Monday, November 2, 2009

Kinder, Gentler Dog Training

I am starting a project...I want to put out there that there is a kinder, gentler way of training a dog. I have been reading as many books on dog training that I can and then recently attended the Association of Pet Dog Trainers Conference in Oakland, CA. I had the pleasure of listening to Dr. Ian Dunbar, a Vet, and an actual animal behaviorist, one who has studied real animals in clinical settings and in real life settings. The truly educated in this field all agree on one thing, violence begets violence in training and there is no quick fix for behavior problems in dogs. Along with each dog's inherent behaviors, the dog is a product of his environment. Of course, there is no one way to train all dogs, each dog is an individual and learns at his own pace, you have to find what really turns your dog's learning switch on. For some dogs it will be as simple as a ball or frisbee, for others not so toy motivated, you will need some really good, stinky treats.

Currently I am reading a book by Alexandra Horowitz - "Inside of a Dog - What Dogs See, Smell and Know". Ms. Horowitz teaches psychology at the Barnard College, Columbia University. She has a PhD in cognitive science at the University of California San Diego. She has studied the cognition of humans, rhinoceroses, bonobos, and dogs.

I am reading that book now because when I got on the plane to New York on Friday, I reached for the book by Dr. Dunbar that I had purchased in Oakland the week before and realized I had forgot to pack it and in my thirst for knowledge, bought "Inside of a Dog" in New York so I would not be without a good read.

I will update what I have learned from these distinguished authors as often as possible. I feel that when dealing with animals, you never stop learning. I compete in dog agility, have since 1999, and every time I finish a course with my dog, I have learned something new. Even just watching my fellow competitors, I am learning.

I work with rescue dogs at Linda Blair's Worldheart Foundation and every dog there has something to offer for my education and every dog there is a willing and wonderful student. And a note on Linda, she is a wonderful, compassionate, dedicated and hard working woman who has saved many, many deserving and helpless dogs.

Dogs are a wonderful part of our everyday lives and by giving them the proper training, you ensure their place in your home and improve their interaction with other dogs and people.


  1. Hi Candy,

    I have linked this to FB and twitter.

    Thank you for writing this.

    Doc Ellis 124