By Courtney Emken
co-written by Bart Emken, CPDT-KA, Jen Larson, KPA-CTP, and Amanda Ott.
Before we begin, we want to acknowledge that there are tons of great dog books out there- From timeless classics like Old Yeller and Where the Red Fern Grows, to kid’s series like Hank the Cowdog and Walter the Farting Dog (a storytime favorite at the Ranch).
However, we wanted to put together a “must read” list for trainers, owners, and enthusiasts alike. We firmly believe that these books will help anyone who reads them come to a greater understanding of, and appreciation for, our canine companions. Now let’s get to the books!
#1 Don’t Shoot the Dog By Karen Pryor
Perhaps a bit provocatively titled, Karen Pryor’s Don’t Shoot the Dog helps owners understand the rationale behind their dog’s (sometimes near-inexplicable) behavior. She then details how to use positive reinforcement and clicker training to get you and your dog on the same page.
#2 The Other End of the Leash By Dr. Patricia McConnell
If you’ve read our blog, then you know we have a special place in our heart for Patricia McConnell. She’s both a P.H.D. and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist whose ’s had a major influence on our training philosophy. If you want to find out why she inspires us, you need look no further than The Other End of the Leash.
This book dives right into your dog’s brain, exploring the similarities and differences between animals and human cognition. McConnell then shows us how to bridge that gap in understanding through positive training, patience, and careful observation of your dog’s communication.
#3 Puppy Start Right by Debbie Martin and Dr. Kenneth Martin
If you’re thinking about adopting a puppy, or already have one of those wiry fuzzballs, then this is the book for you. Puppy Start Right provides detailed instructions (complete with pictures) on how to instill positive behaviors in both puppies and older dogs who were never properly trained.
#4 Feisty Fido By Dr. Patricia McConnell
- Prepare for trouble beforehand
- Minimize anxiety and fear during walks
- Solve emergencies
If you’re having trouble walking your dog, this is the single most helpful and resourceful book on the subject.
#5 On Talking Terms with Dogs By Turid Rugaas
On Talking Terms with Dogs has had been a massive influence on dog trainers around the globe (including us!). Turid Rugaas, a Norwegian dog trainer, identified over thirty “stress” signals that dogs use to communicate among themselves and to others. Anyone who learns how to use the signals will be able to calm and reassure dogs through powerful body language cues.
#6 Scent of the Missing By Susannah Charleson
One part training tale, one part adventure book, Susannah Charleson relates her journey with Puzzle, a Golden Retriever search and rescue dog. Scent of the Missing manages to interweave detailed training experiences, tense rescue operations, and the strength of the human-canine bond into a single story.
#7 Inside of a Dog By Alexandra Horowitz
For any of you budding animal behaviorists out there, this is the book to read. Inside of a Dog covers topics that many dog books tend to avoid, like:
- Canine behavior
- Canine cognition
- Learning theory
If you truly want to understand the hard science behind your dog’s behavior, then this is a must-read.
#8 The Hidden Life of Dogs By Elizabeth Marshall Thomas
Do you ever find yourself wondering what your dog does in their personal time? Surely they don’t just lay around and wait for you to come home, right? Well, if you want the answer then you’ll have to read The Hidden Life of Dogs.
Elizabeth Marshall Thomas does an excellent job blending scientific observation with engaging fiction, making this an easy and informative read.
#9 The Dogs Who Came to Stay By George Pitcher
The Dogs Who Came to Stay, much like Old Yeller, is one of those books that requires a box of kleenex within arm’s reach, but don’t let that discourage you one bit. This memoir details how rescuing a pregnant stray forever changed Pitcher’s life, allowing him to heal age-old wounds through the love and compassion he shared with his adopted family.
If you think we missed any great dog books, feel free contact us directly or let us know in the comments! Whether they’re cherished stories from your childhood or informative training guides, we’d love to see what everyone’s reading these days!
Dog Books by Sean
Dog Reading by Found Animals Foundation
Reading Time by… DogBoy’s!