The best books on dogs and canine behavior

Why am I passionate about this?

When I’m not out rescuing lost dogs or walking our dog, Beau, in the hills of Sonoma County, I’m reading, writing, blogging, or offering writers' support. Our family started when we took in a baby for foster care, then a year later, after great effort, prayer, and help, we completed her adoption. As for canines, we’ve adopted four dogs, all from dogs returned to their breeders or an animal shelter. Three of our dogs happened to be only one year old when we took them in. I continue to research and edit my Dog Leader Mysteries blog. Twelve years blogging about saving dogs.


I wrote...

Red Sky at Night: Dog Leader Mysteries

By Deborah Taylor-French,

Book cover of Red Sky at Night: Dog Leader Mysteries

What is my book about?

Nevada is a hotheaded twelve-year-old girl who dreams of rescuing and training dogs. Her grandmother mentors Nevada to help her understand dogs’ needs.

One night, Nevada’s happy life alters when the sky burns red. Nevada races to save a family, their sheep, and pets from a wildfire. Although her father worries over her recklessness, Nevada gets hailed a hero in her small town of Eagle Creek, California. Local ranchers will soon depend on Nevada to stop a serial arsonist and his greedy plans. After her school is torched and the damage blamed on students, Nevada—along with her best friends and canine pals—hunts the arsonist to stop him before he sets off a firestorm.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Life Skills for Puppies: Laying the Foundation for a Loving, Lasting Relationship

Deborah Taylor-French Why did I love this book?

Loved the foreword by Jean Donaldson. “What a dog lover should be most concerned about is fear in our puppies and dogs.” Why? Fear behaviors start with growling and snarling, then leads to snapping and biting. Too many big dogs lose their lives from biting accidents. We want our puppies to feel confident and free to sometimes say no. 

Repeat. Be kind. Be patient.

There happen to be many styles and methods of training dogs. Unfortunately, Animal Shelters and the Humane Society report homeless canines as 3.1 million in the U.S.A. Plus, each year in the U.S., 3.9 million dogs are abandoned or given to shelters. Shocking facts. We dog lovers need to do a much better job socializing and training our best friends.

By Helen Zulch, Daniel S. Mills, Peter Baumber (photographer)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Life Skills for Puppies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

EEvery year millions of puppies enter homes, carrying their new family's expectation of a wonderful relationship. Sadly, many are re-homed or lose their lives as the result of behaviours which their owners find difficult to live with. Helping a puppy to grow into a resilient dog, capable of coping with the challenges of daily living, whilst retaining a good quality of life and exhibiting behaviours acceptable within society, is not an easy task. This book aims to simplify puppy education by presenting the skills that are required to achieve these goals within the context of everyday life. By enabling owners…


Book cover of How To Speak Dog: Mastering the Art of Dog-Human Communication

Deborah Taylor-French Why did I love this book?

As a dog lover, I want to know what canine whines, squeaks, and whimpers mean. How to Speak Dog has confirmed and expanded my observations of dog communication.

I love these details on canine body language. If you want to understand your dog’s receptive language ability and productive language ability, read this book. I’m convinced that the Appendix alone is worth the price of this book and includes a Visual Glossary and Doggish Phrasebook.

By Stanley Coren,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How To Speak Dog as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the man who explained why we love the doges we do, a lively guide to the languages, both verbal and physical, that help owners and pets alike get the most out of their cherished relationships. Communication is the crucial ingrediant in any relationship, especially when one of you happens to be a dog. Are you effectively expressing yourself to your hound? What about the other way around, are you catching his drift? Heady questions, to be sure. In HOW TO SPEAK DOG, renowned canine-psychology guru Stanley Coren provides all dog owners with a complete set of tools and skills…


Book cover of Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals

Deborah Taylor-French Why did I love this book?

I love this book, and I want to buy one for every animal lover I know. Chapters feature Temple Grandin’s unique observations of dogs, cats, horses, pigs, chickens, and cattle. Temple Grandin pushes back on popular methods of dog management. Grandin thinks like a scientist and states observable facts.

Most Americans keep one dog. A single dog living in a family compares to a child living with parents. Dogs see their roles as puppies, wanting to please. Dogs watch people’s faces for clues on how they should behave. Dogs’ wild ancestors, wolves, live in small families, never in massive packs. Neither wolves nor dogs display a need for fights over dominance.

By Temple Grandin, Catherine Johnson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Animals Make Us Human as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How can we give animals the best life—for them? What does an animal need to be happy? In her groundbreaking, best-selling book Animals in Translation, Temple Grandin drew on her own experience with autism as well as her experience as an animal scientist to deliver extraordinary insights into how animals think, act, and feel. Now she builds on those insights to show us how to give our animals the best and happiest life—on their terms, not ours. Knowing what causes animals physical pain is usually easy, but pinpointing emotional distress is much harder. Drawing on the latest research and her…


Book cover of Through a Dog's Eyes: Understanding Our Dogs by Understanding How They See the World

Deborah Taylor-French Why did I love this book?

I can’t say enough about Through a Dog’s Eyes. Read it to save your puppy from harsh training methods. Read it before you choose a training method to prepare for raising a puppy/dog.

Arnold offers a giant step forward in the humane treatment of dogs as feeling and thinking beings. Jennifer Arnold once thought methods of dominance and negative correction were necessary, but through her Canine Assistance program (a service dog organization), Arnold learned that kindness and encouragement proved the best way to train dogs.

For twenty years, Arnold adopted, raised, and taught dogs for people with special needs. Dogs showed her how to “teach” dogs to make choices, not to simply “train” to follow commands. Her dogs performed amazing feats of thinking and taking lifesaving actions.

By Jennifer Arnold,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Through a Dog's Eyes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A “transformative,”* inspiring book with the power to change the way we understand and communicate with our dogs.
 
Few people are more qualified to speak about the abilities and potential of dogs than Jennifer Arnold, who for twenty years has trained service dogs for people with physical disabilities and special needs. Through her unique understanding of dogs’ intelligence, sensitivity, and extrasensory skills, Arnold has developed an exemplary training method that is based on kindness and encouragement rather than fear and submission, and her results are extraordinary.

To Jennifer Arnold, dogs are neither wolves in need of a pack leader nor…


Book cover of I Could Chew on This: And Other Poems by Dogs

Deborah Taylor-French Why did I love this book?

Another book of wonders, one I enjoy giving as a gift. I Could Chew on This is full of fun and funny poems about dogs. I gifted it to my ninety-five-year-old friend. It helped her laugh and enjoy life through our shared love of dogs. 

By Francesco Marciuliano,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Could Chew on This as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Dog lovers will laugh out loud at the quirkiness and unbridled enthusiasm of their canine pals in this hilarious collection of poems by lovable, if sometimes misguided, dogs. In these tongue-in-cheek poems, the author who successfully interpreted the musings of poetic felines in the bestseller I Could Pee on This: And Other Poems by Cats now turns his talent to our canine friends who yearn to share their creativity and explain some of their hidden motives. Featuring such titles as 'I Dropped a Ball,' 'I Lose My Mind When You Leave the House,' and 'Can You Smell That' and accompanied…


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Who Is a Worthy Mother?: An Intimate History of Adoption

By Rebecca Wellington,

Book cover of Who Is a Worthy Mother?: An Intimate History of Adoption

Rebecca Wellington Author Of Who Is a Worthy Mother?: An Intimate History of Adoption

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I am adopted. For most of my life, I didn’t identify as adopted. I shoved that away because of the shame I felt about being adopted and not truly fitting into my family. But then two things happened: I had my own biological children, the only two people I know to date to whom I am biologically related, and then shortly after my second daughter was born, my older sister, also an adoptee, died of a drug overdose. These sequential births and death put my life on a new trajectory, and I started writing, out of grief, the history of adoption and motherhood in America. 

Rebecca's book list on straight up, real memoirs on motherhood and adoption

What is my book about?

I grew up thinking that being adopted didn’t matter. I was wrong. This book is my journey uncovering the significance and true history of adoption practices in America. Now, in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, the renewed debate over women’s reproductive rights places an even greater emphasis on adoption. As a mother, historian, and adoptee, I am uniquely qualified to uncover the policies and practices of adoption.

The history of adoption, reframed through the voices of adoptees like me, and mothers who have been forced to relinquish their babies, blows apart old narratives about adoption, exposing the fallacy that adoption is always good.

In this story, I reckon with the pain and unanswered questions of my own experience and explore broader issues surrounding adoption in the United States, including changing legal policies, sterilization, and compulsory relinquishment programs, forced assimilation of babies of color and Indigenous babies adopted into white families, and other liabilities affecting women, mothers, and children. Now is the moment we must all hear these stories.

Who Is a Worthy Mother?: An Intimate History of Adoption

By Rebecca Wellington,

What is this book about?

Nearly every person in the United States is affected by adoption. Adoption practices are woven into the fabric of American society and reflect how our nation values human beings, particularly mothers. In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade, the renewed debate over women's reproductive rights places an even greater emphasis on adoption. As a mother, historian, and adoptee, Rebecca C. Wellington is uniquely qualified to uncover the policies and practices of adoption. Wellington's timely-and deeply researched-account amplifies previously marginalized voices and exposes the social and racial biases embedded in the United States' adoption industry.…


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