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Interview: Lisa Tenzin-Dolma, Author of THE HEARTBEAT AT YOUR FEET

Categories: Author Interviews, Chuck Sambuchino's Guide to Literary Agents Blog, Dog Stuff, What's New.

In celebration of my latest humor book, RED DOG / BLUE DOG: WHEN POOCHES GET POLITICAL (Running Press, August 2012), which features political humor and funny dogs, I am featuring interviews with other dog book writers. It’s very exciting to shine light on books from other writers who also share a love for canines.

This week it’s Lisa Tenzin-Dolma, a canine psychologist and the author of The Heartbeat at Your Feet: A Practical, Compassionate New Way to Train Your Dog. Lisa is the director and principal of The International School of Canine Psychology, training dog owners and prospective dog psychologists in science-based compassionate methods. She is the founder of The Dog Helpline, which offers distance advice to dog owners and rescue shelters around the world.

Lisa fosters elderly dogs for the Oldies Club dog charity in the UK, is advisor to several other rescue shelters, and actively campaigns to raise public awareness of puppy farming/dog battery farming. She enjoys working with dogs of all breeds and ages. Her latest book, Dog Training: The Essential Guide, has just come out in the UK and was published worldwide on January 30, 2013.

GIVEAWAY: Lisa is excited to give away a free copy of her book to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Update: vrundell won.)

 

the-heartbeat-at-your-feet-book              lisa-tenzin-dolma-writer-author

 

 

 

Currently own dogs? Tell us their names, breeds and one amusing fact per dog.

Skye, my five year old Deerhound-Greyhound Lurcher boy, lives permanently with me, and there’s usually a foster dog staying, too – we have a new foster arriving in a couple of days. Skye is a gentle giant, a bundle of fun to be around, and he has a lot of eccentricities. Because he’s a tall dog, visitors are always amused by the way he likes to sit in an armchair like a human, with his back paws on the floor and his front paws slung over the side of the chair.

In one sentence, what is your book (or latest dog-related book) about?

The Heartbeat at Your Feet is about how to understand, communicate effectively with and train your dog, using compassionate methods that strengthen the bond between you and your dog.

When did it come out? Publisher? Any notable awards or praise for it?

It came out in October 2012, through Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. Although it’s only been out for a short time, it’s already had some wonderful endorsements from a number of people who are involved with dogs via working with them, writing about them and producing TV shows about them. These include Professor Stanley Coren, Professor Paul Halpern, Amelia Kinkade and Cheri Lucas, and I feel very honored that they’re so enthusiastic about the book.

(How much should an outside edit cost writers?)

What inspired you to write this book?

I grew up with dogs, trained as a canine psychologist and now teach canine psychology. I foster elderly dogs for a wonderful UK rescue charity called “Oldies Club.” Dogs are said to be our best friend, and this is how it should be, yet so many relationships between owners and dogs break down because of misunderstandings about how dogs think and why they behave in certain ways.

In my work I use what I term the “Sympatico method” to develop harmony between dogs and owners. This involves assessing what is going on in the dog’s mind, finding the cause of the problem, and then using gentle reward-based methods to teach the dog to relax and trust the owner. This is very effective for eliminating unhelpful behavior traits while allowing the dog to learn the desired appropriate responses. “Sympatico” is in direct opposition to the “alpha” dominance approach which has been prevalent for a long time and which is now proven to be scientifically unsound. I rehabilitate a lot of very anxious and fearful dogs who need help because they’ve been traumatized by the previous use of “dominance” methods.

I wrote Heartbeat because I felt there was a need for a book that includes the latest research into dog behavior and the canine mind, yet is easy for dog owners to understand. I included lots of personal anecdotes and case histories that illustrate the principles of positive dog training. There are lots of enjoyable exercises throughout the book designed to show “who” your dog really is—it offers a whole new perspective to readers!

What kind of writing were you doing before the book?

I’ve had 16 books published to date. Many of these are self-help and personal development books. I also wrote a novel and a short guide to adopting rescue dogs. Since ‘Heartbeat’ went to my publisher, I’ve also written a book called Dog Training: The Essential Guide, just published by Need2Know Books. I’ve had over 500 articles published on numerous subjects, too.

How did you find your agent? 

My agent is Claire Gerus, and we initially connected through LinkedIn. Claire read some of my work, liked it, and we bounced ideas back and forth until I came up with the proposal for “Heartbeat.” She’s fantastic to work with and has become a good friend as well as my agent.

What has been the biggest surprise or learning experience you’ve seen through the process of seeing your book(s) get published?

The amount of enthusiastic feedback I’ve received from readers—it’s really surprised and delighted me! It’s wonderful to know that people take the time and make the effort to let me know how the book changed their relationships with their dogs. It makes me especially happy to hear that a dog who was about to be given up because of previous issues is now a calm, relaxed, valued family member.

 

RED DOG / BLUE DOG is a humorous photo collection of
dogs doing stereotypical liberal and conservative things,
assembled all in good fun. It released in Aug. 2012 from
Running Press and has been featured by USA Today,
PoliticalWire.com, The Huffington Post, and more.

 

Tell me about a fun moment or proud experience you’ve had with your book and readers since the book was published.

My day always gets brighter when I hear from readers who adopted a rescue dog, or got involved with helping their local rescue shelters, after reading A Heartbeat at Your Feet. I’ve also been recruited by BBC radio in the UK as one of their dog experts.

What are you doing to reach out to readers and dog enthusiasts?

I have a Twitter account and three Facebook pages (my personal page, one for The Dog Helpline, and one for The International School of Canine Psychology) and these have been great for connecting with people. As well as promoting my books, I can get to know some of my readers, and I feel that’s important. The Dog Helpline and The International School of Canine Psychology websites tend to bring a lot of people to the Facebook and Twitter pages, too.

(How much should an outside edit cost writers?)

Think of your dog (or a past dog perhaps). If you could compare them to one celebrity, who would it be?

I can compare Skye with Robin Williams, especially in his ‘Patch Adams’ role. Skye can be a real clown, but he’s a calm and gentle muse and mentor to my foster dogs when they need tender loving care and healing.

Favorite of these dog movies? — “Best in Show,” “101 Dalmatians,” “The Shaggy Dog.”

All of them. I can’t resist any movie that features a dog!

Where can people find you on the Internet? (Websites, etc)

My personal website is at http://www.tenzindolma.co.uk

The International School of Canine Psychology is at http://www.theiscp.com

The Dog Helpline is at http://www.thedoghelpline.com

What’s next up for you, writing-wise?

Dog Training: The Essential Guide came out in Jan. 2013 through Need2Know Books. This very practical book shows how to train your dog using positive methods.

My agent now has a new proposal for an in-depth book about how to help your dog overcome a wide range of behavior issues, and I’ve started writing it.

I’m just completing two short guidebooks for a charity called CARIAD, which works with the UK government to raise awareness of the terrible cruelty that dogs endure in puppy farms/dog battery farms.

One little book is for rescue charities that take in these special needs dogs, and the other is for fosterers and adopters who need help to rehabilitate the dogs.

GIVEAWAY: Lisa is excited to give away a free copy of her book to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Update: vrundell won.)

 


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4 Responses to Interview: Lisa Tenzin-Dolma, Author of THE HEARTBEAT AT YOUR FEET

  1. Debbie says:

    My dogs are all rescues – from both Lab Rescue and the local shelter. Between loving and caring for them, volunteering at the shelter, and looking towards a training certificate, I’m happily busy in their world. Your efforts, among others, are so much appreciated. I would love to read your book as an added bonus to my ‘doggie days’. Thanks for sharing.

  2. vrundell says:

    Sounds like a great guide book! We’re proud of our rescue–Jessie, a lovely Lab-Pittbull mix. She’s loving and adores our kids immeasurably. Best wishes on this book and the rest.

  3. Lina Moder says:

    This sounds like such a wonderful way to truly communicate with our dogs. I love how it’s gentle and tailored to their personality!!

    It’s awesome you foster dogs!! Lots of wonderful work, thank you on behalf of all dog owners everywhere for giving us helpful resources:)

    linamoder at gmail dot com

  4. Chuck Sambuchino says:

    Just wanted to stop and thank Lisa real quick for stopping on the blog! Congrats on HEARTBEAT AT YOUR FEET!

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