The best dog behavior books

2 authors have picked their favorite books about dog behavior 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).

How to Right a Dog Gone Wrong

By Pamela S. Dennison,

Book cover of How to Right a Dog Gone Wrong: A Road Map for Rehabilitating Aggressive Dogs

How to Right a Dog Gone Wrong offers an easy-to-follow, step-by-step approach to rehabbing a dog who is dog reactive both on and off-leash. It’s a good book and means of support for dog owners who have problems with their reactive dogs. This book provides solid techniques and is filled with honesty and empathy.


Who am I?

For 19 years, I have been professionally helping dog and cat parents resolve dog and cat behavioral problems in a humane and kind way. I follow science-based, gentle techniques when working with animals and teach clients how to remedy dog and cat behavior problems without the use of aversives such as shock or choke collars, physical prompting, shake cans, squirt bottles, leash corrections, or scolding.


I wrote...

Training Your Dog the Humane Way: Simple Teaching Tips for Resolving Problem Behaviors and Raising a Happy Dog

By Alana Stevenson,

Book cover of Training Your Dog the Humane Way: Simple Teaching Tips for Resolving Problem Behaviors and Raising a Happy Dog

What is my book about?

In Training Your Dog the Humane Way, animal behavior specialist, Alana Stevenson provides dog owners with a simple, accessible guide to the most effective positive dog training techniques available. Alana presents easy-to-follow methods and advice for teaching dogs and resolving behavior problems in a humane way. She provides solutions for such problems as house-soiling, play-biting, separation anxiety, fear of strangers, aggression, lunging while on a leash, and car sickness.

Readers learn the most effective way to teach their dogs — through kindness and benevolent leadership.

The Other End of the Leash

By Patricia McConnell,

Book cover of The Other End of the Leash: Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs

You’ll have picked up a theme here: dog behavior is pretty simple. It’s human behavior, illuminated by how we act toward dogs, that’s damnably complicated. In this book a supremely well-informed behaviorist and trainer turns her scope not on the animals she’s studied so intently, but on the humans who interact with them. Only in that context can we understand why our pets do what they do: they do stuff because we are another kind of animal entirely. As primates, we persist in treating everyone else as if they were a primate, too. McConnell asks us to “get out of” ourselves—to think like a dog, to understand the needs of the Other, which is the essence of compassion. This book is a rare beauty: thoughtful, kind, ultimately radical in its request that we learn a little about the species we bring into a human world to unwittingly demand it adapt…


Who am I?

I was one of those little girls for whom all imaginary best friends were animals. I fantasized about running away to the woods with only a dog. I daydreamed endlessly about horses (and grew up to write a book about the strange and compelling relationship between women and horses). When I was adult enough to get my own dog, the love exploded like a firecracker. I wanted to learn everything I could about her—which of course led to learning perhaps even more about myself. My interests extend to the junctures of the natural world and that of humanity; I’ve also written books about the nature of home (The Place You Love Is Gone) and motorcycling.


I wrote...

The Secret History of Kindness: Learning from How Dogs Learn

By Melissa Holbrook Pierson,

Book cover of The Secret History of Kindness: Learning from How Dogs Learn

What is my book about?

Once upon a time I got a difficult—and scary smart—puppy. I was in immediate need of help (Mercy was, in her view, perfect as she was). And so began a journey to the origins of the psychology of behavior and how to apply it to teach with kindness. Mercy led me to some of the great minds of contemporary dog training, whose science-based modality is known as “positive reinforcement.” Its foundation is B. F. Skinner’s The Behavior of Organisms, which lays out the law of operant conditioning. All higher animals, from pigeons to humans, learn exactly the same way. Barely a day goes by now that doesn’t see an article trumpeting a new discovery about how we get addicted to technology or gambling or food...but Skinner had already explained it in a 1938 book.

Listen to dogs. They have much to teach—about them, about us, about kindness.

Dogs Are From Neptune

By Jean Donaldson,

Book cover of Dogs Are From Neptune

Dogs Are From Neptune is an excellent book and tool for working with fearful and reactive dogs. Jean Donaldson provides instructions and real-life implementation of desensitization and counter-conditioning techniques for a variety of dog behavior problems – such as fear of strangers, food guarding, leash-reactivity, fear of handling, and high prey drive.


Who am I?

For 19 years, I have been professionally helping dog and cat parents resolve dog and cat behavioral problems in a humane and kind way. I follow science-based, gentle techniques when working with animals and teach clients how to remedy dog and cat behavior problems without the use of aversives such as shock or choke collars, physical prompting, shake cans, squirt bottles, leash corrections, or scolding.


I wrote...

Training Your Dog the Humane Way: Simple Teaching Tips for Resolving Problem Behaviors and Raising a Happy Dog

By Alana Stevenson,

Book cover of Training Your Dog the Humane Way: Simple Teaching Tips for Resolving Problem Behaviors and Raising a Happy Dog

What is my book about?

In Training Your Dog the Humane Way, animal behavior specialist, Alana Stevenson provides dog owners with a simple, accessible guide to the most effective positive dog training techniques available. Alana presents easy-to-follow methods and advice for teaching dogs and resolving behavior problems in a humane way. She provides solutions for such problems as house-soiling, play-biting, separation anxiety, fear of strangers, aggression, lunging while on a leash, and car sickness.

Readers learn the most effective way to teach their dogs — through kindness and benevolent leadership.

The New Click to Calm

By Emma Parsons,

Book cover of The New Click to Calm: Solutions for All Dogs in a Challenging World

This book has saved and helped so many dogs. Having a reactive or aggressive dog is very difficult, in this book you’ll get lots of training advice on how to help your dog. Your dog doesn’t have to have severe issues for you to find this book helpful – it’s so much easier to start training before the problem has escalated. You’ll get advice on calmly escorting your dog away before trouble arises, stopping resource guarding (ex-food guarding), and dealing with dogs barking at the door.


Who am I?

I’m a Swedish dog trainer and author who love training dogs in a fun, positive, and force-free way. I got my first Golden retriever in 2005 and learnt a lot about dog training and especially clicker training. When a friend gave me a dummy I really started to enjoy gun dog training and realized that there weren’t many people who trained gun dogs in a force-free way so I took all my knowledge from my reward-based obedience training and translated it into gun dog training, discussed training methods with a lot of people, held classes in force-free gun dog training and eventually collected all my thoughts and training advice into a book together with my friend Lena Gunnarsson.


I wrote...

Retrieving for All Occasions

By Elsa Blomster, Lena Gunnarsson,

Book cover of Retrieving for All Occasions

What is my book about?

The book is about force free gun dog training. However, it’s not just for gun dogs, any pet dog could find lots of useful ideas on recall, stopping at a distance, walking to heel and training principles that can be used no matter what you want to teach your dog. For people interested in gun dog training you’ll of course also find lots of training advice on how to teach your dog a great delivery to hand, casting, marked retrieves, and so on. Who wouldn’t want to be able to stop their dog 100 meters away – knowing that the dog stops or comes back because it knows that it is more worthwhile to be with their handler than to run off on their own?

How to Behave So Your Dog Behaves

By Dr. Sophia Yin,

Book cover of How to Behave So Your Dog Behaves

Dr. Sophia Yin passed away in 2014. This book is on passive training which I implement regularly with fearful and reactive dogs. Passive training is how people teach their dogs, often unknowingly, 24-7. By understanding how your behavior affects your dog, you can teach and modify your dog’s behavior in a kind way without active instruction.


Who am I?

For 19 years, I have been professionally helping dog and cat parents resolve dog and cat behavioral problems in a humane and kind way. I follow science-based, gentle techniques when working with animals and teach clients how to remedy dog and cat behavior problems without the use of aversives such as shock or choke collars, physical prompting, shake cans, squirt bottles, leash corrections, or scolding.


I wrote...

Training Your Dog the Humane Way: Simple Teaching Tips for Resolving Problem Behaviors and Raising a Happy Dog

By Alana Stevenson,

Book cover of Training Your Dog the Humane Way: Simple Teaching Tips for Resolving Problem Behaviors and Raising a Happy Dog

What is my book about?

In Training Your Dog the Humane Way, animal behavior specialist, Alana Stevenson provides dog owners with a simple, accessible guide to the most effective positive dog training techniques available. Alana presents easy-to-follow methods and advice for teaching dogs and resolving behavior problems in a humane way. She provides solutions for such problems as house-soiling, play-biting, separation anxiety, fear of strangers, aggression, lunging while on a leash, and car sickness.

Readers learn the most effective way to teach their dogs — through kindness and benevolent leadership.

The Dog Whisperer

By Paul Owens,

Book cover of The Dog Whisperer: A Compassionate, Nonviolent Approach to Dog Training

The original dog whisperer, Paul Owens, teaches dog parents how to positively train their dogs according to how dogs learn. He uses a humane, science-based approach, and includes breathing exercises people can do when stressed so that they can teach their dog in a calm way. The Dog Whisperer goes over how to teach and train your dog during distractions and context learning, as well as introduces readers to clicker training, shaping behaviors and target training. This is a good book on humane, positive training to have on the shelf.


Who am I?

For 19 years, I have been professionally helping dog and cat parents resolve dog and cat behavioral problems in a humane and kind way. I follow science-based, gentle techniques when working with animals and teach clients how to remedy dog and cat behavior problems without the use of aversives such as shock or choke collars, physical prompting, shake cans, squirt bottles, leash corrections, or scolding.


I wrote...

Training Your Dog the Humane Way: Simple Teaching Tips for Resolving Problem Behaviors and Raising a Happy Dog

By Alana Stevenson,

Book cover of Training Your Dog the Humane Way: Simple Teaching Tips for Resolving Problem Behaviors and Raising a Happy Dog

What is my book about?

In Training Your Dog the Humane Way, animal behavior specialist, Alana Stevenson provides dog owners with a simple, accessible guide to the most effective positive dog training techniques available. Alana presents easy-to-follow methods and advice for teaching dogs and resolving behavior problems in a humane way. She provides solutions for such problems as house-soiling, play-biting, separation anxiety, fear of strangers, aggression, lunging while on a leash, and car sickness.

Readers learn the most effective way to teach their dogs — through kindness and benevolent leadership.

Clinical Behavioral Medicine For Small Animals

By Karen L. Overall,

Book cover of Clinical Behavioral Medicine For Small Animals

A bible for resolving dog and cat behavioral issues. It is packed with scientific advice and research on everything from cat and dog development and training to medications and positive ways to resolve dog and cat behavior problems. Good to read through its entirety as well as to have on hand as a reference.


Who am I?

For 19 years, I have been professionally helping dog and cat parents resolve dog and cat behavioral problems in a humane and kind way. I follow science-based, gentle techniques when working with animals and teach clients how to remedy dog and cat behavior problems without the use of aversives such as shock or choke collars, physical prompting, shake cans, squirt bottles, leash corrections, or scolding.


I wrote...

Training Your Dog the Humane Way: Simple Teaching Tips for Resolving Problem Behaviors and Raising a Happy Dog

By Alana Stevenson,

Book cover of Training Your Dog the Humane Way: Simple Teaching Tips for Resolving Problem Behaviors and Raising a Happy Dog

What is my book about?

In Training Your Dog the Humane Way, animal behavior specialist, Alana Stevenson provides dog owners with a simple, accessible guide to the most effective positive dog training techniques available. Alana presents easy-to-follow methods and advice for teaching dogs and resolving behavior problems in a humane way. She provides solutions for such problems as house-soiling, play-biting, separation anxiety, fear of strangers, aggression, lunging while on a leash, and car sickness.

Readers learn the most effective way to teach their dogs — through kindness and benevolent leadership.

New book lists related to dog behavior

All book lists related to dog behavior

Bookshelves related to dog behavior