Whether you are undertaking basic obedience training, advanced training or specialized training with your dog, the best dog training books are a must-have resource. The following books are well-regarded in the dog training community and come from only the most experienced trainers.
Training a dog is a tough job, especially if you've just adopted a young puppy. If you ask any professional dog trainer what they believe is the right way to train a dog, it's likely that you'll get a different story from every person you inquire. That's because there is definitely no single right way to go about it.
- clicker training
- positive reinforcement training
- dominance based training
…among others. So, before you even bring your puppy home, you need to do some research to figure out which dog training method you would like to use, and what commands you'll need to teach your puppy first. Then, once you’ve chosen how you want to train your dog, you will need to find a guide or manual to help you along the way. That's where the best dog training books come in!
The below list of 25 best books on how to train dogs should get you started on your journey to successful canine obedience training whether you're a newbie or an experience dog owner or trainer. However, I always recommend that you still consult a professional dog trainer if you're not comfortable, or notice any signs of aggression in your dog.
25 Best Dog Training Books
for beginners and advanced dog trainers
Top 10 Basic Dog Obedience Training Books
1. The Art of Raising a Puppy
by The Monks of New Skete
Written by the Monks of New Skete, who have decades of experience in training dogs as well as breeding and raising German Shepherds, this is one of the best dog training books for any owner of a new puppy.
The newest edition of this book includes everything you need to know to train a well-behaved pup from basic commands to health, to the impact of urban life on your dog’s development.
2. Team Dog: How to Train Your Dog — the Navy SEAL Way
by Mike Ritland
Released in early 2015, this New York Times bestseller focuses on the use of military principles to gain your dog’s trust for success in training. With so many positive reviews from newbie dog owners and aspiring dog trainers, this book is one of the must-reads.
With 15 years of experience in training dogs, professional canine handler Mike Ritland incorporates everything the dog owner needs to know to create a strong bond with their dog and succeed at training them.
3. Perfect Puppy in 7 Days: How to Start Your Puppy Off Right
by Dr Sophia Yin
Written by a doctor of veterinary sciences, this book approaches puppy training during the first seven days after you've adopted him and brought them puppy into your home. Dr. Sophia Yin believes that this short time creates a blueprint for your puppy’s behavior and their expectation from you as their owner.
This book balances the need for dog training with the desire to build a strong bond with your new puppy for future training success and a healthy relationship with your dog.
4. How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend: The Classic Training Manual for Dog Owners
by Monks of New Skete
This is an easy to understand and informally written guide that covers the philosophy of being a dog owner as well as most essential, basic dog training tips from the Monks themselves. Try it at least for something a little different and unique, if nothing else.
5. Dog Training For Dummies
by Jack and Wendy Volhard
There's always a time and a place for tips from the most famous book series. And although it seems like just another “For Dummies” gimmick, this dog training book is a good guide for the newcomer to training dogs. If you’re tackling training your first dog and have no idea where to start, this is the ideal beginner's guide.
This book includes the basics of sit, stay, and down, but it also teaches you how to deter your dog from unwanted behavior and other groundwork.
6. Training the Best Dog Ever: A 5-Week Program Using the Power of Positive Reinforcement
by Dawn Sylvia-Stasiewicz
Written by the Obama’s dog trainer, “Training the Best Dog Ever: A 5-Week Program Using the Power of Positive Reinforcement” by Dawn Sylvia-Stasiewicz focuses on a positive approach to basics of obedience dog training.
This now popular book helps dog owners through those basic lessons in obedience training, but it also considers how to create a happy and well-balanced dog by eliminating punishment during training, and foster a good relationship between you and your puppy.
7. Before and After Getting Your Puppy: The Positive Approach to Raising a Happy, Healthy, and Well-Behaved Dog
by Ian Dunbar
This is one of my favorite recommendations for puppy-to-be owners. Rather than focusing on dog training techniques after a puppy comes home, this book prepares puppy owners before their puppy joins them in their home.
I like this dog training book because it creates a solid foundation for new puppy parents before they have a chance to influence their new puppy’s behavior. This extensive guide covers everything from selecting a puppy from a litter to teaching and succeeding with basic obedience lessons.
8. The Power of Positive Dog Training
by Pat Miller
The second edition of Pat Miller’s “The Power of Positive Dog Training” incorporates a six-week training guide into a well-rounded training guide. Miller touches on various training methods including clicker training and treat training.
What I love most about this obedience training book is that Pat Miller addresses how important it is to understand your dog’s body language. She even teaches you how to properly observe and understand your own dog’s body cues.
9. 12 Terrible Dog Training Mistakes Owners Make That Ruin Their Dog’s Behavior… and How to Avoid Them
by Dr. Suzanne Hetts
Unlike other best dog training books on this list, Dr. Suzanne Hetts’ guide focuses on the “don’t’s” rather than the “do’s”. It’s important to know how to properly train your dog, but this manual makes a great supplementary guide to help you to avoid long-lasting mistakes.
I mostly recommend this book for new and inexperienced dog owners along with any of the solid training guides listed. This is a good book to start with, but you'll need a few others on this list for a complete picture of training.
10. Puppy Training: Puppy Training, Proven and Fast Working Techniques to Train Your Puppy In Obedience, Potty Training, And Crate Training! – Puppy Training Mastery Guide
by Robert Matthews and Marilyn Willows
Speaking about training puppies specifically, this is one of the most straightforward, easy to understand guides. “Puppy Training” is another of my favorite dog training book recommendations for completely inexperienced, new dog owners – it covers everything on puppy training.
Where other best dog training books from this list mostly cover just basic obedience training of dogs, this one covers the trickier topics that are very applicable to young dogs, crate training and potty training, in great detail. If you can only afford to purchase one book for training your dog, this is a good place to begin.
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Top 10 Advanced Dog Obedience Training Books
1. The Other End of the Leash: Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs
by Patricia McConnell, PhD
Although this obedience training book covers some basic obedience as well as advanced dog training techniques, it does so in a unique way. It focuses on the dog trainer and human interaction with dogs rather than the other way around. McConnell takes this novel approach to training by first covering a foundation of human and canine psychology.
The author is extremely well-versed in the science of canine training and human psychology, and uses an evidence-based approach in explaining the proper techniques of dog training. This is not one of the best dog training books for a newcomer to dog training, which is why this one goes into the advanced dog training category.
2. Fired Up, Frantic, and Freaked Out: Training the Crazy Dog from Over the Top to Under Control
by Laura Van Arendonk Baugh
Sometimes, the well-known dog training approach and the basic tips given in the above listed best basic dog training books simply do not work. And if you are working with a dog that has been particularly difficult to train due to excess energy or behavior problems, this is a good book to turn to.
Baugh focuses on training using a proven behavioral approach and makes her steps easy to follow with simple “how-to” directions that include diagrams and other graphics that help to understand her process and teachings much better and easier.
3. Decoding Your Dog: Explaining Common Dog Behaviors and How to Prevent or Change Unwanted Ones
by the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists
This compendium is something novel compared to other top best dog training books on this list. The guide written by contributors from the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists focuses specifically on canine behavior and how to address or prevent unwanted behavior rather than targeting the usual dog obedience training lessons.
This is a good read for any dog owner just to familiarize yourself with your dog's body language, psychology and behavior. However, in terms of using it for training a dog, I find this book is useful for dog owners who have pets that have been through plenty of basic obedience training but still maintained some problem behaviors.
Another book that takes a unique approach to dog training, this is not the ideal book for a complete newbie to obedience training which is why it goes into the advanced dog training section. The bulk of this manual looks at how to establish successful lines of communication with your dog to make them want to cooperate with your training regime.
In order to take advantage of the information in this guide, it's best that you're already familiar with the basics of dog obedience training, and possibly even some canine behavior. The book is thorough and it also includes a thirty-day dog training plan that is facilitated by Fennell’s focus on building communication.
5. The Koehler Method of Dog Training
by W.R. Koehler
Here's something a little different and original, which I recommend reading even if you're a complete beginner to dog training. This is a method of dog training that focuses on the way that a dog understands their experiences based on previous experiences that they have had.
Unlike other best dog training books on this list, this manual provides more of an understanding of the why and how of dog training rather than the “how to.” While I don’t recommend this book for newcomers to learn how to train dogs per se, it's useful for any dog owner to keep these things in mind and it's definitely a must-read for anyone looking to understand more about their dog’s motivation.
6. The Midnight Dog Walkers: Positive Training and Practical Advice for Living with Reactive and Aggressive Dogs
by Annie Phenix
Training a dog with reactive tendencies or aggression is a task that shouldn’t be taken lightly, and usually requires an experienced and professional dog handler. In her book, dog trainer and author Annie Phenix focuses on the use of positive training methods to reinforce desired behavior and reduce unwanted reaction or aggression.
This is a good book for dog owners and trainers who are already familiar with the basics of obedience training, and are currently working with an aggressive dog. I particularly like Phenix’s knowledgeable approach in this book as she tackles dog training in a way that works with a reactive dog without causing escalation.
7. Train Your Dog Positively: Understand Your Dog and Solve Common Behavior Problems Including Separation Anxiety, Excessive Barking, Aggression, Housetraining, Leash Pulling, and More!
by Victoria Stilwell
Victoria Stilwell is a somewhat famous dog trainer, and she's well-known for her extremely positive approach to training dogs. Her book on how to train a dog using positivity only is the perfect addition for a dog owner experiencing difficulty with their “basically” trained dog.
Victoria Stilwell focuses on common behavior problems that are difficult to tackle and gives you an understanding of why they are happening. She then gives you a “how to” guide of resetting or eliminating these behaviors positively.
8. The Official Ahimsa Dog Training Manual: A Practical, Force-Free Guide to Problem Solving and Manners
by Grisha Stewart
Another one of the best dog training books that tackles working with canines that have behavioral concerns, this is a guide designed to teach manners with Buddhist philosophy in mind. I always prefer to recommend force-free and positive training manuals whenever possible and this is one of my favorite recommendations in this area.
This books falls into one of those “unique reads” category, which I recommend reading even if you're already familiar with dog obedience training and have a good grasp of it. Stewart not only touches on more common problems like housetraining and barking in a unique way, but she also tackles separation anxiety and socialization.
9. Dog University: A Training Program to Develop Advanced Skills with Your Dog
by Viviane Theby
A fun book to go over with your dog once you have all the basic training of your dog down, this is a decent go-to resource for owners of highly intelligent and energetic dogs who want to learn just a little more besides the very basics of obedience training.
Viviane Theby has written an interactive guide here, and this compendium teaches you how dogs learn best, how to build up to advanced skills, and includes simple lesson plans for “how to” lessons. This is a worthy addition to any dog owner's or dog trainer's library.
10. The Secret Language of Dogs: Unlocking the Canine Mind for a Happier Pet Paperback
by Victoria Stilwell
Another of the best dog training books from Victoria Stilwell, this manual focuses on the more complex foundation of advanced training and is significantly different in what it covers from the above mentioned book of hers.
In “The Secret Language of Dogs,” Victoria Stilwell now covers life and behavior from your dog’s point of view, so that you can work with your canine companion to succeed in training. She explains the importance of communicating effectively with your dog and how to strengthen your bond.
Top 5 Specialized Dog Training Books
1. 101 Dog Tricks: Step by Step Activities to Engage, Challenge, and Bond with Your Dog
by Kyra Sundance
One of the most popular dog training books and a yearly best seller on Amazon, the “101 Dog Tricks” is probably part of every dog owner's and aspiring dog trainer's library. It's best for those who want a straight up list of dog tricks rather than explanation on how to train a dog, no philosophy or science of canine training.
So ff you are looking for a huge library of tricks or tasks to teach your dog who already knows basic obedience, this is a good book to start with. With 101 tricks to choose from, none of which take all that long to learn, this is a good book for a rainy day or to stimulate the easily bored dog. A must have for any dog lover's library!
2. The Beginner’s Guide to Dog Agility
by Laurie Leach
If you are looking into agility training with your obedience trained dog, this book is a great starting point. Leach covers a step by step how-to for all basic agility obstacles, but she also touches on how agility can be used to strengthen your bond with your dog.
This is one of the best dog training books specifically on agility training, and it deserves your attention mostly because it teaches readers about pre-agility training as well and gives detailed advice on correction-free training and discusses step-by step agility training techniques and methods.
3. Puppy Sleep Training – The Exhausted Puppy Owner's Nighttime Survival Guide
by Rebecca Setler
One of the hardest parts of working with a new puppy is making it through the first few weeks of sleep training. This book by Rebecca Setler includes everything the “exhausted” puppy owner needs to know to make sleep training a breeze and eliminate night time puppy crying and accidents.
While this will not help you with everything you need to know about caring for and training a puppy, it's a great addition for anybody who's about to adopt or have just adopted a puppy. This information will save you time and stress.
4. Gun Dog: Revolutionary Rapid Training Method
by Richard A. Wolters and John W. Randolph
Gun dog training can be particularly difficult, but this rapid training method by avid hunters and gun dog owners Wolters and Randolph has proven effective for over forty years, and has been a part of most current gun dog owners' libraries. Published over 50 years ago in 1961, this gun dog training book remains relevant today and offers some proven techniques and step-by-step instructions on training a gun dog using supplementary tools.
5. U.S. Military Working Dog Training Handbook
by Department of Defense
Another unique read, this time focused on working dog training and specifically military dog training. It's one of the best dog training books on this specific topic. Written by contributors from the U.S. Department of Defense, it focuses on training the U.S. Military working dogs. It has proven effective for many civilian dogs too.
If you are interested in training a working dog, this handbook offers a great starting point and covers basic commands and advanced obstacle course navigation tips.
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