Feed your mind and improve your dog skills on your daily walks with these audiobooks
It can be hard to find time to sit down and read a good book these days, so the advent of audiobooks has offered a great way of learning something new or hearing a story while out on a walk. And, as an added bonus, a good audiobook can even encourage you to walk for longer or more often.
What's more, according to The Dog Whisperer, Cesar Millan, playing audiobooks through your smart speaker while you're out of the house can help to calm a stressed pooch who suffers from separation anxiety.
So, as a latecomer to audiobooks, I'm going to get an Audible subscription, and these are the first five books I've picked to load onto my phone ready for our next dog walk:
Table of contents
How to Speak Dog: Mastering the Art of Dog-Human Communication
Dog's Best Friend: A Brief History of an Unbreakable Bond
by Simon Garfield (narrated by Julian Rhind-Tutt - British)
If, like me, you love learning about our enduring relationship with our canine companion throughout history - so you can bore anyone who'll listen with your relentless dog facts - this book is a must-have.
It takes us on a journey through time to help us understand how dogs have gone from scavenging around the edge of our encampments, to having their own wardrobe and affecting every big life decision we make.
We're taken from the first cave drawings of our domesticated wolf friend through to today's very recent scientific discoveries of canine behavior and the sequencing of the first dog genome.
The timeline is peppered with beautifully told tales of individual dogs throughout history, from the invention of the Labradoodle 30 years ago to Chaser the border collie with a vocabulary of over a thousand words.
Simon Garfield has a delightful turn of phrase and his descriptions and observations are often poetic, enhanced by the soothing voice of the narrator. I was riveted to the audio sample.
I can see my own dog Rumble enjoying his dulcet tone while I'm out, too, and learning about how we enrich each other's life. I'll load a copy onto his iBone...
How to Speak Dog: Mastering the Art of Dog-Human Communication
by Stanley Coren (narrated by Rudy Sanda - American)
I've read better books on canine communication, but that's not to say this doesn't deserve a place in my collection, and I feel this works better in the audible form anyway.
Most of Coren's observations are preceded by sometimes meandering backstories, which could feel labored in print, but perfectly suit a nice walk in the woods before getting to the scientific conclusion.
Beyond the anecdotes, the science is presented academically, tempered by Coren's years studying human neuropsychology and perception and publishing over 400 scientific papers.
He later switched to studying dogs and applied his knowledge of humans to our canine bond, studying the different personality types of people and how they predict the relationship between certain breeds of dog.
This work is still used today to match owners with dogs in some rescue shelters in the States, and Coren has since published dozens of books on dog behavior and won many awards for his writing on the subject.
Here he brings his decades of experience and studies to this book, and offers insight into how you can understand your dog's vocabulary (be it gestural or vocal) and explains how you can use words, sounds and movements to have a conversation with your pooch, beyond basic commands.
The narration is very laid back and a little monotone, lacking in the lyrical delivery of Dog's Best Friend (above), but suits the content well enough to work.
Understanding what your dog needs is fundamental to giving them the best life possible, so I'm looking forward to learning more in this area.
The Detective Dog
by Julia Donaldson (narrated by Floella Benjamin - British)
Dramatically switching up the vibe now, this wonderful little tale is, well, for kids. But why not try and shoehorn dogs into every aspect of your life, including entertaining your human puppies?!
If you're British and of a certain vintage like me, you'll instantly recognise the narrator as the legendary kids TV presenter from the Seventies, Floella Benjamin. She has made a lifelong career from delivering exciting tales to children in her inimitable and effervescent style, and this is no exception.
Supported by incidental music, this colorful story follows Peter and his dog Nell on an adventure to discover where the school's library books have disappeared to, using the olfactory super power of Nell's powerful nose.
The story bounces along at a rhythmic pace, helped by the flow of the rhyming words, and is essentially about the joy of reading and the wonder of libraries. What more could you want to teach kids - dogs and books rock!
How to Teach Relativity to Your Dog
by Chad Orzel (narrated by Will Collyer and Cassandra Morris - American)
I love learning about science and the invisible forces responsible for life as we know it. But I love dogs more. So if I was sat in a physics class and a dog walked past the window, whatever tentative grasp I had on the mind-bending concept up to that point would be lost to that passing waggy tail, swishing across my mind like a windscreen wiper clearing every droplet of cognition.
So, when a dog-loving physics professor with a keen sense for storytelling explains the fundamentals of the universe through the perspective of a dog's life, I'm in!
This brilliant audiobook has two narrators; one being the professor and the other his inquisitive dog Emmy. And they have conversations about subjects such as relativity, black holes, the Big Bang and other complex Einsteinian theories.
The effects of gravity on light and time, or the shrinking of moving objects is explained to Emmy through examples such as the relative speed of dog and cat motion and the logistics of squirrel-chasing.
Emmy the dog is probably brighter than me, but is cleverly used to interject and pre-empt the obvious questions forming in the readers' (listeners') minds, sometimes quite sarcastically and at times dismissive of the professor's understanding of how the world works, from a dog's point of view.
It is fun and entertaining way of getting across complicated academic information, peppered with enough comedy to allow your brain to digest the science. And if a dog can understand it all, then I stand a fair chance. Until a dog walks past me, that is.
The Dog Guardian: Your Guide to a Happy, Well-Behaved Dog
by Nigel Reed (narrated by Tom Lawrence - British)
Nigel Reed is a British dog trainer and behaviorist, and I've recommended the print version of his book before, simply because I feel his advice is very accessible and well-presented for all levels of dog owner.
He has a useful website with online courses, but I often send dog owners I meet to his YouTube channel to help them tackle common problems like pulling on the leash.
Reflecting the printed version, this audiobook breaks down the basics of developing confidence in both yourself and your dog and explains Nigel's four key principles:
Understanding your dog's needs
Understanding their language
Understanding their emotional state
Understanding your own leadership approach
For any dog owner trying to tackle nervousness, pulling, jumping up, aggression, hyperactivity and other common behavioral problems, this is the perfect walking companion.
Personally, I feel all dog owners should have at least one book on dog behavior and training on their bookshelf or in their digital library, and this is one of the most accessible and well presented books I've come across.
I hope at least one of the audiobooks above feeds your mind or entertains you on your next dog walk. Enjoy.
At the time of writing, Amazon has a discounted offer - three-month Audible trial for just 99p in the UK or free for 30 days in the US. Click here to find out more.