Best Dog Training Books for Any Purpose

I’ve got several dog training books in my store and it may be confusing as to which one is best for your particular needs.  Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered!

Let’s start with the best all-purpose new dog training books:

  1. Essential Skills for a Brilliant Family Complete 4- Book Set Dog by Beverly Courtney
  2. Train Your Dog Positively by Victoria Stilwell
  3. Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution: The Complete Guide to Raising the Perfect Pet with Love by Zak George

Each of these books has pros and cons.  For pure simplicity of just training, without a lot of technobabble and background, you really can’t beat Essential Skills for a Brilliant Family Dog.  After all, you’re only teaching your dog 4 things- relax, come when called, walk nicely on a leash, and impulse control.  Each of these skills can be globalized- used in all sorts of places and for all kinds of reasons- so you don’t have to teach sit, down, stay, heal, drop it, leave it, come, etc.  Just 4 things, and it’s all positive no force training.   However there’s nothing about potty training or helping with specific training issues.  If your dog has a training problem, Train Your Dog Positively is a better bet.

Train Your Positively has a lot of background information on why we use positive training methods for dogs.  If you have someone in your family who wants to yell, yank, choke, punish, shock, or otherwise “correct” your dog, this can be a good one for them to read and understand.  Stilwell also has advice for using positive gentle ways to fix training problems such as potty issues, excessive barking, and so on.   Some people don’t like the introduction as to why we use positive methods for training, especially trainers who don’t use positive methods for training.  While it’s difficult to hear you’ve been doing it wrong for 20+ years, it’s never to late to make a positive change!

Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution is like Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care book for new dog parents who want to be sure they’re doing everything right.  There are chapters on diet, all kinds of training, general veterinary advice (most notably when to see a vet), pretty much anything you’d need to know as a new puppy parent.  A huge pro is that most of the training techniques described in the book are linked to George’s youtube channel.  We love to watch and learn!

101 Dog Tricks is exactly what it sounds like: a book teaching you how to train your dog to do some pretty cool tricks.  This is way beyond your basic training!  But it’s really fun once your dog has mastered the basics, especially if you’re stuck inside on a yucky day, or if she’s on physical exercise restriction for any reason.  Exercising your dog’s brain is just as important as exercising her body.  So spend some time with your dog and show off how smart she is.

Clicker Training for Dogs teaches you a very specific training method that a lot of people use especially for dog sports like agility and flyball.  There are definite advantages to clicker training- it’s 100% consistent, you don’t have to be near your dog to mark the correct behavior, and your dog can’t confuse the clicking sound with anything else.    This book is written by Karen Pryor, the person who pretty much invented clicker training for dogs, so you get the guidance right from the source!

Don’t Shoot the Dog also by Karen Pryor is for you geeks out there- you know who you are!  This one really gets into the science of operant conditioning, of which positive reinforcement is a part.  However it’s really a fun read.  Operant conditioning works on any species because we all learn basically the same way, so you can use it on your cat, employees, children, and spouse!  Just don’t tell them I said that 🙂

Keeping the Peace by Nicole Wilde is for people who are having inter-dog aggression problems.  It would be nice if nobody ever needed this book but unfortunately a lot of people do.  Really good advice is in here.  Just skip the parts on alternative therapies.  If your dogs are fighting, they need more than TTouch!  The training bits are actually quite good.

So there you have it- the best dog training books for pretty much any situation!