13 best books for dog owners and their four-legged friends

13 best books for dog owners and their four-legged friends

In Reading Lists by Molly Hurford

13 best books for dog owners and their four-legged friends

Calling all dog lovers — bring out the best in your four-legged friend (and yourself) with these books about dog training, behavior, bonding, and more. Whether you’re a first-time puppy owner or a seasoned pet parent, these 13 best books on dog ownership offer invaluable tools and insights on successful canine-human relationships.

Transform mayhem into manners with Train Your Dog Like a Pro by Jean Donaldson, understand what’s going on behind those soulful eyes with The Dog's Mind by Bruce Fogle, or explore the power of rescuing dogs in Good Girl by Elaine Castillo.

Dogs may be (hu)man’s best friend, but these books perfect for dog owners are a close second.

1. Lucky Dog Lessons by Brandon McMillan 

If you want results fast, start with this book by McMillan, a celebrity dog trainer who’s the Emmy-winning star of the CBS show Lucky Dog. He breaks down dog training into seven common commands — sit, stay, down, come, off, heel, and no — and helps even the toughest cases become model pups. Best of all, McMillan insists you can do it all in just a week. 

Lucky Dog Lessons also includes plenty of real-life experiences and big challenges, which makes for a fun and engaging read.

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2. The Dog’s Mind by Bruce Fogle 

If you’re struggling to housebreak your pup or keep them from stealing your stuff, you’re probably on the hunt for helpful books for first-time puppy owners in particular. The Dog's Mind offers a strong foundation for training techniques. 

This book helps you better understand why your dog is acting the way they are — from explaining how dogs function under stress to how they relate to you as their owner. While it won’t change your dog’s behavior, it can change how you interpret their behavior, and that alone can lead to a major positive shift.

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3. Train Your Dog Like a Pro by Jean Donaldson 

Donaldson’s training academy has been called the “Harvard for dog trainers and behavioral counselors.” Here, she shares her pro-level secrets to dog training. Her book is packed with effective, easy to understand tips for dogs of all ages, including some for teaching an old dog new tricks. 

Because Donaldson is also the bestselling author of The Culture Clash, she respects and appreciates that your dog is a valuable member of the family.

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4. Dog Training by Patricia M. Carter 

Want a dog training overview without committing to a tome? Carter’s book is an excellent starting point, covering the basics of house training, socialization, simple (but powerful) commands, and some tips on how to integrate training into daily life. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, Dog Training is here to help.

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5. The Other End of the Leash by Patricia B. McConnell

As pet owners, we often focus on understanding and shaping our dogs’ behaviors, but applied animal behaviorist McConnell (For the Love of a Dog) takes a different approach in The Other End of the Leash. This book analyzes human behavior, exploring how our dogs interpret the way we act and how even the smallest adjustments can make all the difference during training.

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6. Bones Would Rain from the Sky by Suzanne Clothier

What if training was less about giving commands and expecting obedience, and more about building an unbreakable bond with your dog? 

Clothier, a dog trainer and animal lover, offers a relationship-focused guide to training — making it one of the best books for new dog owners. Filled with endearing anecdotes from her own life and her clients’ experiences, Clothier’s book makes the training process fulfilling and joyful instead of tiresome and stressful.

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7. Good Girl by by Elaine Castillo

Award-winning novelist and essayist Castillo details her life spent rescuing and training dogs, a story that reveals just as much about modern society and culture as it does our relationship with humankind’s first domesticated animal.

Good Girl is part of Everand’s ongoing Roxane Gay & series, which are essays curated by author Roxane Gay (Bad Feminist) highlighting original voices.

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8. Our Dogs, Ourselves by Alexandra Horowitz

Our relationship with dogs is unlike that with any other animal on Earth. Horowitz dives into the intricacies of this unique bond, from why we gravitate toward certain names for dogs, to what we choose to feed our pets, to the problematic breeding industry. 

We may never fully understand why we feel so deeply for these animals (or how they feel about us), but this book is an entertaining and enlightening start with a pop science flair.

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9. Canine Enrichment for the Real World by Allie Bender and Emily Strong 

Even a well-trained dog can start exhibiting unwanted behaviors — like chewing your most expensive pair of shoes — if they aren’t getting enough stimulation. In Canine Enrichment for the Real World, Bender and Strong argue that our dogs need space to explore their natural instincts, whether that means tunneling in the backyard or making a game out of dinnertime. 

This book will make you look at your interactions with your pup in a whole new light. For best results, pair it with the companion workbook.

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10. Decoding Your Dog from the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists

That’s right, there is actually an American College of Veterinary Behaviorists — and they’re here to help you understand why the heck the UPS person sends your dog into a barking frenzy, yet the FedEx person doesn’t bother your furry friend at all. 

This book explains common dog reactions, and helps you feel confident about taking behavioral matters into your own hands. After all, it’s not the dog’s fault they’re reacting that way — they just need some guidance.

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11. Canine Body Language by Brenda Aloff

Does a wagging tail always signal happiness? How do you know if your pup is enjoying a cuddle? 

Dogs can’t speak, but they’re very adept at communicating their feelings in other ways. Learn to interpret your best friend’s body language and posture so you can anticipate their reactions, prevent dangerous situations at the dog park, and more. Aloff’s helpful guide includes explanations and photographs for easy understanding.

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12. Dog Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook by Debra M. Eldredge, Liisa D. Carlson, Delbert G. Carlson, and James M. Giffin

This handbook is a must-have resource for any dog owner. Trust me: You may not need it right now, but add it to your saved list so you have it on hand in case of an emergency. Whether your furry companion has a rash, a bout of barfing, or is acting strangely, this book helps you quickly identify symptoms and solutions for common ailments.

While serious dog illnesses and injuries should be dealt with by your vet, knowing a bit more about your dog’s overall body and health will help you better explain any issues and provide emergency care in the meantime. 

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13. Dog Training For Dummies by Wendy Volhard and Mary Ann Rombold-Zeigenfuse

If you prefer a reference book that you can flip through to find the exact issue you’re struggling with, Dog Training For Dummies is that quick-hit guide. It’s a massive volume that runs through many primary issues that you can find quickly, which is great when time is of the essence (your dog took your keys and won’t give them back, for instance).

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About the Author: Molly Hurford

Molly is a writer and bookworm in love with all things wellness related. When not playing outside, she’s writing or podcasting about being outside and healthy habits for The Consummate Athlete. She also writes books, including the Shred Girls series. In her spare time, she runs, rides bikes, and hikes with her mini-dachshund and husband.
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About the Author: Lanie Pemberton

Lanie is a San Diego-based freelance writer who loves reading crime thrillers and nonfiction about animals and the natural world. When not writing and reading (or writing about what to read), Lanie spends as much time as possible at the beach with her husband and pampered pittie, Peach.