rust your instincts - no this has nothing to do
with the subject of this book; I just wanted to say
that my first impression after reading this book is
that Bill Tarrant is a darn good magazine writer. And,
lo and behold, I discovered that a good bit of this
book was indeed taken from Field and Stream
magazine articles written by Tarrant. So my instincts
were right- Tarrant is a good magazine writer.
"This book is dedicated...to all dogs who have been -
in the name of training - shot, shocked, beat,
stomped, cursed, kicked and otherwise brutalized by
man's inhumanity to life."
Quite truthfully, the books suffers from translation
from the magazine form to the book form. It doesn't
flow as well as it could. So treat it as a collection
of good magazine articles. Most of us don't sit down
and read the whole book at one time, anyhow. As an
aside, having four Tarrant books on the bookshelf, it
might be that I'm suffering from "Tarrant overload". And,
as to the portions taken from Field and
Stream, I probably read those articles in a
waiting room sometime in the 70's and 80's. Yeah, I
would remember things like that.
I like Tarrant's approach - he always seems to be
looking out for the dog. And that is the premise of
this book, which claims to be, "the first book on
training gun dogs ever specifically written to remove
the whip from the trainer's hand."
The book is written from an all-breed standpoint;
Tarrant covers pointing dogs, spaniels and retrievers.
Being as the issue at hand for Spaniel Journal
readers is typically the training of spaniels, which
Pam Kadlec calls "soft-tempered, hard-headed,
intelligent dogs", "removing the whip" is a good
thing. Being harsh might work with a pointer, but rare
is the spaniel that will take that kind of treatment.
More likely, they will just shut down... or pee all over
Tarrant's premise is that harshness is not good for
Enough of my thoughts - let me tell you about the book.
This books is aimed at the newcomer. There is a lot of
basic information about puppies and dog care. The book
has an extensive chapter on First Aid, and reviews
topics such as heartworm, hot weather and allergies.
The chapter on First Aid is one of the best ever
written. This chapter, along with the chapter entitled
"Picking a Healthy Pup", was written with the
assistance of Dr. Dick Royse, a Wichita, Kansas
veterinarian. It includes some helpful photographs.
This information is content that any dog owner should
be familiar with, but is especially useful for the
In fact, only about one-third of the book is really
focused on training. If you are looking for a handbook
on training drills, this might not be the best place
to look. But the fundamentals of dog care include many
topics that the experienced handler takes for granted.
Where Tarrant really shines is in the aspect of dog
psychology - getting into the dog's head. And most
importantly, making sure that every single activity
that you do with pup - right down to mealtime - has a
purpose and plan to make a finished gun dog.
"Dog training is an art, not a science....But in the
end it all boils down to just one thing: it's birds.
Tons of birds. With birds you will develop a bird
dog., without them you'll develop a dog. Buy 'em,
raise 'em, or snatch 'em from beneath bridges or out
of bell towers. But you must have birds."
Insofar as training is concerned, Tarrant does review
some fundamentals of table training (force breaking),
and the Tarrant classics: the "litter box check
cord," the "power bar" and the "chain gang". Many of
these techniques are primarily identified with
pointing dogs, but are another tool in the tool box of
the spaniel trainer. Some tools don't get used all the
time, but are handy when you need them.
Tarrant touches on some aspects of spaniel training
with ten pages on "Training the Flushing Dog". Pretty
basic, but at least those pointing dog owners now know
what we are up to.
This book is not a new release, it has been in print
for about 15 years. The fact that it is still
available attests to its longevity. My goal, in these
reviews, is to let you know what's out there and help
you decide if and where to spend your money. Tarrant
is one of the top ten contemporary dog writers in
America and worth your consideration.