10 Best Best Dog Training Books in 2020
Owning a dog is a wonderful thing, but it can also be a big responsibility. Not only do you need to provide your dog with a high-quality diet, but you also need to take him to the vet to keep him healthy.
Another responsibility you have as a dog owner is training your dog. Dog training requires time, patience, and consistency. If you’ve never owned a dog before, you may not know where to start and you might unwittingly reinforce undesired behaviors. The best way to learn how to train your dog properly is to read a dog training book.
A dog training book will walk you through the process of housetraining your dog, of teaching basic obedience, and reinforcing desired behaviors. Every dog training book is different and there are several different theories for dog training, so take the time to survey your options and pick one that you think is going to work well for you and your dog.
Keep reading to learn more about the basics of dog training and how to choose a dog training book. You’ll also see our reviews of the top 10 best dog training books.
Here are our top 10 picks for the best Best Dog Training Books:
#10 Help for Your Fearful Dog – A Step-by-Step Guide to Helping Your Dog Conquer His Fears
If you’re looking for a book that will help you deal with an adult dog who has anxiety issues, try Help for Your Fearful Dog – A Step-by-Step Guide to Helping Your Dog Conquer His Fears. This book is written by Nicole Wilde in a simple, easy-to-follow way that is a must-have resource for dog owners whose dog suffers from fear or anxiety. It takes a close look at 15 of the most common dog fears including fear of riding in cars, fear of strangers, and more, as well as providing detailed tips for desensitizing and conditioning your dog to overcome those fears.
Pros: Easy to read and follow, looks at 15 common dog fears, great for dogs that suffer from anxiety or fear, useful and practical information
Cons: May not work as well for puppies, could have gone into greater detail for some issues
#9 Before and After Getting Your Puppy by Dr. Ian Dunbar
If you’re looking for the definitive guide to getting and training a new puppy, try Before and After Getting Your Puppy by Dr. Ian Dunbar. This book is written by reknowned dog trainer Dr. Ian Dunbar who pioneered his dog-friendly training philosophy in the 1970s but it continues to be useful today. This book provides a positive approach to raising a happy, healthy, and well-behaved dog. It talks about everything from simple leash correction to adult dog training techniques based on competitive obedience with a positive focus on using treats, toys, and games as rewards. Simply put, it teaches you how to handle every stage of puppyhood in a clear and straightforward way.
Pros: Definitive guide for every stage of puppyhood, simple and easy to use information, positive approach to training
Cons: May be repetitive for experienced dog owners, may not work as well for adult dogs
#8 Perfect Puppy in 7 Days: How to Start Your Puppy Off Right by Dr. Sophia Yin
Another great read by Dr. Sophia Yen, Perfect Puppy in 7 Days is a great resource for any new dog owner. This book is a simple, easy-to-follow guide for new puppy parents that teaches you how to get your puppy started on the right foot with basic training. It takes a look at common new puppy problems like nipping and jumping, struggling when handled, and exhibiting impolite behavior. It gives you the tools you need to turn your puppy into a polite, happy, and well-socialized companion pet with a firm foundation on which to build more disciplined training concepts. It also leads you in how to build a strong bond with your puppy from Day 1.
Pros: Easy-to-follow guide for new puppy parents, explores and solves common problems, creates a firm foundation for later training
Cons: May be too simplistic for some dog owners, only good for the first few weeks
#7 101 Dog Tricks: Step by Step Activities to Engage, Challenge, and Bond with Your Dog
If your dog has already learned basic obedience and you’re looking for something to take him to the next level, 101 Dog Tricks: Step by Step Activities to Engage, Challenge, and Bond with Your Dog is the resource for you. Written by Kyra Sundance and Chalcy, this book is a simple guide for building on essential cues like “sit” and “stay” to develop more disciplined and entertaining tricks like “bring me a beer.” Training your dog to perform tricks helps you build a stronger bond while also challenging your dog to think and learn in new ways, keeping him both mentally and physically fit.
Pros: Teaches you how to train your dog to do tricks, helps you build a bond with your dog, simple and easy to follow guide
Cons: Not enough intermediate steps for some dogs, instructions could be more detailed
#6 It’s Me or the Dog: How to Have the Perfect Pet by Victoria Stilwell
If you’ve never owned a dog before, It’s Me or the Dog: How to Have the Perfect Pet is the ultimate guide for new puppy owners. It walks you through the basics for nutrition, exercise, communication, and play to provide a comprehensive guide to raising a healthy and well-behaved dog. This book features simple, intuitive instructions with color photographs that helps dog owners not only train their dogs, but better understand them so they are able to handle new issues as they arise on their own.
Pros: Comprehensive guide for new puppy owners, practical and useful information, simple intuitive instructions and photographs
Cons: Methods may rely too heavily on treats, somewhat basic
#5 How to Behave So Your Dog Behaves by Dr. Sophia Yin
Written by one of the leading veterinary behaviorists in the country, Dr. Sophia Yin, How to Behave So Your Dog Behaves is a bestselling book that provides the most up-to-date science of dog behavior and conveys important concepts in a clear and concise manner that is accessible to new dog owners. It is a practical yet scientifically sound approach to dog training that not only explains the concepts in-depth but also shows you how to apply them in a simple and practical way. By the time you finish this book, you’ll have the tools you need to develop your dog into a well-behaved dog.
Pros: Scientifically sound and practical concepts, useful and applicable information, up-to-date observations of dog behavior
Cons: Uses a lot of scientific language, may be too in-depth for average dog owner
#4 The Power of Positive Dog Training by Pat Miller
Accessible and easy to read, The Power of Positive Dog Training gives dog owners the tools they need to create a foundation of training with their dog for a lifetime of success. Written by renowned dog trainer Pat Miller, this book provides detailed information about the importance of observing and understanding your dog’s behavior and how to react appropriately to his body language. It provides detailed instructions for using clicker training and for phasing it out as well as transitioning out of food rewards into more advanced training concepts. It also has a diary to track your progress and a glossary of dog training terms.
Pros: Provides practical and useful information, detailed instructions for training, glossary of training terms
Cons: Aimed more at adult dogs than puppies, much of the content is common sense
#3 The Other End of the Leash by Patricia McConnell
The Other End of the Leash is a unique dog training book because it focuses on human behavior in comparison to dog behavior as a new way of understanding our relationship with dogs. Written by Patricia McConnel, an applied animal behaviorist and dog trainer with over 20 years of experience, The Other End of the Leash views humans as a species and speculates on the reasons we act the way we do around dogs. She also takes a look at how our dogs might interpret our behavior and how the way we interact with our dogs affects the way they behave.
Pros: Takes a new look at how humans interact with dogs, a fresh new perspective on training, draws on professional and personal experience
Cons: No specific advice for training, more anecdotes and observations than instructions
#2 The Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson
This book describes a revolutionary way to understand the relationship between humans and dogs. Written by Jean Donaldson, founder and director of the San Francisco SPCA Academy for Dog Trainers, The Culture Clash is a book that has shaped modern dog training and has changed the way people own dogs. Its teachings are scientifically sound, highlighting the cultural differences between humans and dogs as a way to better understand your dog. It is full of useful information for dog owners of all levels and teaches dog-friendly dog training in a unique way.
Pros: Helps dog owners understand their dogs better, full of useful tips, dog-friendly dog training
Cons: Uses a fair bit of technical terminology, somewhat repetitive
#1 Don’t Shoot the Dog by Karen Pryor
The champion of clicker training, Karen Pryor, writes this book on positive reinforcement training which is both entertaining and easy to read. This book illustrates the principles of how to shape a dog’s behavior but the principles can be applied to virtually any animal, whether you choose to use a clicker or not. This book is a best-selling classic, and for good reason. Karen Pryor is a groundbreaking behavioral scientist and animal trainer who used her experience to develop clicker training. In this book, you’ll find the 8 methods of ending undesirable behaviors, the 10 laws of shaping your dog’s behavior, and simple tips for housetraining and obedience basics.
Pros: Teaches the basics of clicker training, tips for ending undesirable behaviors, entertaining and easy to read
Cons: Writing is somewhat repetitive, some content may be outdated
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Getting Ready to Train Your Dog
When you bring home a new puppy, it is easy to get caught up in the excitement. You spend all of your time cuddling your puppy and playing with him, so you might forget that you also have responsibilities as a dog owner – training your dog is one of them.
Though training your dog may sound like work, it is well worth it in the end. Think about this – if your dog is properly trained, you can give him a command and expect him to follow it. Not only does this give you control over his behavior, but it can help keep him safe in situations where he doesn’t recognize the danger. It also makes less frustration for you in the long run.
Keep reading to learn why it is important to train your dog and to get a preview of common dog training methods. Once you have an understanding of the different dog training methods that are out there, you can choose which method is right for you. From there, you can start shopping for dog training books to teach you how to use your desired method effectively.
Why Is It Important to Train Your Dog?
Dog training doesn’t have to be a major undertaking. If you start early and are consistent, your puppy will learn quickly and having a foundation of obedience training to build on will ensure that your dog grows up into a disciplined adult dog.
Here are some of the other reasons it is important to train your dog:
- It teaches your dog discipline.
- It helps you strengthen your bond with your dog.
- It can be a fun activity for you and your dog.
- It gives you greater control over your dog’s behavior.
- It can encourage desirable behavior and discourage undesirable behavior.
- It provides enrichment and mental stimulation for your dog.
- It helps build confidence in your dog.
- It makes less work and frustration for you in the long run.
Now that you understand the importance of training your dog, how do you do it? There are many different training methods out there and every dog trainer has their own version. It is up to you to decide how you want to train your dog and then find a dog training book to help you do it.
Popular Dog Training Methods
Before you can buy a dog training book, you should have some idea what you’re looking for. There are a wide variety of different dog training methods out there, so you’ll need to decide which one is right for you and your dog.
Once you choose a dog training method, you can then find the perfect book to walk you through the process. Here is an overview of some popular dog training methods:
- Dominance Training – Also known as alpha dog training, dominance training is based on a dog’s instinctual pack mentality and involves creating a relationship of submission and dominance. Basically, you teach your dog to see the family as his pack and you designate yourself the leader of the pack. This is the training method used by Cesar Milan, the Dog Whisperer.
- Positive Reinforcement – Widely regarded as one of the most effective methods of dog training, positive reinforcement involves rewarding your dog for desired behaviors in order to encourage him to repeat them. With this type of training you need to teach your dog what behavior you want him to perform and reward him for doing it. Most dogs learn very quickly with this training method.
- Science-Based Training – This training method involves cultivating an understanding of your dog’s nature and learning how to reinforce or discourage different behaviors based on scientific methods. Many people who use this method incorporate other methods of training and focus on building a relationship with their dog for a customized training experience.
- Clicker Training – This type of training is based on the theory of operant conditioning and it is usually used in conjunction with positive reinforcement training. The idea is that you use a clicker to help your dog identify the desired behavior and then you issue the reward to reinforce it. If your dog knows what behavior you want him to perform, he will be able to associate it with the command and reward more quickly for a faster training experience.
- Electronic Training – This method of training is typically used to discourage undesirable behaviors rather than to reinforce desired behaviors. Electronic training involves the use of a collar that issues a shock or a spray of citronella when the dog performs an undesired behavior.
- Mirror Training – Dogs learn by observation, and this method of training involves providing your dog with a role model of good behavior for him to mimic. One way is to use a human as a model, praising him for good behavior and scolding him for undesired behavior. You can also introduce a rival to compete for resources which your dog can mimic.
Another method of dog training that works well for some dogs is called relationship-based training. This is not a specific training method but a combination of different methods with a focus on building a relationship with your dog. The idea is that by forming a relationship with your dog, you can encourage desired behaviors and learn how to communicate with your dog.
Outside of actually training your dog, you should also be aware that your dog will learn on a daily basis. The way you treat your dog teaches him a lot, as does the behaviors you allow or discourage. Some dogs are more difficult to train than others, so choosing the right training method is very important. Once you choose a method, commit to it and do the work to train your dog.
Now that you have a better understanding of how dog training works, you’re ready to choose a dog training book and get started! If you’re still not sure where to start, try one of the best dog training books we’ve reviewed above. Best of luck!