Top Dog Training Books: Taming Anxiety and Aggression recommended by Dog Expert
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By: Laila Anjum

Top Dog Training Books: Taming Anxiety and Aggression recommended by Dog Expert


Welcome to this article where I'll be sharing the top books essential for helping your dog cope with aggression or anxiety. Unlike most lists that feature well-known names, I'm here to provide you with unique and beneficial selections. If you're curious about valuable insights that can truly benefit you, read on.

Hey there, I'm Laila from Dog Liaison. I specialize in guiding you on enhancing your dog's mental health. On this website, we delve into scientific research to understand how to train dogs effectively. In my signature program, the Recovering Robo Program, we exclusively work with dogs displaying anxious behaviors, aggression, reactivity, separation anxiety, and sensitivity.

Having extensive experience, I've come across numerous books, both good and bad. In today's article, I'll be sharing the most beneficial ones based on my work with clients. These are the books I highly recommend you to read.

Let me be clear—I haven't ranked these books in a specific order. Instead, I'll explain their pros and cons and the contexts in which they prove helpful. I've also provided links to all the books for your convenience. You can check them out and order them from Amazon if you're interested. Let's dive in!

"Meet Your Dog: The Game-Changing Guide to Understanding Your Dog’s Behavior" by Kim Brophey

Allow me to introduce one of my all-time favorite books, and I'm not exaggerating here—this article kicks off with a bang: "Meet Your Dog: The Game-Changing Guide to Understanding Your Dog’s Behavior" by Kim Brophey.

I've had the privilege of meeting Kim Brophey in person, and I must say she is absolutely phenomenal. She has completely deconstructed our conventional notions of dog behavior and dog training. This book, in my honest opinion, is a must-read for anyone who shares their life with a dog, without a doubt. However, if you have a dog displaying behavioral issues, then this book becomes even more transformative. It provides you with insights into your dog's genetics, breed, history, and DNA, all of which likely influence your dog's behavior choices.

I highly, highly recommend this book. I should note that it is usually available on Kindle, and as of this recording, I don't believe it has an audiobook version. Nevertheless, Kim Brophey's work is truly fabulous, and this book is nothing short of amazing.

"The Gift of Fear" by Gavin de Becker

Now, this next book is not just one of my all-time favorite books; it's a favorite across all genres and topics. I'm talking about "The Gift of Fear" by Gavin de Becker. No, it's not a dog training book, and it doesn't revolve around dogs at all. Instead, it focuses on humans, specifically.

However, what this book delves into is the concept of fear, a universal warning signal that resonates across nearly every species. Fear is what keeps us alive, an indispensable tool. This particular book, though unrelated to dogs, profoundly transformed my understanding of fear. I've actively applied the fundamental principles of fear outlined in this book to how I work with animals and dogs.

Some might argue that this approach anthropomorphizes, but I would firmly disagree. When you dive into the book and grasp the principles it imparts about fear, you'll find that they transcend species boundaries. So, if you have a fearful dog, I strongly recommend reading this book. Not only will it help you comprehend your dog better, but it will also enhance your understanding of fear's impact on our behavior as individuals, regardless of our species.

The book explores concepts like learned helplessness, intuition, and our ability to pick up on signals that elude conscious description. Our subconscious mind often detects these cues. There are captivating insights within these pages.

I would go so far as to say that, among all the dog psychology books I've read, this one, which has nothing to do with dogs, played an integral role in shaping my understanding of working with anxious dogs.

"Behavior Adjustment Training 2.0: New Practical Techniques for Fear, Frustration, and Aggression in Dogs" by Grisha Stewart

The next book I recommend is "Behavior Adjustment Training 2.0: New Practical Techniques for Fear, Frustration, and Aggression in Dogs" by Grisha Stewart. Yes, you'll want the second edition, as even Grisha Stewart herself recommends it. She authored the original version and, after a few years, created the second edition.

I've had the privilege of reading both editions, and while both are commendable, the second edition is superior due to its more recent content and updated data. So, I strongly recommend getting 2.0. If, by the time you read this, a 3.0 version exists, I implore you to consider that, as I'm confident it will be even better.

"Behavior Adjustment Training 2.0" is an invaluable resource for helping dogs dealing with reactivity, especially those exhibiting reactivity during walks or sensitivity to various triggers such as other dogs, people, or objects. If your dog has a specific trigger, this book can be incredibly helpful. I also highly recommend it for dogs with dietary restrictions, sensitive stomachs, or those you cannot feed outside of your home. The beauty of "Behavior Adjustment Training 2.0" lies in its minimal reliance on treats, at least in the initial stages.

This book is easily comprehensible and implementable. I am confident it will assist you on your journey to address and improve your dog's reactivity.

"Treating Separation Anxiety In Dogs" by Malena DeMartini-Price

My next recommendation is "Treating Separation Anxiety In Dogs" by Malena DeMartini-Price. Interestingly, in this case, I suggest the first edition for the average dog parent. To clarify, there are two editions, and I've had the opportunity to read both. The second edition was released in 2021, and the most significant difference between the two lies in the approach to addressing separation anxiety.

In the first book, DeMartini-Price recommends either crate training or confining your dog to a designated area. However, since the publication of the first edition, we've learned that this approach is not universally necessary. It is highly individual to each dog, and in many cases, you can successfully treat separation anxiety by allowing your dog free access to the entire house.

This distinction between the two editions primarily revolves around this change in approach. While the second edition includes more recent data, in my personal opinion, the first edition should suffice for the average dog owner. However, if you are a professional or aspire to become one, then I recommend reading the second edition (2.0) as it provides clearer data and incorporates more modern research.

Regardless of the edition you choose, the method outlined in the book is absolutely essential for addressing and overcoming separation anxiety in dogs.

"On Talking Terms With Dogs: Calming Signals" by Turid Rugaas

The next book I highly recommend is "On Talking Terms With Dogs: Calming Signals" by Turid Rugaas. You might have come across the phrase "calming signals" before, and it all started with Turid Rugaas, who is truly exceptional. I have immense admiration for her. What stands out in this particular book is her ability to explain dog behavior in remarkably simple terms.

This book is not very extensive; it's relatively short, around 90 pages or so. It's incredibly accessible for the average pet parent to grasp the fundamental dog stress signals. However, here's a crucial disclaimer that I believe is important to mention.

Just because a behavior is categorized as a stress response doesn't necessarily mean we can attribute a specific function or intentionality to it. While Rugaas does associate certain behaviors with stress and suggests they serve a particular purpose, we must acknowledge that, at present, there isn't concrete scientific data to support these claims. Unfortunately, we cannot directly communicate with animals to ask them, "Are you lip licking for this reason? Are you yawning for that reason?" It's a limitation of our understanding.

Despite this, we can objectively affirm that the behaviors she identifies as stress signals are indeed stress signals. Whether we can definitively say these behaviors function to calm the observer, be it a person or another dog, remains somewhat debatable and to be determined. Nevertheless, I believe this book is well worth reading.

Thank you for reading, and I look forward to sharing more with you soon.

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