Let Dogs Be Dogs

Understanding Canine Nature and Mastering the Art of Living with Your Dog


The book

 In collaboration with our friend and colleague, Marc Goldberg, we offer decades of experience in dog care and training in a new comprehensive guide for dog owners.   


Brother Christopher

No matter what training techniques you use with your dog, the training is unlikely to be optimally successful unless it is predicated on an understanding of the dog's true nature. Since dogs naturally want to be led, they need focused and compassionate guidance. Through stories and case studies, we reveal how canine nature manifests itself in various behaviors, some potentially disruptive to domestic accord, and show how in addressing these behaviors you can strengthen the bond with your dog as well as keep the peace. The promise of this book is that, especially in an ever-accelerating world filled with digital distractions, you can learn from your dog's example how to live in the moment, thereby enriching your life immeasurably.

Book Expo 2017: Barking up the Right Tree by Beth Levine, Publishers Weekly

It used to be that dogs were treated like, well, dogs. But, the American Way of Dog has changed in recent decades, says Marc Goldberg, coauthor with the monks of New Skete, a Cambridge, N.Y., Orthodox Christian monastery, of Let Dogs Be Dogs: Understanding Canine Nature and Mastering the Art of Living with Your Dog (Little Brown, Sept.). “People used to look for a dog to enhance and complement the family unit. Today they look for the dog to replace something that is missing from their lives—love, companionship, support,” Goldberg points out. “They are investing more and more human-type emotions into their dogs, who are not human. This is causing a breakdown in dog behavior and in people’s ability to coexist with their dogs in the profound way that all people want. People get a dog because they want a best friend, but they need to train their dog if they don’t want their best friend to be a jerk.”

Training dogs since 1966, the monks of New Skete come to the rescue once again. Their previous bestselling training classics, The Art of Raising a Puppy (1991, 2011) and How to Be Your Dog’s Best Friend (1978, 2002), dealt with the nuts and bolts of dog training in a straightforward encyclopedic way. This new entry is different, says Brother Christopher: “We wanted to develop a philosophical approach that was rooted and grounded in the canine nature, and present that in a way that can be used with any number of different training approaches so it wouldn’t be one-dimensional. It also includes a lot of first-person stories from both of my and Marc’s lives as trainers. Much of the advice we are presenting is based in real life.”

Brother Christopher, who has been training dogs since 1982, thinks that many modern training methods fail because they are too rigid. “We can get so stuck in our particular training approach that the method trumps real life. For example, if a particular method is described as purely positive, then you have no place in your method for helpful corrections and dealing with bad behavior beyond simply ignoring the behavior or just motivating by food and more praise. What you’ll find,” he continues, “is that you can teach dogs particular skills, but getting the dogs to behave in an appropriate way in everyday life becomes a little more difficult.” He adds, “In our books, we’ve tried to both speak to the average dog owner and to offer our own unique perspective as monks to show how any dog owner can experience that spiritual dimension that is present in any human-dog relationship.”

Meet the Authors

Brother Christopher Savage - New Skete Prior, Hieromonk (priest-monk) director of dog training

Brother Christopher grew up near Chicago, Illinois.

Before entering monastic life, he attended the University of Southern California, Georgetown University, and St. Francis University in Loretto, Pennsylvania, where he earned his degree in philosophy. After graduation, he entered monastic life at New Melleray Abbey, near Dubuque, Iowa. After four years at the Trappist monastery, his deep attraction for the Christian East, led him to leave and join New Skete, an Eastern Orthodox monastery in Cambridge, NY. In 1983, he made his life profession.

Although it is a far cry from his formal studies, Brother Christopher was asked to head the dog training program at New Skete. He had been assisting the previous program director since his arrival at the monastery and had an aptitude for training dogs. Reading everything he could get his hands on about dogs and training, he strived to stay a step ahead of the clients he was trying to help, and over the years he became a mature, world-renowned dog trainer. Brother Christopher believes that his experience with dogs has revealed much about the scope of God’s mysterious presence in the world and helped him to think about spirituality in an inclusive rather than exclusive sense. Principal writer for the Monks of New Skete of their books In the Spirit of Happiness (1999), Rise Up with a Listening Heart (2005), I & Dog (2003), Dogs and Devotion (2009), The Art of Raising a Puppy (1991 and 2011), and the revised edition of How to Be Your Dog’s Best Friend (2002), Bless the Dogs (2013) Brother Christopher has seen them published in many languages and distributed throughout the world.

In 1995, Brother Christopher was asked by the monastery to serve as a priest and was ordained in October of that year. For many years he has been involved in the formation of novices, and has more recently been active in spiritual direction of guests and pilgrims who visit the monastery.  In January 2014, Brother Christopher was elected Prior of New Skete. In this role he leads in the governing of the monastery.

Marc Goldberg - owner/trainer ChicagoDogTrainer.com

 What does it take to offer the best dog training in Chicago? Sensitivity to both dogs and people. Education and credentials. The ability to motivate and gently improve your dog's behavior. Execellent communication skills. The ability to deliver. And most important of all, an abiding love for all dogs.


Marc Goldberg, CDT is a certified dog trainer, and past president of the International Association of Canine Professionals. To learn more about the IACP, an organization of over 1,200 members worldwide, please visit www.canineprofessionals.com  Marc's story began in 1969 when his first dog, Gus, came in to his life. Gus ran out into the street one day and was hit by a car. Fortunately, he survived. When he was healed up, Marc's mother shipped both boy and dog off to dog training school. Mentored by some of the finest dog trainers in the nation, Marc's career in dog training began at the age of 12.  He hasn't looked back since! 


 Marc isn't your typical dog trainer. Typically, dog trainers try to sell you specific dog training behaviors such as heel, sit, down, stay and come. Oh, you want your dog to come when off leash? You'd like your dog to stop lunging and growling at other dogs? You need your dog to stop using your home for a bathroom? You could be looking at week after week of lessons, lots of corrections or tons of food bribery.


I'm not the average dog trainer. I don't sell dog training behaviors. I want to deliver you the dream...the dream of a profound and loving relationship with your dog. When dog and human are in a deep relationship, each meets the needs of the other. 


Fulfilled dogs do not lunge, bark incessantly, chew your belongings, ignore you. Happy dogs get to run off leash at every opportunity at one of Chicago's beaches, dog parks, on in their Chicagoland yards. Contented dogs come when you call them, walk nicely on the leash, and never need corrections or yelling. 


 That's why I train with my signature ForceFree Method™. We simply harness the power of Pack Drive...your dog's natural instinct to follow the Leader. That Leader can be you. 


© 2018 by Monks of New Skete

Monks of New Skete
Cambridge, New York 12816
(518) 677-3928

Chicago Dog Trainer
Elgin, Illinois 60124
(800) 516-0001