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While there are hundreds of “expert opinions” out there about dog and puppy training, many of them are conflicting.
That’s because each dog is unique, and there is no one size fits all training method for them.
It’s up to you to decide which training style works best for you and your dog, and you might have to try a few different methods before you figure it out.
Here are some great resources to give you some insight on how you and your dog can be happier through training!
Top 5 Books for Training Your Dog
1. How to Raise the Perfect Dog: From Puppyhood to Beyond by Cesar Millan
- Includes personalized experiences that can be applied to your dog
- The Dog Whisperer received an award for Favorite Animal Show at the 2010 People’s Choice Awards
- Cesar has successfully rehabilitated and re-homed hundreds of dogs at risk for euthanasia
Cesar Millan has produced his own show, and written several award winning books on his professional experience and capabilities with dog training. Milan has always taken a “pack leader” approach when it comes to training, with the belief that the owner is responsible for a dog’s bad behavior.
More often than not, dog owners tend to praise and award bad behavior without even realizing that they’re doing it. For example, when your pup bites, barks, and growls at you while they’re small, it’s easy to laugh it off as cute puppy play. Millan teaches that it should not be tolerated, and that you should immediately give your dog a warning by saying “Shh!” and giving them a light poke in the neck with your finger.
This poke is supposed to resemble a nip from their mother or another dog; it isn’t meant to be painful, but it does catch your dog by surprise. Some people feel that Cesar’s methods are inappropriate, however. They believe that his tactics rely on intimidating the canine, and often criticize him for fights that have occurred during training sessions.
Overall though, Cesar Millan’s methods have definitely made a positive of impact on the lives of many dogs and their families.
2. Dog Training Revolution: The Complete Guide to Raising the Perfect Pet with Love by Zak George
- Uses reward-based training rather than disciplinary action
- Tells which breeds are most compatible with your personality
Part of owning a dog is knowing which one is right for you specifically. Zak George goes into depth about choosing a dog that goes with your lifestyle. It doesn’t make sense to get a dog that wants to run for miles if you would rather snuggle up with your companion and watch a movie. Dog Training Revolution will provide you with the characteristics of breeds to ensure you make the best choice.
The only real problem with this book, is that if you have a Labrador Retriever, and suddenly realize you should have gotten a calmer breed, you’re stuck with them. This definitely does not mean you should give up on your pup. You’ll just have to work a little harder to meet their needs, and it takes time!
Zak doesn’t employ training methods that involve punishment or intimidation, as he believes these approaches don’t actually work. His theory on the subject is that training isn’t about your dog being dominant or submissive. It’s rather that your dog is used to a specific outcome, and it’s up to you to help them change that outcome by ignoring and moving away from the distraction.
If you prefer a more gentle way of training your pup, give this book a try. Zak George combines just the right amount of personal accounts with his professional experience to help owners gain a better understanding of his techniques.
3. Decoding Your Dog by American College of Veterinary Behaviorists
- Based on scientific study rather than abstract training methods
- Relies more on diversion techniques, rather than punishment or discipline
There are those of us who don’t always trust people who claim to be “experts” on the topic of training canines. If you fall into this category of pet owners, this might just be the book you’re looking for to assist you with your pup. Cesar Millan and Zak George do use some scientific backing in their methods, however Decoding Your Dog is solely based upon the psychology of canines.
According the Journal of Veterinary Medicine Association, display of undesirable behavior is the number one reason that dogs are returned to or dropped off at shelters.
Some people who have read this book feel that initially, it would seem as though it is just a basic book about deciding what kind of dog you should get. However, it does go deeper into detail about things like pulling on the leash during walks. Rather than this being a dominance issue it’s more about using the right kind of collar or the right kind of leash.
4. Training the Best Dog Ever: A 5 Week Program by Larry Kay
- Author provides relatable scenarios from training her own dog
- Has several positive reviews on Amazon regarding changes in pet behavior
- Great for those who aren’t as interested in strict methods
The books listed above are great if you’re looking for a more flexible form of training. On the other hand, “Training the Best Dog Ever” actually provide you with a step-by-step scheduled method to work from. As the author of “Leader of the Pack” at Positively Wolf, “Dog Fancy” magazine, and “Paw Nation” on AOL, Larry Kay is great at providing insight to owners who need assistance.
The 5 Week Program is divided up into behavioral sections, each section going week by week into the little changes that need to be made in order to have a much better-behaved dog by the 5th week of training. if you work consistently at it, you should have a well-mannered pup by the end of the training course. Your dog should be able to follow basic commands like sit and stay, which also happen to be the most essential.
One thing readers mention about this book is that there is a lot of unnecessary personal information about the author. Although she may just be trying to give you insight from her own point of view, most people prefer a more straight to the point guide.
5. The Art of Raising a Puppy by Monks of New Skete
- Provide detailed information on raising a puppy specifically
- Helps in taking advantage of the development stages
- Starts from 8 weeks of age into adulthood
If you’re a first-time pet owner, or a first time puppy owner “The Art of Raising a Puppy” would be the book you need to have on your shelf. Getting a new dog is already somewhat challenging especially when introducing them to a strange place. Raising a puppy on the other hand, is a different kind of challenge and one that requires a lot of patience.
This book also has the chapter about whether or not a puppy is even right for you and your household. Puppies are not for everyone as it is a lot like raising a small child, they’re still learning about the world and about what boundaries they can push.
Unfortunately, this is a book that many feel the bit too rough and sometimes unnecessary when it comes to disciplining a puppy, or any dog for that matter. There are some suggestions such as shaking a dog by the scruff for whining, or squirting lemon juice into their mouth to stop biting.
Otherwise, this book is a great tool for anyone who needs help getting past the first 6 months to 2 years of owning a younger dog.
While this book is a great read, it’s not for those who are looking for more of a crash course type of guide.
Know What You’re Looking For
Before you go out and spend hundreds of dollars on guides to train your dog figure out what it is that you’re looking for in a dog training manual. The kind of guide you need can depend on the age of your dog, what kind of behavioral issues they have specifically, and what kind of background they came from if you have adopted an older dog.
Books Won’t Work if You Aren’t Consistent
There are some books that suggest once your dog has reached a certain age you’ve missed the window of opportunity on their behavioral modification.
Disregard this, as there have been many proven cases where even the worst behaviors have been corrected. it doesn’t matter where you get your dog, or if they’re a little bit older, any canine can be trained to behave appropriately with patience and consistency.
If you only read the book and practice with your dog for 2 to 3 weeks and then give up you’ll likely lose all the progress that you made with them. It could take anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks or more before your dog has completely learned the trick or command that you’re trying to teach them. Always keep training sessions to 15 minutes for maximum results.
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