Books on dog-human connection


Train the Dog in Front of You (Denise Fenzi)

If there was one sentence in the blurb that describes this book, it’s this: “This book is practical, realistic, easy to read and….radically different from all other dog training books on the market.” I’ve never seen a book like this and I wish I had read it 3 years ago when I first spotted it in a list o Denise Fenzi’s books. Truly eyeopening, and helped me understand how our two dogs are different and what kind of training approach they need – now I have words to describe them, and it has made a world of difference.

This book will help you understand your dog on the most fundamental level, so that you can be a more effective trainer for YOUR dog. The one you have NOW. The one in front of you!Rather than assuming that the basis of competition dog training is specific techniques or mechanical skills that can be applied to all dogs, this book starts with the assumption that teaching specific behaviors is not the challenge at all! The challenge is meeting the dog’s individual needs through a customized training plan, so that your dog can be successful in the competition ring. When this basic training plan is not created, then training will either progress painfully slowly or will fail altogether, if you’re dog doesn’t happen to do well with the cookie cutter approach that you’ve probably already tried.This purpose of this book is to help you understand who your dog is, so that you can apply training in a way that works for your dog, so that the training will “stick.” The dimensions that will be considered to create your customized training plan include an assessment of your dog’s overall level of confidence, environmental vs. handler focus, degree of flexibility, underlying drive structure, amount of power, biddability and handler softness or hardness, and impulse control. This book will also consider your individual dog’s use of movement within training and the quality of the dog and handler match.

Meet Your Dog: The Game-Changing Guide to Understanding Your Dog’s Behavior: The Game-Changing Guide to Understanding Your Dog’s Behavior (Kim Brophey)

Every dog owner knows that along with the joy can come the stress and frustration of behavioral problems, which are expensive to diagnose and treat. Enter Kim Brophey, award-winning canine behavior consultant.

Using cutting-edge research, Brophey has developed a groundbreaking system that allows owners to identify what their dog is struggling with, why, and how they can fix it. Brophey’s approach is unlike anything that has been published before and will give dog owners a new understanding of what motivates and affects their dog’s behavior.

Brophey’s innovative technique rethinks the way we categorize dogs, and distills information from over twenty scientific disciplines into four comprehensive elements: learning, environment, genetics, and self. With revolutionary tips for specific dog breeds, this book will change the life of every dog owner and lead to happier human-canine relationships.


Human-Canine Behavior Connection (Marissa Martino)

Human-Canine Behavior Connection: Building Better Relationships Through Dog Training is a dog training and personal growth book designed to help you and your canine companion expand as individuals and grow together as a team. During my career, I have been witness to many people learning about themselves and expanding as individuals through the behavior modification process and the relationship with their dog. It’s uncommon for people to think of dog training as an opportunity for personal development; however, the relationship with your dog is the perfect, safe space to start navigating who you are in all relationships.

The book introduces my training and behavior modification approach, Human-Canine Behavior Connection (HCBC). The approach consists of 4 steps:

  • STEP 1: Training the Pet Parent Understanding your dog’s behavior and their relationship to the world. Understanding what your dog is communicating.
  • STEP 2: Training the Dog: Implementing management strategies to support your dog’s behavior. Introducing training & behavior modification techniques.
  • STEP 3: Enhancing the Relationship Understanding your response to your dog’s behavior Introducing relationship-building principles to enhance your training and connection.
  • STEP 4: Enhancing Yourself: Learning who you are in all relationships.

Using the behavior modification process and relationship building principles to grow as a person. Our relationship with our canine companions can be a window into how we relate to the world around us. I hope you gain this awareness through the pages of this book.

Bones Would Rain from the Sky: Deepening Our Relationships with Dogs (Suzanne Clothier)

Akin to Monty Roberts’s The Man Who Listens to Horses and going light-years beyond The Hidden Life of Dogs, this extraordinary book takes a radical new direction in understanding our life with canines and offers us astonishing new lessons about our pets.

From changing the misbehaviors and habits that upset us, to seeing the world from their unique and natural perspective, to finding a deep connection with another being, Bones Would Rain from the Sky will help you receive an incomparable gift: a profound, lifelong relationship with the dog you love.

Finding A Balance: Issues Of Power In Healthy Dog/Human Relationships (Suzanne Clothier)

Finding A Balance examines the differences between canine & human perceptions of power and leadership. What we consider loving and responsible behavior, our dogs may see as ineffective or confusing.

Is your dog a Trust Fund Puppy? This booklet offers tips on evaluating the balance of power in your household, as well as easy to use, commonsense guidelines for establishing or restoring a healthy balance to your relationship with your dogs. Includes an abbreviated version of Puppy Politeness Poker plus PPP Worksheets & Cards. (The complete PPP information can be found in Attentive Cooperation.

If your goal is a friendship, not a dictatorship, Finding A Balance will help you recognize your dog’s cultural needs for leadership and find ways to meet those needs in a holistic and loving way.

Books that can help you build a relationship

Dog Sports Skills, Book 1: Developing Engagement and Relationship (Denise Fenzi)

This is the first book in the award winning “Dog Sports Skills” series.

This first book will focus on developing a competition dog sports foundation based in engagement and relationship. It doesn’t matter what genetic package or temperament your dog is born with; you can bring out the best in your dog!

To train your dog, you must develop a relationship that encourages a willing and happy attitude with natural focus while eliminating undue stress in both training and competition. If your goal is to create a world-class, enthusiastic performance dog, then this book is for you! We can help you refine your engagement and relationship skills to a higher level. If you are an instructor who is struggling with your novice students or less focused dogs, then this book is for you!

You will find advice on how to work with a range of canine temperaments. If you have a dog who works well at home but you can’t seem to maintain that connection in public, then this book is for you, too! You will learn the basics of recognizing stress, paying attention to your dog, and alleviating or minimizing problems so that you can focus on work rather than worry. Finally, if you simply want to take the dog you have, your personal pet, and enjoy your training at a more fulfilling level, then this book is for you as well.

By understanding and applying excellent engagement and relationship building techniques, both you and your canine companion will find more enjoyment in the training process, even if you choose never to step foot inside a competition ring. The chapters will cover relationship (what it is and how to get it), stress (recognizing it and techniques for lessening it’s impact), developing focus, explaining and evaluating positive methods for getting behaviors, and the use of trick training to develop a handler’s training skills and a dog’s mental and physical flexibility.

Dog Sports Skills, Book 2: Motivation (Denise Fenzi)

2014 ‘Book of the Year” for Dog Behavior and Training! (Maxwell award).

In this second book in the “Dog Sports Skills” series, Authors Denise Fenzi and Deb Jones take an in-depth look at the topic of motivation. They talk about what motivation is, and what it is not, along with an illuminating discussion of how a dog is unique in the animal world, and how educated trainers can use that to maximum advantage. They consider a range of options for motivating our dogs, and how a trainer can raise or lower the value of specific motivators to get the exact training effect that may be desired at a given time.

Temperament is discussed as it relates to issues of motivation to help the reader understand the strong interplay between temperament, motivation and training decisions. In addition to explaining how to use motivators in training, this book provides specific information on how to reduce their use so that you can eventually get into the competition ring! Finally, they provide case studies – lots of them! The purpose of the case studies is both to cement what the reader has learned in the first chapters and also to help the reader understand how to analyze specific situations and make a plan to apply the concepts. A student who reads both this book and the first book in the series will begin to develop a deeper understanding of the author’s underlying philosophy and approach. Each book is more than a stand-alone resource; they are pieces of a puzzle that will eventually weave into a tapestry of concepts, thoughts and applications that create both excellence in training and a very deep respect and understanding for another living being.

Dog Sports Skills: Focus and Engage! (Denise Fenzi)

Struggling to keep and maintain your dog’s attention during training or competition? Sure that your dog knows all of the work, if only he would focus and stay engaged? In the highly anticipated fourth (and final?) book in the “Dog Sports Skills” series, authors Denise Fenzi and Deb Jones turn their attention to the topics of Focus and Engagement.

This book is a fantastic addition which is sure to broaden your understanding of a crucial element of training performance dogs. In the first several chapters, Fenzi and Jones take a hard look at the factors that create Focus challenges in our performance dogs, and then systematically offer solutions for addressing them. The next several chapters provide detailed, step by step instructions for teaching your dog to focus, covering a focus “foundation”, adding behaviors, duration and movement, and finally distractions and other challenges are addressed.

The topic of focus is then wrapped up with a series of Focus games which are designed to be light, entertaining for all parties, all while assisting in the more serious business of getting your dog focused! The second part of the book focuses on understanding and developing trained Engagement; the process of teaching one’s dog to push for a chance to work, and to value that training time above all else! Engagement training is broken down into specific steps, and is laid out in a logical and methodical fashion over several chapters. Handling disengagement is addressed, as is the process of moving away from classic food and toy reinforcers and into the competition arena, where strong Engagement is vital to success! Between focus and Engagement training, struggling competitors are likely to find the missing piece between training at home with cookies and trialing in the challenging competition setting.


How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain (Lisa Feldman Barrett)

When you feel anxious, angry, happy, or surprised, what’s really going on inside of you? Many scientists believe that emotions come from a specific part of the brain, triggered by the world around us. The thrill of seeing an old friend, the fear of losing someone we love – each of these sensations seems to arise automatically and uncontrollably from within us, finding expression on our faces and in our behaviour, carrying us away with the experience.

This understanding of emotion has been around since Plato. But what if it is wrong? In How Emotions Are Made, pioneering psychologist and neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett draws on the latest scientific evidence to reveal that our common-sense ideas about emotions are dramatically, even dangerously, out of date – and that we have been paying the price. Emotions aren’t universally pre-programmed in our brains and bodies; rather they are psychological experiences that each of us constructs based on our unique personal history, physiology and environment.

This new view of emotions has serious implications: when judges issue lesser sentences for crimes of passion, when police officers fire at threatening suspects, or when doctors choose between one diagnosis and another, they’re all, in some way, relying on the ancient assumption that emotions are hardwired into our brains and bodies. Revising that conception of emotion isn’t just good science, Barrett shows; it’s vital to our well-being and the health of society itself.


Mission Control: How to train the high-drive dog (Jane Ardern)

Do you have a high-drive dog that’s raring to go? That’s great! A motivated dog is fun to work with, and clearly enjoys the challenges you are setting.

But do you sometimes wish you could reign in some of that enthusiasm and produce the results that you both deserve? Is your dog too excited to wait on the start-line in agility? Is he distracted by people, other dogs, and all the sights, sounds and scents in the environment? Does he struggle to process instructions? Does he bark and spin if he gets frustrated? Is he failing to focus on you?

Instead of relying on old-fashioned methods of coercion, author Jane Ardern, KCAI dog trainer of the year, has devised an emotionally-centred, choice-based training programme to tackle these issues. By using a progressive series of interactive games she shows you how you can teach your dog to control his impulses and make ‘good’ choices that he will find rewarding. What’s rewarding gets repeated so, in time, your dog will learn a new way of behaving. The two of you will work as a team and because you are the fun person who allows him to access all the good things in life, he will try his heart out for you! Mission Control is essential reading for trainers and handlers in all sporting disciplines, and for those who simply want to get the best from their companion dogs. 


Unleashing Your Dog: A Field Guide to Giving Your Canine Companion the Best Life Possible (Mark Bekoff & Jessica Pierce)

No matter how cushy their lives, dogs live on our terms. They compromise their freedom and instinctual pleasure, as well as their innate strategies for coping with stress and anxiety, in exchange for the love, comfort, and care they get from us. But it is possible to let dogs be dogs without wreaking havoc on our lives, as biologist Marc Bekoff and bioethicist Jessica Pierce show in this fascinating book.

They begin by illuminating the true nature of dogs and helping us “walk in their paws.” They reveal what smell, taste, touch, sight, and hearing mean to dogs and then guide readers through everyday ways of enhancing dogs’ freedom in safe, mutually happy ways. The rewards, they show, are great for dog and human alike.

Canine Confidential: Why Dogs Do What They (Mark Bekoff)

For all the love and attention we give dogs, much of what they do remains mysterious. Just think about different behaviors you see at a dog park: We have a good understanding of what it means when dogs wag their tails—but what about when they sniff and roll on a stinky spot? Why do they play tug-of-war with one dog, while showing their bellies to another? Why are some dogs shy, while others are bold? What goes on in dogs’ heads and hearts—and how much can we know and understand?

Canine Confidential has the answers. Written by award-winning scientist—and lifelong dog lover—Marc Bekoff, it not only brilliantly opens up the world of dog behavior, but also helps us understand how we can make our dogs’ lives the best they can possibly be. Rooted in the most up-to-date science on cognition and emotion—fields that have exploded in recent years—Canine Confidential is a wonderfully accessible treasure trove of new information and myth-busting. Peeing, we learn, isn’t always marking; grass-eating isn’t always an attempt to trigger vomiting; it’s okay to hug a dog—on their terms; and so much more. There’s still much we don’t know, but at the core of the book is the certainty that dogs do have deep emotional lives, and that as their companions we must try to make those lives as rich and fulfilling as possible. It’s also clear that we must look at dogs as unique individuals and refrain from talking about “the dog.”

Bekoff also considers the practical importance of knowing details about dog behavior. He advocates strongly for positive training—there’s no need to dominate or shame dogs or to make them live in fear—and the detailed information contained in Canine Confidential has a good deal of significance for dog trainers and teachers. He also suggests that trainers should watch and study dogs in various contexts outside of those in which they are dealing with clients, canine and human, with specific needs.

Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know (Alexandra Horowitz)

A fresh look at what goes on inside the minds of dogs “that causes one’s dog-loving heart to flutter with astonishment and gratitude” (The New York Times Book Review)—from a cognitive scientist with a background at The New Yorker.

As one of the millions of dog owners in America, Horowitz is naturally curious to learn what her dog thinks about and knows. And as a scientist, she is intent on understanding the minds of animals that cannot speak for themselves. Now, in clear, crisp prose, Horowitz introduces the reader to dogs’ perceptual and cognitive abilities and then reveals what it might be like to be a dog.

How many of us have wondered what it must be like for a dog to experience life from two feet off the ground, amidst the smells of the sidewalk, gazing at our ankles or knees? How does a tiny dog manage to play successfully with a Great Dane? Why must a person on a bicycle be chased? Inside of a Dog explains these things and much more, and the answers are both delightful and surprising. It also contains up-to-the-minute research on dogs’ detection of disease, the secrets of their tails, and their skill at reading our attention that Horowitz puts into useful context.

With a light touch and the weight of science behind her, Alexandra Horowitz examines the familiar but mysterious animal we think we know best but may actually understand the least, and explains how dogs perceive their daily worlds, each other, and that other quirky animal—the human.

NOTE: This book is now quite old, so some facts have been superceded by more recent research.

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