Best & Worst Animal Training Books

A while back I asked for comments from readers about their favorite animal training books and the ones that they consider the worst animal training books.

A few animal trainers chimed in and what you might find interesting is that some of the same books landed on both lists.

Now you might ask, how is that possible?

It is possible because there are different schools of thought when it comes to training animals which I mentioned in Animal Training Generalities.

A while back I wrote a handbook for my students because I use integrative methods of training in my practice and tend to blend the scientific method with some non-traditional practices along with some more along the lines of traditional practices.

Another surprising fact most people don’t know is that there isn’t any state or federal recognized licensing for companion animal training–all you have to do is hang out your shingle.

So you have people from all types of educational backgrounds and experience levels getting involved without a lot of consistency.

When I got my degree in animal training and management, animal training wasn’t really considered a “real” profession.

Today that has changed but there is a lot of diversity between trainers.

Also, the tools of the trade vary greatly and I’ve had people tell me they have years of training experience when they actually have not.

My favorite was the lady who told me she had been training for 20 years but when I ask just how many animals she trained–it was five.

Anyway, over the years there have been many books that have come and gone. I have a bunch in storage.

But just because someone is published doesn’t mean it is the best or latest information.

Today celebrity driven books make them more suspect.

According to Readers, the Worst Animal Training Books are:

  • How to be your Dog’s Best Friend by Monks of New Skete (First Edition)
  • Be the Pack Leader: Use Cesar’s Way to Transform Your Dog and Your Life by Cesar Millan
  • Synergy E-Book by Brad Pattison
  • The Koehler Method by William Koehler
  • Cesar’s Way by Cesar Millan
  • Bringing Light to Shadow by Pamela Dennison
  • So You Want to Be a Dog Trainer by Nicole Wilde
  • Don’t Shoot The Dog by Karen Pryor

According to Readers, the Best Animal Training Books are:

  • Don’t Shoot the Dog by Karen Pryor
  • True Horsemanship Through Feel by Dorrance/Desmond
  • Horses Never Lie by Mark Rashid
  • The Other End of the Leash by Patricia McConnell
  • Kicked, Bitten, and Scratched by Amy Sutherland
  • The Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson
  • Dog Tales by Ray McSoley
  • Koehler Method of Dog Training by William Koehler
  • The Koehler Method of Open Obedience by William Koehler

Now, like my previous list on Animal Training & Animal Behavior Books, not all of these books are “How To” types of books.

Since there are new books that come out on a regular basis, it is hard to know just what ones are the best.

So, consider those my colleagues include in their “best” animal training book list:

  • Behavior Modification in Applied Settings by Alan E. Kazdin
  • Whales with Fur by Pete Davey
  • Lads Before the Wind: Adventures in Porpoise Training by Karen Pryor
  • ABC’s of Animal Training by Shelley Wood
  • Learning and Behavior and First Course in Applied Behavior Analysis by Paul Chance
  • Measuring Behaviour: An Introductory Guide by Paul Martin and Patrick Bateson
  • The Click That Teaches by Alexandra Kurland
  • The Fundamentals of Animal Training by Bob Bailey
  • Don’t Shoot the Dog by Karen Pryor
  • The Art of Training by Steve Martin
  • Little Time Expenditure, Big Time Success by Angi Millwood
  • It’s About Relationships by Steve Martin
  • What’s In It For Me? by Steve Martin
  • Interpreting and Influencing Animal Behavior: An Essential Keeper’s Tool by Cassie Malina

Many animal training professional or animal behavior consultant membership organizations have suggested reading lists, but you can see that the opinions and diversity cover a wide selection.

Okay, those are the favorites of animal professionals but this does not mean that they are the most popular with the general pet owning population.

Do you have a resource you think is the best? Feel free to comment below.

Photo Credit: DChris

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  1. Martina Schoppe says

    uups, the title of the
    Pamela Dennison book is “Bringing Light to Shadow” ;D

  2. LOL I should have caught that when I went to check it out! Thanks.

  3. Alexandra Kurland’s books are stellar.

    I also really like Leslie Pavlich’s colt starting book, especially as a resource for people who are new to clicker training.

    It is easy to read and she does a great job of outlining everything step by step. She also uses many of the exercises that the natural horsemanship folks use (just converting them to clicker) so I think it can be a nice transition program for people who want to experiment a bit with clicker training, but who aren’t totally sold yet.