Rescue dogs are proof that you can teach an old dog new tricks. Even if you adopt an older dog that has never had any training, it doesn’t mean they can’t learn and adjust to new things. Some rescue dogs flourish once they’re in a loving home. Training doesn’t stop at puppyhood. Adult dogs also need to learn proper manners and behaviors to be healthy and well-adjusted.
We gathered reviews of the best training books to help you learn the necessary techniques to teach your rescue dog what you want them to know. Training books are effective because they have all the information that you need in one convenient place. Read this list to find the right book for you and your dog today.
A Quick Look at Our Winners in 2023
|Best Overall||The Secret Language of Dogs||
|Best Value||Dog Training 101: Step-by-Step Instructions||
|Premium Choice||Idiot’s Guides: Dog Training||
|Best for Puppies||The Ultimate Guide to Raising a Puppy||
|Training the Best Dog Ever||
The 10 Best Dog Training Books for Rescue Dogs
1. The Secret Language of Dogs: Unlocking the Canine Mind for a Happier Pet — Best Overall
|Publication Date:||October 11, 2016|
Victoria Stilwell wrote “The Secret Language of Dogs: Unlocking the Canine Mind for a Happier Pet.” This book shows how to communicate with dogs in different ways and explains what your dog is trying to say through their behaviors. Stilwell is the star of Animal Planet’s “It’s Me or the Dog” and reveals the hidden language of dogs that can help strengthen the bond between you and them. If you’ve recently adopted a dog, being able to bridge the communication gap is even more important and can help your dog quickly learn to trust you.
Understanding what your dog is saying through their body language and actions can build a strong relationship with your dog, which then makes training even easier. It’s a short read without being overwhelming with information, making it the best overall dog training book for rescue dogs. Since dogs that end up in rescues have such different backgrounds and not all of them are pleasant, understanding how to communicate with them can help them thrive in their new home.
While this is not a traditional training book, it’s an important read for first-time dog owners or those who have rescued a dog and need to know how to decode their behavior. Once you have a better understanding of your dog’s personality, you’ll have an easier time with training.
2. Dog Training 101: Step-by-Step Instructions for Raising a Happy, Well-Behaved Dog — Best Value
|Publication Date:||September 5, 2017|
“Dog Training 101: Step-by-Step Instructions for Raising a Happy, Well-Behaved Dog” is written by Kyra Sundance, an internationally recognized dog trainer. The book offers the best ways to teach your dog basic obedience and correct problem behaviors like chewing furniture and digging.
The book gives potty training advice and instructions on how to teach your dog fun tricks. It can also show you how to calm your dog during stressful situations and even how to give them the canine Heimlich should the need arise. It’s an all-in-one manual for an affordable price, making it the best dog training book for rescue dogs for the money. Some adopted dogs can come into your home with myriad bad habits from their former owner, and this book can show you ways to combat those.
The step-by-step guides may include overcomplicated or unnecessary steps, especially if you’re a seasoned dog owner. For newbies, though, these steps can be helpful.
3. Idiot’s Guides: Dog Training — Premium Choice
|Publication Date:||September 3, 2013|
“Idiot’s Guides: Dog Training” by Liz Palika uses text instructions and illustrations to show you how to teach your dog the essentials. Good behavior starts with obedience training. Commands like sit, come, leave it, and down are explained, along with how to walk politely on a leash. There are fun tricks to learn too. Palika is a dog trainer in California who trains over 1,000 dogs each year.
This book is suitable for dogs of any age and training level, making it a great option for rescue dogs with unknown backgrounds. The book also includes an intro to AKC behavioral and competitive training.
Some dog owners feel that the information offered is too basic for a dog that is already trained. If you’re looking for more advanced training, this might not be the book for you.
4. The Ultimate Guide to Raising a Puppy — Best for Puppies
|Publication Date:||October 1, 2019|
If you’re adopting a puppy, “The Ultimate Guide to Raising a Puppy” is full of useful information for you. Tips on housebreaking, leash-walking, and even caring for your puppy’s health are offered. You’ll learn how to stop bad habits and show your puppy the proper way to behave. It’s a great resource to have for new or future puppy owners.
The book was also written to include information on how a dog’s mind works, and it focuses on positive reinforcement. Some dog owners wish that the book had more instructive training advice rather than information about puppy psychology.
5. Training the Best Dog Ever
|Author:||Dawn Sylvia-Stasiewicz and Larry Kay|
|Publication Date:||September 25, 2012|
“Training the Best Dog Ever” was written by dog trainer Dawn Sylvia-Stasiewicz, the same trainer who trained the White House dog, Bo Obama. The book is realistic, asking busy dog owners to find just 10–20 minutes each day for training. There are step-by-step photographs and easy instructions.
The book is long at 304 pages but covers basic information first and then goes into advanced techniques. Focusing on love and being kind to your dog, the book is clear that negative reinforcement is not allowed and that your training must be based on respect and trust.
It can be a bit long-winded at times, feeling like you have to dig to get the information that you want. However, it covers things like leash-pulling, behaving at the vet, and acting politely with strangers. If you’re willing to stick it out, this book has the information that many dog owners want.
6. The Dog Behavior Problem Solver
|Publication Date:||December 8, 2015|
“The Dog Behavior Problem Solver” is a good choice for rescue dogs because behavior problems are often the reason that dogs are abandoned or surrendered. When you adopt the dog, those behavior problems don’t go away. But this book can show you how to overcome them by taking the time to enforce positive training techniques. What the dog’s previous owner couldn’t or refused to do for their animal doesn’t mean the dog is bad. You can show your new dog how to overcome their fears and teach them to curb their undesirable behaviors.
The instructions are written in easy-to-follow steps that focus on positive, reward-based training. This will establish trust in your dog, making training easier. The book focuses on the best interest of the dog at all times.
There is a great deal of advice for using the clicker method. If you’d rather not use a clicker during training, you will have to modify these steps.
7. Zak George’s Guide to a Well-Behaved Dog
|Publication Date:||July 9, 2019|
Zak George is a celebrity dog trainer and YouTube star. In this book, he addresses issues in a problem-based guide. The information is helpful to those with new puppies, adult dogs that need behavioral direction, or rescue dogs. Step-by-step instructions are given for issues like chewing, jumping, aggression, separation anxiety, and even thunderstorm fear. The book explains how to change poor behaviors but also how to prevent them from occurring in the first place.
The book rehashes a great deal of information that the author has already gone over in YouTube videos. If you’re a Zak George follower already, there may not be much in this book that you’re not familiar with.
8. The Joy of Dog Training
|Publication Date:||October 20, 2020|
“The Joy of Dog Training” is a fun guide to teaching your dog 30 tricks that are fundamental to their training. It’s designed to help you strengthen your relationship with your dog and nurture your bond.
Step-by-step instructions are included for tricks like “shake hands,” “paws up,” and “clean up your toys.” The tricks include core concepts of dog training that build on what your dog already knows. The book has 150 photos to show you each step of the way.
The book is focused on tricks rather than obedience training, so it’s a good option for dogs that already know the basics. If you’re looking for house training tips or how to get a dog to walk well on a leash, this may not be the book for you.
9. BKLN Manners
|Publication Date:||April 3, 2018|
Kate Naito wrote “BKLN Manners,” a 4-week crash course to getting your dog to transform from unruly to urbane. BKLN is an initialism that focuses on the top issues that this book seeks to solve: barking, knocking people down, leash-walking issues, and naughty behavior when left alone. This is an ideal book for city dogs because there are tips on how to handle discarded chicken bones in the street, crowded places, and excessive noise. Since a dog’s behavior is so often the reason that they are given up, this book can help you teach a rescue dog the right ways to behave. There is even information about adopting a rural rescue dog and then helping the dog adjust to city life.
There aren’t many cons to this book, except that it doesn’t focus on obedience. If you need to start from scratch with training, it doesn’t show you the basics.
10. Canine Good Citizen, The Official AKC Guide
|Author:||Mary R. Burch|
|Publication Date:||January 10, 2020|
“The Canine Good Citizen” is a 10-step process to getting a well-mannered dog. It’s part of a program that was created by the American Kennel Club (AKC). It rewards dogs that display good manners at home and in their community.
The book is designed to focus on responsible pet ownership. It will show you how to teach your dog the basic manners that they need to be well-adjusted and obedient.
Some of the information in this book is on the AKC website, so it may not be new or useful to dog owners who are familiar with the site.
Buyer’s Guide — Buying the Best Dog Training Books for Rescue Dogs
When choosing a dog training book, it’s important to focus on your specific needs. For example, you shouldn’t get a puppy training book if your dog is an adult because some of the information won’t be useful. Your dog may already be housebroken and doesn’t need to learn how to stop chewing things.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when choosing the right book.
Consider how much time you have. Do you want to read a quick guide that gets to the point, or would you rather sit back and read more about dogs and how their brains work? Some training books can be read like novels. You will want to be sure the book that you choose covers the topics that you need and won’t be a chore to reference if you want to flip through pages to get specific information.
Different dogs will require different training approaches, and they don’t all need to learn the same things. If you’ve just rescued a dog, they might already know basic obedience commands, and you may just want to teach them a few tricks. You can always expand on training even if you think that your dog knows everything that they need to. Dogs enjoy the mental stimulation, and it’s a great way to bond with one another. There’s always something new that your dog can learn.
The authors of the book are important because they give the book credibility. Books by dog trainers or well-known animal behaviorists are ideal because they are filled with professional information. Check out the author’s biography before you make a purchase. You can find out their credentials and background. If the book is written by someone who’s never owned a dog, you might not trust their advice as much as the advice of someone who’s owned dogs their entire life.
The training methods in the book should match what you agree with and feel comfortable with. The book should always be written with the interest of the dog at heart and be filled with positive training methods. If there is a suggestion in the book that you find odd or unpleasant, you don’t have to do what it says. Not every author will match your ideas and feelings, so you may have to check out a few of them before you find the right one.
Our best overall choice for a dog training book for rescue dogs is “The Secret Language of Dogs: Unlocking the Canine Mind for a Happier Pet.” It offers insight on how to communicate with your dog, which helps a rescue dog quickly feel comfortable. “Dog Training 101: Step-by-Step Instructions for Raising a Happy, Well-Behaved Dog” is our value pick and has training and safety information, including the canine Heimlich. We hope that these reviews have helped you find the book that you’re looking for so you can get started on training your rescue dog today.