Training your dog can be challenging, but it’s an important part of dog ownership. You don’t have to teach your dog a lot of elaborate tricks, but basic obedience is a must.
Fortunately, there are a ton of great dog training books available to help in your journey. Check out some of the best dog training books below to get the help you need!
What Should You Look for in a Dog Training Book?
Shelves and e-book sellers are full of dog training books, making finding a quality read that’ll actually help you and your dog tricky. Some are stuffing-filled finds, while others give outdated or downright dangerous advice.
When browsing dog training foods, look for:
- Credentials: Anyone with a computer can self-publish a book, so finding a dog training book written by or under the guidance of an animal behaviorist or certified dog trainer is a must, depending on the topic. For example: for the hows and whys of canine behavior, look for one written by a certified canine behaviorist or similar professional. If you’re after a basic obedience read, one by a dog trainer will be fine.
- Methods: Look for books focused on positive, science-based training practices. There are many types of dog training, but reward-based methods are consistently shown to be the most effective. Not to mention, some practices are cruel and can damage your bond with your pup, harming your overall training goals. Words like “alpha,” “pack leader,” and “dominance” are signs to move on from a book.
- Defined Goals: Sometimes, dog training books get a little lost in the sauce and fail address particular goals, leading to reader letdown. If you have a specific need, such as training a dog with reactivity, loose leash walking, or clicker training, look for books specifically mentioning it.
Many of these pointers are things you’d look for in a good dog trainer, too.
Some books offer a well-rounded look at dog training that’s a cut above the rest. These will help you raise your canine right, ensuring a beautiful and healthy friendship.
1. The Power of Positive Dog Training
In this dog training guidebook, Pat Miller offers a six-week step-by-step dog training program focused on building a healthy relationship with your pooch by using positive reinforcement. It’s a great choice for beginners and everyday trainers alike.
In The Power of Positive Dog Training, you’ll learn about:
- Observing and understanding your dog’s body language
- How to start with clicker training and eventually phase out by transitioning to treats
- Using a diary to track progress and yummy treat ideas
TL;DR: Miller makes training your four-legged friend fun and easy.
2. How to Behave So Your Dog Behaves
Written by veterinarian and animal behaviorist Dr. Sophia Yin, How to Behave So Your Dog Behaves breaks down dog behavior into simple terms and presents ways to apply this knowledge in training, resulting in more effective results. The end goal is a more informed, confident owner that sets dogs up for success.
This book teaches you:
- How the complex science of canine behavior applies to everyday situations
- How to read basic dog body language and expressions
- How to prevent or eliminate problems via effective dog-human communication
TL;DR: Dr. Yin explains how to use canine behavior basics in everyday training.
3. It’s Me or the Dog: How to Have the Perfect Pet
TV dog trainer Victoria Stilwell tackles common canine behavioral problems in It’s Me or the Dog: How to Have the Perfect Pet, including the most challenging cases. It has clear examples for readers to learn from and helpful tips for everything from housetraining your pup to ensuring your sniffer gets enough exercise to be the best-behaved dog on the block.
This guidebook highlights key areas of dog training, including:
- Understanding how dogs think
- Communicating with your dog effectively
- Nailing obedience basics
TL;DR: Stilwell addresses behavior issues in dogs and how to fix them.
Best Dog Behavior Books
Why do dogs do the things that they do? These books seek to understand the canine mind and explore dog psychology.
4. The Other End of the Leash: Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs
An informative look at how seemingly small, everyday actions can impact your relationship with your dog.
Animal behaviorist Dr. Patricia McConnell takes the focus away from the dog and instead examines how human interaction with canines can affect the owner/pet relationship in The Other End of the Leash: Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs. Whether prepping for your canine good citizen test or simply looking to improve communication with your canine, there’s plenty of valuable info here for dog owners.
In the book, McConnel explains:
- How there’s often miscommunication between dogs and people
- How everything from your voice to play style affect your relationship with your dog
- How to have better, more positive interactions with your dog
TL;DR: A dog behavior book helping strengthen the owner/pet relationship.
5. Canine Body Language: A Photographic Guide Interpreting the Native Language of the Domestic Dog
A photo book of common canine body language, including warnings of predation and anxiety and signs of play.
Small physical reactions in dogs can mean big things, but these subtle cues can often be difficult for two-legged humans to see. Brenda Aloff’s guide, Canine Body Language: A Photographic Guide Interpreting the Native Language of the Domestic Dogs , helps owners learn how to detect non-verbal language in their canine companions through a rich collection of photos.
This handy photo guidebook includes:
- Photos and descriptions of dogs in both human-canine and dog-dog interactions
- Explanations of expressions that signal things like curiosity, confidence, and anxiety
- Quiz for testing what you learn
TL;DR: A photo-oriented guidebook to detecting dog body language
6. Don’t Shoot the Dog: The New Art of Teaching and Training
A book promoting positive training methods that can be used to work out common behavior issues in dogs and other pets.
In print for over 20 years, Don’t Shoot the Dog: The New Art of Teaching and Training by Karen Pryor delves deep into the doggie psyche. While not considered a dog training manual in the classical sense (no step-by-step do this, then that), Pryor’s book offers much more, exploring the principles of behavior and how to change canine behavior for the better.
In this book, you’ll learn:
- 8 methods of ending undesirable habits
- 10 laws for shaping behavior
- Uses for reinforcement training
TL;DR: All about dog behavior modification.
7. The Culture Clash: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding the Relationship Between Humans and Domestic Dogs
A book explaining the cultural differences between dogs and humans that lead to our bond (and occasional bumping of heads.)
In The Culture Clash, dog training veteran Jean Donaldson explores the inherent differences between man and dog. This includes the fact that dogs must be taught how to adjust their natural instincts and behaviors in order to integrate into human households and cultures, and how when dogs fail to make this not-always-easy adjustment, the consequences can be disastrous.
This books digs deep into the dog-human relationship, including:
- Ways to decipher why your dog does the things he does
- Common conflicts between dogs and humans (and how to fix them)
- How dogs learn and how we can teach them effectively
TL;DR:; Learn which human behaviors are difficult for dogs to adapt to and how to help them adjust to the two-legged world.
8. Meet Your Dog: The Game-Changing Guide to Understanding Your Dog’s Behavior
An informative yet fun dive into dog behavior written by a canine behavior consultant.
Penned by certified dog behavior consultant Kim Brophey, Meet Your Dog: The Game-Changing Guide to Understanding Your Dog’s Behavior is a book that explains dog behavior in simpler terms, helping everyday pet parents better understand their dogs and their needs. By recognizing and addressing areas of concern, the book aims to build the bond between you and your dog while increasing his overall happiness and well-being.
In this book, you’ll get to know:
- The concept of the L.E.G.S. model of canine behavior for identifying problems
- Specific behavioral needs of different dog breeds
- What the sense of learning is in dogs, and how it differs from training
TL;DR: Learn more about your dog’s behavior and how to help him be the happiest four-footer.
Some training books address specific concerns, whether your canine lacks confidence or struggles to share toys. They’re great resources for learning how to handle problem behaviors and canine anxieties during everyday life and training.
9. The Cautious Canine: How to Help Dogs Conquer Their Fears
A detailed look at how to help dogs struggling with fear become happier, healthier pups.
If you have a nervous noodle of a pup, The Cautious Canine: How to Help Dogs Conquer Their Fears can help. Written by certified applied animal behaviorist Patricia McConnell, it highlights ways desensitization and counter-conditioning work to overcome fear-based reactions in dogs and should only be used for dogs diagnosed with fear issues by a certified applied animal behaviorist or other professional.
This handy guide includes:
- How to identify your dog’s fear triggers
- Ways to create a step-by-step plan for reducing fear in your dog
- Plans to address your dog’s emotional fear-based reaction versus punishing him for it
TL;DR: Ways to help scared dogs overcome fear.
10. Mine! A Practical Guide to Resource Guarding in Dogs
An easy-to-follow guide for owners with sniffers struggling with resource-guarding behavior.
Resource guarding gets the attention it deserves in Mine! A Practical Guide to Resource Guarding in Dogs, a book by Jean Donaldson, the founder of the San Francisco SPCA’s Academy for Dog Trainers. From guarding food dishes to snapping over toys, this problem behavior can be as dangerous as it is frustrating.
In this easy-to-read book, you’ll learn:
- Kinds of resource guarding and how to recognize it in dogs
- The nature and fallacies of canine resource guarding
- How to treat resource guarding in dogs
TL;DR: A nifty guide for handling resource guarding behavior in dogs.
11. Fight! A Practical Guide to the Treatment of Dog-Dog Aggression
An in-depth look at the causes of dog-dog behavior and how to overcome them.
Authored by seasoned dog trainer Jean Donaldson, Fight! A Practical Guide to the Treatment of Dog-Dog Aggression aims to explain dog-on-dog aggression and ways you can lessen it in your dog so he’s not ready to charge every passing pup. It includes common types of dog-dog aggression and steps for assessing a dog’s prognosis.
In this book, you’ll go over:
- Potential causes of dog-on-dog aggression
- Ways to reduce dog-dog aggression and help your dog exist peacefully with others
- Training tips, including desensitization and counter conditioning
TL;DR: A how-to guide for understanding and treating dog-dog aggression.
12. Fired Up, Frantic, and Freaked Out: Training Crazy Dogs from Over the Top to Under Control
An approachable take on how to train the most frazzled four-footers.
Sometimes our four-footers are a little too wild, making training a challenge, but this is where Fired Up, Frantic, and Freaked Out: Training Crazy Dogs from Over the Top to Under Control can help. Written by certified trainer Laura VanArendonk Baugh, this book gives great advice for working with these wired woofers.
Discover these invaluable tips for training high-octane hounds within its pages:
- How to maximize short training sessions for the best results
- Ways to reduce problematic behaviors in excitable dogs
- How fear, aggression, and excitement relate in dogs
TL;DR: Tips and tricks for working with charged-up canines.
13. Control Unleashed: Reactive to Relaxed
Authored by certified dog behavior consultant Leslie McDevitt, Control Unleashed: Reactive to Relaxed teaches handlers how to communicate with dogs effectively while easing reactivity. The end goal is a happy, healthy, well-adjusted dog.
The book includes:
- Easy-to-read format with sharp insight into dog behavior
- Steps toward counter conditioning against reactivity
- Ways to establish trust and lines of communication with your dog
TL;DR: Learn how to help your reactive dog chill out.
14. Behavior Adjustment Training 2.0: New Practical Techniques for Fear, Frustration, and Aggression in Dogs
A deep look at reactivity in canines and how to address it, including illustrations for guidance.
Behavior Adjustment Training 2.0: New Practical Techniques for Fear, Frustration, and Aggression in Dogs is an informative guide for handling canine reactivity, using insightful but relaxed language to break down a complicated subject. Written by certified dog trainer Grisha Stewart, it’s designed to be practical enough for everyday use.
This guide takes an in-depth look at reactivity, detailing:
- How to prevent reactivity on walks and at home
- Ways that fear and frustration play into reactive behavior
- Both written descriptions and illustrations of lessons
TL;DR: Another great resource for owners and handlers of reactive dogs
15. Reactive Dog Tracker Journal: A Toolkit for Tracking, Managing, and Improving Your Dog’s Reactivity
A tracking kit for evaluating your dog's reactivity, measuring his progress, and more.
Written by K9 of Mine’s Megan Marrs with consultation of several certified trainers and behaviorists, Reactive Dog Tracker Journal: A Toolkit for Tracking, Managing, and Improving Your Dog’s Reactivity provides an easy way to keep tabs on your dog’s reactivity and detail his progress through training. Learn more about reactive dog behavior, effective training methods, and what body language to watch for within its pages.
This toolkit helps you:
- Recognize and chart triggers of your dog’s reactivity
- Periodic check-ins to see what methods you’ve used and how you’d like to improve
- Space to journal thoughts and notes
TL;DR: A user-friendly kit for tracking your dog’s progression through reactivity training.
16. I’ll Be Home Soon: How to Prevent and Treat Separation Anxiety
A guide for helping pups with separation anxiety, including tips for distinguishing true separation anxiety from other behaviors.
I’ll Be Home Soon: How to Prevent and Treat Separation Anxiety was written by renowned dog behavior expert Patricia McConnell and aims to help you discern if your dog has true separation anxiety or something else going on. Using easy-to-follow language and real-life examples, it’s a valuable tool for training professionals and pet parents.
Within this book, you’ll:
- Causes of separation anxiety
- Learn how to protect your dog and home from the harms of separation anxiety
- Behaviors commonly confused with separation anxiety
TL;DR: Sniffers showing signs of separation anxiety can benefit from you reading this.
Best Dog Trick Books
These dog trick training books will have your dog fetching the paper and picking up toys on command in no time! They’re also good for challenging a pup who’s already mastered the basics like sit and stay.
17. 101 Dog Tricks: Step-by-Step Activities to Engage, Challenge, and Bond with Your Dog
A trick-packed book full of everyday commands and advanced options like baton jumping and rolling a barrel.
Written by dog trainers, this international bestseller, 101 Dog Tricks: Step-by-Step Activities to Engage, Challenge, and Bond with Your Dog, offers step-by-step instructions for a host of cool tricks, complete with photos. Trick training offers a healthy challenge for your dog, helps strengthen the owner-canine bond, and gives you an awesome way to impress guests!
This book is packed with tricks and treats, including:
- A variety of tricks at varying difficulty (rated and given prereqs for quick review)
- Includes practical tricks like lying on the bed and advanced ones like retrieving a soda
- Athletic tricks that come in handy for agility and other fun dog sports
TL;DR: Step-by-step strategies for teaching your dog tricks from “shake hands” to “get the newspaper.”
18. The Beginner’s Guide to Dog Agility
Learn step-by-step strategies in The Beginner’s Guide to Dog Agility to begin agility training with your dog. Written by agility competitor Laurie Leach, this easy-to-read guide prepares your dog to tackle the agility course with ease and translates well to other canine sports, too, like canicross and skijoring training.
This action-packed book provides loads of awesome tips and advice from a pro, like:
- How to practice correction-free training that keeps learning fun
- How to enter your first agility trial
- How to make your own agility obstacles
TL;DR: Agility tricks to teach your pooch
19. Rocket Recall: Unleash Your Dog’s Desire to Return to You through Motivation-Based Training
A how-to guide about mastering a strong recall with your dog through positive training methods.
Solid recall is less of a trick and more of a treat, as shown in certified dog trainer Simone Mueller’s Rocket Recall: Unleash Your Dog’s Desire to Return to You through Motivation-Based Training. This command may seem like a basic, but having truly reliable recall in all situations is quite the feat for your fur kid.
In this book, you’ll uncover:
- The use of the Double Recall tool for crafting the most reliable recall possible
- How need-oriented and functional reinforcers reward your dog and strength recall
- What common mistakes to avoid that may hinder recall
TL;DR: How to teach your dog to come when called reliably
Best Dog Hunting Training Books
Learn how to train your hunting hound with these widely recommended dog hunting books. From fetching downed game to flushing birds, these teach the basics and more.
20. Water Dog: Revolutionary Rapid Training Method
In Water Dog, sportsman Richard Wolters caters to the Labrador retriever mindset, exploring the Lab’s inherent, desperate desire to retrieve and how to raise one properly for hunting. Cited by readers as the “Bible of Retriever Training,” this is definitely one worth checking out and widely considered one of the best hunting dog training books, along with its companion, Gun Dog.
This book is designed to:
- Train working retrievers fast without heaps of fluff to sort through
- Detail training from puppyhood to adulthood (with Lab-related humor!)
- Use illustrated, step-by-step training procedures to explain each lesson
TL;DR: A how-to guide for training hunting dogs that retrieve in water.
21. Game Dog: The Hunter’s Retriever for Upland Birds and Waterfowl
A how-to guide for training a hunting dog that works on land to flush and retrieve game.
Game Dog is a step-by-step guide by outdoorsman Richard Wolters showing you how to raise your pup as a friend, companion, and hunting buddy on land and in water. Learn to train your dog to work with other dogs effectively and how to train your dog to track and pursue downed game.
This book aims to:
- Shape your dog into a talented hunting dog by one year old
- Train your dog to obey cues and ignore counterproductive instincts
- Explain the must-know tasks and commands of an effective hunting dog
TL;DR: How to raise a hunting dog that works on land.
Best Everyday Dog Training Books
Dog training isn’t always for a fancy job or working out behavior issues. Sometimes you just need a good resource for everyday training at home, which is where these dog training books can come in handy.
22. Training the Best Dog Ever: A 5-Week Program Using the Power of Positive Reinforcement
The positive training read aims to steer your pup on the right path at record speed through praise and reward.
Dog-loving duo Larry Kay and Dawn Sylvia-Stasiewicz wrote Training the Best Dog Ever: A 5-Week Program Using the Power of Positive Reinforcement for the average owner looking to train a four-footer fast with reward-based learning. Featuring color photographs and real-life examples, it aims to have your dog master basic training commands in no time, plus addresses common areas of concern like crate training using positive methods.
This ruff-happy read teaches you:
- How to train away unwanted behavior in puppies and adults
- An efficient 10 to 20-minute training routine
- Make your dog comfortable at the vet’s office, around strangers, and more
TL;DR: This teaches you how to train your dog quickly through positive reinforcement
23. Canine Enrichment for the Real World: Making It a Part of Your Dog’s Daily Life
A book describing what dogs need to live an enriched life and how you can meet those needs in everyday settings.
Written by dog trainer Allie Bender and behavior consultant Emily Strong, Canine Enrichment for the Real World: Making It a Part of Your Dog’s Daily Life highlights the importance of canine enrichment in your dog’s everyday routine to his overall health, happiness, and, yes, behavior. It also features modified enrichment activities for special needs pups.
This book provides valuable insight, including:
- Science-based yet practical language and explanations
- How to create the right environment for your pup
- Ways to offer outlets for natural canine instincts at home
TL;DR: A book centered focused on creating an enriching environment for your dog
Best Everyday Dog Training Books
Puppies come into the world as blank slates, so there are tons of things you’ll need to teach your little wagger. Here are some of our favorite puppy training books to help you!
24. The Art of Raising a Puppy: New Skete Monks
The New Skete Monks are known for raising German shepherds and training dogs of all types, and they’ve offered detailed training advice in How to Be Your Dog’s Best Friend as well as this book, The Art of Raising a Puppy, dedicated specifically to handling puppyhood. Join the monks as they take you through the first three months of a puppy’s life through observations of one specific litter of monastery puppies with photos documenting these exciting first weeks and records about important puppy milestones and training opportunities.
With this book, you’ll learn:
- Types of puppy socialization and their importance
- How to decide on the right puppy for you
- Training basics, like crate training and housetraining
TL;DR: Experienced dog-training monks show you how to raise your puppy and create a human-canine bond that will last a lifetime!
25. Puppy Training for Kids: Teaching Children the Responsibilities and Joys of Puppy Care, Training, and Companionship
A guidebook for getting kiddos involved in canine learning, setting them up for a lifetime of training success.
Pup parents with human kiddos know how important it is for kids to be included in dog training, which is where Puppy Training for Kids: Teaching Children the Responsibilities and Joys of Puppy Care, Training, and Companionship shines as a resource. Using easy-to-understand language and pictures, it’s a solid pick for introducing your non-furry child to the art and love of dog training.
This guidebook covers the basics in a kid-friendly format, including:
- Housetraining your puppy
- Appropriate play and games with puppies
- How to guide your child toward responsible dog ownership
TL;DR: A guide that gets your human child involved in dog training and care.
If you think you might want to be a professional dog trainer, these books are a good place to start. They explain various training methods, necessary training for you, and more.
26. So You Want to Be a Dog Trainer: A Step-By-Step Guide
If you’re thinking about becoming a dog trainer, trainer Nicole Wilde’s So You Want to Be a Dog Trainer covers everything you need to know to start off your career. From the different types of dog training to must-have tools and products, it offers an in-depth look at the role from the eyes of a working professional.
Learn vital pieces of the dog training career puzzle, like:
- How to get an education in dog training
- How to set up your dog training business and advertise
- How to teach group dog training classes vs. in-home classes
TL;DR: A top pick for aspiring professional dog trainers.
27. It’s Not the Dogs, It’s the People! A Dog Trainer’s Guide to Training Humans
A handy guide for dog trainers needing to learn the fine art of "people training."
Dog trainer Nicole Wilde shares years of training wisdom in It’s Not the Dogs, It’s the People! Using her experience, she explains how it’s often the pet parents in need of more training than their four-footed companions and presents effective ways of handling clients while still setting dogs up for success.
With this book, you’ll discover:
- How to coach clients toward the right methods and techniques
- The various personality types of pet parents and how to handle them
- How to handle clients in group settings and one-on-one
TL;DR: A humorous guide for dog trainers looking to “train” pet parents too
An Honorable Mention
While not a training book, this history lesson on the American pit bull terrier is a must-read about one of today’s most popular (and misunderstood) breeds. Pitties are a familiar face in training, so it provides valuable insight for any handler.
28. Pit Bull: The Battle over an American Icon
Author Bronwen Dickey takes you on a journey into the origins of the American pit bull terrier in Pit Bull: The Battle over an American Icon. From traveling back to the breed’s early days to discussing ways to better its future, this book investigates how the muscled mutt came to acquire its fierce reputation and how Americans view pet dogs in general.
Within its pages, you’ll learn:
- How the pit bull breed came to be
- How the breed’s reputation was tarnished
- How to learn from the past and create a better tomorrow for pits
TL;DR: A read centered around history of the American pit bull terrier.
Dog Training Books: Frequently Asked Questions & Concerns
With the boom in media, dog training books have flooded the market, making it hard to sift out good training methods from bad. Let’s dig into the most commonly asked questions and concerns surrounding dog training books.
What dog training method is best?
Most training professionals and veterinarians agree that positive reinforcement training is the best, most effective form of dog training. Positive reinforcement training rewards your pup for good behavior and ignores bad ones, keeping training fun and positive. Over time, your pup will naturally gravitate toward good behavior, seeking the reward.
What are the “four Ds” of dog training?
The four Ds of dog training include Distance, Duration, Distraction, and Diversity/Difficulty. The last D varies by trainer but means the same thing. Knowing these concepts and practicing them helps ensure your pup’s training is well-rounded and always advancing. It also makes you a more effective trainer.
Distance refers to the amount of space between you and your dog during training. This comes into play when you increase the distance between you and your dog when giving the sit or stay commands. The ultimate goal is to maintain your dog’s obedience from a distance.
Duration relates to time, whether it’s how quickly your dog responds to a command or how long your pup “holds” a sit or down position when given the command. Having your dog respond quickly to commands and remain in a commanded position until you release him is ideal.
Distraction means things that grab and hold your pup’s attention away from you during training, like other dogs, toys, and people. Distraction-free training spaces are great for learning obedience basics at first, but as your dog advances, add distractions slowly to “proof” or solidify your dog’s focus on you and improve his skills.
Diversity/Difficulty refers to what your dog is learning and being asked to do. Practicing the same commands in the same conditions gets boring for both you and your pup. Adding distractions increases the difficulty for basic commands like sit, but as your pup masters these (even with distractions), move on to more complex commands, like roll over or bow.
What is the hardest part of dog training?
The answer varies from person to person, and most often, the hardest part has nothing to do with your pup.
Most struggle with patience, as teaching a new command takes time, practice, and repetition. Like humans, sometimes, your dog would rather do something other than “working,” leading to frustration on both sides of the leash. You may also grow flustered with yourself if you deliver rewards too slowly or flub a command.
Other people experience difficulty with finding time or training space, and others encounter challenges with everyone in the household remaining consistent with training.
What is the first thing you should train your dog?
The first commands to start with in training are those centered around basic obedience, including sit, stay, come, and heel. Most pet parents start with sit, as it’s the easiest command to master.
At what age should a dog be fully trained?
In a perfect world, your dog should know obedience basics like sit, heel, and stay by the time he’s 1 year old, but this isn’t always possible. For one, you may adopt your pup a little later than someone who welcomes an eight-week-old puppy, so you start training a little later. You may also encounter challenges along the way that slow your progress if your dog has quirks to work on, like reactivity issues.
Don’t stress yourself out by comparing your pup’s journey too much to those of other dogs. Your dog is as unique as you are, and every person and pupper is always learning and growing. Even the best-trained dogs are still in training as they work on the fundamentals to keep them sharp.
We also have a larger guide to cheap dog training resources if you’re trying to train your pooch on a budget.