Blog Join the Pack Login

Understanding Your Dog: Top Five Books on My Reading List

books dog training dogs Apr 05, 2022

So you want to understand your dog?

Why they bark at the mailman...

Why they can be fine one moment and the next hyper and wild, zooming around the room at top speed...

Why they are ALWAYS sniffing...

I could never tell you everything you need to know about your dog in one blog post, but what I can do is tell you the top five books I've read as a professional dog trainer that have helped me understand my dogs.

And in turn, have helped me view them with compassion and empathy.

Each book will have a brief synopsis of what I enjoyed and which aspects of your dog you will learn about as well as a link to purchase them online.

*I may receive a small commission if you purchase using these links. Thank you for supporting my content!*

And now, let's get started with number one!

1. Meet Your Dog by Kim Brophey

This book is at the top of my list because it is the book that I wish everyone would read before purchasing or adopting a dog. Even if it's not their first!

This book walks through all of the aspects that make your dog your dog, including their learning, environment, genetics, and self (LEGS). 

The part that stood out to me the most and helped me understand my two pups the most is the genetics section and the breed breakdowns. Kim does a great job of detailing the history of the breeds, explaining who they are a good fit for, and even some common behavior problems to be expected from each one.

2. The Other End of the Leash by Patricia B McConnell

Another training staple, this book was immediately one of my favorites within the first few chapters.

This books talks all about how dogs may interpret our motions, words, actions, and more. Throughout the book, Patricia compares the two (humans and dogs) in their actions and meanings. It truly shows the reader how they can make simple changes in their actions to help their dog understand them better, and in turn, aiding in our understanding of our dogs.

We get to read all about the different phases of dog and human relationships from before you even choose your dog all the way up to their senior years and how best to communicate with them in their own language.

3. Unleashing Your Dog by Marc Bekoff and Jessica Pierce

A lesser known book, but one I'm shocked isn't more popular! Unleashing Your Dog walks through all of our dogs' senses and how we can use them to enrich their lives more.

Our dogs give up a lot of their natural freedom in a life with us (even if they do choose it), and it is our job to help give them some of it back. I really like how this book teaches us what our dogs need from the senses, how it is different from us, and why it is important to enrich their lives as much as possible.

One of my favorite parts is the section of ten ways to make your dog happier, which includes letting them be dogs, giving them as many choices as possible, and having shared experiences among many others!

4. On Talking Terms with Dogs by Turid Rugaas

If you've ever wanted to learn more about dog body language, this is one of my first go to books.

This book focuses primarily on calming signals that dogs give to diffuse conflict or stress. It brought to light many subtle signs of stress I didn't know about for a while, and it was really eye opening to read in my beginner training days.

Full of beautiful pictures and examples, this book really teaches the reader how to understand their dogs' language. It helps teach them to identify stressful situations, rehab a dog who has lost the art of subtle communication, and observe dogs with the intent to understand. 

If your dog pants, licks their lips, seems to "disengage" with you, or shake off a lot, you need this book!

5. Doggie Language by Lili Chin

This book goes hand in hand with number 4, but it focuses on all aspects of dog body language - through cute pictures to boot!



Misreading body language can make life extremely frustrating for those with dogs, and this book aims to help anyone (even kids!) understand dogs just a little bit more.

This is a great body language starter book, and in conjunction with number 4, a great, well rounded knowledge for any dog lover!


All of these books would be an amazing addition to your library or as a gift for the dog lover in your life.

If you'd like to take your learning a step further and learn to work with your dog with me, click here to join our membership community! 




Not sure which service is the right fit for you?

Drop a bit about your struggles with training and what you are looking for in the "How can we help?" line below.

One of our trainers will reach out to you via email within 2-3 business days.