Chihuahua foot on book.

Although the title says it is an absolute beginner’s guide to living with your dog, it isn’t one I would recommend for a beginner. Or for anyone, actually. The book is a very hard read, starting with a 45-word run-on sentence, and going on to use terms like “sphincter control” to mean potty training. (I think.)

Besides needing a PhD yourself to be able to read the book, it’s also filled with outdated and sometimes downright scary information. The author recommends Cane Corsos as tranquil, easy-going dogs and Border Collies as good family pets.

Remember this is a book for absolute beginners per their own title.

Cane Corsos Are Not Beginner Dogs

Please, for the love of God, don’t get a Cane Corso as your first dog. Please don’t get a Border Collie expecting it to be happy with a couple rounds of fetch. These are not beginner dogs. Border Collies are insanely high energy, working breeds. They need jobs, and a gentle walk through the park at a stroller pace is not enough for their needs.

Beginner dogs are breeds like Golden Retrievers and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels for a good reason. As a beginner, you’re going to make your fair share of mistakes. These dogs will be okay if you have to work and can’t take them on a 2+ hour hike every day.

They’re not quite as powerful as a Cane Corso, who can quite simply drag you where he wants to go with you having little to no say in the matter. The breeds mentioned in the book are really fun breeds to own, but they require people who have had all the beginner dog shenanigans played on them already.

Beyond Beginner Breeds

Other concerning recommendations include taking the puppy from the litter as early as 6 weeks, which is no longer recommended because early separation can cause behavioral issues in the dog. This is not new knowledge.

While we learned that taking a puppy from the litter before 6 weeks is harmful in 1965, we learned that it’s harmful even at 6 weeks old in 1993. Puppies taken too early from the litter can end up with major behavioral issues.

It’s alarming that a modern book published relatively recently isn’t up to date on 20 year old information.

These recommendations made it hard to take anything else in the Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Living With Your Dog seriously. As it is, the book is a cursory overview of what owning a dog entails, written as if each aspect of animal care was a scientific paper rather than a guide for beginners.

On the bright side, the illustrations in the book are very cute, and it is also very short. I read this book in just a couple hours, as it is only 120 or so pages. If you’re a raw beginner looking for a generic overview of dog ownership though, please look elsewhere.

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By Andrea

Andrea is a dedicated dog mom of three chihuahuas. She has over a decade of experience as a dog groomer, chihuahua owner, and more recently as a dog trainer. She loves all things canine, particularly chihuahuas.

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