The best books on parenting from a dog behaviourist

Nigel Reed Author Of The Dog Guardian: Your Guide to a Happy, Well-Behaved Dog
By Nigel Reed

The Books I Picked & Why

Hold on to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers

By Gordon Neufeld, Gabor Maté

Book cover of Hold on to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers

Why this book?

The type of attachment people form with their dogs, parents, friends, etc. will impact the relationship in a profound way.  I vividly remember as a young person how my friends would influence the way I would dress, talk, feel, and so behave. The authors of the book describe this phenomenon as ‘pier attachment’ where children nowadays tend to look to their peers for guidance more so than their parents. This is a remarkable force that affects every child as they seek acceptance and direction from one another, which in turn can build their self-esteem or destroy it.  The book Hold on to Your Kids, explains how this attachment has come about, and what as parents, we can do about it.


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French Children Don’t Throw Food

By Pamela Druckerman

Book cover of French Children Don’t Throw Food

Why this book?

I found French Children Don’t Throw Food funny and inspiring in equal measures. The author humorously describes the differences in French and Anglophone parenting styles in a self-deprecating style. It’s not an overly prescriptive book, rather it is mainly the author detailing her own personal experiences, as an American mother living in Paris. The author highlights her pain and struggles of getting her child to eat, relax, and be on its own, compared to French children who seem to, in general, do it all with minimum effort from their parents. It’s a fun, easy to read book, which has many interesting observations and research. I found the style of French parenting and general attitude mirrored some of my approaches with dogs.


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The Gardener and the Carpenter: What the New Science of Child Development Tells Us about the Relationship Between Parents and Children

By Alison Gopnik

Book cover of The Gardener and the Carpenter: What the New Science of Child Development Tells Us about the Relationship Between Parents and Children

Why this book?

Alison Gopnik, author, mother, and child psychologist believes in creating an environment where children are left to play and figure things out for themselves to mentally develop, opposed to starting school from an early age, enrolling them in many activities, and giving them homework. Gopnik goes along with the Finnish style of parenting. She claims through metaphor that modern parents are akin to carpenters, trying to shape their children. Whereas if we act more like gardeners, we can nurture and allow out children to flourish. It’s an interesting perspective, and a good reminder not to overload our children and let them be kids. There are dog training approaches with the same school of thought that teach through games and abandon obedience training.


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The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind

By Daniel J. Siegel, Tina Payne Bryson

Book cover of The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind

Why this book?

This book provides 12 strategies to help your child be happier and promote healthy development. I particularly loved the way it enables both parents and children to learn more about their emotions together through analogies and graphics. As well as provide many strategies to limit disputes and overcome them. It has allowed me to address my child’s reactionary behaviour in times of stress and get her to pause then take an empathetic view of the situation. Learning lessons in thinking things through and developing self-control will pay dividends in the future. 


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The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read: (and Your Children Will Be Glad That You Did)

By Philippa Perry

Book cover of The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read: (and Your Children Will Be Glad That You Did)

Why this book?

This book explores the bigger picture of a child’s well-being by examining the two ingredients of emotional intelligence: intrapersonal awareness (understanding yourself) and interpersonal awareness (understanding others). Parry doesn’t give the reader a set of strict techniques and rules to follow. Instead, it is more of a philosophy to develop a child’s emotional resilience by making them feel safe and valued. My main takeaways from the book were to be more present with my child, to question my own behaviour and reactions to her behaviours, to create a loving environment where my child’s feelings (no matter how trivial they may seem) would be validated, to create boundaries, and truly listen before replying. The lessons I learnt from the book will stay with me forever. 


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