These are our reading recommendations for dog training books. They help understand dogs. Many are not dog-specific for an important reason. No longer can we pretend the neurology of dogs and humans is fundamentally different; it isn’t. Neuroscience constantly pushes our understanding forward, and we now know that the functions of the reptilian brain (layer one) and the limbic system (layer two) are the same in all ways that matter. Dogs also have a neo-cortex (layer three) and pre-frontal cortex (executive function).
The last two are different—mostly just smaller and less developed)—but where they are similar, dogs are closer to us than we previously thought. The idea that dog psychology is completely different from human psychology is outdated at this point. It really only holds from the perspective of dogs being apex predators, which has significant implications. In any case, anyone genuinely interested in understanding dogs and how to train them will find plenty of knowledge on these pages.
We earn a small referral fee when you purchase any of these books using our links.
Recommended Dog Training Books
Affective Neuroscience by Jaak Panksepp
The Foundations of Human and Animal Emotions.
Emotions drive behavior. This is a scientific book but very accessible. Understanding the affective systems in mammals is at the core of how we help insecure and fearful dogs. Through neuroscience, our understanding of the canine mind continues to expand. No longer do we train based on assumptions. We now can train with knowledge and the actual science behind it. To truly understand fear and aggression on a biological level, read this book!
Behave by Robert Sapolsky
The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst.
This book is remarkable in its depth and range. Each section has a relatively technical part of what exactly is happening in the brain, but the myriad of examples and explanations make it all worth it, even if you are not a neuroscientist. A very important book to read and understand if you have any kind of interest of goes on inside a person or animal.
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.
This book will help you understand habits and reflexes better. This is highly relevant with regards to classical conditioning. It provides an in-depth look at the habit-forming abilities of mammalian brains. A key ingredient to training animals.
Recommended Dog Training Books
Range by David Epstein
Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World.
This book is valuable in helping understand what makes one successful these days. The concepts apply to anyone in any profession and are worth understanding when building a (dog trainer) skill set.
The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle
Greatness isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How.
Naturally, not everyone can become everything they want. I can learn to play the piano, but I will never be like Beethoven or Mozart, and I am perfectly okay with that. What this book offers are insights into what makes experts great at what they do and the principles that will serve you well in your own life and with training dogs.
The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge
Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science.
This book is about the fascinating field of neuroplasticity. Understanding how brains learn, can change, re-learn and change into old age is invaluable in the context of training dogs. It allows for a deeper understanding of the internal processes during the training process.
Recommended Dog Training Books
Excel-erated Learning by Pamela J. Reid
Explaining in plain English how dogs learn and how best to teach them.
A classic book on training dogs. Understanding the explained concepts is a good foundation for any trainer. Just remain flexible on some of the absolute numbers, like how many repetitions it takes for a dog to learn something. Those numbers are certainly incorrect.
Services and Area
We are located in Southern California and train dogs nationwide. Happy Dog Training currently offers local dog training services in the following counties. Riverside County, Orange County, San Bernardino County, Los Angeles County, and San Diego County. In addition, we offer our board-and-train program nationwide and all virtual training services worldwide.
Do you want your new puppy trained right from the start? Are you looking for help for your fearful dog? Do you need to resolve a severe aggression problem? You came to the right place! We are experienced, professional dog trainers. Ralf has trained over 1500 dogs in over 18 years, and Sarah has trained over 1200 dogs in over 11 years. Consequently, we can help you with any dog training goal.
What We Offer
For many of our clients, we train their dogs from puppyhood, getting them off to a great start. However, we also have extensive experience training rescue dogs from all imaginable backgrounds and circumstances. Our Board-and-Train program is our most popular.
We can help you, regardless of your dog's challenges or training goals. Being a professional dog trainer means having experience, knowledge, and skill. Further, we developed a highly effective training program to specifically help fearful dogs gain more confidence and become the best possible version of themselves. Building Confidence is our second most popular training program.
Last but not least, we are experts in dealing with all types of aggression in dogs and are often the trainers of last resort after many other programs have failed. Most of our aggressive dog clients previously spent significant money on half-baked solutions without much improvement. This is different from us. We will give you an honest assessment of what goals are realistic for your dog. We will tell you what can be resolved reliably and what likely needs to be managed before we start.
Our flagship product is our board and train program. But our virtual dog training and coaching services have become quite popular over the last couple of years. Our setup enables us to deliver online dog training services from our indoor and outdoor training areas. This allows us to help clients worldwide.
Contact Us and Start Training
Finally, once you're ready to move forward, please use our dog training contact form to schedule a free phone consultation or book a paid, in-person consultation.
About Ralf and Sarah
Happy Dog Training is the pet dog training business of Ralf Weber and Sarah Gill. We are certified professional dog trainers in Southern California. We are specialized in advanced obedience training, all forms or behavioral challenges and service dog training. For behavioral training, we are known for our work with aggressive and fearful dogs. Our service dogs, through Total K9 Focus, have a nationwide reputation for their reliability, longevity and performance.
Ralf Weber, MS, TWC CPDT, IACP CDT, CDTA
Certified Professional Dog Trainer Ralf Weber is lead pet dog trainer of Happy Dog Training. Ralf is a long-time dog owner of German Shepherds. During his career, Ralf has worked with over a 1500 dogs of many different breeds. Moreover, Ralf has a thorough understanding of all aspects of canine training. This includes evolutionary psychology, ethology, and, most importantly, learning science. Ralf is specialized in resolving dog behavior challenges—especially fear and aggression. Apart from this, Ralf trains dogs in basic and advanced obedience, service dog tasks, and GRC Dog Sports. Ralf is further certified in a broad range of other canine training areas. Last but not least, Ralf is the author of the behavioral book If Your Dog Could Talk: Understand Your Dog Like Never Before.
Ralf loves helping people have a better relationship with their dogs. He is a certified professional dog trainer in the Training without Conflict™ methodology by Ivan Balabanov (TWC CPDT). Ralf is also a member of the International Association of Canine Professionals and also holds their basic and advanced dog trainer certifications (IACP CDT, CDTA). In addition, Ralf is an AKC-approved evaluator for the AKC Puppy Star, CGC, and Advanced CGC programs and is also certified in canine first aid by the Red Cross.
Sarah Gill, Certified Professional Master Trainer
Sarah Gill, is a professional service dog trainer and handler. Sarah entered the world of professional service dog training after a car accident. As a result, she had to use a wheelchair for almost two years, trying to maneuver in a house not designed for it. No one expected Sarah would walk again. This opened her eyes and became a driving force behind pushing herself to defy the odds. When she regained some stability, Sarah attended a dog training school and learned how to train service dogs. Sarah completed her Master Trainer Certification and gained further experience by training new trainers. However, the school wasn’t accommodating to those with physical difficulties and PTSD. Hence, Sarah moved home to Dallas. In 2019, Sarah teamed up with Ralf and moved to California.
Sarah started this journey because she had a trained dog to mitigate her disabilities. But Sarah needed additional tasking for a new diagnosis. The only option she could find was getting a second dog for the new diagnosis. She knew there had to be a different way to address this. Sarah's passion is changing the ways of the service dog training industry.