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8 Books for First-Time Dog Parents

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I am finally a dogmother! After a childhood spent trying to befriend (bepet?) lizards and grasshoppers because I was not allowed to bring a dog home, college days spent running after campus strays with packets of the quintessential (in India) Parle-G biscuits, and another few years of being auntie to my friend’s doggo while resisting the urge to adopt one myself while I worked from an office, my partner and I finally have our own little pooch. Her name is Cookie and she is unbelievably cute. Her personality is a funny mix of fearful and curious. She keeps us on our toes all day, and has completely shaken up our lazy lifestyle — she is the best thing to have ever happened to us.

a photo of Cookie, a brown and black dog with floppy ears, on a chair with a blanket
Meet Cookie!

If like me, you are, or are going to be, a first-time dog parent, I have some book recommendations for you. This list contains fiction titles featuring fun doggos to keep you company and get you excited as you wait to bring your furry baby home. It also includes nonfiction that will help you understand your newest family member and develop a happy and sustainable rhythm with them. These books might also aid you in convincing an unsure partner about the absolute necessity of having a dog in your life.

Cover of "To Say Nothing of the Dog" by Connie Willis

To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis

In this hilarious romp of a book about time-travelling historians, a cat named Princess Arjumand and a bulldog named Cyril are important characters. Cyril, the titular dog, is an adorable goofball. I am a complete pushover when it comes to four-legged creatures. So is Ned Henry, the main character who befriends Cyril and his human Terrence on a trip to the Victorian era. The scrapes that he gets into while trying to adjust to Victorian life on a boat with a dog are extremely entertaining. This book is proof that life is always better with furry friends, even if they cause you to be attacked by a very angry swan in the middle of the night.

Elatsoe cover by Darcie Little Badger

Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger

The main character in this book is a Lipan Apache teenager who can raise the ghosts of dead animals. She has a fabulous ghost dog sidekick named Kirby who protects her as she investigates a murder. There are constant references to her ancestor’s heroic pack of dogs, symbolic of the close bond between humans and their canine companions that has endured over centuries. The book also comes with gorgeous little illustrations of the ghost dogs by Ravina Cai.

Hyperbole and a Half cover

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

This graphic memoir by Allie Brosh is about her childhood anecdotes and her experience with depression, but it is also about her two dogs: the simple dog and the helper dog. It is a reminder of how different dogs’ personalities can be, how they respond differently to training, and how they make one happy even when they are being rather challenging — all in a uniquely funny package.

The Book of Dog cover

The Book of Dog Edited by Himali Sodhi

This is an anthology of essays about dogs, with contributors that are dog-loving writers and animal activists from India. Their perspectives are varied — from beloved family pets to feisty strays in fragile equilibrium with humans, a wide range of dogs find their place in these essays. The collection is an ode to the many facets of the writers’ relationships with dogs. They write candidly about making mistakes in caring for their charges, about the grief of losing them, and about the overwhelming impact they can have on one’s life. What is even better is that the royalties from the sale of the book are donated to animal welfare organizations.

Book cover of Inside of a Dog by Alexandra Horowitz

Inside of a Dog by Alexandra Horowitz

This book is a fascinating look into the world from the point of view (or more accurately the point of nose, as the author says) of a dog. It will help you understand and appreciate your dog better, and add a little empathy to your interactions with them.

How Dogs Love Us book cover

How Dogs Love Us by Gregory Berns

All dog parents probably know that their dogs love them. But there is little scientific research to corroborate this belief. Berns, with his dog Callie, set out to change this. By training dogs to remain calm inside an MRI machine, he tries to look into the mind of a dog, and how they may or may not empathize with their humans. This is an engaging and inspiring read for anyone who has wondered what exactly their dog might be thinking.

The Other End of the Leash book cover

The Other End Of The Leash by Patricia McConnell

This book focuses on the communication between dogs and their humans. It shows how the most emphatic of our messages might get lost in interspecies translation and delves into how our behavior around dogs might be interpreted by them. You will also come out of it with some practical advice about communicating with your dog, so that together you can make the best dog-hooman pair.

How to Behave So Your Dog Behaves book cover

How To Behave So Your Dog Behaves by Dr. Sophia Yin

This is the most practical book on the list. Dr. Yin was a pioneering advocate for positive reinforcement training for dogs. In this book she lays out the theory of scientific and humane training and guides the readers to apply the theory to their training exercises.

Happy reading and congratulations on your pawrfect new friend! Can’t get enough of dog books? Check out our dog book archives.