Wag & Tone
by Karen Laker, Sue Holstead and Ruth MacGill
Reviewed by Sally Marchant, Naturally Happy Dogs
Date 6th August 2014
We hadn’t heard of Wag and Tone before but as soon as we did, we wanted to find out more, so we booked a session to film Sue and the class for an issue of www.naturallyhappydogs.com. The exercises looked fun for both people and dogs, and everyone seemed to be enjoying it. The moves didn’t look like particularly hard work – until we tried it! Squatting while walking backwards is fine the first few times but after a 3-4 minute music track your legs are complaining loudly!
We got hold of the Wag & Tone eBook straight away so that we could try it ourselves at home. The digital concept of the book is great, as an eBook it’s available on mobile devices as well as computers, and it has videos of the exercises throughout. This is an amazing benefit over a physical book, although it did take me a while to get around to reading it, simply because a pdf isn’t a thing I generally sit down to read. I wonder if a membership website rather than an eBook might be more attractive to some people, but that wouldn’t be downloadable and so would require an internet connection. The file is quite large, though, so I did have trouble downloading it onto my phone and gave up and used the computer instead.
The eBook starts off with a ‘using this eBook tips’ page which is really useful. It explains that you can print out pages for easy and portable reference and that the pages print out well on A4 and US Letter paper sizes. I love the links through the book that jump straight to other sections (another benefit over a physical book), although it frustrated me that I couldn’t jump ‘back’… until I remembered that something about that was in the ‘eBook tips’ section! I went back to the start and after a little trouble, found that on my program it’s under ‘page navigation’ rather than ‘More Tools’, but at least the help section told me that it was do-able to encourage me to find the option to switch the ‘back’ button on.
The next section - introduction from owners and instructors is interesting but it could possibly do with being shortened, perhaps to individual quotes next to pictures, maybe with the full stories at the end of the book.
There are lovely pictures through the book which really help to increase your understanding of the exercises. Then the videos of each activity really cement how we should be carrying out the tasks. Within each task the advice is broken down into ‘benefits’, ‘you will need’ etc, starting with the basics but including more advanced advice. There is great safety advice, including details about warming up and cooling down, both for you and your dog.
Occasionally it feels like there is some information missing, such as ‘your dog will need to paw tap’, without an explanation of how to teach this. I know there is a sequel planned but it might be useful to have a ‘prequel’ too, to explain how to teach some of those basic movements. There are some really nice examples on how to adapt the activity if a dog isn’t suitable for a task (e.g. too large / small / unfit). For example, if your dog is too big to go under your legs, try asking them to twist by your side instead.
The book explains well about when to reward the dogs for completing the tasks, although it does focus a little heavily on using treats; it would be nice to read more suggestions about how toys could be used instead.
The “Wag & Tone for Instructors” section is very useful for anyone considering starting up their own group, with lesson plans and advice on music etc. There are also plenty of email links throughout the book for anyone wanting more information.
I have thoroughly enjoyed this Wag & Tone eBook and I am looking forward to next one already!