5 dog behavior books every veterinarian needs to read

These books will help you “speak” canine

Whether you are a new veterinarian or have been practicing for years, it seems like there is always something else to learn, especially when it comes to understanding dog behavior. We might be halfway through summer, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late to pick up a book (or five) to sharpen your skills or integrate something new into your veterinary practice. We chose five books that cover a variety of behavior topics, from low-stress handling to understanding dog body language, all designed to help you better serve the clients and canines that you work with on a daily basis.

1. Low Stress Handling Restraint and Behavior Modification of Dogs & Cats

Sophia Yin, DVM, MS, was a well-respected veterinarian and animal behaviorist in both the veterinary and dog training world. Her book comes with photos and explanations of the best ways to handle dogs and cats, and also includes a DVD with three hours of video clips to further illustrate her recommendations. Reading this book will create a safer environment for everyone, not to mention decrease the amount of time you spend wrestling with animals before being able to examine them!

2. Manual of Clinical Behavioral Medicine for Dogs and Cats

This book is the resource for figuring out the underlying causes of behaviors and the behavior modification protocol. Karen Overall, MA, VMD, PhD, DACVB, CAAB, is a veterinary behavior specialist who blends the medical model with the most up-to-date scientific dog training methods to help your clients successfully manage their dog or cat’s behaviors.

3. Don’t Shoot the Dog: The New Art of Teaching and Training

Even though this book is called “Don’t Shoot the Dog”, Karen Pryor gives a wonderful overview of the science of behavior in general, and covers principles and techniques of positive reinforcement that can be used to change just about any behavior (even your significant other’s!). Pryor was also the creator of modern clicker training, if you or your client wants to learn more about the strategies she suggests and how they specifically apply to dog training.

4. Canine Body Language: A Photographic Guide Interpreting the Native Language of the Domestic Dog

Every person who works with or lives with a dog should read this book. In this book, professional dog trainer Brenda Aloff, explains many of the behaviors that dogs use to communicate everything from fear to fun to stress. There are plenty of pictures help to illustrate her points, and suggestions on how you might interpret these signals to change the way you interact with your four-legged friend.

5. The Other End of the Leash: Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs

While many dog behavior books focus on the dog (and rightly so), this one, by Dr. Patricia B. McConnell, analyzes how a human’s behavior can influence the behaviors of their dog. McConnell explains why the dominance theory doesn’t apply to modern dogs and how most of the time when a dog is being “stubborn,” it is simply a miscommunication. This book is highly recommended for veterinarians, pet parents or pet professionals.

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