It can be hard to know where exactly to start when training a new pup. One of the biggest problems? The internet treats all dog training advice equally, whether it comes from a certified professional dog trainer or veterinary behaviorist, or simply a self-taught dog whisperer. How are you supposed to know the difference?
Though it may not be as easy as clicking a website, books can provide you with a comprehensive guide to dog training that you can trust. And these days, you can access books anywhere, from your local library or bookshop, to ebooks and audio books so you can learn as you go. As a professional trainer myself, these are some of my absolute favorite dog training guides.
This list of the best dog training books can help you to start a puppy off right, to build communication with your dog and teach new skills, and to tackle behavior challenges like fear, resource guarding, and separation anxiety.
General Dog Training Books
The Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson
This is one of the best introductions to positive-reinforcement training out there. It’s a slim volume, but one jam-packed with insight into how dogs think (Can I eat it? Can I pee on it? What’s in it for me?) and how to communicate in order to change their behavior from the undesirable to the desirable.
Included in the book are a number of exercises on how to teach beginner, intermediate, and advanced versions of basic cues like “stay” and “come.”
Don’t Shoot the Dog by Karen Pryor
Written by the champion of clicker training, this book on positive-reinforcement training is entertaining and easy to read. Pryor illustrates that the principles for shaping a dog’s behavior work for any animal—from messy roommates to swimming dolphins—whether you use a clicker or not.
The Other End of the Leash by Patricia McConnell
This beautifully written book is full of anecdotes that help to decipher why we act the way we do around dogs, and how changing our own behavior can help to change theirs. A great read with a lot of wisdom for dog owners looking to build a partnership with their pet.
The Power of Positive Dog Training by Pat Miller
Pat Miller takes the guesswork out of dog training with a unique six-week program to build impulse control and help your dog make positive choices.
How to Behave so Your Dog Behaves by Dr. Sophia Yin
This well-respected veterinary behaviorist walks readers through the most up-to-date science on dog learning and behavior. Yin digs into key theoretical concepts in easy-to-understand language and shows you how to apply them to training a beautifully behaved pup.
It’s Me or the Dog: How to Have the Perfect Pet by Victoria Stilwell
A comprehensive guide to raising a healthy, happy, and well-trained dog. Stilwell walks you through the best approaches to nutrition, exercise, communication, and play.
Dog Language by Roger Abrantes
This encyclopedia-style book translates dog body language and facial expressions to help you better understand and communicate with your pup.
101 Dog Tricks: Step by Step Activities to Engage, Challenge, and Bond with Your Dog by Kyra Sundance and Chalcy
A simple guide to building essential cues like ‘sit’ and ‘stay’ and entertaining tricks like ‘bring me a beer’ and ‘take a bow.’ Endless fun for a rainy day!
Excel-erated Learning by Pamela Reid
An advanced guide for breaking down the science of dog learning and behavior acquisition. Though Reid’s book is geared towards dog trainers, Excel-erated Learning is helpful for anyone looking to take their dog’s abilities, and their own, to the next level.
The Best Puppy Training Books
Perfect Puppy in 7 Days: How to Start Your Puppy Off Right by Dr. Sophia Yin
A simple must-have guide for all new puppy parents. Yin uses pictures and “how to” exercises to help you get your pup started out on the right foot.
Before You Get Your Puppy and After You Get Your Puppy by Ian Dunbar
A positive-reinforcement training pioneer, Dunbar wrote this puppy book to provide a structured but humorous look at how to shape a happy, healthy, and well-behaved dog.
Broken down into six developmental deadlines, including socialization, bite inhibition and house training, this is a great guide to DIY puppy training.
The Best Books to Conquer Dog Behavior Challenges
Help For Your Fearful Dog: A Step-by-Step Guide to Helping Your Dog Conquer His Fears by Nicole Wilde
An easy-to-follow guide for anyone whose dog is experiencing fear or anxiety. Wilde looks at 15 common dog fears including fear of strangers, fear of other dogs, and fear of riding in the car, and offers step-by-step guides to de-sensitizing and counter-conditioning your way to greater confidence.
The Cautious Canine: How to Help Dogs Conquer Their Fears by Patricia B. McConnell
Patricia McConnell demystifies the concepts of desensitization and counter-conditioning that can help a fearful dog to overcome their anxiety. This book will help you to identify your dog’s triggers and create a step-by-step plan to improve your dog’s quality of life.
Reactive Rover: An Owner’s Guide to On-Leash Dog Aggression by Kim Moeller
An excellent book for explaining why your dog barks and lunges while on leash and what to do about it. Moeller provides a number of management strategies and exercises for helping the leash-reactive dog experience the world in greater comfort.
Mine! A Practical Guide to Resource Guarding in Dogs by Jean Donaldson
A practical guide to tackling the innate behavior of guarding desirable resources like food, toys, favorite places and people. Donaldson walks you through the origins of resource guarding, how it presents in doggy behavior and exercises for working through it.
Treating Separation Anxiety in Dogs by Malena DeMartini-Price
Tackling one of the stickiest behavior challenges, DeMartini-Price lays out a methodology she’s developed over the last decade that has helped hundreds of dogs overcome the panic they feel when left alone. The book breaks down in simple terms why dogs develop separation anxiety and provides detailed step-by-step exercises on how to solve it.
Fight! A Practical Guide to the Treatment of Dog-Dog Aggression by Jean Donaldson
This book approaches a challenging topic in a transparent way, offering practical advice for dogs that don’t play well with others. A good starting point for understanding why your dog is aggressive and how to improve their relationships with their own kind.
The Dog Who Loved Too Much by Nicholas Dodman
Dodman, a leading veterinary behaviorist, helps to decode common dog behavior problems with anecdotes from his years of practice. This book takes a holistic approach to dog training, health and nutrition and provides insight on pharmacology for troubled canines.
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you decide to buy something when you click one, we may receive a small commission. Click here to learn more.