The best dog training books will all have a number of things in common. They will be up-to-date, they will be easy to read, they will give you concrete rules for effective dog training, and they will make training fun!
BUT there are so many dog training books available these days, it’s hard to know where to start, and what to look for. We aim to help you cut through the confusion and point you in the right direction.
Most books cover general dog training techniques, but some breeds will need slightly different handling; for example, a Rottweiler will respond in slightly different ways to a Poodle.
This will usually be covered in any good dog training book, but we recommend getting a general training book AND a breed-specific training book, if available.
We don’t like to make a list of the best dog training books and assign them an order; we think these 7 books are of EQUAL merit. It’s a case of reading the descriptions and picking the book you feel meets your own particular needs best!
7 Best Dog Training Books
1. Cesar’s Way, by Cesar Millan.
This probably in anybody’s top list, but for different reasons. Cesar Millan is not a traditional dog trainer in the usual sense. His special ability lies in his understanding of dog psychology; the reasons why dogs behave in the way they do.
Cesar Millan is probably the most high-profile name on this list, and is well-known through his appearances on the Oprah Winfrey show and The Dog Whisperer. This book explains how to improve and maximize your relationship with your dog, and how to understand your dog on the canine level.
The book covers areas such as;
- What your dog really needs.
- How the dog’s “pack instinct” can work for you.
- How to relate better with your dog.
- Why there are no “bad breeds”, only “inexperienced owners”.
- Help choosing the right breed for your circumstances.
- Why there is a difference between punishment and discipline.
Cesar Millan is the founder of the Dog Psychology center in Los Angeles, and is America’s most sought-after dog behavior expert.
2. Dog Training Revolution by Zak George.
Zak George is another celebrity dog trainer with his own YouTube channel. His book covers how to choose the appropriate breed of puppy, house training and basic training. This is a comprehensive book.
He also covers essential issues such as;
- Pulling on the leash
Zak covers health issues, traveling with your dog, and activities to enjoy with your dog. This a more wide-ranging book than Cesar’s Way, and includes a wealth of general tips and tricks to enjoy life with your dog.
3. Puppy Training for Kids by Colleen Pelar.
Earning its place in my list of the Best Dog Training Books, this book has a focus on safety for your kids when you bring a puppy into the family. There is a very good introduction to how dogs think and why they act in the ways they do.
It includes the signs of a dog feeling stressed, so your kids know when to get an adult. There are plenty of pictures to explain the text, and you’ll get the most out of this book if you sit down and read it with your kids before the new puppy arrives.
There are descriptions of basic training methods using a clicker and a treat, which cover how to teach the dog to go to it’s bed on command, how to get your dog’s attention, how to behave around the dog, and how to train the dog to walk on a loose leash. I really like this book, as it educates young folk about dogs and dog behavior, and how to look after the dog properly.
4. The Art of Raising a Puppy by the Monks of New Skete.
The Monks of New Skete were given a German Shepherd puppy in the early days of the monastery. The dog became so popular with the monks that they adopted a few more, and then embarked on a breeding program 40 years ago. They focus on temperament and personality as well as physical appearance.
The monks have also developed their own style of dog training, emphasizing fairness with discipline, incorporating the virtues of patience and dedication.
The monks are now among America’s most trusted dog authorities on dog training. This book is obviously aimed at puppies, and includes many anecdotes about specific dogs and their owners.
I find reading a story about someone else’s experience to illustrate a point about an aspect of puppy training to be very informative, but some folk may not like that style of writing.
Compared to other dog training books there are fewer pictures to show certain dog training techniques, but this doesn’t detract from the overall very high quality of the book.
5. How To Housebreak Your Dog In 7 Days by Shirlee Kilstone.
This is a compact guide on how to house train your dog in a week. It offers sensible, step-by-step information, the current edition is the revised version. It has programs for apartment dwellers and for homes with a garden dwellers, and distinguishes between owners who are out at work during the day, and those who are at home.
It may seem amazing that you can house train a dog in a week, but if you follow the advice to the letter, and are consistent in your approach, then this book works like a charm. It is a slim, compact book, but the information is invaluable. Recommended!
6. 101 Dog Tricks by Kyra Sundance.
This international best-seller offers step-by-step instructions for each trick with easy to follow photographs to illustrate the steps. It has tips and troubleshooting help with each trick. Then there are “Build On It!” suggestions for more advanced tricks that build on the current trick.
You will have a lot of fun with this book, and develop a closer bond with your dog at the same time. The basic tricks include;
- Lie down
- Roll over
- Shake paws
Of course, there are many more tricks in the book! How far you get through the book will depend on how far you want to go, and on your dog. Some breeds may become bored by trying to teach them the more advanced tricks, but the basics are well covered.
One criticism is that some tricks seem to jump a step or two. However, I believe this is a very good book for teaching your dog basic tricks (at the very least), having a load of fun, and bonding more closely with your dog!
7. Beginner’s Guide to Dog Agility Training by Laurie Leach.
Training for dog agility competitions is great fun, keeps you fit, and develops a close working relationship between you and your dog. This guide offers advice on pre-agility training procedures, and then step-by-step agility training techniques. The author Laurie Leach is a National-level agility competitor. She has even raced sled dogs!
This book can be a bit of an eye-opener for some people – agility training and competition is serious work! Apart from that, the book is concise, informative and well laid-out. The photos are good quality and illustrate the lessons well.
Be aware that there is quite a lot of pre-training to start off with, to get to the point where you can train your dog for agility tests. This can take several months, depending on how much time you devote to training, and on your breed of dog.
BUT even getting through the pre-training will deliver massive benefits in terms of a well-behaved dog.
I hope this list of my Best Dog Training Books has been helpful for you. Remember to have a look at my Breed Page for your breed of dog to see a breed-specific book recommendation!
Here is a link to the American Kennel Club for general advice.