Fun and Motivational Dog Training 
Want to strengthen the human-canine bond? Just get involved in positive-oriented dog training. Did you know that a dog who is taught to pay attention and to follow certain cues is going to be more secure?

Get started with a GReat article from Dr. Overall on understanding how dogs learn, as well as the articles below to understand the different training philosophies. And, then sign up for training classes to provide the incentive to work with your dog on a regular basis and get assistance from instructors who can better evaluate any difficulties.

Local trainer searches can be executed here: Association of Pet Dog Trainers, International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, Clicker Teachers, Animal Behavior College, and SF-SPCA Training Academy Graduates.

We have a HUGE collection of training web resources and articles here that cover a multitude of learning skills, as well as behavioral problem areas. And, be sure to take the first step toward incorporating your newly learned skills by learning how to obtain a Canine Good Citizen (CGC) title for your dog.

These position statements were developed through the cooperation of the members of the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) and reflect the opinion of this association on a variety of topics related to the field of animal behavior.
  1. Dominance Position Statement This statement has been developed for the purpose of clarifying how AVSAB views the theory of dominance relationships between animals. We also hope that it helps to dispel some myths that have recently become more prevalent among some who work in this field.
  2. Punishment Position Statement This statement focuses on the use of punishment in the training of animals and the learning theories that exist which put the use of punishment into proper perspective.
  3. Puppy Socialization Position Statement This statement hopes to increase awareness of the need socialization in puppies and raise the issue of how vaccination protocols effect the socialization process in puppy classes.
  4. Finding Help for a Pet with a Behavior Problem This statement deals with the sources available to pet owners when faced with a behavior problem in the pets.
  5. Types of Behavior Professionals This statement reviews the different types of individuals who can work with behavior issues and what these various qualifications mean.
  6. How to Choose a Trainer This statement reviews some methods a pet owner can use to help locate a quality trainer for their dog.


Dr. Ian Dunbar: See the world through the eyes of your dogs = building their love and trust

Dr. Ian Dunbar
We so very much admire and look up to veterinarian, animal behaviorist & writer, Dr. Ian Dunbar (be sure to download pdf versions of his books, Before You Get Your Puppy and After You Get Your Puppy).

He is definitely the "Anti-Cesar Millan" as identified in Rafkin's 2006 article, succeeding for 25 years with lure-reward dog training but usurped by the flashy, aggressive TV host.

Dr. Dunbar received his veterinary degree and a Special Honors degree in Physiology & Biochemistry from the Royal Veterinary College (London University) and a doctorate in animal behavior from the Psychology Department at the University of California in Berkeley, where he spent ten years researching olfactory communication, the development of hierarchical social behavior, and aggression in domestic dogs.

Dr. Dunbar has written numerous books, including Before and After Getting Your Puppy: The Positive Approach to Raising a Happy, Healthy, and Well-Behaved Dog, Doctor Dunbar's Good Little Dog Book, and How to Teach a New Dog Old Tricks. He has also hosted eleven award-winning videotapes on puppy/dog behavior and training, including SIRIUS ® Puppy Training, Training Dogs With Dunbar and Every Picture Tells A Story.

To keep up with the continual flow of exceptional dog themed materials, a MUST is following Dr. Dunbar's website and subscribing to his YouTube Channel (an amazing 480 videos as of 10/2010).

Dr. Ian Dunbar: Three simple strategies to successfully training a dog

The website is a daily updated magazine with news, blogs and articles about dog behavior, as well as a comprehensive digital dog training textbook.

Everything you need to know about dog training, from raising a puppy to teaching an adult dog and fixing behavior problems, is provided.

Because of the strong belief that proper training information is so important, the information is FREELY available to all, with the hope that dogs (and their humans) will be happier and healthier because of it.

We love the honesty in this recent video from Dr. Dunbar on binary feedback. We find that there is too much black and white in the training world, instead of realizing that a common sense eclectic approach that embraces the realistic grays of life is crucial.

The force and fear-based training of old is sadly still very much present today, with the utilization of positive and motivational approaches very much in the minority.

And, it may be due to such training being given continuing voice in the media, such as we see in the strangely named, and in our opinion, horrid Dog Whisperer (Cesar Millan's) show on the National Geographic Channel.

Dr. Ian Dunbar: Binary Feedback

Please be sure to learn more below about positive and negative philosophies).

Dr. Ian Dunbar explains that the best feedback for training is binary. It's most important that we praise and reward the dog when they're acting appropriately, but it's also necessary that we punish dogs when they're acting inappropriately.

However, this punishment needs not be scary or painful, and it can even be instructive.

Too many trainers use only rewards OR punishments, and they dispense them in sterile, quantum doses.

The best training should feature continuous, differential, binary feedback, in the form of a trainer's voice. In other words, Science-Based Dog Training (with Feeling).



Dr. Sophia Yin (Leadership without Force)
Veterinarian, animal behaviorist & writer, Dr. Sophia Yin, has a mission: to improve our understanding of animals and their behavior so that we can care for, appreciate and enjoy our time with them better.

Ever since she was a child, Sophia wanted to be a veterinarian, and in 1993,  her dream came true. But once out in private practice, she quickly realized that more pets were euthanized due to behavior problems than medical ones. She went back to school to study animal behavior, and earned her Master's in Animal Science in 2001 from UC Davis where she studied vocal communication in dogs and worked on behavior modification in horses, giraffes, ostriches, and chickens. During this time she was also the award-winning pet columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. Upon receiving her degree focused on animal behavior, Dr. Yin served for five years as a lecturer in the UC Davis Animal Science Department. Through these and an eclectic collection of other animal behavior experiences, she came to realize the true secret to successful behavior modification.

Dr. Sophia Yin with little Lucy

Sophia learned that every pet needs a human who can lead. Not like a boss, but like a partner in a dance—someone who gives clear signals, rewards desirable behavior as it occurs, removes rewards for inappropriate behavior immediately, and sticks to the plan consistently until the new, good behavior is a habit. She found that because pets don’t understand spoken language, they rely on body language plus desired or undesired consequences in order to learn. This means that humans must be aware of their movement and actions because every move they make while interacting with the pet influences the animal’s behavior and perception of them. Be sure to check out her book, How to Behave So Your Dog Behaves) and unique Manners Minder Remote Reward Training System.

Watch Dr. Yin with her dad's new puppy, Lucy, at 7.5 weeks of age. It's her first day at Dr. Yin's house. Lucy's already learned to sit for kibble. Now she is training her to sit to be petted (getting attention), and Dr. Yin is removing rewards for jumping. Then, she does the same thing with her own dog Jonesy around. Lucy correctly reads Jonesy's signals and backs down when Jonesy makes it clear he doesn't want her in his face.

Here are more great videos from Dr. Yin:



Also, be sure to check out the animal behavior work of Dr. Patricia McConnell and Dr. Nicholas Dodman.


Understanding the Philosophy understand


Confusion with the term "Alpha Dog" and where it originates
Below, Dr. L. David Mech talks about the terms "alpha" and "beta" wolves and why they are no longer scientifically accurate. Be sure to read and download his article, Whatever Happened to the Term Alpha Woof? Dr. Yin refers to Dr. Mech and this article in her discussion of the dominance controversy.

Clicker Training
We love Clicker Training, a motivational method that works on positively reinforcing your dog for doing something right. In turn, when your dog does it wrong, s/he merely misses the opportunity to get the goodies, whether that be in the form of food, interactive play, or praise. It is the ability of a clicker to instantly mark a behavioryour clicking at the instant your dog is evidencing a desired behaviorthat makes it such a powerful tool. Check out a mom who clicker-trained a service dog for her son, and see videos of a clicker-trained pig and a car-driving dog!

9 Habits of Effective Clicker Trainers Part 1 Using Rewards


9 Habits of Effective Clicker Trainers Part 2 Timing


9 Habits of Effective Clicker Trainers Part 3 Criteria


Be sure to visit clicker training expert, Karen Pryor, taking special note of her huge library and dog training sections. Come order Peggy's book by clicking here!Clicking With Your Dog: Step-By-Step in Pictures, a book at Karen's site, is a great one for getting started. It actually will show you how to teach a dog while you're heeding nature's call. As Debi Davis says, "It's an ideal environment: small, quiet, you're the most interesting thing in the room, and of course, it comes with a built in seat."

Here is Karen Pryor's way (from "Don't Shoot the Dog!") to get your Goldens to reliably come to you when called. And, that means even if they are really enjoying themselves doing whatever it is that they are doing (probably smelling something yucky, etc.). It is a wonderful way to deal with the dog who loves to get something nasty in his mouth and then play keep-away so you can't get it from him.


Aunt Mary’s old Cairn terrier, Rowdy, got out the door, and now he won’t come in. Everyone’s trying to catch him before he gets out on the street. "Here, Rowdy, here boy…" Rowdy comes close, wagging his tail, but when the boys lunge for his collar, he zips out of reach again. Rowdy thinks this is a GREAT game. Here’s how to fix that problem with the clicker—even with a dog that’s not clicker trained at all.

Get some small, solid food you can toss, such as little cubes of cheese. Sit on the ground. Call Rowdy. When he turns his head, click and throw a piece of cheese all the way to him. Don’t try to lure or bait him with the food. Throw it; make it easy. When he’s eaten that piece of cheese, call him again, just once. If he looks or steps your way, click and throw him another bite. A greedy dog will usually approach you now. let him come two steps toward you. Click, and toss cheese. Next time, wait for four steps and click.

When Rowdy is nearly within reach be careful not to grab at him or make any sudden moves. Now when you click, toss the cheese closer to you, so he has to come in a bit to get it. As he does so, click and hold cheese out in your hand. Let him take it. Don’t GRAB!   Now lure him to your lap; click and give him the cheese in your far hand. If he dives away, let him. Shape him back to your lap again. Put your hand lightly on his back. When you click, take the hand away and give him cheese from the other hand.

Now, ruffle his fur, click, lift your hand away, give him cheese. NOW, gently take his collar, click, give him cheese, and haul him indoors where he belongs. Jackpot him there. Repeat as needed. I predict that "catch time" will shorten to zero in three more episodes.