By Lisa Spector, Canine Music Expert, Juilliard Graduate, and co-creator of Through a Dog’s Ear.
The Association of Pet Dog Trainer’s (APDT) has declared January National Train your Dog Month. The purpose is to bring awareness to the importance of socialization and training, and most of all, to inform the public that training your dog can be easy and fun! Their goal is to promote the use of training methods that are kind, gentle and have an emphasis on building a relationship with your dog. So many dogs and puppies are adopted or purchased from breeders and brought home during the winter holidays. And, with many new year’s resolutions, it is the perfect time to devote a month to the topic of dog training.
As a huge supporter of science-based, positive reinforcement dog training, I am dedicating my January blogs to interviews with a variety of respected behaviorists, trainers, and veterinarians who are in alignment with these training methods. And what better place to start than an interview with veterinary behaviorist Dr. Ian Dunbar, MRCVS, BVetMed, PhD. Dr. Dunbar has written numerous books and hosted dozens of videos about puppy/dog behavior and training.
In 1982, Dr. Dunbar designed and taught the world’s very first off-leash puppy socialization and training classes — SIRIUSŪ Puppy Training. In a delightful phone conversation with Ian, I asked him what inspired him to start the first off-leash puppy class, here is what he told me…
“I had just brought an 8 week puppy home and was looking throughout the San Francisco Bay Area for puppy classes for him. But, there were absolutely no classes that accepted puppies younger than six months. My work as a behaviorist told me that proper socialization would be so much more helpful to a younger puppy, so I just started the classes myself. I absolutely love educating people and I equally love training dogs, so it was the perfect match.” You can view the SIRIUS Puppy Training class in session below. I love watching how much fun these puppies are having learning how to sit, lie down, play appropriately, etc.