BowWow Book Review: Lipstick and the Leash



I FINISHED A BOOK!! A few years ago, this wouldn’t have been such an exclamation since I am a huge book worm, but with work, dogs, the boy friend, bills, etc. I find that finding the time to sit down and read a book can be difficult. I have really been missing it lately, however, and have been forcing myself to make time for it.

I recently set a goal to read one industry-related book per month (click here to see my original post). I say “industry-related” as books I may choose to read could deviate slightly from topics solely regarding dog training. I already have a couple books in my Amazon Wishlist that have to do with horse training.

Lipstick and the Leash: Dog Training a Woman’s Way by Camilla Gray-Nelson was a book I’ve been meaning to read for some time. I saw Camilla at the IACP (International Association of Canine Professionals) 2013 Conference this past September and really enjoyed her presentation. I even adopted a couple of the techniques she demonstrated.


  • Published in 2012 by Double Dove Press
  • 200 pages
  • Includes text, as well as black & white photographs
  • Some basic how-to instruction at the end
  • Includes an appendix of suggested training tools

Level of difficulty: Basic, easy enough to follow for those with no dog/dog training experience. Also, the text is quite large – it kind of comes off more like a young-adult read text- & photo-wise.Lipstick & the leash_inside

Content: I find Camilla’s theories regarding leadership and the most effective ways to train you dog coherent and would make sense to anyone who owns a dog. The book is specifically geared towards women, and while there are some mention of emotionality and techniques that would make sense for (most) women, I do not find that anything explained therein would be more helpful to women who are training. Additionally, this book is geared towards pet-owners, not necessarily other dog trainers so some that are professionals in the field might find this book more useful as a recommended reading for the owners.

There is a section that objectively explains specific uses for different types of training collars/tools. I emphasize the word “objectively” because Camilla does not demonize any tool that she explains, and she explains all of them. Even though you can tell fairly quickly which types of collars she prefers to use, she goes over those others that you can tell she does not use frequently, but without condemning those tools or the people that may choose to use them. This is refreshing for me, as I find a lot of trainers spend too much of their time condemning certain tools (or trainers that use these tools) and less time explaining the techniques they use.

training-can-single__85315.1329269628.1280.1280One aspect of this book that I did not really like was the frequent self-promoting that goes on. It isn’t overly apparent and I of course understand that one point of publishing a book is to make a profit and bring more attention to your business, but a lot of the techniques Camilla demonstrates would require the use of one of her “essential training tools”. One big one that she cannot seem to function without is her “Training Cans”, which are basically your standard metal can with pennies inside. These retail for $6.95 on her online store. The theory behind her extensive use of the Training Cans is that they simulate a corrective “bark” that one dog would give to another to warm him/her to stop what they are doing. Now, I use shake cans on occasion with my training, but I tend to gravitate more towards the ones made with an empty plastic water bottle. The sound is less harsh vs. one made with metal-on-metal. Certain dogs can become extremely fearful of the noise, which can be counter productive.

Additionally, she suggests the use of a “Fight-Not Fan” {retails for Fight-Not-walking__37953.1304448202.1280.1280
$12} for dogs with leash aggression/reaction
issues. This is
basically a piece of cardboard attached to a stick that you are meant to use to block your dog’s view of other dogs. However, I did not like this concept for 2
reasons: 1) carrying around a large “fan” during your walks seems annoying, especially if you are trying to simultaneously walk your large, socially-challenged dog, and 2) this method would just solve the reaction, not the underlying need the dog feels to react in the first place. I would find something like a Calming Cap to be more convenient in these cases.

The instructional section towards the end is basic, but easy to follow. She does not really introduce any spectacularly novel ideas for teaching your basic dog obedience commands, but she does use leash guidance & corrections in many of them.

Bottom Line: 3 out of 5 stars. This would be a great book for dog owners, though doesn’t really offer anything new or outstanding for those of us who work in the field. There are quite a few basic editing mistakes (spelling, grammar), though not so much that I found it too distracting. The text is large, which to me felt like they were trying to fill space and make the book seem more extensive than it was. Also, the self promotion of what the author considers to be “essential” training tools (that you can of course purchase through her website) was a bit obnoxious, as well as some of them really not being essential. I do like her explanations of the importance of leadership and calm control, and her unbiased description of training collars. If you are looking for a book to help with training your ill-mannered (but not seriously challenged) dog, then this would be a great read for you. If you dog has a more serious behavior problem or you are looking for a book to expand on your base of training knowledge, then you will want to keep looking.

I hope you liked my first book review, let me know what you think in the comments below!

 Love, Natalia


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