If you’re looking for the best dog psychology books, you’re in luck.
Today, I’m going to share with you the top books that really helped me better understand my dogs!
Each one of these books is written in an approachable way for the average pet parent, meaning you don’t need an animal behavior degree to understand them!
Read on for my top choices!
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Top 10 Best Dog Psychology Books
When I wrote about the best agility dog training books, I had a hard time finding more than five really stellar options.
With dog psychology books, I have the opposite problem! Narrowing it down to just the top 10 was tricky!
There are a ton of fantastic books on dog behavior out there! Below are the ones that I found the most helpful and easiest to follow.
Most of them are available in both Kindle and print versions, unless otherwise noted. I also included a preview when available.
Let’s get started!
1.How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain
How Dogs Love Us by Gregory Berns is quite possibly one of the most fascinating dog psychology books ever written.
Berns trained his rescue dog to sit still in an MRI machine, then used it much in the same way doctors gather info from the human brain.
My favorite thing about this book, though, is that it very strongly proves that dogs are capable of love…and that they should be loved whole-heartedly in return.
Don’t worry, even though Berns is a neuroscientist, you don’t have to be a brain surgeon to read this light and engaging book!
2. Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know
When I see this book’s title, it makes me think of that famous quote by Groucho Marks: “Outside of a dog a book is man’s best friend because inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”
Jokes aside, Inside of a Dog by Alejandra Horowitz delves into canine cognition in a fun and intriguing way.
For example, if you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to smell things 600x more powerfully than you do now, you’ll find your answer!
The book also talks about dogs’ ability to know when you’re sick, the secret behind the wagging tail, and more.
3. The Dog’s Mind: Understanding Your Dog’s Behavior
The Dog’s Mind by Bruce Fogle answers questions like:
- How do dogs see the world around them?
- How do they relate to their people?
- Why do they suffer from stress & how can we help them?
All of these answers and more come from veterinary clinician with more than 20 years of experience.
One thing to note, though: like many dog psychology books written before the last year or so, it does focus on pack dynamics.
Depending on which research you follow, this may be an outdated concept. We are learning more and more that dogs aren’t quite the pack animals we thought they were.
Still, overall it’s a fascinating read with some great info.
4. From Fearful to Fear Free: A Positive Program to Free Your Dog from Anxiety, Fears, and Phobias
Over the course of the last 18 years, I’ve had four dogs with some degree of anxiety (vet anxiety, separation anxiety, fear of loud noises, and just plain general anxiety).
All I can say is I wish I knew about this book sooner (it came out in 2018). It really helps you understand the triggers for dog anxiety as well as how to help your dog cope.
I love that Becker offers very practical and doable tips that focus on positive training methods.
5. How to Raise the Perfect Dog: Through Puppyhood and Beyond
Okay, I know that a lot of people don’t really like Cesar for a myriad of reasons. I myself do not agree with many of his theories on dog behavior or his methods of training.
That said, I’m adding How to Raise the Perfect Dog to this list because I am not here to tell you what to believe, and because it’s considered one of the top dog psychology books.
For those who love Cesar, the entire book is basically a how-to manual for raising calm and well-behaved dogs.
People like me who like him well enough but don’t really agree with him will find the fun exercises as well as the info on puppy development helpful.
6. How Dogs Think: Understanding the Canine Mind
If you choose just one dog psychology book to read, let it How Dogs Think by Stanley Coren. Why? Well, you can’t find anyone who’s more an expert in the subject than Coren!
The author of another bestselling book, The Intelligence of Dogs, is pretty much the foremost authority on dog intelligence and behavior. In this book, he talks about things like:
- Misconceptions about our canine companions.
- Why dogs do the silly and seemingly irrational things that they do.
- How dogs interpret the world around them and use information to solve complex problems.
Coren answers all of these questions and more by using wit and humor to create an incredibly engaging read.
7.How To Speak Dog: Mastering the Art of Dog-Human Communication
Another great read by Coren, How to Speak Dog is exactly what it sounds like: a guide to understanding and mastering the art of communicating with your dog.
I love this book because it’s more about true communication with your dog, not just another guide on how to train them to obey.
Along with explaining how to use sounds, words, and body language to speak “Doggish,” you’ll also learn to decipher the signs your pup gives you.
It even includes a visual glossary and a fun “Doggish” phrase book. It’s not just a great dog psych book, it’s an all-around fun read!
8.The Other End of the Leash: Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs
In The Other End of the Leash, Dr. Patricia McConnell turns things around a bit. Rather than explaining why dogs do things, she talks about why WE do the things we do around them.
McConnell isn’t of the “dominate your dog” school of thought. She also explains how so many of the things we perceive as disobedience is really just a miscommunication.
I love this book because it not just another “make your dog do what you want” book. Instead, it focuses on adapting our own behavior to create a stronger bond and relationship with our dogs.
9.The Genius of Dogs: How Dogs Are Smarter Than You Think
Although the title of The Genius of Dogs feels a little derivative of Coren’s bestseller, this is still an excellent read as far as dog psychology goes.
Authors Hare and Woods delve into research put out by the Duke Canine Cognition Center (run by Duke University) and other top research facilities from around the world.
The result is over 375 pages of engaging information that reveals how dogs think and how we can strengthen our relationship with them.
It’s also another great book to read if you don’t subscribe to the “alpha dog training’ method.
10.What the Dog Knows: The Science and Wonder of Working Dogs
While What the Dog Knows is similar to some of the other dog psychology books on this list, I’m including it because it takes a bit of a different approach.
Yes, the basics are the same: it explains things like how dogs use their noses, how they think of the world around them and so on.
However, while the other books focus on dogs in general, this one really delves into the lives and minds of working dogs, including K9 units, Search and Rescue pups and service dogs.
Author Cat Warren puts it all into context by relating it to her cadaver dog, Solo.
Like I said, it’s hard to narrow down the myriad of dog psychology books to just the top ten, but these are definitely the ones I’d most highly recommend!
Of course, you don’t have to read all of them. If I had to pick just two, I’d go with those written by Coren, since he’s such a highly respected expert.