I am a reader. My mother was first a librarian and later an English teacher, and from an early age I recognized and appreciated the power of books. I turn to them for information and inspiration, for pure escapism or for learning about my latest obsession. After adopting Ruby and realizing that she was going to be a challenging dog, I knew that the training philosophy I connected with had a name. I also knew that I needed to learn a lot more about it - the majority of my formal training experience was with horses. The following are some of the books that I turned to as I got to know my brilliant, intense little terrier:
The Power of Positive Dog Training by Pat Miller - This book is a wonderful resource for force-free training, providing an overview as well as practical advice for basic through advanced behaviors and trouble-shooting. It includes information on clicker training, treat suggestions and a glossary of training terms.
101 Dog Tricks: Step by Step Activities to Engage, Challenge, and Bond with Your Dog by Kyra Sundance - This book sparked my love of trick training with Ruby, something that has proven to be incredibly rewarding for both of us. It has so many cute ideas and step by step instructions, organized by difficulty and providing ways to build on simpler tricks. Note: Some of the instructions do involve physical manipulation, such as holding a dog's foot up or placing a piece of tape on their nose, which could be aversive for some dogs. Please remember to observe your dog for signs of stress whenever you are training.
For the Love of a Dog: Understanding Emotion in You and Your Best Friend by Patricia B. McConnell - While not specifically a training book, I think anything that deepens the knowledge of our dogs' inner lives will help us to communicate with them. I recommend any of McConnell's books, but found this one especially beautiful.
Control Unleashed: Creating a Focused and Confident Dog by Leslie McDevitt - This book is meant as a companion to a specific training program for agility dogs, and can be difficult to apply if you don't have other dogs/handlers available to work with; however, there are some great exercises and most of all, a way to shift your thinking to help the sensitive/reactive/fearful dog. The story of McDevitt's dog Snap at the end is worth the entire book.
Plenty In Life is Free by Kathy Sdao - This book is so important to me, and although it is more esoteric than instructional, it is a beautiful exploration of our ethical duties to our dogs and the limitless potential of joy that exists in those relationships. It spoke to my heart and expressed things I've had difficulty articulating in my own rejection of aversive methods. I recommend this to everyone who has ever asked if there is a better way to communicate.
This post is part of the Positive Pet Training Blog Hop - join us on the first Monday of every month to promote positive pet training and share advice and experiences. The hop is open all week long! The next hop begins June 1st with the theme of training multiple pets.