You don’t need to have all the answers, we’ve picked out some of the best dog training books written by the experts.
It’s a new year, and you’ve got a new dog! They probably already have their own comfy bed, stuffie, and TikTok with hundreds of followers. And you’re looking forward to a lifetime of snuggles, boops, and walks with your new friend.
If your dog happens to be a puppy, you’ve probably also quickly realized that it’s like having a toddler in the house. They get into everything, and they don’t magically potty train themselves. Even if you adopt an adult dog, chances are that they aren’t trained or fully trained on all the basics.
You don’t need to have all the answers, though, because we’ve picked out some of the best dog training books written by the experts in this kind of thing.
Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution (4.5 stars)
This dog training book comes with a recommendation from the founder of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers as a “must-read for dog lovers everywhere.” That’s pretty impressive, but even more impressive is that George was a realtor who decided to become a full-time dog trainer, and he ended up starring on Animal Planet’s SuperFetch, teaching people like you how to teach their own dogs cool tricks. He also has his own YouTube channel with tons of training videos.
George uses humane training techniques through positive reinforcement, and he learned a lot from training his own Border Collie, Venus. He understands that all dogs are different and might need a different approach, but everything comes back to first building a strong bond with your pup before anything else. His theory is that “when you prioritize your relationship with your dog, the teaching process becomes easy.”
The “revolution” part of the title refers to breaking down the outdated ways of thinking that are still rampant in the dog training world. Many people are still using techniques based on dominance, clinging to the idea of the alpha dog or pack leader, and treating dogs like wolves. George wants to prove that this mindset is harmful, and instead offers techniques built on trust and forming a close bond with your dog.
He covers topics like:
- - Housetraining
- - Feeding
- - Basic training
- - Socialization
- - Grooming
- - Health issues
- - Dog-proofing your home
- - Emergency situations
- - Traveling with dogs
- - Exercise
- - Teaching tricks
- - Troubleshooting common behavioral problems such as excessive barking, chewing, nipping, and jumping
The Secret Language of Dogs (4.5 stars)
This book is the perfect companion to Zak George’s, because it helps you understand and communicate with your dog so you can bond better with them. The author is Victoria Stilwell, a highly respected, world-renowned dog trainer. She may be best known for her role on Animal Planet’s “It’s Me or the Dog,” where she saves relationships and households by helping pet parents understand and train their pups.
Stilwell’s philosophy of dog training focuses on guiding your dog and encouraging them to use their own amazing problem-solving skills while having fun on the way. She urges you to give up a little control and practice “gentle guidance” for a more balanced approach.
In this book, she explains all the subtleties of a dog’s body language and sounds in various situations, with plenty of images and studies to back it all up. It’s a great entry-level book for anyone who is new to having a dog in their life, but also great for self-proclaimed dog people to learn a few things they didn’t know.
- - How to read your dog’s body language
- - How to understand the subtle differences in your dog’s bark
- - What emotions dogs feel and how they compare with human emotions
- - Signs of aggression and what they mean
- - Signs that your dog may be in pain
Dog Training Bible (5 stars)
If you want an all-in-one guide for dog training that’s fresh off the presses, this is it. With over 20 years of experience, Sarah Richey delivers tons of new dog parent knowledge that goes way beyond just the basics. The book is straightforward and easy to understand, but it still gives you tons of tips and insights.
It’s the perfect book for anyone who has never brought home a new puppy. First, you get a tutorial on puppy-proofing your home–something you may not have even thought about, plus a list of essential supplies to make sure you have before your new pup sets paws inside your house.
Then it goes into a training section organized from your puppy’s first weeks until they’re 18 months old. Don’t worry if you have an older dog, because she also covers training for them, too. You’ll learn all the fundamentals, including crate training, potty training, basic commands, socialization, leash training, and how to tell the difference between instinctual and problematic behavior.
As a bonus, Richey devotes a whole chapter on dog health and well-being with signs to watch for, getting proper exercise, dental health, vaccination, and nutrition.
The Ultimate Guide to Dog Training (4.4 stars)
Anyone who is looking for a dog training book written by someone with tons of credentials should check out this one. Teoti Anderson is a certified professional dog trainer (CPDT-KA) and Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner, as well as a former president of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT). Local and national dog rescue organizations also turn to her for advice on dog training and behavior.
This guide gives you the why behind the training and explains how dogs learn and communicate with steps on how to carry out each training method. You’ll get insight on the right training equipment, common errors to avoid, and solutions for 25 behavioral problems your dog might have.
All the basics are there, too, with complete sections on puppy training and socialization and basic cues, but you’ve also got tricks that take your dog training a step further once you and your pup have those down. There are also sections on rescue dogs and senior dogs.
Do Over Dogs (4.5 stars)
There’s tons of information on how to train puppies, but what about all the amazing older pups out there waiting for their forever homes?
You should get some info from the shelter or rescue from previous owners or from what the shelter staff has determined, but it could be minimal. Your new best friend might be completely potty trained but have no clue what “sit” means, or they might not have ever been properly socialized and are terrified of everything and everyone.
Pat Miller, a certified professional dog trainer (CPDT-KA) and certified dog behavior consultant (CDBC), also a past president of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), wants to help you give these dogs the do-overs they deserve. If you’re willing to put in the time to train your rescue dog properly, try starting with this guide.
Miller weaves personal stories into her guide that not only keep you entertained but also help you feel more hopeful and not so alone in training a dog that has a few issues. She gives you advice and instruction for dealing with the most common behavioral problems, like resource guarding, barking, separation anxiety, and she includes several really helpful appendices, like some unorthodox yet effective ways to break up a fight between dogs.
Canine Good Citizen: The Official AKC Guide (4.6 stars)
You may be thinking that this book is only for fancy show dogs, but it was actually created to teach any dog how to be a good citizen.
It’s also not just for advanced dog training. This AKC guide is great for anyone who:
It’s also not just for advanced dog training. This AKC guide is great for anyone who:
- - Wants their new dog to be an upstanding, approachable pup with good manners
- - Understands that it’s a two-way street and wants to be a responsible dog parent, too
- - Doesn’t want their neighbors calling animal control on them because their dog trampled a kid or barked all day while they were at work
- - Is interested in having their dog become a therapy dog that visits hospitals and nursing homes
- - Needs to show their apartment complex or landlord that their dog won’t cause problems
You’ll get step by step instructions on how to teach your dog the 10 skills that are evaluated in the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen Program, including knowing basic commands, responding appropriately to friendly strangers and dogs, walking on a leash, and being able to walk through crowds. The book explains the why behind the how, too, like why you need to socialize your dog and how it relates to training.
It also puts a lot of focus on what you owe your dog, from finding a good veterinarian and making sure your dog is safe and healthy to making a commitment to train and bond with your new pup.