Dog Training Manuals That You Can Trust

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During 2020, the number of people bringing a new pet into their homes skyrocketed.  So much so, that Rescue Animals became TIME magazine’s Pet of the Year for 2020.  Now that the new shine has worn off, many owners are looking for training resources for their dogs and often turn to self-help dog training manuals.  Unfortunately, there are SO many manuals out there that too many owners end up purchasing books that give outdated and inaccurate advice … often leading to abuse rather than training.   How do you choose a dog training manual that will give you reliable and accurate information?

First and foremost, look for a book written by an expert in the field. I recently saw a dog training manual that was written by a mindfulness teacher, meditation instructor, and master dog trainer who has been working with animals for more than 30 years.

Sounds great, right?

Unfortunately, the dog training industry is not regulated, so anyone can proclaim themselves a “master dog trainer” and anyone who has had any contact with animals can say that they have “worked with animals for more than 30 years”.  There is no indication that the author of this book has any type of dog training certification.  Don’t let buzz words like “master dog trainer”, “dog whisperer” or “celebrity dog trainer” fool you! Remember that anyone can get themselves a social media account and start posting so-called dog training videos.  Beware of secret methods and techniques.  No training method is “fool proof” or “guaranteed”.  “Balanced” trainers may use treats, but also rely on punishment to turn your “disobedient” dog into a “respectful” and “obedient” dog. Look for trainers who are certified and/or have a degree in the field use “positive reinforcement”, “LIMA”, “force free” or “fear free” methods. Go to their website or social media accounts to learn about their training philosophy.

If you pick up a dog training manual and see the words “alpha”, “dominant” or “pack leader”, put it back on the shelf!  The myth of dogs as some malevolent being that is plotting to take over your castle was debunked 50 years ago!


Books about our relationship with our dogs:



Bones Would Rain from the Sky:  Deepening Our Relationships with Dogs

by Suzanne Clothier

One of the best books I have ever read about the bond between humans and dogs.  Suzanne Clothier is a world class dog trainer, known for her relationship-centered training methods.

“One of the great pleasures of being with dogs is their spontaneous expression of what they are feeling.” – Suzanne Clothier


Other books about the relationship between humans and dogs:

  • The Other End of the Leash:  Why We Do What We Do Around Dogsby Patricia McConnell
    • Patricia McConnell has a Ph.D. in animal behavior and is a certified dog trainer and behavior consultant.  Her blog, The Other End of the Leash, is filled with training advice and wonderful stories about her dogs.
  • Human Canine Behavior Connections:  A Better Self Through Dog Trainingby Marissa Martini
    • Marissa Martino is a certified dog trainer and behavior consultant. Her “Paws and Reward” podcast is great source of information about how to foster a bond with your dog.
  • Wag:  The Science of Making your Dog Happy by Zazie Todd, Ph.D.
    • Zazie Todd has a Ph.D. in psychology and is a certified professional dog trainer. Check out Zazie Todd’s blog, Companion Animal Psychology.
  • Plenty in Life is Free – Reflections on Dogs, Training and Finding Grace by Kathy Sdao
    • Kathy Sdao is an applied animal behaviorist (ACAAB) and professional dog trainer.


“We humans repeatedly fall into the trap of thinking that power and control are what successful relationships are about. On deeper reflection, we can see that in our best relationships we communicate clearly and easily … In the long run, communication trumps control.” – Kathy Sdao


So you just brought home a new puppy or dog – now what?


Before & After Getting Your Puppy: The Positive Approach to Raising a Happy, Healthy & Well-Behaved Dog
by Dr. Ian Dunbar, DVM

Dr. Dunbar is a veterinarian and animal behaviorist.  He founded the Association of Pet Dog Trainers.

“You can instill fear in your kids and get them to mind, but they won’t function better in the world and your relationship will suffer greatly.” – Ian Dunbar



Other great books on raising a puppy:

  • Perfect Puppy in 7 Days: How to Start Your Puppy Off Right by Dr. Sophia Yin, DVM
  • How to Behave So Your Dog Behaves by Dr. Sophia Yin, DVM
    • Sophia Yin was a veterinary behaviorist and dog trainer.
  • The Puppy Primer by Patricia McConnell, Ph.D.
    • Patricia McConnell has a Ph.D. in animal behavior and is a certified dog trainer and behavior consultant.  Her blog, The Other End of the Leash, is filled with training advice and wonderful stories about her dogs.
  • The Puppy Whisperer: A Compassionate, Nonviolent Guide to Early Training and Care by Paul Owens and Terence Cranendonk
  • Paul Owens is a certified dog trainer and behavior consultant.
  • The Power of Positive Dog Training by Pat Miller
    • Pat Miller is a certified dog trainer and behavior consultant

“Instead of using coercion, we can learn to lead like a leader in a dance.” – Dr. Sophia Yin (1966-2014)


What is the true nature of a dog?

The most important thing that you need to know about dogs is that dogs bark, chew and dig.  That, my friend, is the nature of a dog.  You can’t train instincts out of a dog.  We have bred dogs for particular characteristics for thousands of years, so it is important for every dog owner to know their dog and learn to work with those instinctual behaviors.


Meet Your Dog 
by Kim Brophey

This is THE most important book on the market right now.

Kim Brophey is an applied ethologist and certified dog trainer and behaviorist.  She has developed an amazing framework called L.E.G.S. to help owners understand and know their dogs. Learning includes your dog’s training and experiences; Environment is your dog’s external world – his home, his family, etc. Genetics is your dog’s inherited characteristics; and Self encompasses your dog’s internal world – his nutrition, health, etc.

“Learning is not an event; it is a constant process, and it is your responsibility to foster experiences that will be beneficial to her perpetual learning.” – Kim Brophey


More books to help you understand the nature of a dog:

  • How Dogs Learn by Mary R. Burch and Bob Bailey
    • Mary Burch is a certified applied animal behaviorist and behavior analyst. Bob Bailey Bob is the former Director of Training for the US Navy Marine Mammal Program and a legend in the dog training world.
  • Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell and Know by Alexandra Horowitz
  • Being a Dog: Following the Dog into a World of Smell by Alexandra Horowitz
  • Our Dogs, Ourselves. by Alexandra Horowitz
    • Alexandra Horowitz has a Ph.D. in Cognitive Science


How you can help your dog live a healthy, enriched life?


Canine Enrichment for the Real World: Making It a Part of your Dog’s Daily Life 

by Allie Bender and Emily Strong

Allie Bender and Emily Strong are certified dog trainers and behavior consultants.





More books about how to have a happy, healthy dog:

  • Canine Enrichment: The Book your Dog Needs You to Read by Shay Kelly
    • Shay Kelly’s “Canine Enrichment” Facebook page is filled with excellent ideas.
  • Cooperative Care: Seven Steps to Stress-Free Husbandry by Deborah A Jones, Ph.D.
    • Deb Jones has a PhD in Psychology and is a legend in the dog training world.  She also runs a fantastic Facebook group on the topic called “Cooperative Care with Deb Jones”.


“The sad objective of these trainers seems to be to reach the end of the dog’s life having dispensed as few rewards as possible. It’s difficult to explain why an animal trainer would strive to be as stingy as possible, give the evidence of how powerful and safe positive reinforcement is. Maybe it’s psychological.” – Jean Donaldson


Your dog is talking to you.  Are you listening?


Doggie Language: A Dog Lover’s Guide to Understanding your Best Friend by Lily Chin

Lili Chin creates educational artwork for veterinarians and dog trainers.

This amazing little book is an excellent reference on how to interpret your dog’s body language – a must have for any dog owner.





Other books on the language of dogs:

  • On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals by Turid Rugaas
  • Barking:  The Sound of a Language by Turid Rugaas
    • Turid Rugaas is a dog trainer and behaviorist in Norway. She is world-renowned for her work with calming signals in dogs – body language that dogs use to help calm themselves and others in stressful situations.
  • A Kids’ Comprehensive Guide to Speaking Dog!: A fun, interactive, educational resource to help the whole family understand canine communication. Keep future … generations safe by learning to “speak dog! by Niki Tudge
    • Niki Tudge is a certified dog trainer and behavior consultant and the founder of The Pet Professional Guild – the Association for Force Free Pet Professionals.


“We need to learn to understand the language of dogs so that we can understand what our dogs are telling us. That is the secret of having a good life together.” – Turid Rugaas


Books for anyone struggling with a particular dog behavior:

  • My Dog Pulls. What Do I Do? by Turid Rugaas
    • Turid Rugaas is a dog trainer and behaviorist in Norway.
  • Mine!: A Practical Guide to Resource Guarding in Dogs by Jean Donaldson
    • Jean Donaldson is a certified dog trainer and behavior consultant and an instructor at the Academy for Dog Trainers.
  • The Cautious Canine:  How to Help Dogs Conquer their Fears by Patricia McConnell
  • Feeling Outnumbered?:  How to Manage and Enjoy your Multi-Dog Household by Karen B. London, Ph.D.
    • Karen London is a certified dog trainer and applied animal behaviorist.
  • Feisty Fido:  Help for the Leash Aggressive Dog by Patricia McConnell
  • Be Right Back!: How To Overcome Your Dog’s Separation Anxiety And Regain Your Freedom by Julie Naismith
    • Julie Naismith is a certified professional dog trainer and separation anxiety expert.  She runs a SA support group on Facebook called Dog Separation Anxiety Training Support with Julie Naismith.
  • I’ll Be Right Back:  How to Prevent and Treat Separation Anxiety by Patricia McConnell
  • The Midnight Dog Walkers:  Positive Training and Practical Advice for Living with Reactive and Aggressive Dogs by Annie Phenix
    • Annie Phenix is a certified professional dog trainer.  She has a reactive dog support group on Facebook called The Official Midnight Dog Walkers Group.
  • Control Unleashed books by Leslie McDevitt
    • Leslie McDevitt is a certified professional dog trainer and behavior consultant.


As a certified professional dog trainer (CPDT-KA), my first advice any new dog owner is to find a certified dog trainer in their area.  Dog training manuals are good resources, but nothing beats working directly with a professional.  How do you find a good trainer?  That is a whole blog post in itself, so I will direct you to this article on “How to Choose a Dog Trainer.”

Always, always, be your dog’s advocate.  Remember this quote when you are working with any dog trainer …


“No dog training method should ever be used if it conflicts with how you feel about your dog and how he should be treated. And no advice should ever be heeded if it supersedes your own common sense and intuition.” – Paul Owens


by Kerrie

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