Cocker Specific Discussion > Behaviour & Training

Training/Behaviour Book Recommendations (and useful links)

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Members often post asking for reading suggestions and with a vast array of dog training/behaviour books on the market it can be difficult to know which to choose - so we thought it might prove useful to compile a list of books, all of which come highly recommended by other forum members. All the books listed here promote methods that are in line with the COL ethos of training using kindness, compassion and positive reinforcement...

Training Books

  Gwen Bailey - The Perfect Puppy ( Seen by many as the best book available on how to raise and socialise a puppy... although some of the 'pack theory' references are now a bit dated)

  Ian Dunbar - Before And After Getting Your Puppy

  Pamela Dennison - The Complete Idiot's Guide to Positive Training ( Review by Cazza further down the thread)

  Patricia McConnell & Brenda Scidmore - The Puppy Primer

  Karen Pryor - Don't Shoot The Dog ( Often referred to as the bible of modern dog training. )

  Karen Pryor - Getting Started : Clicker Training For Dogs

  Carolyn Monteith - The Definitive Guide To Finding You Perfect Dog, Training Him And Having A Happy Life Together. ( Recommended by IWLass. Amazon link with review HERE )

  Jane Killion - When Pigs Fly ( A guide to training 'impossible' dogs, recommended by Eceni.)

  Teach Yourself Dog Training ( Written by the APDT and recommended by Kalami. See HERE )

  Jean Donaldson - Oh Behave ( Recommended by Eceni... 'a good round up of current behavioural thinking and some very good reasons why the Dog Whisperer is completely out of step with current science and understanding of dogs.' )

  Leslie McDevitt - Control Unleashed (Recommended by Eceni...'probably the best book currently on the market for applying positive reinforcement techniques (clicker training) to just about any dog - it's designed for agility dogs who are having trouble in the high-energy environment of an agility trial, but it applies to just about any dog in any situation.')

Books Covering Specific Subjects

  Emma Parsons - Click to Calm, Healing The Aggressive Dog

  Jean Donaldson - Mine : A Practical Guide To Resource Guarding In Dogs

  Karen London & Patricia McConnell - Feeling Outnumbered : How To Manage And Enjoy Your Multi-Dog Household.

  Barry Eaton - Dominance, Fact Or Fiction ( Debunks some of the myths surrounding the now discredited wolf pack/dominance theories.)

  James O'Heare - The Canine Separation Anxiety Workbook

  Martina Scholz & Clarissa Von Reinhardt - Stress In Dogs ( Recommended by Spanielcrazy)

  Jean Donaldson - Fight ( A practical guide to the treatment of dog on dog aggression. Recommended by Spanielcrazy)

  Ian Dunbar ( See HERE for a list of books on various topics with reviews. Recommended by Spanielcrazy.)

General Books Promoting A Better Understanding Of Dogs And How To Improve Our Relationship With Them

  Jean Donaldson - The Culture Clash. ( An excellent insight into how dogs think, what makes them tick and how to get the best out of them.)

  Suzanne Clothier - Bones Would Rain From The Sky ( You can read an extract HERE that is both very funny but very sad too.)

  Pamela Dennison - Bringing Shadow To The Light (Recommended by Eceni... 'a truly heart-rending/heart-warming account of her training of a rescue border collie. This is her unexpurgated diary with all the highs and the many lows  - and ultimate success with a dog that was otherwise destined to be shot.')

Canine Body Language

  Turid Rugaas - On Talking Terms With Dogs. ( A  fascinating summary of the calming signals and body language used by our canine friends to communicate.)

  Brenda Aloff - Canine Body Language : A Photographic Guide, Interpreting The Native Body Language Of The Domestic Dog. (Recommended by Spanielcrazy, whose review you can read further down this thread.)

All of these books are available through Amazon or Crosskeys Books.

The APDT website runs a library, with numerous books and videos available for loan ( for an annual subscription of 15) see HERE. The list of books available for loan can be seen HERE and the videos HERE.

Useful links to online articles and videos.
Turid Rugaas - Calming Signals

Turid Rugaas - The Puppy and The Young dog

Suzanne Clothier - He Just Wants To Say Hi ( How to deal with rude dogs)

Barry Eaton - Dominance, Fact Or Fiction : Good online resource for training articles

Terry's Tips - lots of really useful articles written by trainer ( and Cocker owner) Terry Ryan.

Guide to choosing a behaviourist, questions to ask etc. ( Recommended by Spanielcrazy)

Welfare In Dog Training. Lots of articles on 'dominance', rank reduction and the dangers of using techniques that cause pain or fear in dogs.

Dog Training Made Easy. An excellent series of videos from the Dog's Trust. Subjects covered include how to teach sit, down, recall, walking nicely on the lead and how to stop play biting. (Recommended by Speedyjaney)

A big thanks to those of you who have contributed so far, if anyone else has any recommendations for other books or links that they feel would be a useful addition to the list, please contact a member of the Admin/Mod team. Also, if anyone would like to do a review of any of the books mentioned please send it in and we'll add it to this thread. Thanks.


The Complete Idiot's Guide To Positive Dog Training - by Pamela Dennison (Review by Cazza.)

"I found this book very easy to read and a good all rounder which includes, how to read your dogs signals, how to give calming signals, crate training, clicker training and it also has some training charts in the back to get you started on training your dog, also lots lots more.
Well worth the money - I would highly recommend it. Although I must admit the name of the book did put me off from getting it initially but regretted not getting it earlier than I did... and I have had dogs for years."


Canine Body Language : A Photographic Guide -  by Brenda Aloff ( Review by Spanielcrazy.)

"It is just fantastic ! 360 pages of photos of dogs in all sorts of situations with the text breaking down what is going on with the dogs in the photos (There's a large quiz section at the end with photos for you to "read" the body language.) Quite a few of them are what she calls photo essays, sequences of photos of an encounter with it explained step by step what the dogs are "saying".

It has loads of training tips and tips on how to do things such as defuse a situation, how to see what postures tell you you've lost the dogs attention, aggression vs. play biting, loads more.

I can't reccommend this book enough ! Even if you are fairly familiar with dogs language there is plenty here to learn and keep you very interested. This goes waaaay beyond the basic "happy dog, fearful dog, angry dog" stuff and gets into the much more subtle stuff. Photos are black and white and not always the best but everything else about this book more than makes up for it. (and it's funny too!  )

Love it, love it, love it !"

Hi - I've just taken delivery of a new book call Get Connected with your Dog by Brenda Aloff - its huge and will take a while to read but so far it is very good ... I am weighing up her approach to dog training but what I have read so far makes sense ... if you are looking for a new book on doggy behaviour/psychology then I think its worth a look.  It comes with a DVD with 90 mins of training demos - available from Amazon -

She does another book on Canine Body language which I bought a while ago and have found it very useful (keep going back to it) - I've been able to spot when Dax is stressed  :-\ when its not immediately apparent for example by watching for the ridge lines on his face ... also can spot calming signals from other dogs much better now ...

Hope this is helpful to someone.   ;)

As time goes on some of the links posted here are out of date - if you spot any broken links please let me know by pm and I'll do my best to replace them with new ones. ( Thanks Penny for a new link to the 'He Just Wants To Say Hi' article) Also please pass on any recommendations for books that have been published since this article was originally written - if you have time to write a review that may be of use to other members all the better, please post it here.  



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