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Book Review: How to Have a Very Bad Dog

This book was given to me as a gift and I imagine that's how most people acquire their copy of How to Have a Very Bad Dog: 8 Proven Methods To Help You Raise and Ruin Your Pooch Deliberately and With Skill. Knock Knock is a publisher of witty books on various subjects and that is how I would describe this book's intention; witty.

You'd expect this book to be filled with humorous cartoons, funny stories and crazy lists for how to have a very bad dog. A fun read to pass the time over a few lazy hours perhaps? However...

The book is very light on cartoons, limiting them to chapter beginning splash pages, drawn in a fairly static style, suited more to subject matter of a more serious nature.

There is the occasional funny anecdote and witty one liner on dog behaviour from well known celebrities but these are so sparse they become a welcome break from the instructional tone of the majority of the content.

How to Have a Very Bad Dog reads exactly like an instructional manual for how to have a very bad dog. If you actually tried the methods described you would indeed end up with a dog with very poor behaviour.

For example, the book helps you choose the right breed of dog to ensure you elicit bad behaviour. If you have a small apartment buy a big dog that requires plenty of exercise. It's funny because it's true doesn't exactly apply. It's just true. You would be off to a good start if you followed that advice.

Much of this book is like that. Real advice that would actually work. So much so that, what I took away from reading it, was recognizing things that I might be doing that are causing my own dogs to behave in less desirable ways.

You could easily retitle the book to something like Why Your Dog is Behaving Badly and sell it as a self help guide to correcting bad behaviour in dogs. A book that shows you what not to do if you don't want a living nightmare for a dog.

As a gift, I enjoyed receiving this book. The title promises a humorous read and I'm sure any dog lover would get a laugh from the title alone. I certainly did.

Once you start reading though, it really is a manual on how to have a very bad dog. The methods don't come across as particularly humorous. You may even recognize some of the techniques as things you're actually doing yourself, not realizing it's encouraging bad behaviour.

It's a book that's trying to be funny because it's true. As I said earlier, it doesn't really succeed because it comes across as just true. There's nothing outlandishly funny or so crazily extreme that you would never consider trying it, and no parody that is rediculously, laugh out loud silly. It's all practical advice that would probably work.

On that level, you'd only buy How to Have a Very Bad Dog as a gift for the comedy value of the title alone. It's not the type of book that I can see anyone re-reading to revist some great, slap stick, dog humor. Seems a bit of a missed opportunity in that regard.

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