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The joys of dog ownership are endless, but parenting a poorly behaved pup can be, well, less than joyful. Figuring out where to start with your canine companion is a potentially overwhelming prospect, especially if you’re training him or her yourself. But finding the right training manual is step one, and we’re here to help. Whether you’re potty training a new-to-this-world puppy or house training a new-to-you rescue dog, there are plenty of experts and tools to help you train your best friend.
01 of 07
Best Overall: Zak George's Dog Training Revolution: The Complete Guide...
Zak George is a renowned dog trainer known for his YouTube channel and his spots on Animal Planet. His book Zak George's Dog Training Revolution: The Complete Guide to Raising the Perfect Pet with Love is our pick for best dog training manual because it provides a fresh new take on raising the perfect pup. This 240-page book covers all of the basics, from potty training to leash-pulling to aggression. It also provides must-know tips about dog ownership, like when to take your furry friend to the vet and how to pick the right food for his or her needs. George provides a humane and friendly approach to dog training, packed with advice on decoding and “talking to” your pup.
Zak George’s book is definitely heavier on the “how-tos” than it is on technical training material, which is why we picked it as best overall. It lightly touches on every topic, and it’s a great choice both for a new dog owner or a veteran who needs a refresh. Reviewers especially love the tips on positive reinforcement and tips on “speaking dog” via body language.
02 of 07
Best for Puppies: The Art of Raising a Puppy
Bringing home a new puppy is an exciting time that’s filled with kisses, snuggles and yes, lost sleep. The Art of Raising a Puppy by Monks of New Skete is a must-have for any new pup owner. With nearly 800 5-star reviews on Amazon, this book is written by a community of dog-loving monks who really know their stuff. All 352 pages are filled with expertise about training, loving and caring for a new puppy as the monks draw on their 30-plus years of experience raising German Shepherd puppies. It will help your puppy adjust to his or her new home and offers tips for every stage of a puppy’s life.
Amazon owners note how well written The Art of Raising a Puppy is, commenting that it reads like a story that’s chock full of overwhelmingly useful advice. Though you can get through it in a day, most owners bookmark numerous sections and add that they return to it for advice and answers all the time.
03 of 07
Best for Potty Training: How to Housebreak Your Dog in 7 Days
Whether you’re struggling with housebreaking your new puppy or you need to potty train a new rescue dog, How to Housebreak your Dog in 7 Days is an invaluable book. Written by pet expert Shirlee Kalstone, this book will help you train even the most “untrainable” pups. It also provides tactics for all types of house training, from housebreaking to litter training to paper training. You’ll find suggested potty schedules to adhere to, advice for handling accidents and tips on the right way to positively reinforce your pup.
How to Housebreak your Dog in 7 Days has an enthusiastic fan base on Amazon, with owners raving about its miracle-making advice. Though housebreaking can be a slow and occasionally trying practice, Kalstone will help you train your pup no matter how old he or she is.
04 of 07
Best for Kids: Puppy Training for Kids
Everyone knows the age-old tale of the kid who asked for puppy and never took responsibility for his new friend. Good news: You can let your kid take charge of training with this invaluable and intelligently conceived book. This Barron’s title is written specifically for children, focusing on teaching them how to care for, train and nurture their new four-legged friend. It will help your children learn the basics of clicker training, socialization and healthy exercise. The 96 pages are photo-heavy, allowing children to visualize rather than read a heavy manual with long blocks of text.
Amazon reviewers say it’s a “must have” for any child who is adopting their very first dog. They love that it’s easy to understand and easily digestible for middle school-aged children and under.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07
Best for Dog Tricks: 101 Dog Tricks: Step by Step Activities ...
Now that you have potty training down, keep your dog mentally sharp and engaged by teaching him tricks. 101 Dog Tricks by Kyra Sundance is the ultimate guide to teaching your dog every trick in the book (literally, in this case). It’s full of color-coded guides to its 101 tricks, each one rated with a difficulty level and necessary “prerequisites” your pup should know in advance. The tricks range from the standard sit, fetch and stay to the more advanced (but incredibly nifty) “go get a soda from the fridge.” Beyond being useful, teaching your dog tricks can help keep active pups engaged and challenged, making them less likely to create destruction around the home.
If you’re searching for a one-stop trick shop, 101 Dog Tricks is the book for you. Amazon reviewers say it has everything you need to turn a lazy dog into a trick machine.
06 of 07
Best for Service Dogs: Training Your Own Service Dog
Acquiring a service dog can be a lengthy and expensive process. Training Your Own Service Dog by Lelah Sullivan is a guide to teaching your dog skills to help him or her be a companion animal. Sullivan is a retired service dog trainer who covers the fundamentals of training a dog for a variety of disabilities. Though we recommend going through a licensed service dog agency for most needs, Sullivan’s book can help those who need a little extra help around the house and don’t have the extra funds to acquire an official service pup. The author also has a Facebook group that she visits frequently for advice and suggestions.
Amazon customers say Sullivan’s book is the most comprehensive guide to self-training a service dog. Owners say their pups are better behaved, better around crowds and in public and can follow a variety of commands after finishing the steps.
07 of 07
Best for Agility Training: The Beginner's Guide to Dog Agility
If you’re interested in training your pup for agility competitions, The Beginner’s Guide to Dog Agility by Laurie Leach is a great place to start. This 256-page book covers subjects from creating your very own agility obstacles to the ins-and-outs of clicker training. Agility competitions can be fun for you and your pet and provide a bonding experience you’ll both enjoy. As the title states, this book is great for someone who has no experience in agility training and wants to explore it with their motivated pup.
Laurie Leach’s book has many fans on Amazon who say the suggested exercises and tasks have helped keep both the pup and the human in shape and active. Though it’s aimed at the professional agility community, it’s a great book for anyone interested in exploring this world.