is a Norwegian dog trainer who wrote "On Talking Terms With Dogs: Calming Signals."
It's the only dog book that fairly exhaustively indentifies and explains canine body language, and how humans can use these signals to communicate with dogs.
While I think it is important and very useful information, I think some of her underlying theories and training methods are misguided at best.
I just posted my opinion of the book on one of my yahoogroups.
I think she has done some wonderful observational work in identifying many body language signals; I learned from that. A couple of things that I hadn't really thought about became clear, in terms of canine body language. A lot of what she writes about how to use body language to communicate with dogs is spot on.
I have a problem with her theory, though. She identifies just about everything as negative stress, and the "calming signals" as ways dogs use to relieve the stress. In fact, she seems to have a real bug in her panties about this stress thing and regards just about everything apart from pure joy and contentment as "stress" which MUST be avoided at all costs. OK, I think that is just silly. First, stress is inevitable and little stresses are normal, it's not the jouney it's the destination. IOW, stress isn't inherently bad (to her, you can stress a dog by stepping over it when it's lying in a hallway, which can damage the dog's psyche and you must not do this, ever, because it is Not Nice.) Things which may stress a dog: Under or over-exercise. Having to hold going to the bathroom. Being alone, too cold, too hot, being startled, hungry, thirsty, being corrected, direct threats, getting overexcited, being pulled by a leash and so on.
Granted these things would be stressful if they were constants in anyone's life, but certainly normal occurences at times.
She then identifies many things dogs do as signs of stress.
Take yawning. Most of us know this habit in dogs and can identify it as a communication of sorts, I figured this out MANY years ago. Mine would yawn loudly when they were in the car approaching the park, in that case I interpreted it - correctly, I think - as anticipation and eagerness, like" are we there yet, hurry UP!"
She makes no distinction between eustress (good stress) and distress (bad stress.)
The other problem I had - despite the claim by Terri Arnold on the book cover that every incident recounted in the book is true - I don't believe that. I just don't.
Example: She has one dog, Vesla, who apparently was excellent with other dogs and very good at giving clear signals and getting along with everyone. That part I believe; some dogs are better at giving signals than others, for sure. Turid says putting a nose to the ground is a calming signal. She recounts a story of a client coming to see her, with an extremely dog-aggressive bitch, for whom no other method of training has worked. She instructs the skeptical owner to remove the dog's leash and just let her go, while she and Vesla are standing there. Dog charges Vesla in full snarl. Vesla puts her nose to the ground. Dog screeches to a halt, confused. Then decides to be friendly, and shortly thereafter is frolicking with Turid's pack of dogs with nary a raised hackle. Maybe, but I just don't see it, not with a truly aggressive and dominant dog. She has quite a few similar anecdotes of calming dogs sniffing the ground, turning sideways to aggressive dogs and such to thwart aggressive behaviour. It will work with some dogs in some situations, sure - most people who understand a bit about dogs know that dogs approaching sideways instead of head-on aren't as likely to get into an altercation, it's nonthreatening behaviour. I sure wouldn't count on my turning sideways to a really aggressive, pissed off dog coming towards me as a way to save my skin, though!
Also, she says somewhere that all aggression is born of stress and fear, which I think is baloney. Her assertion that one should never threaten or chastise a dog but only be calming and submissive, is unrealistic and simply will not work
with all dogs. Dogs understand corrections and even threats. Fairly and honestly given, this is quite sensible and the message easily understood by them. I agree that dogs also use "calming" signals with other dogs. Well, they also use "threatening" signals with other dogs too - in fact this is largely how puppies learn manners from their littermates and older dogs in the pack! It's not necessarily cruel.
She has some other stories in "My Dog Pulls, What Do I Do?"
about how negative associations can have adverse effects.
One, a puppy sees the man of the house walk in the door, moves towards man and a broomstick falls on her and she is startled. A year and a half later, this dog is still "terrified" of the husband. Sure seems to me we're not getting the entire story there. It's normal for dogs to get startled. A mentally sound dog recoivers from the startle quickly.
Two, an Elkhound is being measured with a measuring stick at a show by the judge, is somehow hurt by the measuring stick and becomes "terrified of all people." It takes five months to get the dog past this before she can continue her show career and have puppies. Now it seems to me, a dog this weak-nerved has no business at all having puppies, since temperament is in part genetic. (I'm assuming the judge didn't beat her to within an inch of her life with the measuring stick or something.)
Three, a dog was about to take a drink of water in obedience class, the trainer yelled NO at the same time, and the dog almost died of dehydration because it was then too scared to drink water. Thankfully, Turid to the rescue.
She recounts several stories like this to illustrate why we must never use the word "NO" or raise our voice with a dog, in case it makes an incorrect association and thereafter becomes "terrified." Maybe they raise extremely nervous and sensitive dogs in Norway?
In short, it offers some useful and interesting insights. Speaking of short, it's only 38 pages long and much of that is taken up with drawings - many magazine articles are longer and more information-dense than this book. The training advice is overly simplistic, and while it might work with a soft-temperament, easy going dog, nicey-nice training mehtods are not only ineffective for many dogs, but downright unfair. Dogs understand all sorts of clear signals, not all of them calming and gentle.