Best Dog Training Books

Updated May 2021
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

30 Models Considered
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Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best dog training books

So you’ve adopted a furry friend, but it hasn’t been trained or housebroken yet. Now what? Believe it or not, you can train your dog without enrolling in expensive classes or training programs. If you invest in the right dog training book, you can find tips on teaching your dog basic commands, as well as modifying its behavior.

Dog training books are written by pet experts, veterinarians, and animal behaviorists. Their books offer a user-friendly approach to training, including simplifying tricks. The books also give insight into managing dogs with specific issues, such as anxiety or health conditions, because their training often must be modified. Another important aspect that these books discuss is training dogs of different ages, and yes, you might be able to teach your old dog some new tricks.

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Make sure the dog training book you choose covers training techniques that are appropriate for your dog’s age. A book geared toward training puppies won’t be too helpful when it comes to training an older dog with more established behaviors.

Key considerations

Your expectations

Training your dog can greatly improve your experience as a pet owner, not to mention your relationship with your dog. Even so, it’s important to have realistic expectations as you enter a training phase with your dog. There are a number of variables that can affect success, as well as how long it takes to learn certain tricks or modify behavior — if at all. However, what’s most important to know when you read a dog training book is that it’s written as a roundup of common methods that yield success. As you’re aware, each dog is different when it comes to personality, intelligence, and even willingness to learn. 

Dog training advice

Are you surprised by the number of dog training books out there? While many books may share opinions and approaches on training, each contains different information. That’s why it’s not unusual for dog owners to read more than one book. 

Simply put, the advice can be hit or miss: what works for one dog might not work for yours. If you try one approach from a book and it’s not working, don’t be discouraged. Rather, expand your horizons and try a new dog training book that employs different modalities. 

The experts

Dog training books are written by veterinarians, animal behaviorists, pet training experts, and even average dog owners. Keep in mind that their backgrounds give these expert authors insight into dog training but don’t necessarily determine the book’s approach or format. Not every veterinarian or animal behaviorist takes a strictly scientific approach, and not every pet owner or trainer offers purely anecdotal advice. More than anything, read the dog training books with an open mind and a focus on the content to derive the most value from them.

Format

While all dog training books don’t have a standard format, they usually share a few basic elements. There are training tutorials for certain commands, ideas for effective techniques for reinforcement, and insight into understanding how dogs learn and behave.

Dog training books can be all text, which is common in books focusing on animal psychology. They can also include images or sketches that depict hand signals or illustrate body language cues from your dog. Many contemporary dog training books also provide access to online platforms featuring instructional videos or advanced training curricula.

If a dog training book lacks pictures or illustrations of tricks, make sure the explanations are clear and understandable. If not, it’s worth upgrading to a book with images.

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Popular types of dog training books

Commands

Basic obedience: If you adopt a dog that hasn’t had much in the way of training, it’s best to start from scratch teaching basic obedience. These books often are geared toward new dog owners to make teaching simple commands as easy as possible. They introduce you to concepts such as positive reinforcement, how your dog communicates and establishing boundaries. 

Advanced commands: If your dog is capable of obeying basic commands and is reasonably well behaved, it might be ready to learn some more advanced commands. These dog training books use foundational tricks, such as sit and down, to learn more complicated ones in graduated steps. Most importantly, the books focus on how to reinforce tricks so that dogs are able to retain what they've learned.

Puppies

Raising a puppy is fun and rewarding because each day you discover something different about your growing dog. If you’re new to raising a puppy, an age-appropriate dog training book is an invaluable resource. It provides an overview of what to expect in different developmental phases, such as teething or getting spayed or neutered.

Housebreaking

While housebreaking is a cornerstone of basic obedience, it comes with its own set of challenges. That’s why you’ll find some dog training books that are entirely dedicated to housebreaking. They’re filled with insight on helping your dog make a positive association with going to the bathroom outside. Housebreaking books often address more unique situations, such as training your dog to identify and use training pads indoors. 

Behavioral issues

If Fido has a behavioral problem, such as chewing, hiding food, or pacing, there are specific dog training books that address these issues. These books are more focused on explaining how a dog thinks, as well as offering constructive behavior modification methods, with less of an emphasis on tricks and obedience. Anxiety is one of the most common topics discussed because many dogs experience separation and social anxiety and act out. 

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DID YOU KNOW?
Dog training books often touch upon the importance of paying attention to your dog’s body language, because it’s a good way to gauge its mood and receptiveness to training.
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Dog training book prices

Dog training books cost between $10 and $40, which often depends on how new the book is and the reputation of the author.

Inexpensive: Entry-level dog training books cost between $10 and $15 and mostly include paperback editions with basic and focused training information. Only some contain color pictures or illustrations. 

Mid-range: Dog training books with a larger collection of information covering animal psychology and a variety of tricks cost closer to $20. Many books in this bracket include quick-start training programs as well. 

Expensive: If you’d like to get a recently released dog training book, including those written by celebrities or well-respected trainers, expect to pay $25 to $40. These are usually hardcover editions, however, some paperbacks fall within this range.

If you have mixed feelings about a specific training technique, listen to your gut and shift gears. There are plenty of books on the market, so look for one that makes you feel confident in the way it helps you train your dog.

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Tips

  • Choose a recently published title. Newer dog training books include changes or improvements to past training techniques.
  • Mark relevant sections. Some parts of your dog training book will be more useful than others, which is why it’s worth marking them with sticky notes for quick reference.
  • Record your training sessions. If you’d like to track and assess your dog’s progress, record the training sessions. You can show the videos to your veterinarian and inquire about the techniques and behaviors you’ve noticed.
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Take your time reading through your dog training book to make sure you don’t miss any valuable information. It’s not unusual for dog owners to reread sections or the entire book, especially to understand more complex topics.

FAQ

Q. I can’t housebreak my dog no matter what I try. What should I do?

A. If you are experiencing extreme difficulty housebreaking your dog after trying several methods and dog training books, it’s time to talk to your veterinarian. Your dog might not have a behavioral problem so much as a health issue. Medication or a change in food may be enough to help regulate their bowels and get them housebroken.

Q. Are there any dog training books geared toward rescued dogs?

A. Yes, and they delve into the importance of understanding boundaries and paying attention to a dog’s cues. Unfortunately, many rescues have been abused in their previous homes, so you’ll need to adapt your training techniques accordingly. With that said, there are plenty of success stories in which rescued dogs respond well to training and go on to lead happy, fulfilling lives in their forever homes.

Q. Do I have to use a dog training book in order to train my dog?

A. Not at all, and many people are successful at teaching obedience and commands to their dogs in their own ways. Some people prefer online videos for learning training techniques because it’s much easier to visualize hand cues and hear vocalized commands. Others forgo books altogether and enroll in hands-on training classes.

 

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