A dog reading a book

A dog reading a dog training book (Photo by Kachalkina Veronika on Shutterstock)

If you’ve adopted a seemingly sweet new dog only to find out it’s turned into a nightmare on four legs, your dog may be scared, have behavior issues, or have a medical problem. Many behavior problems can be resolved over time with patience and consistency. If you don’t have the money to send your dog to a professional trainer, self-education books can be an easy, low-cost option. But which are the best dog training books with the right solution for your furry friend?

Common Dog Training Methods:

How to efficiently train your dog fully depends on your dog’s specific temperament and breed. But, there are many common tactics that have been proven effective over time when training a dog. Some of the most popular training methods include

  • Positive Reinforcement:  This is popular because it emphasizes kindness and consistency. It focuses on rewarding good behavior with a treat, praise, or play.
  • Dominance-Based:  This is where the owner takes the dominant position in “showing the dog their place.” Unfortunately, some people may resort to punishment in a physically harmful way. Some trainers don’t like this approach as it can lead to fear and aggression in dogs.
  • Relationship-Based Training: This builds a strong bond between the dog and the owner, emphasizing communication rather than dominance.
  • Behavior Modification: This method can be a combination of others listed above. It uses positive reinforcement or punishment to change the unwanted behavior.
If you use positive reinforcement to train your dog – you may consider a treat over a toy. A study found most dogs responded better to the food reward. (I think humans would too!)
 
 
It seems as if everyone has written a book about how best to train your dog. A simple Google search returned more than 200 million results! Luckily, we’ve narrowed that down to the top seven best dog training books most often recommended by canine experts across 10 well-respected websites. Are you reading one that is working well? Let us know in the comments below.
 
A guilty Bulldog
A misbehaving Bulldog (Photo by WilleeCole Photography on Shutterstock)

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The List: Best Dog Training Books, According to Master Trainers

 

"Zak George's Dog Training Revolution" (2016)
“Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution” (2016)

Zak George, renowned for his Animal Planet appearances and YouTube channel boasting almost four million followers, offers a relationship-building model for dog training. Praised by Bone Voyage Dog Rescue as “simple, yet powerful,” Zak’s techniques are said to work on even the most stubborn dogs. His book spans various topics, including crate training and addressing separation anxiety, providing a comprehensive guide for dog owners seeking effective training methods.

Since dogs don’t come with training manuals, this is probably the only one you need! According to Pupford, this book not only has a lot of great training tips,  but it’s also very easy to understand. In addition, the book includes tips on choosing the right dog, and how to prepare your home for the new addition.

If you don’t want to sit through hundreds of hours of Zak’s YouTube content, TrustedHousesitters says this book is a condensed version that’s “fun and functional.”

"Don't Shoot the Dog!" by Karen Pryor (2019)
“Don’t Shoot the Dog!” by Karen Pryor (1984)

If you’re looking for a book that’s as fun as it is informative, you’re barking up the right tree with this one. Written by Karen Pryor, one of the pioneers of positive reinforcement training, The Spruce Pets says the method works not only on pets but your kids too!

You don’t need to resort to yelling or threats to get your dog to follow directions. Book Authority says this book offers gentle, effective methods for training without force, punishment, guilt trips, or any extreme measures.

This book may be 40 years old, but it’s been updated many times and even includes a new chapter on clicker training. According to Pupford, the information is still as good today as it was in the ’80s.

"The Power of Positive Dog Training" by Pat Miller (2001)
“The Power of Positive Dog Training” by Pat Miller (2001)

This book by longtime dog trainer Pat Miller follows the positive reinforcement model. The Spruce Pets says it includes an easy-to-follow six-week basic training program and has a doggy day planner for those who like to take notes and keep track of their pet’s achievements.

You’ll love this one if you are a first-time pup parent or a well-established one. Bone Voyage notes the book deals with everyday issues like “barking or jumping on visitors — as well as more advanced concepts such as behavior modification and clicker training.”

Dog Training Excellence recommends this book if you want to better understand your dog’s body language. The website says, “It’s easy to read and offers a lot of great advice.”

4. “The Other End Of The Leash” by Patricia B. McConnell (2003)

"The Other End Of The Leash" by Patricia B. McConnell (2003) 
“The Other End Of The Leash” by Patricia B. McConnell (2003)

“The Other End Of The Leash: Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs” focuses more on human behavior, rather than how our pets are acting.  According to The Spruce Pets, the book, written by animal behaviorist Patricia McConnell, looks at how communicating with our pets can affect their training. The book is also funny and entertaining.

While we often focus on changing our dog’s behavior, this book offers a unique perspective by shifting the focus to how owners act in dog training. Rover.com says the book is “full of anecdotes” and is “a great read” for dog owners.

Dog Training Excellence points out this is not a “step-by-step training guide” but rather a tool to help you understand how to better communicate with your dog.

5. “Decoding Your Dog” by The American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (2014)

"Decoding Your Dog" by The American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (2014)
“Decoding Your Dog” by The American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (2014)

The Spruce Pets says this book is best if your dog has behavioral problems. Each chapter is written by a different board-certified expert from the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists.

If you want a book that is more straightforward and written by vets, Dogtime says this is the one. It has received 4.5 stars on Amazon.

Rogue Pet Science says this book offers invaluable guidance, allowing many pet owners to keep their pets, instead of rehoming them or bringing them to a shelter.

"Training The Best Dog Ever"
“Training The Best Dog Ever” by Dawn Sylvia-Stasiewicz and Larry Kay (2012)

Dog trainer Dawn Sylvia-Stasiewicz is best known for training Former President Barack Obama‘s dog, Bo. Her book, according to Wag Walking outlines a five-week program that requires only “10 to 20 minutes of practice” a day.

According to Trusted House Sitters, this book helps pet parents learn how to “use trust and treats” to turn bad habits into good ones. It’s easy for anyone to follow!

If your dog isn’t comfortable with strangers, the positive reinforcement program outlined in this book can help. Dog Time says it’s also good if you’re dog doesn’t like to visit the vet.

7. “101 Dog Tricks” by Kyra Sundance and Chalcy (2007)

"101 Dog Tricks" by Kyra Sundance and Chalcy (2007)
“101 Dog Tricks” by Kyra Sundance and Chalcy (2007)

Trust House Sitters calls this book the “best for advanced training.” It offers step-by-step instructions so your dog will understand even the most complex commands.

Want to teach your old dog new tricks? This is the book that will help. Rogue Pet Science says teaching your dog advanced tricks is a great way to their their body and mind active.

It will take a while for you to master all 101 of the tricks included in this book. Even if your dog learns some of them, your friends will be impressed. According to Dog Time, the book includes some pretty complex commands such as “Tidy Up Your Toys into the Toybox.” I wonder if this works on kids too?

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Sources:

Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This article may contain affiliate links in which we receive a commission if you make a purchase.

About Amy Chodroff

Amy Chodroff is a recovering Morning Radio Show Host and award-winning broadcaster who recently retired from DFW’s Morning News on KLIF in Dallas. Fondly known as the “Chief Googler” by her friends, it was a seamless transition for StudyFinds to enlist her expertise for their “Best of the Best” franchise. Amy has an innate curiosity and a penchant for thorough research before any purchase and she’s constantly on the hunt for top-notch products. Outside of her digital explorations, Amy loves to explore the world with her husband and is the proud mother of two adult daughters. You can also find Amy on the pickleball court, perfecting her dink and drop shots.

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