The best dog training books

5 authors have picked their favorite books about dog training and why they recommend each book.

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Animal Assisted Interventions

By Sara Karlberg, Helena Eriksson,

Book cover of Animal Assisted Interventions: Professionals Embrace the Power of the Dog

This book moved me to tears after just reading a couple of pages. The authors describe lots of cases where dogs (and their handlers) have helped people in their lives – calming students, giving elderly people hope, and making them want to do things again. If you want to work together with your dog and help other people in f ex schools, old age care centers, etc. this is a great book. It takes you through the basics of what the dog needs to know, how to teach it, and lots of things to think about when you choose a dog trainer to help you educate your dog.


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?

Mission Control

By Jane Ardern,

Book cover of Mission Control: Training the High Drive Dog

Training high drive, energetic dogs is a lot of fun, but also challenging. In this book, you get advice on how to channel that energy into the training and behavior you want, no matter what type of training you’re interested in: gun dog work, agility, basic obedience, etc. You’ll learn how to teach your dog to be steady, stop barking and spinning when he gets frustrated and focus on you. All of the course uses reward-based, positive methods.


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?

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.

Dog Training with the Touch

By Tom Rose, Annetta L. Cheek,

Book cover of Dog Training with the Touch: Demystifying the Art of Training the Top Working Dog

This manual is the first and still the most in-depth dog training book I’ve read.

This book was written by one of the best dog trainers I’ve had the pleasure to learn from and train with: Tom Rose. He’s won countless competitions with his dogs, established one of the best dog trainer schools globally, was the first American to score a perfect FH Schutzhund advanced tracking title and continues to share his knowledge and expertise with aspiring dog trainers plus…he’s just a really neat guy!

This book covers everything from puppy imprinting to training the competitive working dog. It is a must-have for anyone who wants to take their dog training skills to the next level. And truthfully, isn’t that what we all want? 


Who am I?

As far back as I can remember I’ve always loved canines and always wanted to make sure they were treated kindly. When I was a kid, I would bring a bag of dog treats with me to visit family and friends that I knew had dogs; I had to be very convincing too, or else people would’ve thought they were for me! But they could see it was a delight for me; while everyone would be inside talking, I would be outside with the pups. Eventually, this enthusiasm culminated with the creation of Nate Schoemer’s Dog Training Program, with a mission of improving the lives of dogs and their owners through education. 


I wrote...

Nate Schoemer's Dog Training Manual: Animal Planet's Dog Trainer Shares His Dog Training Secrets

By Nate Schoemer, Cyrus Kirkpatrick (editor),

Book cover of Nate Schoemer's Dog Training Manual: Animal Planet's Dog Trainer Shares His Dog Training Secrets

What is my book about?

One day, a client reached out to me for help after working with a different trainer for nine months with no success. I noticed that people would understand everything I taught them in the lesson, but it was data overload, and they couldn’t retain it. This problem is what prompted me to write my manual. 

In the manual, I cover the science of dog training; and with this knowledge, it is important to keep in mind that the science is always the same when you are training your dog. Adjusting for each dog’s specific needs is considered the art of dog training. And if you can understand the science, you can master the art! This book will have you going from Einstein to Kahlo in no time! But…you know…for dogs. 

Real Dog Yoga

By Jo-Rosie Haffenden,

Book cover of Real Dog Yoga

Occasionally, a book comes along that completely changes the way you think about and relate to your dog. Jo-Rosie’s Real Dog Yoga is just that, especially if you try to mimic your dog’s performances like I did. (You would crack up if you saw me frozen on the floor in a butt-raised bow with Mister Peabody Labrador). Jo-Rosie explains 30 postures, 15 actions, and 10 expressions. My favorite section was learning how to cue facial expressions, such as Close Eyes, Ear-Pricks, and Nose Licks. 

Although not billed as a Dog Tricks book, RDY is the definitive ‘How & Why’ for teaching all tricks and basic manners, the only difference being: Dogs receive the calm attention and gentle praise they deserve when they bow, raise a paw, or ‘smile’ on cue, but are largely ignored when they Down-Stay, stop barking, or walk calmly. RDY will surprise you. The text is…


Who am I?

I’m a veterinarian, behaviorist, author, and dog trainer. I researched dog interactions for 10 years at UC Berkeley and in the early 80s, put theory to practice with SIRIUS® Puppy Training, introducing off-leash, puppy socialization and training classes, food lures and rewards, fun and games, and science-based, dog-friendly dog training to the doggy world. I spread the word by founding the Association of Professional Dog Trainers. Cueing your dog to act friendly and playful helps it feel friendly and playful. Also, presenting a less threatening picture to other dogs and their owners, softens their feelings, attitudes, preconceptions, and demeanor, thereby making sidewalks, trails, and parks a happier and safer place for you and your dog.


I wrote...

Before and After Getting Your Puppy

By Dr. Ian Dunbar,

Book cover of Before and After Getting Your Puppy

What is my book about?

Nearly all my books and DVDs were whelped and raised by my own Publishing/Production Company and are currently online along with hundreds of hours of other dog behavior and training videos, seminars, webinars, podcasts, and articles. My favorite, Before and After Getting Your Puppy comprises nitty-gritty, common-sense advice, letting you know up-front, what to expect, what’s important, and what’s urgent (start now!). The publishers, New World Library, are wonderful people with big hearts. Or, you may download (for free), the original two eBooks Before You Get Your Puppy and After You Get Your Puppy, from DunbarAcademy.com and email them to all your doggy friends and neighbors, encouraging them to likewise share the books with others, so that all prospective puppy owners receive this critical, time-sensitive information at the optimal time.

Super Dog Tricks

By Sara Carson,

Book cover of Super Dog Tricks: Make Your Dog a Super Dog with Step by Step Tricks and Training Tips

Most of you know Sara from America’s Got Talent? Originally from Canada, Sara and her dogs are peripatetic performers; she, living her childhood her dream, and her pups realizing theirs, all living in her car, traveling the States, and performing for enthusiastic crowds. I first met Sara when she was conducting an on-stage workshop at the APDT Annual Conference: Backward Leg Weaves, balancing on the souls of her feet, and even a Faux Pee. It was stunning. 

Sara just loves trick training and dancing with her dogs because it fosters better communication, closeness, and attention. Her dogs get the opportunity to regularly ‘let off steam’ and wag with glee, but then they walk off stage, calmly by her side, because they want to walk by her side—the veritable tango of dog training. There’s more to ‘rhythm and tricks’ than meets the eye, much more: flexibility, balance, core-strengthening,…


Who am I?

I’m a veterinarian, behaviorist, author, and dog trainer. I researched dog interactions for 10 years at UC Berkeley and in the early 80s, put theory to practice with SIRIUS® Puppy Training, introducing off-leash, puppy socialization and training classes, food lures and rewards, fun and games, and science-based, dog-friendly dog training to the doggy world. I spread the word by founding the Association of Professional Dog Trainers. Cueing your dog to act friendly and playful helps it feel friendly and playful. Also, presenting a less threatening picture to other dogs and their owners, softens their feelings, attitudes, preconceptions, and demeanor, thereby making sidewalks, trails, and parks a happier and safer place for you and your dog.


I wrote...

Before and After Getting Your Puppy

By Dr. Ian Dunbar,

Book cover of Before and After Getting Your Puppy

What is my book about?

Nearly all my books and DVDs were whelped and raised by my own Publishing/Production Company and are currently online along with hundreds of hours of other dog behavior and training videos, seminars, webinars, podcasts, and articles. My favorite, Before and After Getting Your Puppy comprises nitty-gritty, common-sense advice, letting you know up-front, what to expect, what’s important, and what’s urgent (start now!). The publishers, New World Library, are wonderful people with big hearts. Or, you may download (for free), the original two eBooks Before You Get Your Puppy and After You Get Your Puppy, from DunbarAcademy.com and email them to all your doggy friends and neighbors, encouraging them to likewise share the books with others, so that all prospective puppy owners receive this critical, time-sensitive information at the optimal time.

101 Dog Tricks, Kids Edition

By Kyra Sundance,

Book cover of 101 Dog Tricks, Kids Edition: Fun and Easy Activities, Games, and Crafts

Yup, another book by Kyra—completely different but equally as enjoyable and with many more wonderful photographs (starring Jadie the Weim). I’m sure that all the children have read and mastered everything in 101 Dog Tricks and wanted something more. Well, they got it. I wanted to make this the first choice on my list, but didn’t, because not everyone has children and I didn’t want them to feel left out. Nonetheless, I implore you all to be a child for a day and enjoy the book, and your dog.

The Kids Edition is a marvelous collection of 101 games, activities, brain games, and magic tricks, for children to teach and engage with their dogs. What makes the Kids Edition truly special, most tricks involve projects, showing children how to make stuff, such as doggy doorbells, fleece leashes, personalized dog bowls, teeter-totters, and artworks. Messenger Dog is my all-time favorite and…


Who am I?

I’m a veterinarian, behaviorist, author, and dog trainer. I researched dog interactions for 10 years at UC Berkeley and in the early 80s, put theory to practice with SIRIUS® Puppy Training, introducing off-leash, puppy socialization and training classes, food lures and rewards, fun and games, and science-based, dog-friendly dog training to the doggy world. I spread the word by founding the Association of Professional Dog Trainers. Cueing your dog to act friendly and playful helps it feel friendly and playful. Also, presenting a less threatening picture to other dogs and their owners, softens their feelings, attitudes, preconceptions, and demeanor, thereby making sidewalks, trails, and parks a happier and safer place for you and your dog.


I wrote...

Before and After Getting Your Puppy

By Dr. Ian Dunbar,

Book cover of Before and After Getting Your Puppy

What is my book about?

Nearly all my books and DVDs were whelped and raised by my own Publishing/Production Company and are currently online along with hundreds of hours of other dog behavior and training videos, seminars, webinars, podcasts, and articles. My favorite, Before and After Getting Your Puppy comprises nitty-gritty, common-sense advice, letting you know up-front, what to expect, what’s important, and what’s urgent (start now!). The publishers, New World Library, are wonderful people with big hearts. Or, you may download (for free), the original two eBooks Before You Get Your Puppy and After You Get Your Puppy, from DunbarAcademy.com and email them to all your doggy friends and neighbors, encouraging them to likewise share the books with others, so that all prospective puppy owners receive this critical, time-sensitive information at the optimal time.

The Big Book of Tricks for the Best Dog Ever

By Larry Kay, Chris Perondi,

Book cover of The Big Book of Tricks for the Best Dog Ever: A Step-By-Step Guide to 118 Amazing Tricks and Stunts

The Big Book of Tricks is big, with 116 tricks and activities in all. (Eat your heart out Kyra!) Oodles of gorgeous, sequential photographs and very clear, straightforward, step-by-step instructions. The canine models include Larry’s Spider and Flashy Ferrari’s (Perondi) Stunt Dogs and the range of tricks is indeed eclectic, but well organized, comprising beginner, intermediate, movie, performance, dancing, stunts, and sports, including Head Balance and Butt Balance (brilliant for building rock-solid Stays), Hop Up and Hugs of various sorts, Crawl Weave, which looks easy for dogs but a challenging workout for the trainer, and Wipe Your Paws, a must-teach for muddy Labradors.

I’ve known Larry since he wrote his first dog book and we’ve shared a few bottles of Côtes du Rhône, and I know Chris by reputation… and my word what a truly amazing reputation… the Stunt Dogs perform over 1,000 shows a year. All his dogs…


Who am I?

I’m a veterinarian, behaviorist, author, and dog trainer. I researched dog interactions for 10 years at UC Berkeley and in the early 80s, put theory to practice with SIRIUS® Puppy Training, introducing off-leash, puppy socialization and training classes, food lures and rewards, fun and games, and science-based, dog-friendly dog training to the doggy world. I spread the word by founding the Association of Professional Dog Trainers. Cueing your dog to act friendly and playful helps it feel friendly and playful. Also, presenting a less threatening picture to other dogs and their owners, softens their feelings, attitudes, preconceptions, and demeanor, thereby making sidewalks, trails, and parks a happier and safer place for you and your dog.


I wrote...

Before and After Getting Your Puppy

By Dr. Ian Dunbar,

Book cover of Before and After Getting Your Puppy

What is my book about?

Nearly all my books and DVDs were whelped and raised by my own Publishing/Production Company and are currently online along with hundreds of hours of other dog behavior and training videos, seminars, webinars, podcasts, and articles. My favorite, Before and After Getting Your Puppy comprises nitty-gritty, common-sense advice, letting you know up-front, what to expect, what’s important, and what’s urgent (start now!). The publishers, New World Library, are wonderful people with big hearts. Or, you may download (for free), the original two eBooks Before You Get Your Puppy and After You Get Your Puppy, from DunbarAcademy.com and email them to all your doggy friends and neighbors, encouraging them to likewise share the books with others, so that all prospective puppy owners receive this critical, time-sensitive information at the optimal time.

Service Dog Training Guide

By Jennifer Hack,

Book cover of Service Dog Training Guide: A Step-by-Step Training Program for You and Your Dog

Jennifer is a personal friend of mine and is an excellent dog trainer. Her book covers much of the “need-to-know” basics regarding service dog training, and makes an excellent guide for those starting out. It goes well paired with my book. 😉

What makes this book special is that it breaks down how an owner can enter straight into the service dog training world. This is a very rewarding skill set that can be converted into an extremely fulfilling career for those interested in working in the field of training dogs to help people with disabilities, post-traumatic stress disorders, age-related conditions, and so many more circumstances.

The book captures the fundamentals like raising and training puppies, on up to the important points about service dog creation, which includes guiding the vision-impaired, audio-alert training for the hearing impaired, medical alert responses, and many more primary skillsets that can help someone on…


Who am I?

As far back as I can remember I’ve always loved canines and always wanted to make sure they were treated kindly. When I was a kid, I would bring a bag of dog treats with me to visit family and friends that I knew had dogs; I had to be very convincing too, or else people would’ve thought they were for me! But they could see it was a delight for me; while everyone would be inside talking, I would be outside with the pups. Eventually, this enthusiasm culminated with the creation of Nate Schoemer’s Dog Training Program, with a mission of improving the lives of dogs and their owners through education. 


I wrote...

Nate Schoemer's Dog Training Manual: Animal Planet's Dog Trainer Shares His Dog Training Secrets

By Nate Schoemer, Cyrus Kirkpatrick (editor),

Book cover of Nate Schoemer's Dog Training Manual: Animal Planet's Dog Trainer Shares His Dog Training Secrets

What is my book about?

One day, a client reached out to me for help after working with a different trainer for nine months with no success. I noticed that people would understand everything I taught them in the lesson, but it was data overload, and they couldn’t retain it. This problem is what prompted me to write my manual. 

In the manual, I cover the science of dog training; and with this knowledge, it is important to keep in mind that the science is always the same when you are training your dog. Adjusting for each dog’s specific needs is considered the art of dog training. And if you can understand the science, you can master the art! This book will have you going from Einstein to Kahlo in no time! But…you know…for dogs. 

Silly Doggy!

By Adam Stower,

Book cover of Silly Doggy!

When Lily looks out of her bedroom window she gets the best surprise – a doggy! But this is no ordinary doggy. There’s been an escape from the zoo… Readers know from the outset Lily’s new pet is really a bear. Hear them shout ‘but he’s not a dog!’

Even Lily notices he’s quite big ‘for a dog’, but insists on taking him for a walk and teaching him tricks, none of which he is any good at. Unfortunately, the zookeeper recognises his bear from the ‘lost doggy’ poster Lily’s mum makes her display. She must give him back.

A beautifully illustrated story, full of optimism and a little girl’s irrepressibly wonderful outlook on life. It will have you laughing all the way from beginning to the cheerful final twist.


Who am I?

I grew up on a diet of crazy stories by Edward Lear, Dr. Seuss, and Hillaire Belloc amongst others. They instilled in me a lifelong love of books and reading. Dad created whacky stories for me every bedtime too. Little wonder I now write my own zany tales. Greedy Mrs. MacCready and the rest of the Ever So series, plus Bears Don’t Eat Egg Sandwiches, are direct descendants of the stories I loved as a child! Experience as a classroom teacher gave me many insights into the minds of young children. I love going back into schools to read my books to a new audience. Hope you enjoy them too!


I wrote...

Bears Don't Eat Egg Sandwiches

By Julie Fulton, Rachel Suzanne (illustrator),

Book cover of Bears Don't Eat Egg Sandwiches

What is my book about?

‘Jack has a rather grizzly visitor arrive for lunch, but it doesn’t want to eat any of Jack’s egg sandwiches. So what do bears eat for lunch?’

A crazy tale, full of fun, with bright, dynamic illustrations and a clever twist at the end. Lots of opportunities for the young listener to join in with the repeated refrain!

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