Anyone who’s had multiple dogs will tell you that some dogs are easier than others. These are my favorite books for those dogs that keep you counting to ten in your head while you focus on calming breathing.
Mine! A Practical Guide to Resource Guarding in Dogs by Jean Donaldson
The focus of this book is training dogs who become aggressive towards people around a specific resource, but I’ve successfully used the techniques to curb resource guarding towards other dogs. Once we got going I saw results very quickly, and I’m still making progress every day. Additionally, the book covers what’s considered normal guarding behavior and what’s excessive within a healthy dog group, and it details the subtle body language you may be missing that leads up to a resource guarding triggered “explosion.”
Even if you don’t have resource guarding issues, I suggest the book because it’s the best step-by-step guide to counterconditioning I’ve ever read. I thought I understood it, but after reading Mine! my technique has dramatically improved. All dogs will be fearful of something during their lifetimes and getting a solid grasp on the technique before you need it can make your life much easier.
Fired Up, Frantic, and Freaked Out: Training Crazy Dogs from Over the Top to Under Control by Laura VanArendonk Baugh
This is all about when your dog’s overwhelming emotions, from fear to excitement, come in and toss all the training you’ve done out the window. If you’re dog is so emotionally stimulated he can’t think, he’s incapable of doing what you’ve asked of him. Techniques to deal with crisis management and prevent a repeat performance are invaluable for people with high strung dogs. An important component of the book for me was that all overwhelming emotions, even positive ones, can short circuit your dog’s training in the same ways. You can use the same techniques to get things back under control, and teach your dog to better self regulate himself.
When Pigs Fly! Training Success with Impossible Dogs by Jane Killion
Certain breeds have been selected to be much more independent than your typical obedience champion. Jane Killion describes the easily trainable dog breeds as “biddable” and then describes how to train your totally unbiddable dog how to out perform them by training to their strengths. Breeds that have been bred to work without people standing over them are superior problem solvers. By turning training into a puzzle, you create a fun game that they’re excited to play, instead of a chore they’re inclined to ignore.
I’ve always said my hounds were smart in all the wrong ways. They can figure out how to unlatch a gate, or open a latched door, but figuring out what I wanted from them seemed impossible. Altering my training to use that problem solving ability for good has made all the difference. It’s more fun for them and much less frustrating for me.