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APDT Education Committee Book List

See also: So You Want to be a Dog Trainer!

The following is a list of resources; books, videos and web sites for anyone who aspires to be a dog training and behavior professional. There is much one needs to know about dogs and people to be successful in this profession. The materials in this list have been selected by the APDT Education Committee and will get you started on a wonderful journey. Happy learning!


The Study of the Dog

The Laws of Learning: How Dogs Learn

Training Methods

How People Learn and Training Methods

Business Development & Professionalism


The Study of the Dog

Dog Breeds & Mixes

The Complete Dog Book: Official Publication of the American Kennel Club
(Current edition) Howell Book House. Dog Breeds in the United States are generally derived from the breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC).  While there are some wonderful breeds that have not been recognized by the AKC and millions of fantastic mixed breeds, this tome is the standard for most of the dog breeds you will encounter.

Atlas of Dog Breeds of the World , Chris Walkowicz & Bonnie Wilcox, TFH Publishing
A good reference for breeds that may not be recognized by the AKC.

Mutts: America's Dogs by Brian Kilcommons and Michael Capuzzo, Grand Central Publishing, 1996.
Discussion of common breed mixes and attributes to expect. With the rise of mixed breed dogs in the U.S. it’s important for trainers to recognize and learn about mixed breeds as well as pure bred dogs.

Canine Language


On Talking Terms With Dogs: Calming Signals, Turid Rugaas, Dogwise Publishing, 2006

Barking - The Sound of a Language, Turid Rugaas, Dogwise, 2008
These two books by Turid Rugaas will help the aspiring dog trainer better understand how their dog communicates both visually and audibly. Rugaas also addresses how primate/human communication styles can cause stress/conflict with dogs

The Other End of the Leash – Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs, Patricia B. McConnell, Ph.D, Ballantine Books, 2002
Dr. McConnell helps us to improve our understanding of our dogs by helping us to look at ourselves and how what we do with our dogs affects them.  As trainers we need to not only focus on the dog but on the person holding the leash.

Canine Body Language – A Photographic Guide, Brenda Aloff, Dogwise, 2005

Canine Behavior - A Photo Illustrated Handbook, Barbara Handelman, Woof and Word Press, 2008
Dogs are superb visual communicators. The photos collected in Canine Behavior provide clear examples of dog communication in action. 

Off-Leash Dog Play, Susan Briggs & Robin Bennett
A comprehensive guide for the pet professional working with dogs in interactive situations such as daycares, playgroups, dog parks and even multi-dog households.  In addition to covering leadership, group control and body language, the book offers insight into the dogs' scent, vocal and visual communication.

Video and Audio

The best way to learn to understand how dogs communicate visually is by watching them.. Watching dogs in the real world is great, but so much of what a dog does is very subtle, video or stop-action-photography will often be the best way to really see what you are seeing.

Calming Signals, Turid Rugaas

What is My Dog Saying? Carol Byrnes

Canine Mind and Emotions


The Culture Clash, Jean Donaldson, James & Kenneth Publishers, 2005
The book that has shaped modern thinking about canine behavior and the relationship between dogs and humans, Donaldson was also one of the first canine professionals to question the dominance construct and by doing so helped move our profession forward.

For the Love of a Dog: Understanding Emotion in You and Your Best Friend, Patricia B. McConnell, Ph.D, Ballantine Books, 2005, 2006
For centuries science and the Church insisted that animals have no emotions, which resulted in animal management and training strategies that today we would consider inhumane. Scientist and dog trainer, Dr. Patricia McConnell addresses our dogs emotions head on in this book and demonstrates that the commonality between our emotions is one of the reasons for the great bond between people and dogs. Since most serious behavior problems have an emotional basis, this book is essential reading.
Bones Would Rain from the Sky, by Suzanne Clothier, Grand Central Publishing, 2005
A beautifully written exploration of the ways in which humans can establish a better rapport with their dogs, offering new insights into behavioral problems, improved communication, and mutual respect and trust.

Dog Behaviour, Evolution and Cognition, by Adam Miklosi, Oxford University Press, 2009
A "textbook" and summary of recent research.   Relevant information for dog trainers about the cognitive abilities of dogs.

Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell and Know by Alexandra Horowitz, Scribner Book Company, 2009
An overview of the many facets of dogs’ physical, emotion, and mental lives, and their niche in a human world.

Canine Evolution/Domestication/Development


Dogs: A new Understanding of Canine Origin, Behavior and Evolution, Raymond and Lorna Coppinger, University of Chicago Press, 2001
Understanding how the dog evolved and has changed from the wolf is essential to understanding the dog. The Coppinger’s have written an extremely readable and thought provoking book on how man and dog evolved together.

Genetics & the Social Behavior of the Dog, John Paul Scott & John L. Fuller, University of Chicago Press, 1965
The classic study of dog behavior, based on twenty years of research at the Jackson Laboratory. This pioneering research on dog behavioral genetics is arguably the single most important and comprehensive reference work on the behavior of dogs, and is critical reading for any serious student of training and behavior.

Video and Audio

Dogs and More Dogs - The True Story of Man's Best Friend, PBS/Nova, 2004
This video from Nova discusses how the domestic dog evolved and includes an interview with Dr. Raymond Coppinger.


The dominance construct as been a foundation of dog training for many years even though it’s validity is now in question. These articles summarize the current thinking on dominance in wolves and explain why it is a less than ideal model for living with a dog.

Mech L.D. 1999. Alpha Status, Dominance, and Division of Labor in Wolf Packs. Canadian Journal of Zoology.

Mech L.D. 2008. Whatever happened to the term alpha wolf? International Wolf.

Canine Health and Nutrition


UCD Book of Dogs, Medical Reference, Mordecai Siegal, Harper Collins, 1995
While most dog training professional are not veterinarians it is essential to have a basic understanding of common canine health issues. The UCD Book of Dogs provides a traditional approach to canine health and is an excellent reference guide.

Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats (3rd edition), Richard H. Pitcairn, DVM, PHD, Rodale Press, 2005
Dr. Pitcairn’s book provides an excellent holistic overview. With a growing number of dog owners opting for a more natural approach, an understanding of both is essential.

Stress in Dogs, Martina Scholz and Clarissa von Reinhardt, Dogwise Publishing, 2007
Stress affects one’s ability to learn and is a common cause of behavioral and emotional issues in people and animals. Stress in Dogs provides a basic overview of the physiology of stress, its signs, negative impacts, and how to mediate it.

Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diet, Steve Brown, Dogwise, 2009
Nutrition is the core of good heath and a healthy diet makes learning easier. Steve Brown’s book addresses what a canine would eat if left to their own devices

Natural Nutrition for Dogs and Cats - The Ultimate Diet, Kymythy Schultze, Hay House, 1998
An easy-to-understand guide for those who want to prepare their dog’s food without relying on commercial dog foods.

The Laws of Learning: How Dogs Learn


Don’t Shoot the Dog - The New Art of Teaching and Training (2nd edition), Karen Pryor, Bantam Books, 1999
Originally written and sold in the “Self-Help” category, this book explains, using rewards in changing human as well as animal behavior. 

The following two books clearly explain the various aspects of learning theory. Both are easy-to-read explanations of the laws of learning with examples specific to dogs and dog training:

Handbook of Dog Behavior and Training.  Volume One: Adaptation and Learning, by Steven R. Lindsay, Iowa State University Press, 2000
A text for students who want more, the first of 3 volumes of comprehensive information regarding behavior and training of dogs.  This is probably the most comprehensive information collected into one source. 


For many years dog training was based on the dominance construct and the use of punishment and corrections. We now know that there are better ways to train our dogs and as a result the Association of Pet Dog Trainers have published the following positions on dominance and punishment in training. Every dog trainer needs to be familiar with these documents as they can be a valuable tool to use with clients and referrers who are unaware of this significant change in thinking.

APDT Position Statement on Dominance and Dog Training, Association of Pet Dog Trainers 2009.

Dominance Myths and Dog Training Realities, Association of Pet Dog Trainers 2009.
The following research papers discuss different training methods and there affect on training outcomes. They provide excellent supporting arguments for the APDT position papers.

Dog training methods—their use, effectiveness and interaction with behaviour and welfare, Hiby, E.F., Rooney, N.J., Bradshaw, J.W.S., 2004 Anim. Welfare 13, 63–69.

Dominance in domestic dogs - useful construct or bad habit? Bradshaw J.W.S., Blackwell E.J., Casey R.A. 2009. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, May/June 2009, pp 135-144.

Survey of the use and outcome of confrontational and non-confrontational training methods in client-owned dogs showing undesired behaviors, Herron M.E., Shofer F.S., Reisner I.R. 2009.. Applied Animal Behavior Science, 117, pp. 47-54. 

The relationship between training methods and the occurrence of behavior problems, as reported by owners, in a population of domestic dogs, Blackwell, Emily J., Twells, Caroline Anne, Seawright, Rachel A. Casey. 2008. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, September/October 2008, pp 207-217.

When to start socializing a puppy is still a topic of discussion among many. The following position statement from the AVSAB outlines all of the sound reasons for early puppy socialization. AVSAB Position Statement on Puppy Socialization, American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior 2009.

Video and Audio

The Fundamentals of Animal Training by Bob Bailey (4 DVDs)
These four DVD’s provide a sound introduction to animal training from the best there is – Bob Bailey.

Training Methods


While the following represent the “nitty gritty” of dog training and the place where most aspiring trainers will start, it is essential to also be familiar with the other references included on this list to be the best trainer you can be.

The Power of Positive Dog Training, Pat Miller, Howell Book House, 2001
Written for the pet owner, this book sets out a 6 week training program using positive reinforcement.

The Thinking Dog: Crossover to Clicker Training, Gail T. Fisher, Dogwise, 2009
Regardless of your training background (or lack of it), this book presents an overview of all training methodologies.  Useful for clicker trainers and non-clicker trainers, it provides a deeper understanding of operant conditioning and how animals learn, essential to refining one’s training skills.

How to Behave So Your Dog Behaves, Sophia Yin, TFH, 2004
A positive approach to training and modifying a dog’s behavior through both understanding the dog’s perspective, and changing our own behavior.

The Dog Whisperer: A Compassionate, Nonviolent Approach to Dog Training - Paul Owens and Norma Eckroate, Adams Media, 2007

This is the original “dog whisperer” ... and he really whispers. A good, basic, introduction to dog training based upon rewarding "successive approximations" of correct behavior.

Video and Audio

Really Reliable Recalls, Leslie Nelson
Leslie Nelson’s method of teaching a reliable recall has been helping people with their dogs for years. Why reinvent the wheel when you have something this good.

Crate Games for Motivation and Control, Susan Garrett  

Sirius Puppy Training

How People Learn and Training Methods

New dog trainers tend to want to emphasize learning how to train dogs. The fact is that most dog trainers spend more time teaching people how to train dogs than actually training dogs making this category essential for dog trainers to study.


Coaching People to Train Their Dogs, Terry Ryan, Legacy Canine Behavior and Training, 2008
Terry Ryan’s book provides a comprehensive overview of how to best teach your real clients – the people who take care of the dogs.

Teaching Clicker Class: An Instructors Guide to Using Reinforcement in Dog Training, 2nd Edition, Deborah Jones, PhD., Deborah Jones, 1999
Teaching Clicker Class provides the aspiring trainer with a complete curriculum for a basic obedience class using clicker training.

Kids and Dogs: A Professionals' Guide to Helping Families, Colleen Pelar, C&R Publishing, 2009

Living with Kids and Dogs…Without Losing You Mind: A Parent’s Guide to Controlling the Chaos, Colleen Pelar, C&R Publishing, 2005
Many of your clients will have children and you will be asked how to deal with child/dog issues. These two books by Colleen Pelar will help you navigate the family counseling minefield, especially if you have no child raising experience yourself.

The 4-Dimensional Manager, Julie Straw, Berrett Koehler, 2002
Just as people learn in different ways, they also communicate differently. The 4-Dimensional Manager outlines the DiSC system which is a valuable tool for improving communications with clients, co-workers, employees and family.

What Shamu Taught Me about Life, Love and Marriage, Amy Sutherland, Random House, 2008
Operant conditioning applies to people just as well as it applies to training our dogs. Amy Sutherland spent time with animal trainers and translated what she learned so that she could use the same basic principles to train the people around her. This same approach can help you help your clients to be the best trainers they can be. A different perspective with ideas for motivating your students.

Presentationzen – Garr Reynolds, New Riders, 2008
Part of teaching others, especially in large groups, often involves making some sort of slide or PowerPoint presentation. Unfortunately if you model your presentation after the typical PowerPoint you may be setting yourself up for failure. Presentationzen will show you how to assemble a slideshow that will really reach your listeners. This book should be mandatory reading for anyone who ever gives a presentation.


VAK Learning Styles People learn in different ways; by reading, by watching, by listening, and some by doing. To successfully meet the needs of all of your clients you need to be able to teach in all of these different ways. The website below will help you determine your personal learning style and will educate you on how people learn.

Video and Audio

APDT 2006 - Teaching to Your Students' Learning Style – Don Hanson

Business Development & Professionalism

Running a business can be an overwhelming experience for someone who doesn’t have a business degree. From funding your new venture, to licensing, insurance, marketing and so much more, plus information on being an ethical professional, representing the dog training community.


How to Run a Dog Business (Putting Your Career Where Your Heart Is), Veronica Boutelle, Dogwise 2008.
Many trainers offer other services, including doggy daycare, to make the most use out of their space. Administrative concerns, personnel matters, facility layout, cleanliness, health and safety are just a few of the chapters that will help a new business owner get started.

All About Dog Daycare…a Blueprint for Success, Robin K Bennett C&R Publishing 2005
Well written, easily readable, and chock full of common sense, organized business plans, and resources.  Good general information for anyone who runs a facility or business including such topics as Administration Concerns and Personnel Matters, Cleanliness Health and Safety.

Minding Your Dog Business: A practical guide to business success for dog professionals, Veronica Boutelle & Rickie Jorgensen.
In straightforward language, sprinkled throughout with humor, Veronica and Rikke show you how to make choices that are right for you in an ever more competitive market A truly great resource for dog pros.

So You Want to be a Dog Trainer, Second Edition, Nicole Wilde.
Summary: Step-by-step advice from a professional, for any aspiring dog trainer! Nicole Wilde is widely recognized for her expertise in what it takes to run a successful dog training business. New edition has expanded resources and product information and updated marketing advice.

The Ethical Dog Trainer, Jim Barry, Dogwise, 2008.
Ethics are part of any and all professions. By using real-world examples author Jim Barry will help you to make sure you meet the ethical standards of your profession.

Principled Centered Leadership, Stephen R. Covey, Free Press.
A clear, definitive approach to understanding and developing a principle-centered core to guide us in both our professional and our personal lives.

Video and Audio

dogTEC dogPRO Business Workshop DVD
Learn effective, non-stressful approaches to marketing and sales, and how to identify and side-step the common business and sales mistakes that keep dog pros from succeeding. Veronica makes the subject of business accessible and fun.

CD Rom

Dog Trainers Business Kit, CD ROM, Nicole Wilde.
Summary: This easy-to-use CD-ROM was created by Nicole Wilde, CDPT. It contains handy forms, contracts, client handouts, and more. Get organized, maintain professionalism, and free up your time so you can get out there and do what you do best-help dogs and their people.

The following will assist you with marketing tools and fundamentals to get your name out there and drive traffic to your business.

The Marketing Toolkit from dogTEC
Pre-made contracts to protect you and your business, diagnostic flowcharts to help assess behavior cases and much more.

The Dog Pro CD for Trainers from dogTEC

Stay tuned for further recommended resources from the APDT.


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