The Top Books for Dog Owner and Trainers
Today, I want to talk about the essential books that all dog owners and trainers should read. This topic frequently arises in various Facebook groups, prompting me to share my favorite books that I believe every owner trainer should explore.
These books are not listed in any particular order, but I'll categorize them for clarity.
Book 1: "The Other End of the Leash" by Patricia B. McConnell
Let's start with the first book:"The Other End of the Leash" by Patricia B. McConnell
This book is a must-read for anyone interested in dog behavior. It delves into the differences between human and dog behavior, explores the conflicts that arise, and offers valuable insights on improving our interactions with our dogs.
This is a highly recommended read for anyone training their own dog.
Book 2: "Don't Shoot the Dog" by Karen Pryor
Next, we have:"Don't Shoot the Dog" by Karen Pryor
While "The Other End of the Leash" by Patricia McConnell focuses on dog-human behavior, "Don't Shoot the Dog" by Karen Pryor delves into the mechanics of dog training and various types of learning. It covers topics such as operant conditioning and classical conditioning. These two books have had a profound impact on my life, and I still have my original copy of "Don't Shoot the Dog," even though its pages are falling out.
Before I encountered these books, I was learning from a trainer who employed harsh punishment-based methods that weren't effective or humane. Reading these books not only improved my understanding of those methods but also guided me toward using positive reinforcement techniques more effectively. Over time, I transitioned to becoming a positive reinforcement trainer, and these books played a pivotal role in that transformation.
Book 3: "Beyond the Backyard" by Denise Fenzi
Another valuable resource is:"Beyond the Backyard" by Denise Fenzi
This book, authored by Denise Fenzi, focuses on handling distractions in dog training. It offers practical exercises that we incorporate into our online academy, and I credit Denise Fenzi for these exercises.
"Beyond the Backyard" provides detailed insights into distractions—how they function, how to train your dog to navigate around them, and how to gradually reduce food rewards. The book offers one of the most comprehensive explanations of distractions I have ever come across. It guides readers to understand distractions thoroughly, break them down, and train dogs to work effectively amidst distractions.
This book is an absolute must-read for every dog owner and trainer.
Book 4: "Cooperative Care: Seven Steps to Stress-Free Husbandry" by Deborah Jones
Another valuable resource worth mentioning is:"Cooperative Care: Seven Steps to Stress-Free Husbandry" by Deborah Jones
This book by Deborah Jones focuses on an often overlooked aspect of dog training - teaching your dog to actively participate in their own veterinary and grooming care. It's a topic we emphasize in our academy as well.
I highly recommend this step-by-step guide as it's particularly beneficial for service dogs. One of the most neglected areas in owner training for service dogs is preparing them to be comfortable with essential care procedures like ear cleaning, nail trimming, and even veterinary blood draws. Ensuring that our dogs are not stressed during these procedures is crucial.
I've witnessed cases where dogs' stress levels at the vet escalated to the point of aggression, leading to them being washed out of service dog training programs. By using the techniques outlined in this book, not only do we provide better care for our dogs, but we also improve their behavior during vet visits. It's an excellent resource to help your service dog become more comfortable with these essential aspects of care.
Book 5: "Social, Civil, and Savvy: Training & Socializing Puppies" by Laura VanArendonk Baugh
Now, let's talk about another valuable book:"Social, Civil, and Savvy: Training & Socializing Puppies to Become the Best Possible Dogs (Training Great Dogs)" by Laura VanArendonk Baugh
This book is an outstanding resource on the topic of socialization. It's the best book I've ever come across in this regard, and I wholeheartedly endorse it. Laura VanArendonk Baugh provides a wealth of advice, including both theory and practical step-by-step guidance.
Whether you have a puppy or an adolescent dog, there's immense value in this book. If you're a new dog owner and lack extensive experience, this book is like "decoding your dog." It's authored by several veterinary behaviorists who are experts in dog behavior. These professionals are veterinarians with a specialized focus on animal behavior, distinct from our regular veterinarians who are essential for overall dog care.
This comprehensive book covers a wide range of topics, from socialization to house training and remedies for issues like separation anxiety. It's a valuable resource for everyone, but it's especially beneficial for those who are new to dog ownership. If this is your first time having an adult dog as your own, "Social, Civil, and Savvy" is an excellent choice to explore.
Book 6: "Behavior Adjustment Training 2.0: New Practical Techniques for Fear, Frustration, and Aggression in Dogs" by Grisha Stewart
Let's explore two more valuable books, specifically tailored for reactive dogs—those prone to barking, lunging, and similar behaviors. While the aim isn't to turn an aggressive dog into a service dog, these books offer significant insights into understanding dog behavior and aiding excitable dogs."Behavior Adjustment Training 2.0: New Practical Techniques for Fear, Frustration, and Aggression in Dogs" by Grisha Stewart
This book by Grisha Stewart provides a protocol and techniques to address fear, frustration, and aggression in dogs. I have immense admiration for this protocol and the book itself. It served as a significant source of inspiration for how I approach puppy socialization.
Book 7: "Fired Up, Frantic, and Freaked Out: Training the Crazy Dog from Over the Top to Under Control" by Laura Van Ardenakbaugh
Another valuable book to consider is:"Fired Up, Frantic, and Freaked Out: Training the Crazy Dog from Over the Top to Under Control (Training Great Dogs)" by Laura Van Ardenakbaugh
This book, also authored by Laura Van Ardenakbaugh, presents a protocol for teaching dogs to remain calm around stimulating situations using the "relax on a mat" technique. I find this book to be incredibly valuable.
As mentioned earlier, while we shouldn't aim to train a dog displaying aggressive behavior to be a service dog, there's still a wealth of valuable information in these two books. They are more like optional reads, containing good information, but not as essential as the first four I mentioned, which I believe every person should read.
I have a collection of around 50 dog training books on my shelf, each recommended for specific circumstances or individuals. However, I wanted to provide a relatively short list of essential reads. These are the books I recommend to everyone.
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