Bringing a new dog home is exciting! It’s also hard work. If you’re a first-time dog owner, you may not know where to start. There’s plenty of information available, but trying to navigate it all can be overwhelming.
Maybe you’ve recently adopted a puppy or adult dog, or maybe you’re just considering getting a dog and want to know the basics. No matter your situation, there are books to help you learn everything that you need to know. To help you narrow down the options, we gathered our favorite books for new dog owners and listed them here with detailed reviews. Browse through them to choose the one that fits your needs.
A Glance at Our Winners (2023 Update)
|Best Overall||The Secret Language of Dogs||
|Best Value||Training the Best Dog Ever||
|Premium Choice||Dog Training for Kids||
|Best for Puppies||Puppies for Dummies||
|The Complete Healthy Dog Handbook||
The 10 Best Books for New Dog Owners
1. The Secret Language of Dogs — Best Overall
|Publisher:||Penguin Random House|
The author of this book, Victoria Stilwell, is known for hosting Animal Planet’s TV series, “It’s Me or the Dog.” She has been involved in rescue organizations and served as a judge on the CBS show, “Greatest American Dog.” Her work has been featured in magazines and journals. She was also named Dog Trainer of the Year in 2009 at the Purina Pro Plan Dog Awards. Her extensive knowledge and ability to understand dogs make her book, “The Secret Language of Dogs: Unlocking the Canine Mind for a Happier Pet,” the best overall book for new dog owners.
For those who have never had a dog before, this book is especially helpful. It shows how your dog communicates, acting as a decoder for their behavior. You’ll learn what dogs mean when they wag their tail in different ways or spin around. The book explores the emotions that dogs feel, what they’re capable of feeling, and how we as owners can help them navigate our world successfully. Have you ever wondered if dogs feel guilt? This book will tell you.
2. Training the Best Dog Ever — Best Value
|Author:||Dawn Sylvia-Stasiewicz and Larry Kay|
The best book for new dog owners for the money is “Training the Best Dog Ever: A 5-Week Program Using the Power of Positive Reinforcement.” Dawn Sylvia-Stasiewicz wrote the book with Larry Kay. Dawn used these training methods to teach the Obama’s dog, Bo, in the White House. She also trained Senator Ted Kennedy’s dogs and many others.
The training methods in this book focus on positive reinforcement and getting your dog to trust you. This is ideal for busy pet parents. The program is made to work in 5 weeks using just 10 to 20 minutes of your day. The techniques are laid out in steps, and photographs are included so you know if you’re doing things correctly. You’ll learn basic commands to teach your dog and more complex goals, like crate training and bite inhibition.
The vital information in the book gets buried in the author’s long-winded anecdotes, however. The book is aimed toward puppy training, which is great for novice dog owners starting out with a puppy. However, some of the methods can be tedious for seasoned owners.
3. Dog Training for Kids — Premium Choice
|Author:||Vanessa Estrada Marin|
|Publisher:||Penguin Random House|
“Dog Training for Kids” is an easy-to-follow book filled with lessons that everyone should know, regardless of age. If you’re adding a dog to a family with children, this book will be useful in showing them how to interact with a puppy and keep everyone in the home up to speed on which training methods to use.
The author is a director at a facility in New York City that focuses on dog programming for children. She was formerly the adoption center manager for North Shore Animal League America. When it comes to dogs and kids, she knows how to help them form lasting bonds.
The book will show you things like finding the perfect dog for your family, how to potty train your puppy, and basic commands. While the book is full of important information, unfortunately, it’s not perfectly manufactured. Some of the pages fall out and the seams come apart. This makes the book difficult to read.
4. Puppies for Dummies — Best for Puppies
If you’ve recently adopted a puppy or are just considering the idea, “Puppies for Dummies” is a great tool to help you integrate a puppy into your life. This book explores the latest training techniques and is full of trusted advice to help you navigate life with your new best friend.
You’ll learn so much more than training tips. The information in this book can help you form a lifelong bond with your dog. You’ll understand more about what your puppy needs from you and what their behaviors mean. The author has been a dog trainer for 20 years and owns a dog -training school in New York.
The writing style is relatable and personable, but the editing falls short. This book is full of typos and some paragraphs are repeated.
5. The Complete Healthy Dog Handbook
|Author:||Betsy Brevitz, D.V.M.|
|Publisher:||Workman Publishing Company|
This book, “The Complete Healthy Dog Handbook: The Definitive Guide to Keeping Your Pet Happy, Healthy, & Active,” covers everything that you need to know about your dog’s health. It discusses vaccines, nutrition, and first aid. There are thorough descriptions, illustrations, diagrams, and discussions of over 100 canine illnesses.
This is a must-have reference for every dog owner because it covers a wide range of subjects in order to give you peace of mind. Written by a veterinarian, the book is full of advice that you can trust. However, it does not replace in-person veterinary care for your dog.
Some dog owners don’t like the format, which reads like a question-and-answer advice column. It can be educational for first-time dog owners, but it’s not a substitute for veterinary care and should be used as a reference only.
6. How to Be Your Dog’s Best Friend
|Author:||The Monks of New Skete|
|Formats:||Hardcover, paperback, Kindle|
|Publisher:||Little, Brown and Company|
For over 25 years, “How to Be Your Dog’s Best Friend: The Classic Training Manual for Dog Owners” has provided coverage of nearly every aspect of living with and caring for a dog. This revised, updated edition goes over information such as raising a dog in various environments, correcting behavioral problems, and selecting the right dog for you.
The Monks of New Skete are well known as breeders of German Shepherds and accomplished trainers of all breeds of dogs for over 30 years. In addition to a step-by-step training guide, there is also discussion about the spiritual benefits of dog ownership. There is even advice on naming your new dog.
The Monks offer humane advice on training dogs not only with praise and discipline, but also by taking those aspects and turning them into true communication with your dog.
Since the book is mixed with philosophical discussion, it can be hard to follow at times. The instructions for training can get lost in the text, and some dog owners have had to reread sections to understand the information.
7. The Dog Owner’s Manual
|Author:||Dr. David Brunner and Sam Stall|
If you’re a new dog owner, you may be wishing that your pup came with an owner’s manual. Now, one exists! “The Dog Owner’s Manual: Operating Instructions, Troubleshooting Tips, and Advice on Lifetime Maintenance” offers step-by-step instructions and diagrams in response to frequently asked questions. Written by a veterinarian and acclaimed author, this book is organized like a set of operating instructions for an appliance.
The advice is straightforward and easy to understand. You’ll learn things like how to trim a dog’s nails and how to get a dog to fetch.
While the instructional language is clever and informative, some dog owners find that it gets old fast. The book is also full of basic advice that seasoned dog owners may already know. It doesn’t include much, if any, training information.
8. Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution
|Author:||Zak George and Dina Roth Port|
|Formats:||Paperback, audio, Kindle|
|Publisher:||Clarkson Potter/Ten Speed|
Zak George has starred in Animal Planet’s “Superfetch” and BBC’s “Who Let the Dogs Out.” He now hosts a successful YouTube channel, “Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution.” His book, “Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution: The Complete Guide to Raising the Perfect Pet with Love,” helps you personalize your dog training to fit your dog’s needs. Your training will be based on your dog’s unique personality and energy level, leading to faster results and an easier experience for both of you.
This dog and puppy guide explains things like how to choose the right dog for you, leash training, housetraining, and activities to do with your dog. You’ll also learn how to introduce a dog to the family, proper feeding techniques, and how to build a bond with your dog.
If you’re looking for mostly training advice, this book probably isn’t the best for that. It does include training information and tips, but it mostly has general information about dogs. For first-time dog owners, this book can be helpful because of how much it covers.
9. The Puppy Primer
|Author:||Patricia B. McConnell|
“The Puppy Primer” has been updated and expanded to give you even more information on what to expect when you bring a puppy into your life. It’s filled with humorous advice that is engaging and easy to follow. It contains useful information for all new dog owners.
The upbeat tone of the book can get you excited and encouraged to start training. There are tips for socializing your pup, housetraining, crate training, and obedience commands, all while using positive reinforcement. The author is a certified applied animal behaviorist who has been consulting with pet owners for more than 20 years.
The information in the book is geared towards first-time dog owners with no knowledge of dogs. More experienced owners may find the book basic and not informative enough.
10. What to Expect When Adopting a Dog
|Formats:||Hardcover, paperback, Kindle|
This book, “What to Expect When Adopting a Dog: A Guide to Successful Dog Adoption for Every Family,” is geared toward those looking to adopt their pup. It focuses on how to prepare for the experience and what challenges you may face with an adopted dog. It offers advice on introducing the dog to your home and how to meet the dog’s needs.
The author is a certified humane education specialist through Humane Society University. The goal of the book is to help every adoption be successful, to avoid the dogs being re-homed or returned to the shelter or organization. There is also a heartfelt chapter included on the loss of a pet and how to say goodbye when the time comes.
The book contains various links to blog posts and products. The actual information is spread out between them. While some dog owners found this book to be a valuable resource, others didn’t like the frequent suggestions to go online to look for something.
Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Best Books for New Dog Owners
Here are a few things to consider when choosing a book as a new dog owner.
The Author’s Reputation
Anyone can write a book. Not every dog owner will agree with every author’s advice and ideas. At the very least, the author should be experienced with animals in some way to have credibility when discussing dog ownership. If they are veterinarians, dog trainers, animal behaviorists, etc., this gives them even more knowledge in the field, and their advice may be more credible. That doesn’t mean you’ll always agree with it, though.
Take your time to research the authors, and see if you agree with their ideas. Many of them can be found online and may have blogs available, so you can see some of their work first. If anything in the book makes you uncomfortable, you don’t have to follow the advice. Make sure you choose a book that is filled with ideas that feel right to you.
Some authors, especially experts in their fields, may use words and jargon that beginners won’t understand. The book that you choose should be easy for you to read and keep your attention. If you find yourself re-reading chapters to understand what they’re saying, the book may be too advanced for new dog owners.
If you’ve never owned a dog before, no one should expect you to know all the things that seasoned trainers are referring to. Choose books that will take you through the learning process from day one. Some books include diagrams and photos to clearly illustrate what they’re saying, which might be especially helpful for training techniques.
Some books are aimed at new dog owners to help them learn everything that they need to know about dogs. From their behaviors to how to prepare your house for their arrival, there are countless books on whatever subject you need.
If you’re looking to add a dog to your home and want to learn all about dogs, a guide for beginners will be helpful. If you know about dogs but don’t know how to train them, training books are helpful because they cut out the fluff. You can get books dedicated to certain topics, like housetraining or obedience. Some books try to cover it all.
Once you know what you need to learn, choosing a book will be easier. If you need more information on many subjects, you can get several books to help you build a training regimen for your dog.
Our choice for the best overall book for new dog owners is, “The Secret Language of Dogs: Unlocking the Canine Mind for a Happier Pet.” The book covers ways to understand what your dog’s behaviors mean. You can even learn how to calm an anxious dog. “Training the Best Dog Ever” is a value buy and includes information that is great for new dog owners. It discusses different training methods, and the work can be done in just 10 to 20 minutes a day.
We hope that these reviews have helped you narrow down your options so you can find the right book for your needs.
Featured Image Credit: Hryshchyshen Serhii, Shutterstock