My Top 5 Best Dog Training Books (and One That Changed My Life)
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Looking for some dog training books?
I know that training your dog can be a difficult ordeal, especially if you haven’t done it before.
Dog training is something that takes tons of diligence and patience, but the reward is well worth it. You will end up with a dog that can sit, give you a paw, or just not poop in the house.
Not pooping in the house is pretty important. That’s probably near the top of your list.
So whether you’re looking to train your dog to win a show or just not defecate on your expensive Berber rug, these books can help you.
But before we get started, I want to share with you some of the most important tips for training your dog.
Puppy-proof your home.
It’s not a good idea to give your puppy complete freedom in a home, as it needs supervision. If you can’t provide supervision, you should place the puppy in a safe place where it can’t get hurt.
By taking this important first step, you will eliminate a lot of the stress that comes with training a dog. You’ll get rid of many opportunities for accidents and destructive behavior.
Remember that dogs aren’t born understanding English (or whatever language you use).
I’ve always thought it was super cool that you can associate certain words and commands with specific behaviors you want your pet to take. By opening your mouth and making some sounds, you can get your dog to sit, stay, roll over, and much more.
However, you need to remember that if you’re just starting, your dog has no idea what these words mean. Instead of expecting the dog to do what you want, it’s important to show him exactly what you want so you can pair the command and the action together.
Take the time to learn about dog body language.
Even though your dog isn’t born knowing your language, he can still communicate with you via his body language. All dogs pretty much follow the same standard body language patterns, which include:
Without further ado, here are the best dog training books I recommend.
1. The Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson
This book goes above and beyond just simple dog training - it actually explains why your dog acts the way he does. It allows you to see things from your dog’s point of view (which is super important), which helps you approach your dog in a much better way than if you didn’t have this information.
The book introduces the concept that dogs are “lemon-brained” and learn almost exclusively through operant and classical conditioning. Yet, that doesn’t make them stupid. The book explains how dogs can discriminate extremely fine differences and deal with complex social environments, but they cannot think abstractly.
2. Don’t Shoot The Dog! The New Art of Training and Teaching by Karen Pryor
Speaking of operant and classical conditioning, this book takes a deep dive into positive reinforcement. Karen Pryor says that whether you’re housebreaking a puppy or memorizing a poem, it will be faster, better, and more fun if you know how to use reinforcement. And she’s right!
I really enjoyed this book because it tells you how to train your dog without yelling, threats, force, punishment, guilt trips - or shooting the dog. I remember being a little kid and going to a bookstore and getting some old-school animal training books that advocated using physical force. Needless to say, I was pretty traumatized.
I would never advocate using threats or force on your sweet animal babies, which is why I recommend this book on positive reinforcement as one of the best training books money can buy.
3. The Power of Positive Dog Training by Pat Miller
This is another book on positive reinforcement. If you’re going to read about this stuff, I would start with Pryor’s book and then move to this one. Pat lays out a 6-week program of training, which is helpful. At the end of those six weeks, your dog should have a strong understanding of all the basic obedience commands. These basic commands are:
4. Cesar’s Way: The Natural, Everyday Guide to Understanding and Correcting Common Dog Problems by Cesar Milan
You probably remember Cesar Milan from his smash-hit television show, The Dog Whisperer, but did you know that he has a book out too?
In his book, this famous dog behaviorist shows you exactly what you need to do to correct some of the most common problems you’ll encounter with your dog. While this isn’t a training instruction manual per-se, this is definitely a lifesaver when it comes to making sure your dog obeys your commands and relates to you on a different level.
The book shows you how you can relate to your dog on a canine level, why there’s no such thing as a “problem” breed, the difference between discipline and punishment, and much more.
BONUS: Cesar Milan also has a book called How to Raise the Perfect Dog: Through Puppyhood and Beyond
5. 12 Terrible Dog Training Mistakes Owners Make That Ruin Their Dog’s Behavior… And How to Avoid Them by Suzanne Hetts
I picked this book up on Kindle not too long ago and absolutely loved it. I’m a big believer that you can learn from mistakes, but that doesn’t mean they have to be YOUR mistakes.
Suzanne lays this book out in an easy-to-read fashion that breaks a lot of the myths that come along with dog training. For example, she explains why having your dog do what you want has nothing to do with being “dominant”. That’s just one of the many falsehoods I believed before I read her book.
One of the best parts of this book was a part that explained why you shouldn’t let good behavior go unrewarded. This goes along perfectly with all of the positive reinforcement material I’ve been studying. I guess the biggest rule of dog training is this: when your pooch does stuff you want him to do, give him a reward.
This book will keep you from harming you and your dog as a result of bad training advice. After reading this, my eyes were definitely opened.
But without a doubt, the absolute best resource I’ve ever seen when it comes to dog training is The Online Dog Trainer by Doggy Dan.
All of the above books are fantastic, and I think you should read them. I definitely saw some progress with them and I think I am a better person having read them.
However, when I found out about The Online Dog Trainer, I was completely blown away.
I was like, “Where have you been all my life?”
I’ve had dalmatians, pit bulls, beagles, cocker spaniels, and even a pug. I thought I was a good dog trainer and I thought that I knew my stuff… then I heard about Doggy Dan.
Doggy Dan has a TON of material on his websites, including an absolutely FREE Obedience Course and a FREE Potty Training Course.
He even has a podcast, which again, is completely free. It’s called The Doggy Dan Podcast Show.
Doggy Dan also has super specific training modules that are broken down into the following categories, which you’ll see on his website. They are:
The Online Dog Trainer allows people to get a tailored solution to their dog’s problems (based on their situation and dog’s age) as well as get individual answers to their questions.
Whenever I ask a question on The Online Dog Trainer, I get a response fairly quickly and it’s always detailed enough for me to understand what to do.
This online dog training program has over 250 videos that cover every conceivable training or behavioral issue you can think of. They also include real life consultations as he guides dogs and owners through various problems that you may also be experiencing.
Doggy Dan has made such a big impact that his training has also earned a stamp of approval from the Royal New Zealand SPCA. They actually use this training to help their dogs become model citizens! How cool!
So rather than a few books (which are great, don’t get me wrong), you can have access to a ton of materials and get answers to any questions you might have through The Online Dog Trainer.
With a book, you can’t see ALL the details. You can’t see the body language used. You can’t hear the tone of voice or see any cues that are given. The reason I like Doggy Dan’s online videos so much is because I can see all that. I can see everything that he’s doing and model it to the letter.
If you end up watching any of the videos, you’ll see that many of the dogs are difficult to manage and need expert training. However, when Dan explains his logic and applies it immediately after, you can see the change in the behavior.
I’m on The Online Dog Trainer almost every day and can’t get enough of it - it’s easily the best dog training resource I’ve ever found.
Dan is so confident that his course will work wonders for you and your dog that he offers a full access, 3-day trial of his site for just $1. I have to admit that I was skeptical at first, but I figured that I would pay the dollar and take the chance.
Essentially this is a “try before you buy” type deal, because it allows you to get instant access to the entire site and see every video he offers for just a dollar. If you don’t like it, you can easily cancel and walk away.
If that’s not enough, Doggy Dan has a 100% risk-free, 60 day money back guarantee. So you can cancel anytime by e-mailing Dan and he’ll end your subscription and give you a refund right away.
So rather than paying five or six bucks (or $15 or more) on some dog training books, give The Online Dog Trainer a try for just $1. You won’t regret it.
I hope this helps you! I wish you nothing but the best in training your dog.