The Best Dog Training Books for Every Type of Puppy Parent
You don’t have to be an expert to successfully and safely train your dog. There are tons of dog training professionals out there who have written volumes upon volumes about various training strategies and philosophies. We’ve rounded up the best dog training books for every type of puppy parent, so your only job is picking one and getting started. Or, try a couple! There’s no harm in using what works from several sources.
1. Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution: The Complete Guide to Raising the Perfect Pet with Love by Zak George
Best for: practical speed readers
This book covers it all, from vet visits to housebreaking and everything in between. Don’t expect to get super in depth (in fact, this is a great book for people who used to own dogs and need a refresher before adopting again). Do expect to touch on almost everything a puppy parent needs to consider. Zak George, dog trainer extraordinaire, also has a YouTube channel with over 2 million subscribers, if watching a video tutorial feels like a more practical move for you than reading a 240-page book. The tone is upbeat and his style is positive and communicative.
2. Cesar's Way: The Natural, Everyday Guide to Understanding and Correcting Common Dog Problems by Cesar Millan
Best for: pups who need a little extra structure
Though the pack leader mentality is often frowned upon today (and has typically been replaced with positive reinforcement training), there are some canines who require a little extra structure in the classroom. This is where Cesar Millan comes in. His books Be the Pack Leader and Cesar’s Way: The Natural, Everyday Guide to Understanding & Correcting Common Dog Problems focus on “exercise, discipline and affection, in that order.” Basically, you’ll learn how to think like a canine and effectively use pack instincts to train your dog to exhibit good behavior.
3. The Other End of the Leash: Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs by Patricia B. McConnell
Best for: future Dr. Dolittles
Really get to know what your dog is thinking and how to best communicate with them using this book by Dr. Patricia B. McConnell. As a zoologist and animal behaviorist, McConnell talks a lot about how humans and dogs naturally have different styles of communication (hello, we’re different species) and what this means during training (and life). Get ready for calisthenics, introspection and vocal warmups: McConnell emphasizes the importance of body language, self-awareness and tone of voice when we talk to our dogs, and you’ll probably have to adjust along the way.
4. Don’t Shoot the Dog!: The New Art of Teaching and Training by Karen Pryor
Best for: happy pacifists
Positive reinforcement is widely accepted as the most effective dog training method circulating today. Rather than punishing bad behavior, Pryor encourages rewarding good behavior, thus solidifying your expectations of your pup. Honestly, this has been touted as a good read for bosses who want to improve leadership skills, folks struggling with addiction and parents with kids who frequently misbehave. The author’s radical idea that “affection training” and positivity yield desired results is spreading like wildfire.
5. Perfect Puppy in 7 Days: How to Start Your Puppy Off Right by Dr. Sophia Yin
Best for: visual learners and kids
If you’re a visual learner who likes things spelled out for you, start with this book. Dr. Sophia Yin was a vet and animal behaviorist who wrote several manuals on training dogs using positive reinforcement. This particular book is full of photos and step-by-step guides. Plus, it’s gotten tons of glowing reviews from fellow vets. We recommend reading this in conjunction with Karen Pryor’s book, as both authors preach the positive reinforcement technique as an avenue to establish a loving, trusting relationship between you and your puppy.
6. The Art of Raising a Puppy by the Monks of New Skete
Best for: understanding the big picture
Since the 1970s, the Monks of New Skete have been writing and thinking about humanity’s relationships with dogs. (Also check out their classic, How to Be Your Dog’s Best Friend.) This is a great book to read before you even consider adopting or purchasing a puppy. While the monks have lived and worked with German shepherd puppies for several decades, their advice and wisdom on all things canine applies to any and every breed. Get ready to dig deep into understanding your dog more than you ever thought possible.