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Just about everyone has an opinion on dog training. Here are five experts with advice worth following.
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Getting your first dog can be overwhelming — to say the least. Much like becoming a parent of a human for the first time, everyone has their opinions about everything (and they are sure to share them with you!). And there is so much to think about: What food/toys/beds are the best? How much exercise does she need? Where can I find a good vet? A good groomer? A good pet sitter? Not to mention, how will I train this new family member?
With all of the opinions and philosophies out there, it can be tough to weed through it all to figure out what’s right for you, so we put together this list of five great dog-training books to get you started!
At Lucky Puppy, we recommend using only science-based, positive reinforcement training methods. These books recommend strategies that fall into this category, but also check out 4 Things I Love About the Positive Training Method for Dogs or Effective Dog Training Does Not Require Pain for a quick overview. As always, consult a positive reinforcement trainer if you need more help!
Pat Miller is a well-known and well-respected dog trainer whose book is a wonderful overview of why positive training works and how to use it with your new dog to build a solid, trust-based relationship. It includes a six week step-by-step training program, how to incorporate clicker training (if you want to), and problem solving with some common behavioral challenges. Pat is considered a “cross-over” trainer, which means she started her dog training career using more traditional, force-based methods, giving her an informed perspective on the difference positive strategies can make.
If you’re a person who likes the science of behavior, you will really enjoy this book. Karen Pryor, one of the founders of clicker training, writes about the science behind positive reinforcement and how to use the principles of behavior on both dogs and humans. The book also includes information about clicker training and how to use it.
This book is interesting because it focuses on human behavior and how our dogs might be interpreting our actions. Dr. Patricia McConnell is an applied animal behaviorist and dog trainer whose helps us to understand the impact of our tone and body language, and that most cases of a dog being “stubborn” or “not listening” are really just a miscommunication. She combines true stories and practical strategies in a way that is easy to understand.
This book takes understanding body language a step further and goes into what dog trainer Turid Rugaas calls “calming signals”, which are things your dog does to diffuse situations, invite play, or communicate with other dogs. There are color photos so you can see the behaviors she is talking about and learn to recognize what situations might be stressful for your dog.
Written by my fellow Dogster/Lucky Puppy resident dog trainer, Annie Phenix, this book is great if you end up adopting a dog with aggression or reactivity issues. What I love about this book is that it includes what warning signs to look for and covers the different types of aggression. If your new dog is barking, lunging, or growling at other dogs or people and you are even a little bit concerned about his behavior, this is an excellent place to start to educate yourself (and then get a professional involved!).
Abbie lives in Colorado with her dogs Daisy, Sadie, and Buster, and can usually be found outside with one of them. She is a dog trainer and freelance writer who loves to explore environmental and animal rights issues. Find out more about her at abbiemood.com and lifediscoveryproject.com. Follow her on Twitter @abbiemood and Instagram @abbiemood.
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