helpful for the potential new dog owner. The remainder of the book addresses concerns shared by all new dog owners. How do you prevent boredom? How do you treat wounds and injuries? When should you go to the vet for a skin or coat problem? Each topic within the various chapters is written with a succinct style, each takes full advantage of photographs and side bars, and explanations are understandable for the first-time dog owner.

How do you prevent boredom?
Always provide a physical, mental, and social activity before you leave it alone (they can get very creative when bored), feed them before leaving (makes them eager for you to leave), leave your scent on their favorite toy by rubbing your hands over it, leave quietly without celebration, and with the radio or television on, and never leave them alone inside the house all day. I’m not certain feeding them a full meal before leaving would be wise, especially large dogs, but we always provide a treat when we leave—not when we return.

My Favorites
While I’m always reading and researching to see what my next dog will be (there are so many wonderful breeds out there), in all honesty my next will most likely be another Labrador retriever so the breed section was informative for me but would be great for a potential dog owner. I loved the pre-introduction and thought it was well done. The Health Concerns chapter will prove very helpful for first-time dog owners, but my favorites were the most helpful sections on living with dogs and dog behavior.

For example, regarding bringing a puppy into the human pack, “The most important—in fact, the essential—feature of a pup’s new environment is us. A pup possesses superb natural observation skills, and it uses these skills on its new human pack, just as it would if it remained in a dog pack. Vocal communication is important; a gruff tone from a human is akin to a growl from another dog, but it is out body language that is most keenly observed and studied by dogs.” They depend upon routine and subtle changes in household routines upset them (mine must be basket cases right now while I'm trying to sell a house and preparing for a cross-country move). They watch us for cues which is why consistency is so important.

Why do dogs lick their fur, why do they butt scoot, why are some submissive urinators, why, why why? How do you train a pup to a leash? How do you socialize a puppy (and when)? I highly recommend this book to potential and new dog owners. Yes, there are many excellent books available and I already have a lot of them, but I found the Dog Owner’s Manual amazingly comprehensive, it answered those “why’s” and it provides guidance for medical concerns and behavior problems. Are you getting a new dog, did you just get a new dog, or are you living with a fantastic canine companion? Everyone will find value in this essential but practical reference book.



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