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10 Best Dog Training Books in 2021 – Reviews & Top Picks

woman training labrador tricks in field

Dogs are a man’s best friend, but they can also be our worst nightmare if they are not well trained. If your dog doesn’t know how to come, sit, and stay at the very least, chances are that you won’t want to take them out in public or have visitors over to your home. So, training should be made a priority, no matter how old your pooch might be right now.

Puppies tend to do best with training because they have not had an opportunity to get set in their own ways yet. But even adult dogs with no training experience can learn commands and tricks with the best of them — it just may take a little more patience and commitment. There are many great dog trainers out there to work with, but sessions can be time-consuming, costly, and inconvenient times.

Investing in a good dog training book will allow you to train your pooch at home yourself for free when it’s convenient. You can do training every single day in your spare time instead of just once a week at a trainer’s facility. Before you know it, you’ll be an expert trainer! There are thousands of quality dog training books on the internet to help you become a great trainer and help ensure a well-behaved dog.

We have put together a list of our favorite dog training books in 2020 and reviews for each so you don’t have to wade through all the good and bad options out there. Hopefully, these reviews will help you easily determine which training book would best fit the needs of you and your pup.

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A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
“Cesar's Rules: Your Way to Train a Well-Behaved Dog” “Cesar's Rules: Your Way to Train a Well-Behaved Dog”
  • Feature iconFocuses on both training and behavior
  • Feature iconHelp for troubleshooting training problems
  • Feature iconHelps owners work with, not against, a dog’s natural instincts
  • Best Value
    Second place
    “Cesar Millan's Short Guide to a Happy Dog” “Cesar Millan's Short Guide to a Happy Dog”
  • Feature iconIncludes 98 expert tips and techniques
  • Feature iconInsight for all-around dog behavior
  • Feature iconGreat for beginning and experienced dog owners
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    “51 Puppy Tricks: Step-by-Step Activities” “51 Puppy Tricks: Step-by-Step Activities”
  • Feature iconFor puppies under 1 year of age
  • Feature iconIncorporate puppy psychology
  • Feature iconIncludes step-by-step instructions and accompanying photographs
  • “Team Dog: How to Train Your Dog the Navy SEAL Way” “Team Dog: How to Train Your Dog the Navy SEAL Way”
  • Feature iconOffers expert Navy SEAL advice
  • Feature iconIncludes beginner-level tips and tricks
  • Feature iconIncludes information about diet, exercise, and behavior problems
  • “Zak George's Dog Training Revolution” “Zak George's Dog Training Revolution”
  • Feature iconEasy to read
  • Feature iconFun and engaging
  • Feature iconCovers everything
  • The 10 Best Dog Training Books — Reviews 2021

    1. “Cesar’s Rules: Your Way to Train a Well-Behaved Dog” — Best Overall

    1Cesar's Rules Your Way to Train a Well-Behaved Dog

    Positive reinforcement is the focus of this popular training book by Cesar Millan. He teaches humane training techniques that are geared toward nurturing a happy, healthy, and well-behaved dog. The book is filled with tips and tricks for figuring out what your dog’s natural inclinations are, so you can figure out what training techniques will work best for them.

    You won’t just learn about Cesar Millan’s methods in “Cesar’s Rules: Your Way to Train a Well-Behaved Dog.” He also offers insights and theories from the top dog trainers in the country, such as Ian Dunbar, Martin Deeley, and Bob Bailey. This book isn’t designed to change your dog’s instincts, but to honor them. We think this is important because if dogs can’t rely on their natural instincts, they can become stubborn, destructive, and even aggressive out of frustration.

    You will learn that training is about molding a well-balanced dog that listens to you and does things for you because of mutual love and respect, not out of fear or from a feeling of domination. You can also expect to learn how to make training fun for both you and your pooch so you will be more likely to continue training as time goes on. In addition to outlining specific training techniques, this book also covers troubleshooting training problems, so you don’t end up feeling stuck in a rut.

    Pros
    • Focuses on both training and behavior
    • Features insight from top dog trainers from around the country
    • Helps owners work with, not against, a dog’s natural instincts
    • Offers help for troubleshooting training problems
    Cons
    • Content is not as organized as we think it should be
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    2. “Cesar Millan’s Short Guide to a Happy Dog” — Best Value

    2Cesar Millan's Short Guide to a Happy Dog

    We think that “Cesar Millan’s Short Guide to a Happy Dog” is the best dog training book for the money because it’s short, sweet, to the point, and helpful for both new and experienced dog owners. This guide features 98 specific tips and techniques that can be used to create a unique training regimen that works best for you and your pup.

    Instead of getting a step-by-step guide to training your dog, you will learn about the basics of dog psychology and how to recognize instinctual behavior. Creating checks and balances, boundaries, and expectations is a big focus in this guide. Managing misbehaviors and reinforcing good behavior are also discussed at length. The training guidance that you receive can be pieced together based on the commands and tricks that you want to teach your pooch.

    Overall, this is an inspiring dog training guide that won’t give you a blueprint for training but will provide you with the basic knowledge and insight you need to put together a training plan and start your own training practice at home.

    Pros
    • Great for beginning and experienced dog owners
    • Offers insight for all-around dog behavior
    • Includes 98 expert tips and techniques
    Cons
    • Does not offer step-by-step instructions for a complete training program
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    3. “51 Puppy Tricks: Step-by-Step Activities” — Premium Choice

    3 51 Puppy Tricks

    We love this training book because it is geared toward puppies under a year of age, when they tend to be the most difficult to manage. Their curiosity and rambunctiousness can make training tough. But with the help of “51 Puppy Tricks: Step-by-Step Activities to Engage, Challenge, and Bond with Your Puppy,” you will have all the tools you need to keep your puppy focused and eager to please during training time.

    This guide is written by Kyra Sundance, a dog trainer that is renowned around the world for her experience and understanding of dog training. The guide will help you understand the psychology of puppies so you understand how yours thinks and why. Then, it delves into specific training techniques that can be used to teach your puppy obedience and tricks in a way that they will positively respond to.

    We love that this book comes with photographs, so you can see how training techniques are done, taking away all the guesswork. It is well organized and can be used when training reinforcement is needed. Basic obedience commands and advanced tricks are included, so there is no need to invest in several different books. Our only complaint about this book is that it is not as engaging as many of the other books on our list.

    Pros
    • Geared specifically toward puppies under 1 year of age
    • Includes step-by-step instructions and accompanying photographs
    • Incorporate puppy psychology into training techniques
    Cons
    • The content isn’t as engaging as many other books on our list
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    4. “Team Dog: How to Train Your Dog the Navy SEAL Way”

    4Team Dog

    Navy SEAL Mike Ritland has 15 years of dog training experience and has decided to share his insights in a book called, “Team Dog: How to Train Your Dog the Navy SEAL Way.” The book won’t help you turn your dog into a military dog, but it will teach you how to gain your dog’s trust and achieve any level of obedience that you want to. He shares stories about his experiences with dogs both in combat and in civilian settings.

    He shares tips and techniques taken directly from his Navy Seal handbook that will help you establish yourself as the pack leader and obtain command and control over your pooch — in a loving way, of course. This is not a complete training reference guide, but it does cover the information that you need to know to get started with obedience training and how to build upon the basics once you are ready.

    The book also includes information about diet, exercise, behavioral problems, situational issues, and more. Many basic tips and tricks are scattered throughout the book that can be used alone or combined with the training techniques, depending on the type of training you are working on and the result that you want to achieve.

    Pros
    • Offers expert Navy SEAL advice for civilian households
    • Includes information about diet, exercise, and behavior problems that can affect training
    • Includes beginner-level tips and tricks to enhance training
    Cons
    • Not a complete training reference, so other training books may be required
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    5. “Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution”

    5Zak George's Dog Training Revolution

    If you are looking for a book to help you raise your puppy overall, this is a great option to consider. “Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution” delves into everything from going to the vet and choosing the right food to putty and obedience training. It offers advice and insight that can be put into use no matter how well or badly behaved your pooch is now.

    Do you want your puppy to stop jumping on your guests when they walk through the door? You will learn how to make it happen when you read this book. Are you tired of your dog pulling you on the leash during walk times? This book will teach you how to break the habit and create a mutually beneficial walking regimen to follow. Zak provides the information he is sharing in a thoughtful and fun way that will keep you reading until the very end.

    This is not a training book that will help you teach your dog everything that you want them to know. After the basic obedience commands and potty training is complete, you will likely want to move on to a book that focuses solely on obedience training.

    Pros
    • Covers everything from food and vet care to exercise and training
    • Content is delivered in a fun and engaging manner
    • Easy to read and navigate through
    Cons
    • Does not offer advanced training guidance
    • Some content may not be relevant to those strictly looking for training advice
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    6. “Lucky Dog Lessons: Train Your Dog in 7 Days”

    6Lucky Dog Lessons

    If you have ever seen the popular show “Lucky Dog” on CBS, you know the success that Brandon McMillan has with unwanted, rescued shelter dogs. If he can train shelter dogs to be well behaved, he can help you train your own dog. Brandon starts by teaching you how to build trust and establish focus. From there, he goes into depth about how to teach your pooch seven common commands: sit, stay, down, come, off, heel, and no.

    Common behavior problems like door dashing and barking are also addressed. With the illustrated examples, readers won’t get confused while learning the tips and tricks that are outlined throughout the book. Each training lesson included in the book is accompanied by a full-color photograph that demonstrates proper technique. The book is dotted with inspirational stories about down and out dogs that have found success with the help of Brandon McMillan’s work.

    “Lucky Dog Lessons: Train Your Dog in 7 Days” is designed for dogs of all ages and sizes, making it an excellent option for multi-dog households. Unfortunately, we found that many of the training techniques and recommendations require the use of purchased tools and accessories.

    Pros
    • Designed for dogs of all ages and sizes
    • Covers common behavioral problems
    • Includes training instructions for seven common commands
    Cons
    • Many training recommendations require the use of purchased tools
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    7. “Training the Best Dog Ever”

    7Training the Best Dog Ever

    Designed as a five-week training program, this book focuses on positive reinforcement to achieve the behavioral results that you are looking for. The book will help you teach your pup obedience commands and control problems, like biting, with just 10 to 20 minutes of practice each day. In addition to learning sit, stay, and come, your dog will learn crate training, potty training, leash training, and even water safety.

    Step-by-step and photo instructions are included for each topic so readers have confidence when executing the steps with their own dogs. The best part about this book is that it provides a true blueprint for training your dog in five weeks. You will follow certain steps like clockwork every day until you are getting the results that you want to see.

    There is no guesswork involved, just steps to follow. The positive reinforcements techniques used in this book are great, but treats are a common theme that can make some dogs dependent on getting rewarded every time that they obey a command or behave well in a public setting.

    Pros
    • A complete five-week training program that is easy to follow
    • Includes step-by-step instructions and pictures
    Cons
    • The heavy focus on treats could make some dogs food-dependent when it comes to obedience
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    8. “Puppy Training in 7 Easy Steps: Everything You Need to Know to Raise the Perfect Dog”

    8Puppy Training in 7 Easy Steps

    This is another excellent training book that focused on puppies. Combining the power of positive reinforcement and instinctual knowledge, “Puppy Training in 7 Easy Steps: Everything You Need to Know to Raise the Perfect Dog” offers step-by-step guidance that will help you build your dog’s skills in stages. In addition to basic obedience commands, you can expect to learn about puppy-proofing your home, troubleshooting training mishaps, and maintaining the obedience that is achieved during training.

    You won’t find many pictures in this book to help you along your training path, but you will find clear instructions that tell you exactly what to do, from how to stand and act to what to say and do. Many commands and techniques are included in the book, but just as many are missed. Don’t expect your dog to be advanced in obedience after using the advice offered here.

    However, you can expect a generally well-behaved dog that knows to come, sit, stay, and leave things alone when you want them to. Unfortunately, this book does not go into detail for every circumstance. For example, the potty-training section talks about taking a puppy out for walks so they have a chance to use the bathroom. But they do not offer advice for those with puppies that are still not fully vaccinated and can’t walk in public places yet.

    Pros
    • Content is well organized and easy to read
    • Offers practical advice even beginners can adheret
    Cons
    • Does not offer advanced training advice
    • Does not address all possible household circumstances
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    9. “Dog Training for Kids: Fun and Easy Ways to Care for Your Furry Friend”

    9Dog Training for Kids

    Kids should know how to manage their family dogs as well as adults do, which is why they need to have access to outstanding books like this one. “Dog Training for Kids: Fun and Easy Ways to Care for Your Furry Friend” incorporates basic command training into a well-rounded course on how to care for a dog in general throughout life.

    Choosing the right pup for your household, dog-proofing, your home, and potty training is just a start. Your kids will also learn how to teach your dog not to pull on their leash and how to get along with other animals that might live in the household. Teaching your pooch to stay calm in social situations, even at the vet, is also part of the training program.

    Younger children may need your guidance when using the book, and a lack of illustrative instruction might be frustrating for some kids. The book seems to have been poorly constructed too, because ours started falling apart during our first run-through.

    Pros
    • Made just for kids
    • Easy-to-understand instructions
    • Covers all manners of managing a dog
    Cons
    • Younger kids will need adult guidance
    • Lack of illustrations makes the book lackluster
    • Book pages seem to easily fall out
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    10. Dog Training for Dummies

    10Dog Training For Dummies

    What is unique about this dog training guide is that it shows you how to choose the best training techniques for your dog based on their unique personality and natural instincts. You can expect to understand your dog’s nutritional and exercise needs so they are best prepared for training. It covers socialization, housetraining, basic commands, and even advanced tricks that involve things like retrieving and agility sporting.

    Step-by-step instructions are included for some training commands, and problems like aggression and separation anxiety are addressed. However, there are so many topics covered in this book, no topic is covered in any real depth. If you want your dog to master the training that you provide them with, you will want to pair this book with others that cover those specific training topics.

    Pros
    • Teaches owners how to choose the right training techniques for their dog
    • Covers a wide variety of training and obedience topics
    • Includes step-by-step instructions
    Cons
    • No topic is covered in depth
    • Few illustrations and photos accompany training topics
    • Lacks anecdotal and inspirational stories, unlike other options on our list

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    Conclusion

    We hope that our list of dog training book reviews help you uncover the perfect one for you and your furry family member. Don’t overlook “Cesar’s Rules: Your Way to Train a Well-Behaved Dog,” which is our first pick for good reason. It offers insightful advice and in-depth training guidance that will help you turn your pooch into a well-behaved and happy member of your family.

    Our second pick, “Cesar Millan’s Short Guide to a Happy Dog,” also deserves serious consideration. It’s to the point and covers a wide range of behavioral topics that will help you better understand your dog and where they are coming from. But the truth is that every dog training book on our reviews list deserves to be highlighted. They can all teach us a thing or two about being a better dog parent and working with instead of against them.

    Which of the dog training books on our list interest you the most? Which do you think are worth skipping? Let us know what you think in our comments section below!

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    Featured Image Credit: manushot, Shutterstock