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National Train Your Dog Month

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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.

Dr. Ian Dunbar with Dune

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.

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Lisa Spector

Lisa Spector is a concert pianist, Juilliard graduate, and canine music expert. She is co-founder of Through a Dog's Ear, the first music clinically demonstrated to calm the canine nervous system. Their new high-tech pet gadget, iCalmDog, is the portable solution to canine anxiety. Lisa shares her home and her heart with her two "career change" Labrador Retrievers from Guide Dogs for the Blind, Sanchez and Gina. Follow Lisa's blog here.


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2:52PM PDT on May 9, 2011

thank you so much for this as it will help us

3:23AM PST on Feb 16, 2011


2:49PM PST on Feb 10, 2011

Cezar said a great thing...owner has to be trained.thats such a true thing...we should be trained how to handle our pets.

12:59PM PST on Feb 5, 2011

I don't have a dog, mainly because it is a lot of work and you feel tied down to visiting your home on a regular schedule. But I have always loved dogs and always have wanted to have the chance to train one. :-)

10:42AM PST on Jan 29, 2011

We have found, even with older dogs, that we get the best response with praise and treats. We avoid saying anything negative when they do wrong but simply start over and make it clear what we want. It is fun for the dog and usually only takes three or four repeats for them to get it right. They are like children however and will occasionally test the limits so it is important to always remain consistent.

8:54AM PST on Jan 23, 2011

My dog is a work in progress. He is house trained, but dosen't really respond to commands very well with other people. He will "sit", "stay", "heel", "come", :"roll over", and "lie down" for me, but with others he won't do it. He won't fetch for anybody though. Not even me!

5:42AM PST on Jan 22, 2011

my dog needs a lot of training lol

8:12PM PST on Jan 18, 2011

thanks...i like a trained animal but i also do not want to harm their personalities either....

1:33PM PST on Jan 18, 2011

I have found that I do better training my jack Russel terrier if, instead of resorting to the usual methods, just posting written instructions, I just post what I want him to do behind his food bowl, and engage the automatic page-turner.

11:25PM PST on Jan 17, 2011


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