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5 best dog training books: how to train your dog

Woman with Jack Russell dog reading a book advice
© Pixabay

It’s time for your puppy to go to school. And while he won’t be able to read those textbooks for himself just yet, you’re probably interested in finding the best dog training books to read to him.

By G. John Cole

Alternatively, you can just read them yourself and put what you learned into practice. Maybe doggo will pick up the basics from you. Anyway, learning to train a dog isn’t always intuitive, so if you want some expert advice then these are the books to try.

Dog training books: the best on the market

Before you go shopping, you need to decide which kind of book(s) you’re looking for. Do you need to train a puppy or retrain a rescue dog? Basic dog training or advanced methods of keeping your dog intelligent and fit? Do you have a breed with particular needs? Or perhaps you even want to train an assistance dog, or a dog to perform at Crufts!

Make sure you check the books we suggest are good for your needs before you buy. You probably need at least a couple so you can set fact from opinion.

Dog Training for Dummies by Jack & Wendy Volhard

You know what you’re getting with the Dummies brand of books: a usable run down of what to do. And the Volhard’s are veterans, having written half-a-dozen or more books about dogs. Jack, who died in 2016 aged 100, had dozens of years experience as a dog trainer and expert.

He led classes, served as a American Kennel Club judge of obedience trials for 35 years, and also exhibited his own dogs at trials. With quotes like, “Not that left foot, the other left foot!” you know you’re in the hands of expert authors with a sense of humour.

The Happy Puppy Handbook: Your Definitive Guide to Puppy Care and Early Training by Pippa Mattinson

Mattinson’s book isn’t just about training: it will show you how to troubleshoot your puppy! Thorough to the point of being text-heavy, The Happy Puppy Handbook is a complete preparation for bringing a pupper into your home. The basics are there for newbie owners, while those who’ve had dogs before will also learn something new.

The author is a particular fan of Labradors.

She has a degree in Zoology, and has been training and breeding dogs for over three decades. So she certainly knows her way around a dog.

Clicker Training for Dogs: Positive reinforcement that works! by Karen Pryor

If you’re looking for an alternative way into training your dog, you might want to try with a clicker. It’s a little device that makes a clicking sound that you can use to communicate with your dog – kind of like a Pavlov’s bell for all occasions.

The late Karen Pryor “is considered to be the catalyst for the positive reinforcement training movement,” according to her dog academy. If you have a brainy dog with potential to be one of the greats, clicker training could be the solution.

The Everything Dog Training and Tricks Book by Gerilyn J. Bielakiewicz

Toilet training and ‘sit-stay’ not enough for you? Gerilyn Biekaliewicz offers you the basics, but the cherry on top is a series of photographs demonstrating how to teach your dog tricks that will impress your friends and his.

As an experienced dog trainer (she is co-founder of Canine University) the author knows the real-life frustrations of teaching a dog. “My clients influence my work a great deal,” she writes. “I find it particularly challenging to simplify complex issues for busy and frustrated new dog owners. “I love when something I write really hits home for someone and they have that 'I get it' moment.”

The Other End of the Leash by Patricia McConnell

Prefer to get the dog’s perspective on the training experience? McConnell writes from doggo’s end of the lead. The author has a PhD in zoology and teaches "The Biology and Philosophy of Human/Animal Relationships” at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. So she certainly knows one end of a dog from the other. This book is more anecdotal than some of the other titles in the list. But it promises insight into what your dog is thinking when you open your mouth to make alien noises at him with an expectant look on your face.

And who wouldn’t want to know what the little chap is thinking?