A couple of months ago I was asked if I wanted to review a copy of Chaser, now remembering the media circus at the end of 2011 about the dog that knew a 1000 words I jumped at this opportunity. After reading the first few pages I decided that it was a book I needed to give my full attention and with my other responsibilities with school one that went onto my pile for reading after exams during the Christmas holiday.
Now this book is almost an autobiography of how John ended up teaching his dog Chaser so much, it talks you on a personal level as if it is letting you inside the family at the same time as talking about one of the biggest scientific moments ever in animal learning. Once I started reading I was lost to the world and simply couldn’t put this book down.
Chaser was not the first dog in the Pilley family, and before the story of Chaser starts John looks at what he learnt from his previous dogs Yasha and Grindle whom he used in his classes. Being a psychologist gave John the background in learning and cognition that was needed to understand why things happened how they did and not just that they did. This knowledge is shared throughout the entire book, looking at the theory, implementation and his own results with Chaser. Taking you on a journey from getting a new puppy, through to how they nearly lost her and the name for her was chosen through to becoming a complete sensation.
Personally I hate most dog “training” books, guides and methodologies as I have always had a strong belief that dogs are smart enough to learn through just positive methods. This book is the perfect demonstration of how this can be achieved, and should I believed be required reading for anyone that is even considering training animals.
Overall I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone looking for a heart-warming yet educational story about how you can teach a dog language. I am just waiting to hear more about future progress with Chasers learning, or indeed the replication of this learning with other dogs.