Must Have Books for Dog Training

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If you want to train for a living or even if you just enjoy it as a hobby, it is important to continue to grow and expand your skills.  I strongly believe that the animals we care for need us to be the best caregivers we can be, and to do this we need to continue to get better and better as we go.  The best way to develop our skills is by working hands on with other trainers, as an apprentice with a mentor, or with a local group of trainers with similar interests. The next best option is to read as many books about training as you can.  That’s why we have put together this list of Must Have Books for Dog Training.

I have always loved to read, and books about dog training and animal training in general have always been one of my favorite topics.  Reading can be a great way to advance our knowledge and to pick up tips and techniques from other trainers.  They also allow us to try things on our own, and reference the books when we struggle.

Below are my 7 favorite training books and 4 bonus books that are on my reading list.  They all have something you can take away and use in your own training.

For anyone who wants to order a book for themselves I added Amazon Associate links (What does this mean?) to the titles.

I hope you find some books you enjoy.

  1. How to Be Your Dog’s Best Friend

    • The Monks of New Skete

How to Be Your Dog’s Best Friend is my go to book recommendation for friends, family and clients looking to get a dog or to expand on their training knowledge.  This classic book on dog training is a must read!  I have always admired the Monks of New Skete and their approach to raising and training dogs.  They approach it with love and passion.  Their philosophy that “understanding is the key to communication, compassion and communion” with your dog speaks to me.  They understand how deeply the animal, human bond can go and how to develop that deep spiritual connection.

In How to Be Your Dog’s Best Friend the Monks use their common sense approach to all things dog.  This book covers everything about enjoying life with your dog.  They touch on everything from picking and naming the puppy, training with eye contact, establishing the best sleeping arrangements, how to train with praise instead of punishment and even dealing with pet loneliness. Throughout all of their practical advice, they speak to the spiritual connection between dogs and humans and to the why and how we should work with our dogs in a way to deepen this connection.

  1. The Art of Raising a Puppy

    • The Monks of New Skete

Great dogs start with a great foundation.  The easiest way to have a phenomenal furry family member is to start working with them when they are young.  In The Art of Raising a Puppy, The Monks of New Skete cover everything it takes to set your puppy and yourself up for success.  They will begin with the decision to adopt, how to choose the right breed for your lifestyle, getting your home ready for the puppy, what is involved with caring for their daily needs, and how to understand and communicate with your dog, as well as how to begin to lay the foundations of proper training. They will also speak to how to deal with problem behaviors that if not dealt with can become difficult to address as your pup grows.

This book details everything it takes to build a fantastic relationship with your puppy.  The Monks philosophy is based in respect and affection and they will use that philosophy to teach you how to build a loving relationship that will last their lifetime.

This book is a must have for anyone preparing to bring a puppy into their lives.

  1. Cesar’s Way: The Natural, Everyday Guide to Understanding and Correcting Common Dog Problems

    • Cesar Millan

Although incredibly popular due primarily to his television shows many in the dog training community have criticized Cesar for his techniques.  Although I do not agree with all of his techniques, I think much of this criticism stems from  how television is produced and the need to dramatize the cases he works with.  If you strip what he does down to its foundation much of what he does is based on sound fundamentals.

In Cesar’s Way, Cesar’s use of real life case studies provides an opportunity to see how human behavior can negatively affect dog behavior, and how we can change how we act to improve our relationship with our dogs.  I did not get a lot from other books, but Cesar’s Way has a lot to offer.

I believe this book is his truest depiction of the training style that made him so effective and popular with celebrities like Oprah and Will and Jada Smith.  If you look past his explanations of why his principles work (which I do not necessarily agree with) and there is a lot that can be learned.  Try to focus on what he actually does to create structure and discipline in the dogs and their owners lives.

  1. Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior

    • Temple Grandin

Animals in Translation is not a traditional animal training book, however Dr. Grandin’s unique perspective on how animals think and react to their environment is a great window into animal psyche.  Dr. Grandin’s background as a person with autism and her expertise in animal sciences gives her a viewpoint like no others.  I found her book very informative. It caused me to reevaluate how I perceive why animals do what they do.

Dr. Grandin is also a much sought after public speaker.  Many of her talks center on animal science and on how animals perceive the world.  You can find many of her talks online as well as this one here.

  1. Divine Canine: The Monks’ Way to a Happy, Obedient Dog

    • The Monks of New Skete

Can you tell I am a fan of the Monks of New Skete?  Originally produced as a companion to the Animal Planet TV series of the same name Divine Canine covers 16 of the Monks toughest dog training clients.  This book offers case studies of how the Monks training philosophy was applied to these 16 dogs.  An interesting look at training in action!

  1. Water Dog: Revolutionary Rapid Training Method

    • Richard A. Wolters

This classic book on training retrieving dogs was one of the first books on dog training I ever read.  After reading about Mr. Wolters I sent away for a signed copy of this book when I was in college.  It helped a very inexperienced me to take our low drive family Labrador and teach him the skills a working retriever needs.

Water Dog uses pictures to walk you step by step through the process of training your retriever.  It starts from the day you pick up your puppy and moves through to a completely trained dog.  There are a lot of techniques and tricks from Mr. Wolter’s years of experience that will help anyone looking to work with dogs.

Richard Wolters also authored several other books on training working dogs and family dogs.  If you enjoy his style of teaching you may also enjoy his other titles.

  1. Don’t Shoot the Dog!: The New Art of Teaching and Training

    • Karen Pryor

Don’t Shoot the Dog! was required reading for anyone who ever worked for me and should be read by anyone working as a professional animal trainer or hobbyist looking to understand the principles of reinforcement.  This book will help you understand how to train animals, people, and even how to improve our own behavior.  I think it helps to have some understanding of training before you read it, but even if you don’t it never hurts to read it now and read it again after you have some experience. If you like training and haven’t read it get it now!

Bonus Books

These are four books that I have not read, but they have been highly recommended to me.  These are on deck in my reading list.  If you have or are reading them leave me a comment and let me know what you think.

The Other End of the Leash: Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs

    • Patricia McConnell PhD

Dr. McConnell is an applied animal behaviorist and dog trainer with over 20 years of experience.  In The Other End of the Leash Dr. McConnell approaches training and understanding dog behavior from the dog’s perspective.  She explores how dogs may interpret human behavior and how to use our behavior to improve our relationship with our dogs.  Dr. McConnell also has a website and blog with lots of interesting content.

Canine Good Citizen: The Official AKC Guide, 2nd Edition: Ten Essential Skills Every Well-Mannered Dog Should Know to Train, Practice, and Pass the American Kennel Club’s CGC Test

    • Mary R. Burch PhD

In Canine Good Citizen Dr. Burch presents a ten step plan for training dogs to pass the AKC Canine Good Citizen test.  This plan and the test focuses on responsible pet ownership and basic dog manners.  The AKC developed this test to reward dogs and their families for good manners in the home and community.  The first addition of Canine Good Citizen won the training Book of the Year award from the Dog Writers Association of America.

Must Have Books for Dog Training with the E-Collar

Training dogs with an electronic collar can be a controversial subject, but in the hands of a talented trainer, or a dog owner with a great mentor, the e-collar can be a valuable tool to work with many behavioral issues.  It is also a great tool for beginning to work with your dog off leash, and at distances.  Because of this we thought we would add our Must Have Books for Dog Training With an E-Collar

I am by no means an expert with the e-collar, but Brett is very good with one and has used them in multiple situations to great success.  The next two books are the most recommended books by our friends who deal primarily with e-collar training.  If you are using an e-collar, thinking about using an e-collar, have concerns about e-collars, or are just curious these are two great reads.

Everything You Need to Know about E Collar Training

Larry Krohn

This book is the premier text on working with dogs and e-collars.  Mr. Krohn takes a holistic approach to training dogs and recognizes that we are always training our dogs to be better, or worse family members.  Training doesn’t occur just in scheduled sessions it happens every time we interact with our dogs.  I also appreciate that he expresses the importance of  respecting a dogs needs as a dog and not treating animals as if they were humans.

The Art of Training Your Dog: How to Gently Teach Good Behavior Using an E-Collar

Monks of New Skete

The Art of Training Your Dog is the Monks of New Skete and Marc Goldberg’s take on training with the e-collar.

What do you think of our list of Must Have Books for Dog Training?  If there are any I missed that you recommend please leave suggestions in the comments, I am always looking for new books to add to my collection.