Friday, September 16, 2011

5 Books I Think Every Dog Owner Should Read

You may have noticed, I read a lot of books.  I work at a library, which makes them readily available in quantity and variation.  Since getting Elka, dog books, of course, have been a favorite.  Here are five that I think every dog owner should read.

Elka agrees.

1. The Other End of the Leash, by Patricia McConnell: certainly not a dog training book, but more of a people training book.  This one challenges you to take a step back look at your behavior as your dog might,  from her end of the leash, and consider the effect that behavior might have on your dog.

2. On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals, by Turid Rugaas: recently reviewed, I feel that this book gives concise descriptions of behaviors that dogs exhibit when they're uncomfortable or unsure of a situation, that an owner might misinterpret as disobedience, stupidity, or worse.  Dogs don't speak English; this book helps you learn to speak dog.

3. Bringing Light to Shadow, by Pamela Dennison: This book is the journal, with notes, of a woman who adopts a people aggressive, extremely reactive dog from rescue.  And, using positive techniques (as opposed to physically punishing or coercive ones), "fixes" him.  It's a painstaking process, and the book is very informative about the strategies used, and overall, highlights that dogs take PATIENCE.  And that behaviors can be unlearned.

4.  The Thinking Dog: Crossover to Clicker Training, by Gail Tamases Fisher: since I didn't clicker train from the get-go, Elka is a "crossover" dog, technically.  "Clicker dogs" are encouraged to think and problem solve; "traditionally trained" dogs are to watch their humans for a cue.  Of course, you want your dog to look to you for decision making purposes, but the joy I've seen Elka take in what I want when we work with the clicker is a sight to behold.  And I've clicker trained her to look to me when she's unsure of things.

5. Playtraining Your Dog, by Patricia Gail Burnham:  I had a lot of fun reading this book, which does give pointers for training specific behaviors.  Burnham includes plenty of anecdotes about her dogs and others, and, as the title suggests, tries to make training play for the dog, and thus fun! 


  1. Great list! I love that picture of Elka I have a similar nose shot of Leila!!

  2. It was hard to pick a number, that's for sure!

    I thought she looked studious in that one; I should get a glasses picture for posts like this. I think, one day, I'll be able to take a picture of how her head really looks; her nose isn't actually freaky-long, and isn't all that square, either. Her head is pretty good on standard, actually, unlike most of the rest of her (she's too tall)!

  3. I love that you included Gail Burnham's book! That was the first positive dog training book I ever owned and it it so well-worn. Have you read Karen Pryor's "Reaching the Animal Mind"? While not a training book per se I thought it helped think about what goes into training.

  4. I can see my kindle is going to be getting a workout! Do you think there is something called "Kindle thumb?" LOL

  5. Oh, that "Thinking Dog" book looks good.

    I realized yesterday, thanks to an excellent book called "When Pigs Fly," that I really struggle with using my clicker for anything more advanced than capturing behaviors. I tried standing next to the dog's crate with the treats and clicker. Sure enough, in about thirty seconds he offered me the behavior I'd been struggling to train all week. (Going into the crate and lying down, without me having to put the treats in first.)

  6. Hi Jen! I just discovered your blog through the 31DBBB group, it's great to meet you! As a librarian, I totally love your list. :D And, I am looking forward to checking out the books you listed that are new to me.

    On a side note, I'm totally in love with Elka, what a beauty! :)

  7. Great list! There are a couple on there I haven't read but am adding to my library list!!

  8. Wonderful list. I'm going to have to read #2 myself. One of my "pet" peeves (no pun intended) are the "guilty dog" videos that show someone berating a pet for something it may or may not have actually done. More people need to become aware of these body language cues and what they really mean.

  9. Ooooh, I haven't heard of the last two! Awesome - I love good book recs.

    I've just got Bradshaw's Dog Sense & Horowitz's Inside of a Dog. They both look good - can't decide which one to start with :-)

  10. @Dawn: Yes! Reaching the Animal Mind is the first Pryor book I read, and I really enjoyed it. Burnham has another book, Treats, Play, Love which includes some of the original material, and some some new. I wish she had more!

    @jodistone I imagine "Kindle Thumb" is much like the controller injuries one gets playing video games for too long!

    @Anonymous: I really enjoyed When Pigs Fly, but thought 6 was too weird a number, so stuck with 5.

    @Julie hi and welcome! Thanks for the compliments, Elka appreciates them.

    @Maggie thanks! There are other books, and some of these, in my "Recommended Reading" list at the top of the page.

    @Louie's Mom There's also Canine Body Language: a Photographic Guide, but I haven't fully read it myself yet. It's not Rugaas, and is a much longer book that covers everything it can, if I'm given to understand correctly.

    @hornblower I really enjoyed Inside of a Dog, and for some reason, Dog Sense couldn't keep my attention. I thought that situation was very strange.

  11. Elka is beautiful! so sleek. I love her nose too; Arie does this same shot sometimes with nose in lens. :) I can't wait to get started with book reviews on LWA, and this is a great list for recommendations. Thanks!

  12. Great list:) I've got the first 2 books, and Pigs Might Fly, also Control Unleashed. I'll have to check out the others. And I must get back into training, lol!