The best behaviorism books

3 authors have picked their favorite books about behaviorism and why they recommend each book.

Soon, you will be able to filter by genre, age group, and more. Sign up here to follow our story as we build a better way to explore books.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission (learn more).

Beyond Behaviors

By Mona Delahooke,

Book cover of Beyond Behaviors: Using Brain Science and Compassion to Understand and Solve Children's Behavioral Challenges

In Beyond Behaviors, Mona Delahooke makes a clear, strong case for parents’ self-compassion and for parents’ compassionate responses to their children’s “bad” behavior. Using solid brain science evidence and case histories from her decades of working with very challenging kids, Dr. Delahooke illustrates that children begin to thrive when they feel understood—not judged, not punished—when they lose control. The reader comes to see that misbehavior is a precious clue to a child’s troubled inner reality. A parent’s impatience, irritation, annoyance, or anxiety not only exacerbates the problem, increasing the child’s suffering, but is also a sad, wasted chance at providing the sense of security the child needs, which is a necessary first step on the road to doing better. 


Who am I?

I love prickly children. I was one myself, and I’ve quite a few of them in my family. I’ve also worked with desperate families over the years, children who are out of control, parents feeling overwhelmed, nobody knowing what to do to find the calm and loving core of connection we all yearn for. I feel the suffering these authors document—the child’s sense of being misunderstood and punished unfairly, and the parent’s desperation. So, when I read a book that offers intelligent and caring solutions driven by science, compassion, and experience, I share it with everyone who will listen. I’m delighted to have a chance here to do that.


I wrote...

Being Smart About Gifted Learning: Empowering Parents and Kids Through Challenge and Change

By Dona J. Matthews, Joanne Foster,

Book cover of Being Smart About Gifted Learning: Empowering Parents and Kids Through Challenge and Change

What is my book about?

Being Smart about Gifted Learning is for parents, grandparents, teachers, and others who want to support young people in developing their strengths. It describes the Optimal Match approach—matching learning opportunities to children’s interests and abilities—grounded in neuroscience and developmental psychology, and based on current evidence about how giftedness develops. Readers describe it as a book “about embracing opportunities to encourage children’s strengths and nurture their well-being.” Topics include neural plasticity, equity, diversity, tests and assessments, creativity, homeschooling, neurodiversity, social-emotional issues, and more.

The ideas are illustrated with real-life examples and recommendations, showing the reader why and how to provide the resources and learning opportunities children and teenagers need to thrive in a rapidly changing world.

French Children Don’t Throw Food

By Pamela Druckerman,

Book cover of French Children Don’t Throw Food

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.


Who am I?

As a dog behaviourist and parent, I realised there’s a huge crossover between raising dogs and children. We must alike create an environment they thrive and can learn in. We must fulfill their needs by nurturing, feeding & protecting them. We must listen to their concerns and build their confidence whilst simultaneously being an authority figure that sets boundaries. To do this I don’t believe there is one correct way for every dog or child. For that reason, I am very open-minded to each individual’s perspective as I believe you can learn something from everyone. From the research, I have done I present my 5 best books on parenting.


I wrote...

The Dog Guardian: Your Guide to a Happy, Well-Behaved Dog

By Nigel Reed,

Book cover of The Dog Guardian: Your Guide to a Happy, Well-Behaved Dog

What is my book about?

The Dog Guardian: Your guide to a well-behaved dog book reveals vital information on why problem dog behaviour occurs, to address them at their core. The author Nigel Reed explains why emotional intelligence is key to bond successfully with our dogs.

The book begins by giving a backstory to how dogs originated. Nigel then lays out his holistic method to a happy well-behaved dog which consists of understanding the dog’s needs, language, emotional state, and how to perfect one's leadership approach. Lastly, it details how to deal with a range of common issues with the aid of case studies and access to detailed demonstrational videos. This information will empower dog guardians with the mental tools to understand their dogs on a deeper level.

The Secret Life of Fathers

By The Father-Daughter Project, James I. Bond,

Book cover of The Secret Life of Fathers

Enjoy this practical training manual compiled from interviews with over a hundred real dads of daughters. No matter if you’re becoming a father of a daughter, a new dad, or experienced dad of a daughter, you will find this book both useful and most definitely validating. One of my favorite things is that it’s written in small chunks which are easy to digest. You don’t need to read the book cover to cover, but rather pick out the sections in which you’re most interested. You can scan these little gems not mentioned in other parenting books. These are helpful (and often humorful) tips that only real fathers would know.  


Who am I?

After life-threatening postpartum depression in the 1980s, I became a pioneer of maternal mental health in the U.S. I’ve helped moms and moms-to-be finally receive the support they deserve. Between masters’ degrees, Ph.D., teaching credentials, and becoming licensed as a clinical psychologist, I wrote four books and enjoy interviews on radio and TV. Training health professionals and my clients to develop a wellness strategy for motherhood has been my life’s passion. A few years ago I realized that during this movement, dads’ experiences had been disregarded and minimized, and my mission then shifted to parental mental health. Dad’s worries and needs are important too.


I wrote...

Postpartum Depression for Dummies

By Shoshana S. Bennett Ph.D.,

Book cover of Postpartum Depression for Dummies

What is my book about?

It's a great blessing when a new mom with postpartum depression (PPD) is fortunate enough to be diagnosed early by a knowledgeable medical practitioner or therapist. But without guidance, it isn't always clear where the boundary between normal baby blues and PPD lies. As with any other illness, the quicker that PPD is identified and treated, the faster the woman will recover.
Postpartum Depression For Dummies can help you begin the process of determining what’s going on with you and give you a better idea of where you fall so that you can get yourself into proper treatment right away. The book covers all aspects of PPD, from its history and its origins to its effects on women and their families to the wide variety of treatments available.

Practical Feline Behaviour

By Trudi Atkinson,

Book cover of Practical Feline Behaviour: Understanding Cat Behaviour and Improving Welfare

Cats often don’t get enough space in books about pet behaviour. This is the easiest-to-read scientific book about cats that you will ever need. Students, make sure it is in your university library. It cuts the information into easy chunks and yet keeps all the references that you might need to follow up. Trudi is a top cat behaviourist in the UK with a background as a veterinary nurse, so she really, really understands what makes cats tick.


Who am I?

I am a writer and journalist who went back to study cats after my retirement. I realized I didn’t know as much as I thought I knew. I was out of date and overconfident that experience could beat knowledge. I needed knowledge as well as experience. So I took a degree and a masters. These books will help anybody who wants to improve their knowledge of cats. Rescuers, pet owners, and behaviour people: we need to stay up to date and learn more if we want to help cats lead happy lives.


I wrote...

A Cat's Guide to Humans: From A to Z

By Celia Haddon, George the Cat,

Book cover of A Cat's Guide to Humans: From A to Z

What is my book about?

George reveals the truth about what cats think about humans – and it’s not all good news for humans! Don’t let your cat read this book. It might get ideas on how to manage and control you better. It is full of tips about training humans. 

Feline Stress and Health

By Sarah Ellis (editor), Andrew Sparkes (editor),

Book cover of Feline Stress and Health: Managing Negative Emotions to Improve Feline Health and Wellbeing

Cats can be very stressed and unhappy without cat rescuers knowing it. This book will help you be a better rescuer. Cats don’t always show their emotions in a way that we can see. This is a serious book from International Cat Care, the best website for cat rescuers.  If you have a passion for rescuing cats, read it. Many cat rescuers need their knowledge updated and this is a good book.


Who am I?

I am a writer and journalist who went back to study cats after my retirement. I realized I didn’t know as much as I thought I knew. I was out of date and overconfident that experience could beat knowledge. I needed knowledge as well as experience. So I took a degree and a masters. These books will help anybody who wants to improve their knowledge of cats. Rescuers, pet owners, and behaviour people: we need to stay up to date and learn more if we want to help cats lead happy lives.


I wrote...

A Cat's Guide to Humans: From A to Z

By Celia Haddon, George the Cat,

Book cover of A Cat's Guide to Humans: From A to Z

What is my book about?

George reveals the truth about what cats think about humans – and it’s not all good news for humans! Don’t let your cat read this book. It might get ideas on how to manage and control you better. It is full of tips about training humans. 

Counselling for Toads

By Robert de Board,

Book cover of Counselling for Toads: A Psychological Adventure

It is no exaggeration to say that this book changed my life both personally and professionally. Robert de Board introduces us to counselling with his account of The Wind in the Willows character Toad having therapy. This delightful read doesn’t just illustrate the power of transactional analysis, it demonstrates how our experiences shape our interaction with the world around us, enabling us to see both through a clearer lens. The book ignited my interest in psychoanalysis and behavioural psychology and I have genuinely lost count of the number of times I’ve recommended or gifted it to people.


Who am I?

Having studied statistics in the 1980s and realised that forecasting energy reserves wasn’t for me, I stumbled into a career in market research. A chance reading of a book on psychoanalysis opened my eyes to how little we all understand ourselves and I started to look for better ways to identify how consumers think. After developing techniques from psychoanalysis and behavioural science I started my own consultancy firm in 2005. Over the last seventeen years I’ve been lucky enough to advise some of the world’s biggest brands, make regular appearances in the media discussing consumer affairs and, with my book Consumer.ology, to upset some of the biggest market research companies.


I wrote...

Consumer.ology: The Truth about Consumers and the Psychology of Shopping

By Philip Graves,

Book cover of Consumer.ology: The Truth about Consumers and the Psychology of Shopping

What is my book about?

Consumer.ology looks at the gap between what people think makes them buy and why they really do.  Described by one reviewer as a “fascinating romp through the psychological underpinnings of consumer behaviour,” it explains why shoppers make the purchases they do and illustrates why and how many famous brands like Red Bull, Coca-Cola and Mattel have been misled by what people have told them in market research.

Along the way, the book reveals many of the ways in which shoppers are influenced, why they inadvertently mislead brands who are trying to understand them better, and includes fascinating insights into human decision-making that have emerged from behavioural science. 

The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read

By Philippa Perry,

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

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. 


Who am I?

As a dog behaviourist and parent, I realised there’s a huge crossover between raising dogs and children. We must alike create an environment they thrive and can learn in. We must fulfill their needs by nurturing, feeding & protecting them. We must listen to their concerns and build their confidence whilst simultaneously being an authority figure that sets boundaries. To do this I don’t believe there is one correct way for every dog or child. For that reason, I am very open-minded to each individual’s perspective as I believe you can learn something from everyone. From the research, I have done I present my 5 best books on parenting.


I wrote...

The Dog Guardian: Your Guide to a Happy, Well-Behaved Dog

By Nigel Reed,

Book cover of The Dog Guardian: Your Guide to a Happy, Well-Behaved Dog

What is my book about?

The Dog Guardian: Your guide to a well-behaved dog book reveals vital information on why problem dog behaviour occurs, to address them at their core. The author Nigel Reed explains why emotional intelligence is key to bond successfully with our dogs.

The book begins by giving a backstory to how dogs originated. Nigel then lays out his holistic method to a happy well-behaved dog which consists of understanding the dog’s needs, language, emotional state, and how to perfect one's leadership approach. Lastly, it details how to deal with a range of common issues with the aid of case studies and access to detailed demonstrational videos. This information will empower dog guardians with the mental tools to understand their dogs on a deeper level.

Made for Each Other

By Meg Daley Olmert,

Book cover of Made for Each Other: The Biology of the Human-Animal Bond

In this fascinating book, Meg Daley Olmert explores the biological element of human relationships with other animals, and in particular the role of the hormone, oxytocin. Oxytocin helps humans and other animals feel calmer, allowing us to be more curious and friendly. Oxytocin lowers one’s heart rate and reduces stress hormones. Humans who live with or regularly spend time with nonhuman animals live longer and stay healthier. Further, contact with animals can elicit oxytocin in both of those involved, human and nonhuman.


Who am I?

Jean Halley is a professor of sociology at the Graduate Center and the College of Staten Island of the City University of New York (CUNY). She earned her doctorate in sociology at the Graduate Center of CUNY, and her master’s degree in theology at Harvard University. Halley's book with the University of Georgia Press about girls who love horses, Horse Crazy: Girls and the Lives of Horses, came out in 2019. She and her horse grew up in the Rocky Mountains. Today she lives in New York City.


I wrote...

Horse Crazy: Girls and the Lives of Horses

By Jean O'Malley Halley,

Book cover of Horse Crazy: Girls and the Lives of Horses

What is my book about?

Girls love horses, but why? What does this love say about what it means to be a girl? And what does it say about the meaning of horse lives?

I explore these meanings, and this love, of girls with horses in the United States. I am interested in the girls’ experience of the horse-girl relationship. I am also interested in what the lives of horses are like, and what their lives reveal about the significance of horses in human lives. The love of horses and the girl-horse relationship in some ways reproduce traditional gender norms. In other important ways, I claim that girls’ experience of riding horses and their love of horses offers a challenge to sexist ways of thinking about being female, and to mainstream ideas of girlhood. This book combines traditional scholarly research with personal narratives about horses and girls, including stories from my own life growing up, completely horse crazy, in the rural Rocky Mountains with my horse.

The Midnight Dog Walkers

By Annie Phenix,

Book cover of The Midnight Dog Walkers: Positive Training and Practical Advice for Living with Reactive and Aggressive Dogs

This book also made me cry, because I related to it so much. When my dog’s behavior kept getting worse on a leash, and then when she bit someone, I felt very much alone. I felt like no one understood what I was going through, and I didn’t understand what was wrong with my dog. I wish this book existed then. It contains all the lessons it took me years to learn. Phenix explains what it means for a dog to be above the threshold and how to use counterconditioning to unring that bell. She also debunks the myth that walking a dog more will solve the problem. Not true when those uncontrollable triggers encountered on walks stack on top of one another, pushing the dog over the threshold and increasing their reactivity.

Who am I?

I made so many mistakes with my first German shepherd, Isis, that I wrote a book about her in hopes of saving other people from the same heartbreak and frustration. Then I wound up living with two more German shepherds with similar challenges. Our current dog, Bailey, was undersocialized before we met her, but our past experience showed us how to help her live her best life anyway. My dogs have enriched my life so much that my favorite books are about the ways they save us as much as we save them. 


I wrote...

Bark and Lunge: Saving My Dog from Training Mistakes

By Kari Neumeyer,

Book cover of Bark and Lunge: Saving My Dog from Training Mistakes

What is my book about?

How do you make sure the dog you love never bites anyone (again)? Kari and Rob are as devoted to their German shepherd puppy, Isis, as two dog parents can be. Kari’s the disciplinarian, struggling to follow every instruction to the letter. Rob’s the laid-back dad, more of a littermate, happy as long as he can practice jiu-jitsu with the dog.

As she grows, Isis’s behavior escalates from frustrating to dangerous when she bites someone. Kari and Rob learn that some of the old-fashioned advice they followed may have contributed to Isis’s aggression. Eventually, they’re shown a better way to calm an anxious and fearful dog.

The Contagious Commandments

By Paul Kemp-Robertson, Chris Barth,

Book cover of The Contagious Commandments: Ten Steps to Brand Bravery

You can find the latest international advertising news and views at Contagious.com and you can find what makes advertising contagious in this book. Contagious is a global resource for the marketing industry and this book encapsulates their secrets. It’s a must-read for any strategist, creative, producer, or marketing pro. What I admire about The Contagious Commandments' approach is they emphasize thinking about the intersection of creativity, technology, and behavioral psychology, and never forgetting that the ideas you generate should not only positively impact the brand but society as well. 


Who am I?

I'm a Distinguished Professor in the Michael Graves College, Kean University. I’ve written over twenty books about advertising, graphic design, branding, personal branding, creativity, and drawing. On May 17, 2022, Routledge will publish my new book, Strategic Creativity: A Business Field Guide to Advertising, Branding, and Design. I’ve won numerous awards for my design, writing, and research, including awards from the National Society of Arts and Letters and the National League of Pen Women. In 2015, I received the Human Rights Educator award, 2016 Kean Presidential Excellence award for research, 2013 Teacher of the Year, and the Carnegie Foundation lists me among the great teachers of our time.


I wrote...

Advertising by Design: Generating and Designing Creative Ideas Across Media

By Robin Landa,

Book cover of Advertising by Design: Generating and Designing Creative Ideas Across Media

What is my book about?

Advertising by Design: Generating and Designing Creative Ideas Across Media delivers a cutting-edge take on ideation, art direction, and design for advertising. The book offers principles, instructions, and advice from experts to guide you through the fundamentals and the creative process. Advertising by Design shows you how to conceive ideas based on strategy, build brands, and encourage social media participation. You'll also get insights from guest essays and interviews with world-leading creatives.

"Advertising by Design is one of the most thorough, educational, and modern takes on how design and ideation work in concert in a variety of spaces. Robin is an expert at making complex ideas approachable for all creatives (both well-seasoned and fresh-to-the-game)."—Rich Tu, Vice President of Digital Design for the MTV Entertainment Group at ViacomCBS 

Or, view all 15 books about behaviorism

New book lists related to behaviorism

All book lists related to behaviorism

Bookshelves related to behaviorism