Years ago, when we first realized the significance of the problems we faced with Lucas, I picked up every book I could on the subject of fear. Some were duds, but some were so valuable that I’ve returned to them several times when facing a particular problem.
Now, I’m going back to the literature. This time, instead of reading with Lucas in mind, I’m reading with Cooper in mind. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s the same problem (reactivity) but it’s entirely different. I’ve also picked up a few additional books that I’m diving into this week.
Over the years, I’ve received countless emails, comments, and FB messages about challenges some of you are facing with your reactive dogs. To that end, I wanted to share my reading list – the ones I have earmarked on my bookshelf and the new ones I have yet to peruse. When available, I’ve linked to the resource on Amazon (and, yes, they’re Amazon affiliate links), and if not available on Amazon, I’ve linked to where you can locate them.
Here are my 4 favorite resources for learning about loving and training reactive dogs:
Feisty Fido: Help for the Leash-Reactive Dog
by Patricia B. McConnell, Ph.D. and Karen B. London, Ph.D.
In my opinion, you can’t go wrong with Dr. McConnell. This book is full of valuable information, but I credit one section with saving our behinds in many instances: “Using a ‘U-Turn’ to Leave Trouble Behind.” Honestly, it changed everything for us. I’m also intrigued by “Abandonment Training,” which is addressed at the end of the book, but I’m not brave enough to attempt it on my own.
The Cautious Canine-How to Help Dogs Conquer Their Fears
by Patricia B. McConnell, Ph.D.
Another fabulous resource from Dr. McConnell. More of a booklet than a full text (it clocks in at 30 pages), it gives all the details you need to identify triggers and create a treatment plan. The most helpful section? “What to do when you and your dog get surprised.”
A Guide to Living With & Training a Fearful Dog
by Debbie Jacobs, CPDT-KA, CAP
I wrote a full review of this valuable resource. It’s super practical, and my favorite part is that she is wholly understanding of the struggles involved in working with reactive dogs. This is one I’ve turned to again and again.
Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know
by Alexandra Horowitz
No, it’s not about dog training or fearful dogs, specifically. However, I learned so much about canine cognition and got a glimpse at how dogs see the world through this readable book. I felt like I knew my guys a little bit better after I finished it, and it helped me be even more sympathetic to Lucas’ struggles.
Here’s what I just received from Amazon and am starting this weekend:
Fired Up, Frantic, and Freaked Out: Training the Crazy Dog from Over the Top to Under Control
by Laura VanArendonk Baugh CPDT-KA KPACTP
I’ll share my reactions to those resources once I’ve had a chance to read and digest them.
Rereading these books has been a great exercise. Since I first read them years ago – the Patricia McConnell ones in 2007 – I’ve learned a lot about dog training and, specifically, my dogs. I’m approaching them with new eyes and a fresh perspective. For instance, in 2007, we hadn’t started using a clicker yet! So, I’m getting a ton of valuable insights from revisiting the literature.
Do you have any experience with my three new books? Any books to add to the list (reactive dog specific or not)? Have you approached old resources with new insights?