Best Dog Training Books
Recommended by Professionals

It is hard to find the best dog training books when you are not an expert in the subject. There are literally thousands of these books out there. A simple search on Amazon for "dog training" in the book section retrieves over 50,000 titles! Unfortunately, many of these books are outdated or give outright wrong and dangerous advice.

I recently did a search for best dog training books recommendations on google and the top pages that appear actually recommend some of the worst books for dog training. I was very discouraged and disappointing but those feelings drove me to write this list for you.

I am not the only one concerned about the amount of bad dog training information out there. In 2017, a group of researchers at the University of Waikato in New Zeland published a research paper on the matter. They searched for the top 5 best seller dog training books, then analyzed if these books gave accurate information. Sadly, only 1 of the 5 books had good information. The rest talked about dominance, punishment and made up terms that had no scientific merit.

Well, lets get the good information out there! Here are the 5 best dog training books and more...

The Top 5 Best Dog Training Books to Read

I am Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CCPDT-KA) and also have a Ph.D. in Neuroscience, I have been training dogs (and their owners for over 15 years) and have published over a dozen scientific research articles (although these are related to neuroscience). Those are my credentials and here are the best dog training books to read in my opinion:


#1: Don't Shoot The Dog by Karen Pryor

This is the good book in the research study I told you about. This book is not specifically about dog training, but more accurately about animal training. With the information in this book you can learn how to train any animal (including your husband or mother-in-law!). Karen Pryor is an eminence in animal training and an excellent writer. This book changed my life and the life of many people as well. I recently started listening to a great podcast for animal training geeks (Animal Training Academy by Ryan Cartlidge) and the host interviews some of the better renowned animal trainers in the world. I don't know the exact number, but certainly more than half of the interviewees said that this book changed their lives and made them who they are today. It is certainly true for me too. So, even though this book is not about dogs per se, I highly recommend it. The book is written in a way that anyone can read it, it is informative and entertaining as well. It is also short and an easy read, get it!


#2: The Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson

Now this book is all about dogs! And just like the previous book is full of great information about dog behavior and training. Jean Donaldson is also an excellent trainer and has written many books and given seminars around the world. I was lucky enough to attend one of her seminar in Chicago when I was starting as a dog trainer. Trust me, you won't regret reading this book. It's fun and it also comes with a guide to teach basic dog commands at the end.


#3: The Other End Of The Leash by Patricia McConnell

Patricia McConnell is a Ph.D. and was a professor at the University of Wisconsin as well as a dog trainer specialized in aggression for many years. This book is about human and dog behavior...and how we are different. It explains how those differences can create problems between us. This book won't teach you how to train a dog because it is not a step-by-step guide. Instead it will help you understand how dogs communicate and how to behave in a way your dog can understand you better. McConnell is also an excellent writer and the book is full of dog stories to illustrate the information she is giving us. One caveat of this books is that the information regarding dominance theory may be a little outdated. But the rest of the book is worthwhile.

#4: Dog Lover's Library by Ian Dunbar

Ok, this is technically not one book, it's the WHOLE package deal. Dr. Ian Dunbar is a vet and Ph.D. and the founder of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers. This is the largest dog trainer association world-wide and Dr. Dunbar created it with a very specific goal...to help dog trainers become professionals. The association helps trainers learn from trusted sources, teaches them how to use science-based methods and promotes improvement and growth in the field. You can learn from Dr. Dunbar by signing up for his Dog Lover's Library and get all of his books in PDF plus many video and audio seminars regarding puppy training, dog obedience and manners, how to solve common dog behaviors and much more. Dr. Dunbar is a very lively person and I also had the luck to meet him at a seminar in Texas many years ago. His books and videos are very entertaining and informative. He will give you specific exercises to do with your dog and you will have tons of fun!

If you just adopted a puppy or dog, I highly recommend you sign up for his program!

#5: The Power of Positive Dog Training by Pat Miller

Another excellent book, this one is easy to read and will give you lots of direct and applicable advice on how to train your dog. It will also take you from basic to advance training and teach you how to read your dog body language and understand what your dog is going through. Highly recommended if you are starting with dog training!

5 More Best Dog Training Books

I am passionate about dog training and I love to read everything I can about it. I gave you above my top 5 best dog training books, but to be honest, it was really hard to choose because there are many other excellent dog training books out there. So, here is the rest of the list....for those of you that find dog training fascinating and can't stop wanting to learn more and more!

"Click for Joy!" by Melissa Alexander:

Click for Joy! is a book about dog clicker training. It is written in a Q&A format and it's simply wonderful. The book will teach you how to clicker train your dog and at the same time convey in the most beautiful manner how this technique is joyful for both owner and dog.

"Bones Would Rain From The Sky" by Suzanne Clothier

If you read "Don't Shoot the Dog" and "The Culture Clash" and many of the other books I recommended previously, you will end up with the feeling that your dog is just a robot that only responds to cues like a machine. Input - output. We know dogs are more than that. Bones Would Rain From The Sky is a very special book because it puts emphasis in the human-canine connection and bond.  I usually recommend people to read the two books mentioned above and then this one, this trio make the best dog training books! But there is so much more..

"Plenty in Life is Free: Reflections on Dogs, Training and Finding Grace" by Kathy Sdao

Another wonderful book where renowned animal trainer Kathy Sdao writes about the best ways to train your dog but from a partnership point of view. This book is one of those that move the field of positive dog training forward, looking for better ways to communicate with our pets in an ethical way. If you thought you were a positive dog trainer because you are using treats, this book will show you there's still so much more to learn.

"Better Together: The Collected Wisdom of Modern Dog Trainers" edited by Ken Ramirez

This is a new book with a collection of articles written by the best animal and dog trainers out there. The book is about clicker training but has articles about everything, including puppy training, training older dogs, solving behavior problems and treating aggression. Ken Ramirez is a top animal and dog trainer who is also pushing the boundaries of the field. He is known for having trained wild animals in environmental projects and enhancing what we know about our dog's cognitive abilities by teaching them numbers and other concepts.

"when Pigs Fly: Training Success With Impossible Dogs" by Jane Killion

This book is recommended for all those dog owners that have "stubborn" dogs. There really aren't "stubborn" dogs, in my experience as a dog trainer, most of these dogs simply don't understand their owner. Once the owner learns the best ways to train, these dogs do a 180˚ shift. There are however some dogs and breeds that may be a little harder to train than others and if this is your case, this is an excellent book that will give you practical advice on how to patiently succeed!

A Couple of Great Dog Behavior Books

I told you about the best dog training books but to complete your understanding of the topic you really need to learn about dog behavior. Most of the time "bad" behaviors in dogs are just "normal" behaviors. Understanding your dog's needs will help you solve a lot of problems, even without actual training techniques. These are excellent books about dog behavior:

"Dog Sense" by John Bradshaw

Ph.D. Professor John Bradshaw takes us into the world of dogs. He explores dog evolution and explains many alternative theories to explain dog behavior. This book may be a little heavy for some people but the information is really interesting and up to date.

"Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell and Know" by Alexandra Horowitz

If you ever wondered how your dog sees the world, this is the book for you. Dr. Horowitz explains how dogs perceive the world differently from humans. It's an amazing book full of really interesting information.


I hope you find the information you are looking for and also that you like these best dog training books. If you have questions about specific dog books, you can ask in the box below. Also, if you have suggestions for other best books on dog training please share!

Enjoy reading and learning with your dog!


References used in this "Best Dog Training Books" article:

  • Browne, C. M., Starkey, N. J., Foster, T. M., & McEwan, J. S. (2017). Examination of the Accuracy and Applicability of Information in Popular Books on Dog Training. Brill. DOI: 10.1163/15685306-12341453

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