I've chosen to make this website more about education in the field of dog training and behaviour because I believe education is the KEY to changing what is sometimes a horrific state of affairs in the way animals are treated - especially in the name of 'training'.
Over the years I've spent a great deal of money trying to get help for my dogs, especially my German Shepherd Dog, Raines, and now my young Great Dane, Lester. Most of the advice I received was helpful, no doubt, but a lot of it, especially in the early years, made things worse.
Finding someone to help can be an extremely daunting task. There is so much information available, particularly if you do an internet search on the topic, that it becomes almost impossible to know who and what to trust. This website offers a taste of information from professional and reliable sources, but it only scratches the surface for all the excellent information available.
Learn as much as you can for yourself and take the information offered from others with a grain of salt. Your dog is an individual, and you are the one who knows your dog the best! Be an advocate for your dog, and don't let any 'professional' bully you into doing things you don't feel comfortable with.
Throughout this website you'll see highlighted words and phrases linking to a variety of articles and information for the 'geek' in us. All the information provided within this website comes from highly regarded individuals and organisations trying to get the word out to help dogs and their people in todays society. I update frequently as I find new and better information, so check back often.
If you only ever read one article on dominance and the history of dog training - this is the article to read! Pat Miller is the owner of Peaceable Paws and the author of 'Beware Of The Dog' and 'The Power of Positive Training'. 'Positive Perspectives 2' by Pat Miller (from Dogwise publishing) was my favourite book when I started my apprenticeship in dog training.
Danger! Dominance Theory!
Here are a few videos and articles you can listen to and read as a jumping off point to understand what we, as modern dog trainers and behaviour consultants, believe in and promote in our practices.
The Problem with Treating a Dog Like a Pet, by Applied Ethologist and Dog Behavior Specialist, Kim Brophey (video)
What Every Person Can Learn From Dog Training, by Noa Szefler (video)
What You Must Know About Dog Trainers and How to Pick the Best, by Zak George (video)
Danger of Using Fear and Pain Based Dog Training Approaches, by Drayton Michaels, CTC (video)
This article is from back in 2011, but the information is still very relevant today.
Why dog trainers will have to change their ways, by Professor John Bradshaw
Dogs are now the most studied animal next to the human race!
Modern scientists have shown that our canine friends are very similar to us emotionally, cognitively, physiologically, and psychologically, and the concept that dogs are thinking, feeling, intelligent beings is now a well known fact.
It also turns out that our dogs are not simply domesticated wolves.
A research article on the PLoS Genetics website suggests that dogs and the gray wolf share a common ancestor in an extinct wolf lineage that lived thousands of years ago. An international team of researchers generated genome sequences from three gray wolves, two dog breeds, a dingo, and a golden jackal. Their work reflects a more complicated history than the popular story that early farmers adopted a few docile, friendly wolves that later became our beloved, modern-day companions.
This article is a far easier read on the same topic:
Genomes of modern dogs and wolves provide new insights on domestication
For more on emotions, cognition, and dog communication check out the following links:
How Dogs Love Us, Dr. Gregory Berns (TEDxAtlanta on YouTube)
Dog Emotion and Cognition with Dr. Brian Hare, created by Duke University
The Genius of Dogs, Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods
Marc Bekoff, The Emotional Lives of Animals
I Speak Dog, is a collaboration of many incredible people, including Jean Donaldson the founder of The Academy for Dog Trainers, which is considered the Harvard School for Dog Trainers.
Most people will recognize the name Ivan Pavlov, a Russian psychologist who became famous for his work with dogs. His undertaking brought the terms Pavlov's Dogs and Pavlovian Conditioning into play in the world of psychology and behaviour, and his work is an important part of what everyone examines when studying these fields. The concept Pavlov is famous for, Conditioned Reflex, was developed in 1901.
John B. Watson is another huge player in what we study. His address on Psychology as the Behaviorist Views It was given at Columbia University in 1913, and he is said to be one of the Father's of Behaviorism along with Edward Thorndike.
Thorndike presented Animal Intellegence in 1911, and he is the one credited for the discovery that responses to a behaviour that produced a reward, or positive consequence, were more likely to be repeated. Those behaviours that had a negative consequence were less likely to be repeated. This was called the Law of Effect.
When you consider that Pavlov, Watson, and Thorndike did their work in the late 1800's and early 1900's, well over 100 years ago, it's hard to fathom why so many people are still living in the dark ages when it comes to dog and animal training methods.
Fast forward to 1938 to B. F. Skinner and The Behavior of Organisms, looking at the science of behavior and how the analysis of behavior produces data which can be studied.
Marian and her first husband, Keller Breland, started out as graduate students working for B.F. Skinner, the father of operant conditioning, and who for 47 years ran the most successful animal training business that ever existed. After Marian’s first husband, Keller, died, Marian carried on the business. She eventually married Bob Bailey and they continued successfully training animals. This is a short video highlighting Bob Bailey and what he teaches.
The list of famous, and highly dedicated people helping us learn about our dogs is enormous! Fortunately, many of these people have dedicated their careers to putting all this detailed, and sometimes extremely confusing, work in to books, articles, and papers that we, the general public, can understand and have easy access to.
Nowadays we have an incredible amount of information at our fingertips, literally.
Unfortunately much of that information is not that great, nor is it accurate, especially in the field of dog training. Television has taken the place of books and doing our own research on topics we love. I used to love National Geographic magazines, and later National Geographic channel, but since I entered the world of professional dog training and behaviour, I have completely lost trust in Nat Geo specifically because of their support and promotion of Cesar Millan and The Dog Whisperer. National Geographic, and this one man, have not only set back dog training by 100 years, but his promotion of control, dominance, and being a "pack leader" have caused serious problems for dogs and their people. In fact, the problem with dogs behaving aggressively has skyrocketed over the years since Cesar Millan, and others like him, began "teaching" the world how to "train" dogs.
If you want to learn more about how well educated, professional, and experienced people work in dog training and behaviour there are some excellent resources referenced throughout this website. When researching organisations, look for their Code Of Conduct, Guiding Principles, or Position Statements. Everyone should look in to the values of the various associations and organizations before engaging in the education and/or services they offer.
Living and working with challenging dogs can be hard, but we're a resilent lot! See this article on resilience.
The organizations I belong to and/or have memberships in are listed in the header of this website and I highly recommend them.