Dog training is a profession that is growing in pace on an everyday basis. New people are joining the dog training workforce every day, and this has lead to there being some questions amongst new entrants into the field of ‘how do I become a good trainer?’ My answer to that question would be; “by doing your research.”
A complete novice to dog training, or perhaps even someone who has spent some time around dogs could easily be forgiven for believing that all you need is a pack of treats and a commanding tone, but in actual fact this is far from the truth. To help your learning curve along I have put together a list of books which should give you an insight into the world of dog training and hopefully help you on your way to becoming a good trainer.
How to train your dog using these books
The first step of training is to train the owner, not the dog. For this reason I would recommend that you read these books in order. So begin with ‘The Dog Whisperer‘ by Paul Owens. This will give you an insight into how dogs think and act, Paul Owens breaks down dogs behavior to simple concepts which makes it easier for the reader to understand, so after reading through ‘The Dog Whisperer’ read ‘How Dogs Learn‘ by Mary R. Burch and Jon S. Bailey
It is very important that you are familiar with the concepts of dog psychology before you attempt to train your dog, if you try to do this without knowing what makes dogs tick then you will surely fail.
Understand that training dogs is not like teaching your kids math, there are no right and wrong answers. For example; if you understand that dogs learn better with reward then this does not mean that all of your lessons should be rewards based! If you want to succeed at dog training you should constantly be asking yourself the question; “what would a dog naturally do?”
Using this concept of thinking like a dog will hopefully lead you onto the path to being a good trainer.
‘The Dog Listener’ by Jan Fennell is another great book which I would recommend reading, in fact it is probably my favorite on this list. Jan Fennell gives some very easy to follow advice on how to communicate with your dog and teaches you the basics of all training. Her style is not harsh or forceful like some trainers, she encourages a gentle approach to training which makes it an ideal read for people who are new to the world of dog training.
‘Don’t Shoot the Dog‘ by Karen Pryor is another great book which helps to train the trainer; it teaches you how to use positive reinforcement in order to get what you want. This book is a must read for anybody who wants to learn how to train dogs and I would recommend it whether you are just starting out or have been training dogs for years.
There is no such thing as the perfect dog, every dog has its own personality and temperament which means that it will respond differently to training methods. For this reason I would recommend that you read ‘How to be the Leader of the Pack’ by Cesar Milan. This book will help you to understand why dogs can react differently to training, and it also teaches how a pack leader should look in relation to his pack.
Once you have finished reading this book I would recommend going back through your books and re-reading them, this is because there maybe certain points which you are not fully understanding. Repeat this process until you are absolutely comfortable with the information that you have read.