I recently had the opportunity to review the latest addition to The Monks' already large library of titles. As one of the few dog trainers not largely familiar with their body of work this was something I was quite looking forward to. Thus, my disappointment was even more profound than it would have been otherwise.
The Divine Canine is laid out in a very interesting way. Covering "problem dogs" on a case by case basis rather than detailing the steps to train away from general behavior issues. However, rather than actual problem dogs, we are simply dealing with dogs being dogs.
Instead of ignoring the undesired behaviors and rewarding for the positive, owners are taught to jerk their pets using choke chains and pinch collars "correcting" "bad behavior"... without ever being taught to properly use these corrective collars. On a personal note, I have never met the dog who would require such a collar, especially considering the lasting and permanent physical damage that can be done by the untrained (and even well trained) hand. They are best to be avoided entirely.
One of the biggest problems with the theories and training methods used by The Monks of New Skete is their application of dominance theory. Much like Cesar Millan, "The Dog Whisperer", they incorrectly assume that dominance can be applied cross-species. This is not the case. When referring to Canine dominance, it is just that... CANINE. Dogs do NOT think that we humans are odd looking dogs. Dominance theory is species specific, and this is EXTREMELY important to remember. They also ignore the fact that dominance is also constantly in shift, even within a Canine pack. One dog is not always dominant over all others, over all things, all the time. Dominance shifts based on circumstance. Therefore, to attempt to force owners to adopt a dominant stance over their furry family members is pure folly.
Divine Canine isn't all bad. The "Q&A", "What if tip", and "Remember these things" quips and inserts are generally well thought out and do contain some valuable information (intermingled with the well intentioned but incorrect tidbits).
All in all? This is one book to be avoided. Instead, for basic manners help try "Clicking With Your Dog" by Peggy Tillman, or for help with an aggressive dog (one real problem dog the Monks' new book doesn't cover) try "Click to Calm: Healing the Aggressive Dog" by Emma Parsons.