Books About Dogs, Dog Training, and Dog Behavior
Bones Would Rain from the Sky: Deepening Our Relationships with Dogs By Suzanne Clothier. This is one of my favorite dog related books that I think every dog owner and trainer should read. Suzanne writes in an eloquent fashion about what it means to live well with dogs, inspiring us to be more intentional about our relationships with our dogs. If you haven’t read it yet, do it now.
Excel-Erated Learning: Explaining in Plain English How Dogs Learn and How Best to Teach Them By Pamela Reid. This is a little more on the technical side, while still being highly approachable for the average reader. Pamela covers many of the basic principles of animal learning that anyone who is serious about training their dog should know.
The Evolution of Canine Social Behavior By Roger Abrantes. If you want to gain a better understanding of the evolutionary purposes behind dominance and submission, then the is a must read. Is a small book and you can probably tackle it in one sitting if you really want. This book is also contained within the larger Dog Language, An Encyclopedia of Canine Behavior which is a bit more robust.
The Handbook of Applied Dog Behavior and Training, Volume 1, Volume 2, & Volume 3 By Steven R Lindsay. This is a must have for the professional trainer, a little pricey but well worth it. The three volumes together compile decades of research and practice about dog development, behavior, and training practices. There are some parts that are a little out-dated since its publication but it is still an essential reference.
What is a Dog? By Raymond and Lorna Coppinger. Did you know that the vast majority of dogs on earth are not, and have never been pets? The Coppingers make the argument that among these populations of free ranging dogs, many if not most of them have evolved naturally to fill an ecological niche – Living among and alongside humans. Based on this initial assumption, the Coppingers explore the concept that if we want to understand what it really means to be a dog, then we should seek to understand the behavior of these vast populations of free ranging dogs.
Never underestimate the value of going back to basics. If you are serious about understand the principles required to change behavior, then Pavlov’s groundbreaking original work is a must read. in Conditioned Reflexes, Ivan Pavlov recounts in detail his (and his team’s) roughly 25 years of experiments. It is actually a pretty engaging read, even if on the technical side.
If, like me, you take an interest in the technical aspects of behavior and training, then I highly recommend reading Anthony Dickinson’s Contemporary Animal Learning Theory (Problems in the Behavioral Sciences). In this book, Dickinson does an excellent job of leading the reader through a narrative behavioral experiments carried out through primarily the 1960’s and 70’s, which piggy-back off of Pavlov’s discoveries, and explore the various factors that may either support, or undermine conditioned learning. This is is super technical, and took me a while to get through (I had to read it in portions, often re-reading sections to fully understand them), but it is on my must read list for those who are serious students.