Going through the social media sites many questions come in regarding what books others have or read to extend their behavioural knowledge. I concider myself an animal training addict and have read quite some books. Lately my focus slowly goes to further psychology in people because a lot of that we can reflect to animals. Over my career I did read quite some articles and books and I still don’t feel I read enough. I love the training stories that people have on the internet with their great successes. Here is a list of my so far all-time favourites:

Grey Staffords – Zoomility

I can’t say it enough about this book it is just a great resource. I pass this book on to many just because it is not a long read and on top of that its an easy read. With all the languages here in Europe this book with its size gives people the motivation to get through it. Grey uses a story line with experiences to explain training techniques and what he learned on the way. I enjoy reading this book very much because you reflect his stories to your current experiences pretty easily and there for it’s a great source for you!

Recently he started his own podcast called Zoo Logic. I highly recommend listening to his podcast and read his book.

Listen to his weekly podcast HERE


Karen Pryor – Lads Before the Wind

As we all know Karen Pryor has done some extraordinary work within the training community. She wrote article after article and book after book. During my career I stumbled upon one of her books that I can say had a great influence on my training skills. Back at the time I read it for the first time when I was working in Canada. This book didn’t only give me the skills needed to succeed with the animals but also with the people. She explains her story about her start with marine mammals, how she started to discover their minds and what would work best and why, she talks about her challenges on the way of starting sea life park as a new manager. She talks as well about using other specimen and training them the way she learned with the dolphins. A great story line, easy understanding and exciting examples of one of the best in our profession. Definitely one for your collection


Ken Ramirez – Animal Training

Of course we can’t forget Ken. He wrote this book in 1999 and is so far a great asset in the animal trainers library. A book to be handled a little differently as all the others out there. This book helped me discover solutions and brought me on the right path in doing so. I would consider this book as a training guide/ encyclopedia. It gives you many articles connected to information you are looking for. This book gives you a great understanding of the language that we all try to talk “Operant Conditioning”. I have the privilege to work with him for the International Marine Animal Trainers Association where he is an passionate advisor. His stories and knowledge bring you to another world of working with animals. Definitely a book to recommend for all the training nerds out there.


Frans de Waal – Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?

Wow! I hope that word sums it up for you. ONE OF MY ALL TIME FAVOURITES! If you are more interested in Zoo animals and research please read this book. Easy to understand compared to many other research books. Frans uses his stories and experience to tell you about some of his findings and how animals responded in quite a surprising way. This book gave me as a person a completely new view on the animals we work with. The book helps you with finding new ideas in your enrichment program or even in research projects you might currently be planning. This book definitely gave me a lot. It’s a definite recommendation for all of us. The book has quite some pages but when you start reading you drown in his stories. From Chimpanzees to Elephants he covers them all.


Daniel Pink – Drive

One you would’ve never thought off. One of my friends gave me this book to read and I thought ok I prefer animal books but let’s give it a shot and then it happened. A book about Motivation from different perspectives, why it doesn’t work anymore to use motivation the way we used in the 70s. This book gives you an understanding of managing people and how intrinsic motivation might be worth more in this day and age. This book talks about people but its easy to read and to understand for your application with animals. The book gave me a new view on how motivation can be different and how we as people should start to think outside the box a bit more. A book for all of us but especially the managers and supervisors. You can get so much out of it for the animal but also for the people you work with. A book you need to read with an open mind.



There are so many more books on the market written by incredible people. The list above helped me out to become the person in animal training I am today. At the moment I’m reading some more books there for I can’t give a proper and quick review on those for you. A couple more interesting books that I have on my shelf what helps me writing my blogs are:

  • Curious by Ian Leslie “The desire to know and why your future depends on it” I’m not very far yet but so far incredible. Ian talks about differences in curiosity and why we keep on doing our things.


  • Animal Minds – Donald R. Griffin “Beyond cognition and consciousness” I’ve only read a couple pages. It’s a good book but for a person who has English as second language a very hard book to read. Interesting enough he focusses on what a word means before discovering if an animal has it. Good book so far but definitely takes some time for me to understand.


  • Inside Animal Hearts and Minds – Belinda Recio “Bears that count, goats that surf and other true stories of animal intelligence and emotion” Regardless of who wrote it it’s a great and easy book to read about animal experiences and why they might have happened. A book that helped me look into animals minds a bit different. Great asset.


  • Animal Training 101 – Jenifer A. Zeligs “The complete and practical guide to the art and science of behavioural modification” Another training book that I’m still busy reading. This book keeps me sharp in my thoughts and gives me here and there some add-on’s in my skillset. Easy to read, not to big and great for carrying on travels. She explains the pros and cons of various strategies what gives another perspective. A definite interest read.


Reading books is very personal, everybody has their own reasons and interest to read about topics they like. The list above is a very personal review what made me the trainer I am today. Some of you might even have some great book suggestions for me after reading this blog. Please send them to me on our facebook page! Or by email info@zoospensefull.com.


If you think you know a great topic to talk about, let us know!


Peter is a passionate Animal Consultant that beside teaching you about Operant Conditioning makes sure you will go home motivated and inspired. Make sure you read his Bio!


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