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Training the Dog – Robert Tell Lemmon,1914

Before there was a divided commercialized dog training industry and mass-produced training collars available how did people "train the dog"?

Lemmon's book was published over a century ago while most American's still traveled by horse and carriage.

The practical advice that can be gained by this book:

  • Choose the right dog that fits your lifestyle.  The author is aware of the audience that is he writing to and recommends the breeds of dogs that the average family could manage and train easily.  He is not recommending breeds specifically bred for intense work that the average family can not handle without extreme training and management.  Hunters should own hunting dogs, police should own police dogs, and families should own family dogs.
  • Despite certain claims, training with treats was well established before the commercial exploits of Ian Dunbar and others.  Lemmon cautions owners to understand the limitations of dog training without a sense of responsibility taught to the dog.
  • Like many vintage books, a traditional "heel" is taught.  This is the original functional "heel" command where dogs follow at the handlers heel and not parallel.  The traditional heel is more practical for everyday obedience and more natural for a dog to be successful with.
  • The author, as in all old training manuals, emphasizes the dangers of a bad temper in training and relying more on patience and repetition to accomplish your goals.  Before there were training collars widely available the author used "the flat of his hand, a stick of kindling wood, or an apple switch" for discipline.  He stresses the importance of patience and using such punishment as a last resort.  This book is a reminder that training tool bans do nothing to stop abuse in dog training, as there will always be ways to discipline a dog if it is the handlers prerogative to do so.

Although dog training has evolved dramatically since this publication, this is an excellent historical look into what a typical "common sense" trainer was doing over a century ago, keeping in mind what the norms were of this time even with raising and disciplining children.

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    1. I honestly am unsure. Calcium makes sense. I also read that it is used to release protein in corn products. I wish the author elaborated. It may have been general knowledge at the time. This is interestingly before the commercial dog food boom.

      1. Had to find out. A several generation family breeder told me before bleach they put it in to purify water, and kill parasites.
        Yes there are anti-nutrients in corn causing niacin deficiency, lack of tryptophan, and treatment with lime (masa, hominy) reduces them. If untreated corn is the main staple it can cause pellegra in humans.

  1. I just ordered this book from amazon. Can hardly wait for it to get delivered. Will post a review after I have read it. I’m just fascinated with the history of dog training.