• Last updatedLast updated: Dec 21, 2020

7 Best Dog Training Books — Easy Guides to a Perfect Pet

I was going through tough times when I decided to adopt a dog. It wasn’t a spontaneous decision based on my emotional instability; I was planning to do it since I was a kid, actually. My dad is allergic to dog hair, so having one was out of the question. Back then, I decided to get a dog as soon as I move to a separate apartment.

When Amy appeared, fear hung upon me. I knew nothing about dogs, literally. What to start with, what they eat, where and how long they sleep, let alone all the training that was ahead. In a word, I desperately needed help.

Apart from numerous YouTube videos and advice from some of my friends, aka dog lovers, sure thing, I got a few books. Some of them were of real value, so I decided to make a list and share my thoughts on each. Hopefully, they’ll be of use for first-time dog parents and, at least, eliminate the fear of the unknown.

Editor's Choice

A detailed, structured guide to how to teach your dog basic commands and deal with aggression

Read My Review
9.8
Best on Positive Training

A nice introduction to the basics of positive training. There’s no need to shout and punish your dog to teach them something!

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9.6
Best Step-by-Step Instructions

A colorful book full of easy-to-follow guidelines to 118 tricks with illustrations, visual and verbal cues, as well as pro tips for advanced training

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9.6
Best YouTube Accompanied

A positive dog training book by a well-known YoutTube dog trainer and Animal Planet host; contains everything new dog parents need

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9.2
Best Quick Reference Book

An all-encompassing guide with structured contents that makes it easy to navigate

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9.2
Best on Dog Behaviorism

A profound analysis of animal psychology with deep insight into the basics of behaviorism and positive training

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8.7
Best by TV Behaviorist

A wonderful description of all the basics you need to understand your dog, their needs and individualities

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8.5

Top 7 Dog Training Books Review 2020

1.

Puppy Training in 7 Easy Steps Editor's Choice

Features
  • Structured: 10
  • Useful: 9.7
  • Layout and design: 9.8
  • Publication date: 2019

I got Amy when she was 2 months only. A little puppy that was totally uncontrollable. She would try to eat my shoes, bed sheets, books, in a word, anything she could find. I remember myself entering a bookstore, and simply looking for something that could be of use, without any prior research I usually do.

Puppy Training in 7 Easy Steps was among those I bought that day. And, it was the first one I read. I was simply attracted by the trigger words: “puppy”, “training”, “easy”, and decided to give it a try. And I wasn’t disappointed. A fantastic starter book on dog obedience training.

The book contains no unnecessary lyrics, that was what I liked in the first place. Instead, it has all the essential guidelines that are neatly structured, eliminating that fear of knowing nothing and having no idea of where to start.

After a while, I even managed to use the provided tips to train Amy to sit, wait, and fetch (“wait” is what still fascinates me the most – such a well-bred young lady, even is a bowl of natural meat is right in front of her). If your pup is 0-6 months old, this book is an absolute must-read.

Pros
  • Only useful info, with no empty talk
  • Nicely structured
  • Contains all the basic tricks
  • Easy to read
  • Awesome pages design and overall layout
Cons
  • Not for puppies older than 6 months
  • Might seem too basic for more experienced dog owners
2.

The Power of Positive Dog TrainingBest on Positive Training

Features
  • Structured: 9.5
  • Useful: 9.9
  • Layout and design: 9.4
  • Publication date: 2008

Well, needless to say, I love Amy. And when I was thinking about all the training that was ahead (I wasn’t trying to prepare her for a dog contest, but just teach some basic tricks), I was freaked out. I don’t know why, but I thought this process required me to be strict and even rough at times. That was, however, before I read this book.

The Power of Positive Dog Training explains that you don’t need to shout at your dog or punish them. Instead, there’re numerous methods to avoid it and still get results. You’ll learn to understand your dog’s body language and react to it, respectively. I loved the part where it’s explained how to use treats and clickers to facilitate the training process as well as some other, not that obvious, and advanced methods of positive training.

What I especially loved about the structure of it is that it’s not entirely a textbook, it also contains a diary you can actually use to track the progress. The suggested program is designated for 6 weeks and has all the step-by-step guidelines on how to make the most of it.

Pros
  • Includes treat and clicker methods as well as more advanced ones
  • 6-week training program with a diary
  • Awesome instructive illustrations
Cons
  • Some tricks are too difficult for beginners
3.

The Big Book of Tricks for the Best Dog Ever Best Step-by-Step Instructions

Features
  • Structured: 9.7
  • Useful: 9.1
  • Layout and design: 10
  • Publication date: 2019

Oh, I just fell in love with this one when I first took it in my hands at the bookstore. It is hardly a book, it’s more like a well-designed marketing catalog, in a good way. A nice, thick paperback (I guess, they are also available in hardcover) contains 320 colorful pages where each of the 118 tricks is explained and shown in detail.

Each spread is dedicated to a certain trick or stunt. First goes the overall description of it, to give you an idea of what it should look like in the end. Then, there’s a nicely structured section that contains visual and verbal cues you’ll need in the process. Next goes the enumerated step-by-step guide as well as some pro tips and more advanced versions of the same trick to try if you master the basics. Everything’s spiced up with high-quality photos, which make the guide so easy to follow.

I loved the idea of a structured layout, without any empty talk whatsoever. You won’t find any lyrical thoughts on dog psychology or anything like that, which was exactly what I was looking for at that moment.

Pros
  • Illustrated step-by-step guides
  • Lots of tricks to choose from
  • Beautiful colorful layout
Cons
  • Rather expensive in comparison with others
4.

Zak George's Dog Training RevolutionBest YouTube Accompanied

Features
  • Structured: 8.9
  • Useful: 9.6
  • Layout and design: 9.1
  • Publication date: 2016

I knew who Zak George was before this book got into my hands. As I mentioned, YouTube videos were among my favorite sources of information, even before I took Amy. I came across his content a few times, and every video seemed very informative, well-structured, and interesting to watch. Apart from being a well-known YouTube dog trainer, he was also an Animal Planet host, known for his fresh and positive approach to training.

Dog Training Revolution is a compilation of Zak’s most working techniques, no matter your experience. The book starts with some tips on how to choose the right pup (your habits, temper, and even biorhythm matter), goes through all the basic housetraining (including how to handle chewing your shoes and pulling the leash), and dives into health care, unusual tricks, and tips for traveling.

All in all, the book contains everything new dog parents need and even more. Some tips are also accompanied by corresponding YouTube videos, where all the described is shown in practice.

Pros
  • Training methods that work
  • Tips on dog health
  • Behavioral issues also covered
  • Corresponding videos available
Cons
  • Too broad intro to dog care
  • Includes many topics other than training
5.

Dog Training For DummiesBest Quick Reference Book

Features
  • Structured: 9.9
  • Useful: 8.5
  • Layout and design: 9.2
  • Publication date: 2019

The “For Dummies” series is a well-known type of books, a separate category if you will. It’s known for its broad topic coverage and is always written in a simple way.

This is the case with this edition. It’s not just a training guide, it’s a whole textbook that contains almost 500 pages of information. From advice on how to take care of your puppy, to basic training commands, to more advanced ones, to addressing aggression, and even tips for training senior dogs. It has it all in case you’re aiming at mastering all the nuances of training your dog regardless of their age.

Despite this book being so well-structured, all-encompassing, and easy-to-read, I didn’t manage to finish it. However, I’m not sure anyone reads this type of books from cover to cover. I believe everyone will find a part which would be of use for them.

Pros
  • All-encompassing guide
  • The info is nicely presented
  • Detailed contents to easily find what you need
Cons
  • Far not everything is useful for every dog owner
  • Black-and-white pages, would look better in color
Features
  • Structured: 8.8
  • Useful: 8.9
  • Layout and design: 8.5
  • Publication date: 2006

What sets this book apart from others is that it’s not only about dogs. Mostly, it’s about their masters. And their kids. And their neighbors.

Written back in 1984, this guide will never lose its actuality. Karen Pryor, the author explains the basics of behaviorism, which can be applied to not only dog, but practically any other animal training. I read this one after I taught Amy all the basics: “sit”, “wait”, “fetch”, “down”, “drop it”, and “heel”.  The book, unlike all the mentioned above, doesn’t teach any particular tricks, it’s not a compilation of step-by-step instructions. Instead, it clearly explains all the basics of positive training which is quite handy for those struggling with teaching some commands. Every pet is unique, so there’s no one-size-fits-all advice.

If you are looking for a profound, nicely structured insight into animal psychology, as well as some tips on how to teach your family, friends, and yourself to behave themselves when there’s a furry friend nearby, this option will definitely be of use. However, don’t expect it to be a step-by-step guideline on how to teach your dog to “sit” and “fetch”; for this check out The Big Book of Tricks for the Best Dog Ever, for instance.

Pros
  • Applicable to not only dogs
  • Great insight into the basics of behaviorism
  • Teaches positive training
  • Spiced up with some good humor
Cons
  • No detailed instructions to teach particular tricks
  • Is not focused on dogs (however, more than of use for dog owners)
Features
  • Structured: 8.6
  • Useful: 8.5
  • Layout and design: 8.3
  • Publication date: 2007

Cesar Millan is the owner of the Dog Psychology Center in LA and the host of the National Geographic’s “Dog Whisperer with Cesar Milan”. I can’t say I was a big fan of it, I mean, I didn’t watch it too much, maybe a couple of episodes. However, that was enough to convince me to give this book a try, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Again, it’s not the book you should start with if you just got a puppy. There’re no detailed instructions on how to train them to do this or that, however it contains lots of thoughts on your dog’s psychology, how to understand it and make your pet truly happy. Cesar says he doesn’t train dogs, he trains people instead.

In his best selling dog training book, the author explains your dog’s instincts and how to deal with them, the difference between discipline and punishment, advice on how to choose the right dog, problems that may arise with certain breeds, and much more. All presented in a nice, easy-to-read way with lots of useful thoughts and techniques that work. I would recommend reading this one either before you get a dog or paired with the actual training guides since the Cesar’s book doesn’t contain any detailed tricks and instructions.

Pros
  • Teaches to understand your dog's needs
  • Many real-life examples with solutions
Cons
  • A lot of empty talk
  • No concrete advice, guidelines, or tips

Conclusion

I still do my best to be the perfect parent for my dog. It’s a constant, day-to-day, full-time job, which involves lots of studying, talking to other dog owners, watching educational videos, and reading, of course. I know that first-time dog parents are often puzzled and, moreover, are lost. What to start with? Well, first off, don’t waste time, and start actually train your pup. Step-by-step instructions like Puppy Training in 7 Easy Steps and The Big Book of Tricks for the Best Dog Ever will be utterly useful at first. Be sure to add some books on dog’s psychology, positive training, and behaviorism. These may seem dull and useless at first glimpse, but I assure you, this type of literature is a must for any dog owner. The Power of Positive Dog Training is a structured, well-organized guide which would become a nice transition from something straightforward to more psychological and profound, like Don’t Shoot the Dog!: The New Art of Teaching and Training.

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