For dog obsessed individuals like us, you can never learn enough about dogs and the behaviour. Below, we look at what many consider to be the best of the best dog training books around. These are general dog training and behaviour titles, so they won’t necessarily directly teach you what to do about specific issues such as resource guarding or aggression. What they do offer, however, is an excellent foundation on which to build your understanding of canine learning and behaviour. For more specific issues, be sure to see our other recommended reading lists.
Best dog behaviour books
Before you grab the treats and clicker, it’s incredibly useful to understand how dogs “work” on a more fundamental level. How they learn, what motivates them, why they do what we ask them to (and why they don’t!), what works in training and, of course, what doesn’t. The following titles are not strictly dog training books per say, however, you may find that they can be even more useful. Dog behaviour books form the essential groundwork, on top of which all of your interactions with your dog will be influenced.
The Other End Of The Leash by Patricia B McConnell, PhD
An absolute classic in the world of dog training and behaviour. Patricia McConnell is adored the world over. She is an applied animal behaviourist and dog trainer with over 20 years experience. In The Other End Of The Leash, McConnell teaches:
- How primates (us) and canids (our dogs) speak different native body languages
- The importance of becoming aware of your own behaviour
- How our behaviour is seen by, and therefore goes on to influence, your dog
- How much of our struggles with our dogs are merely miscommunication and can be fixed
- The consequences of ‘getting dominant’ over your dog
On Talking Terms With Dogs by Turid Rugaas
Norwegian dog trainer Turid Rugaas has dedicated her life to studying canine social interaction. With 500+ 5-star reviews, her book On Talking Terms With Dogs:
- Contains colour images displaying the 30+ signals dogs use to communicate with each other
- Has explanations of particular behaviours and facial expressions that most of us don’t even notice
- Gives an introduction to the concept of “calming signals” – how dogs communicate when they are trying to avoid conflict.
- Lets you learn how to identify stress in your dog and when they need you to rescue them from seemingly innocent situations
- Goes into how to rehabilitate dogs that have stopped reading or giving calming signals
- Enables you to become a natural at reading dog behaviour in your home and community, allowing you to build a solid relationship with the dogs around you.
Don’t Shoot The Dog by Karen Pryor
This book gives so much more than teaching you how to train a dog. Principles from Don’t Shoot The Dog can be used for training any animal, including dogs, cats, horses and dolphins. It is also an excellent reference for how to teach and motivate children and adults alike. Don’t Shoot The Dog:
- Focuses on the principles of behaviour modification without the use of force
- Introduces you to the world of positive reinforcement.
- Gives 8 methods for ending any kind of undesirable behaviour
- Shares the 10 laws of ‘shaping’ behaviour, without strain or pain
- Is suitable for anyone interested in teaching or training – trainers, parents, managers, coaches, spouses.
Best dog training books
Want to teach your dog how to sit, stay, come and more? Chances are, this is what that you came for. These dog training books touch on dog training theory, but mostly focus on how to teach specific commands, particularly ones used in obedience. Written by experienced, qualified authors to help you train your dog in the fairest, most reliable way possible.
How to Behave So Your Dog Behaves by Dr Sophia Yin, DVM, MS
A scientifically sound and practical approach to training your dog, written by the respected animal behaviourist and veterinarian Dr Sophia Yin. How To Behave So Your Dog Behaves chapters contain:
- Understanding dogs, their domestication and how they interact
- The science of learning – how to modify behaviours
- How to train standard obedience commands such as sit, heel and recall
- Tips for solving common problems such as mouthing, separation anxiety and toy possessiveness
The Power Of Positive Dog Training by Pat Miller
Pat Miller has trained dogs for over 30 years and has used many different training methods within that time. Her experience working with dogs and handlers led her to discover which techniques and approaches are most fair and effective.
The Power Of Positive Dog Training
- Includes Miller’s training principles
- Shares the importance of observing, understanding and reacting to your dog’s body language
- Is divided into 3 sections: Laying the relationship foundation, training basic exercises, and addressing behaviour challenges
- Instructs how to both train with and fade out the clicker
- Covers an easy to follow, step-by-step, 6-week program
- Includes a diary to help you track your progress, as well as suggestions for yummy treats
Best dog trick training book
When you want to take a timeout from the serious behaviour reading, trick training can really make you smile. Trick training is a wonderful way to strengthen your bond, as well as keep things light and fun. The moves don’t need to be precise, so there’s no pressure or frustration. It’s also a great way to entertain guests. Who doesn’t enjoy seeing a dog fetch a drink from the fridge?
If you’ve read Starting On The Right Foot you’ll recognise the following author. Kyra Sundance – known for her on-stage acrobatics with her gorgeous Weimaraners, appearances on TV shows such as Ellen, and her work training dogs for the big screen. She is also the international best-selling author of today’s incredible trick training book: 101 Dog Tricks.
- Has colour photos with step-by-step instructions on how to train each of the 101 dog tricks
- Every trick is rated for difficulty, as well as showing prerequisites to help you get started
- There are handy tips and troubleshooting boxes to help you when you’re stuck
- Contains exercises that can “build on” one another, so you can increase the complexity
- Topics include: Groundwork, Traditional Favourites, Modern Conveniences, Dogs That Can Dance and much more
- Many of these tricks are foundation exercises used in dog sports, dancing and therapy work
- Suitable for readers of all ages and experience level
We all respond best to different styles, approaches and authors. The titles we’ve shared in this post are just a few of the best dog training books we’ve discovered on our own journey. Each provides their own nuggets of wisdom that will forever change how you see and behave around dogs – for the better! Your dogs will love you all the more for understanding and listening to them in ways you could not before.