Louise Glazebrook's new book The Book Your Dog Wishes You Would Read focuses on the necessity for developing reciprocal give-and-take relationships between dogs and their humans, Louise offers important science-based practical advice, and I'm glad she could take the time to answer a few questions about her ideas about dog-human relationships and that your dog is not trying to annoy you.
Marc Bekoff: Why did you write The book Your Dog Wishes You Would Read?
LG: The honest answer is that I felt we were constantly expecting things of these amazing creatures that were not realistic. During lockdown I realized just how many millions of people apparently adored dogs but just didn't 'get them' and I felt like I genuinely wanted to try to make a difference to dogs across the globe. Not just the ones I can physically see in London and who were my clients.
I wanted the book to help get people to look at things from another point of view, the dog's. Whereas most don't do this, we just think about how dog ownership effects us. I also felt really strongly, after seeing people on social media with hundreds of thousands of followers, advocating horrible methods, that I needed to get people to understand it is not about commanding these animals all the time. That we as humans need to get over ourselves and stop believing that dogs are here for us to control the entire time.
MB: How does your book relate to your background and general areas of interest?
LG: I am obsessed with dogs, I always have been. I am not interested in obedience championships, I wouldn't know the first thing about teaching a dog to herd sheep; my area of interest is enabling and empowering families to live happily with their dog, to build relationships, bonds and respect. As an owner or dog guardian we do have elements that we need to be able to 'control' for safe dog ownership. But I want people to see it can be fun, it can be playful and it can be reciprocal.
MB: Who is your intended audience?
LG: Anyone who loves dogs, has a dog, is thinking about getting a dog.
MB: What are some of the topics you weave into your book and what are some of your major messages?
LG: The main take-away should be that your dog is not trying to annoy you. They are not trying to make your life difficult. They are a dog and they do things differently. My book also is for people to really get to grips with the idea that every dog is different. It's key to the way I work and the way I am with my clients and their dogs. They are not cardboard cut-outs with a tail, so let's get to know them better.
I discuss the choosing of a dog, the breeding of a dog, and the 'rescuing' of a dog. As for me, our aim should be that we eventually work to get rid of rehoming centres as we should have made some wise, carefully selected choices that allow dogs to stay in homes because people chose really well and were educated and informed. I know it can feel like we are a million miles away from that right now but it is really important to me to try.
Lastly, this book is a love letter to dogs. I adore them, they rock my world, I think they are incredible and because of that, I want us to treat them with the respect they deserve.
MB: How does your book differ from others that are concerned with some of the same general topics?
LG: One of the reasons I feel I'm not that popular with others who work with dogs is because I don't use big words, I don't use dog training jargon and I don't care about those things. I am not here to teach you how to get your dog to retrieve an object from a million miles away. I am here to help you understand your dog. And I do this in the same way that I work with people, using my own voice, by seeing your dog as an individual and by accepting that some things are out of our control. I think the dog world can be very competitive and focussed on things that most dog owners just do not care about. My book is for real life dog owners, who don't live in ideal situations, who want to do right by their dog but feel unsure of which path to tread. I want people to feel empowered.
MB: Are you hopeful that as people learn more about the amazing lives of dogs they will treat them with more respect and dignity?
LG: I am hopeful, I am positive. It is part of my life's mission to make a difference to dog's lives and their owners. Dog ownership is a journey, we can never, ever know it all. Every dog I work with, encounter, watch in the park, live with, or play with teaches me something new. So as humans, we need to stop believing that we are the most powerful, we are the ones with all the control and use that energy to keep on moving forward, improving and changing the ways we interact with animals.