Friday, March 1, 2013

The Dog Book No Dog Lover Should Ever Read

The offending title is  A Good Dog by Jon KatzThe book makes me feel like this

 and not in a fun playing in the snow kind of way.   I actually read it quite some time ago and never would have posted about it because I hated it so much, but now Katz is at it again with the publication of his latest book Dancing Dogs.

For those who don't know who he is Katz is an ex technology writer and self annoited dog expert.   On the surface he appears to be a caring person who genuinely adores dogs.  That is what you might think until you read through A Good Dog.   If you read the book it becomes clear that Katz is a narcissist who likes dogs simply because he enjoys the attention they give him.   He also appears to know very little about dogs and much worse is unwilling to learn.

In the book Katz  takes in a troubled Border Collie, Devon in real life and Orson in the book:

 Anyone who knows anything about dog breeds knows that Border Collies are not for newbies and can be very challenging, they need a very special type of owner.  Despite knowing very little about Border Collies Katz takes in Orson and initially delights in him and his troublesome antics, so much that he appears to ignore his older dogs, two labs that he know seems to think are boring in comparison to Orson.   In fact Katz becomes so wrapped up in Orson that he moves to the country and writes two books about the dog:  A Dog Year and The Dogs of Bedlam Farm that make him quite a bit of money and lead to speaking and more writing on dogs.  

That might seem fine, but meanwhile Katz is failing Orson, his supposed canine soul mate, misserably.  In  A Good Dog Orson writes about how Orson, who always had behavioral issues, "suddenly" becomes aggressive.  However, every biting incident (and none of them where very severe) is entirely preventable with basic management .   Most of the nips/bites occur when Katz has workers and friends come to his home, instead of crating or leashing Orson he leaves the dog loose because he feels that restraining him would be in some way wrong.  Then he is upset when Orson nips or bites, and not at himself at the dog.   Other bites occur over the fence on his property, which he admits is not secure enough to contain Orson, still Katz blames his poor dog.

Anyone with an even basic understanding of dog behavior knows about barrier frustration, basically dogs behind a fence or leash get excited and frustrated when they cannot reach the dog or person on the other side and that excitement can result in biting and other forms of aggression.  I see it my  own dogs which is why they are never in the yard unsupervised.  Of course with positive reinforcement you can reduce barrier frustration BUT management is also key.  That is why all children, and adults, should be taught never to pet a dog through a fence and why dogs should rarely greet on leash, particularly when they are excited.   Katz the supposed dog expert seems to know nothing about barrier frustration.

When Orson begins displaying really troubling behaviors Katz does not invest in a quality behaviorist, which he could easily afford.  He does try accupuncture and an animal communicator.  He decides not to pursue expensive medical tests, despite being very well off (from money he made of the dog in question).  He decides not to build Orson a better enclosure because he feels he will be lonely, despite the fact that as a stay at home full time writer he could spend plenty of time with Orson.  He decides not to crate Orson when friends come over.  In the end he decides to kill his supposed friend. Orson in euthanized for  his aggresive behavior.

If a newbie dog owner, a person with limited financial means, or a person with young children had made the decision Katz made I don't think I would fault them.  But Katz is a self professed dog nut and supposed "expert" in dogs.  For him to fail the dog that made his career possible is simply unconscionable.  If you are thinking of buying or reading Dancing Dogs please don't and please tell everyone you know not to read it too, Katz does not need to make anymore money.  The money spent on his books could be used to help the many wonderful dogs languishing in shelters.  (Oh Katz is thoroughly against rescue dogs too).


  1. Oh my dog!
    That bweaks my heawt. Wat a howwid man and he ackshully gets to write and make money fwom this ? So unfaiw
    Sad smoochie kisses

  2. Oh no the author sounds horrible! These biting incidents, how could he blame Orson without doing any basic management!
    I feel so sad Orson had to lose life like that... Thumbs way down on his books.

  3. We won't be buying it either. So wrong on many counts. We agree thumbs and paws down. Have a fabulous Friday.
    Best wishes Molly

  4. Thank you for this honest review. I know I would be very frustrated and angry if I read this.

  5. What are people like that doing getting dogs, let alone making money from them. It makes me sick to read this. Thanks for pointing it out to everyone. I hope someone does a similar review on Amazon!
    Lynne x

  6. I have a friend who was recommending Katz's earlier book - then I started to read how his dogs fared in 'real life' and vowed to in no way support this man, his writing, or his continued ownership of dogs. The most polite way I can put it - what a putz. :(

    Very sorry for the dogs that end up in his life.

  7. Wow. That review made me so upset. I would never give up on a life. When you take in a dog, they become your responsibility to train, love, and care for. You don't give up when you have all the means to at least TRY to address the behaviour.

    Excuse my language, but Katz is a fother mucker. You should share this book review so more people know what a terrible man Katz is. Stop people from buying his books and giving him more money to not be proactive.

  8. It will NOT be a part of our reading! I would like to say more but MOM said I can't use those words.

  9. OK, we will NOT be reading this book, or any of his other books, ever.

    Meredith & Scarlet

  10. A few years ago someone recommended his books to me but I never got around to reading them. Glad I didn't. Thank you for this honest review.

    Mom Linda
    Bailey, Hazel & Greta

  11. There's some books I just can't pick up, or I'll wind up hurling them against the wall.
    Nola's Mom

  12. Wow, that's just plain sad! Thanks for the heads up as I do love to read but not that!!! Thank you!

  13. Won't touch it with a barge pole.. You know Mollie is a border Collie and she is challenging but in a good way :) xx00xx

    Mollie and Alfie

  14. Am I mixing him up with the guy who wrote "the seven dogs you will meet in heaven"?
    stella rose momma

  15. Oh, I'm not sure I ever heard of this "author" before but now, thanks to your warning, he won't be getting any of our money from book purchases! If only there was a way to stop him from writing his bunch of baloney!
    Oz & Gina (mom)

  16. OMD - thanks for the heads up! How awful for Orson :(
    I will pass this info on to my mom and tell her NOT to buy ANY of his books!

  17. Woof! Woof! Oh my! We are just surprised that his story got published. Golden Thanks for the head up. Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar

  18. The Katz books (which I've read from the library) can be so very frustrating. He is determined to do what he wants, his way, and that's that.

    Funny how so many of his dogs can be considered "rescues", but he's still against them. He's also evidently against real training, and management.

  19. NOT a book fur our mom, thanks fur da review! We will make sure her does not read dis one!

    Woofs and Licks,
    Maggie Mae and Max

  20. We will PASS on that book too!


  21. we will pass too. thank you for telling us

  22. We will have to check that out! Don't forget to tell your friends about the copy of Pukka's Promise we're giving away (and a little spoiled something too!)

  23. ugggh! i have all three of those books mentioned because my whole family has border collies. i remember CURSING a dog year because he made me SO MAD. that was years ago but I feel like part of his reason for killing orson was "it would be sick to spend that much money on a dog when people i my community are struggling to buy food" or somethign stupid. but it wasn't a waste of money to build himself a a little play farm with the money he made of that "bad dog. "Ugh i'm getting mad all over again!! I didn't get a border collie when I moved out, even though i LOVE them because I knew I couldnt' handle one in our little house with our little yard. I wish I could punch Jon Katz in the face. Dog expert my foot!

  24. Wow this guy seems really bad. I hope he doesn't take in a pug any time soon.

  25. OMD, I hadn't heard of him or the book before, but will definitely avoid!