Approximately 15 years ago I met Dr. Ian Dunbar and my life with dogs has an entirely new, dog-friendlier route ever since. Dr. Dunbar is a veterinarian, animal behaviorist, and author of numerous books including, How To Teach A New Dog Old Tricks, the Good Little Dog Book and a series of Behavior Booklets—separate educational booklets on each of the most common pet behavior problems. Additionally, Ian has hosted eleven videotapes on puppy/dog behavior and training, including SIRIUS® Puppy Training, Training Dogs With Dunbar and Every Picture Tells A Story. All his videos have won a variety of awards. The famous SIRIUS Puppy Training video (the first dog training video ever produced) remains the all-time best selling dog video. For three years running the SIRIUS® video has been voted the #1 BEST DOG TRAINING VIDEO by the Association of Pet Dog trainers-the largest and most influential association of dog trainers in the world. Speaking of the APDT, it was founded in 1993 by Dr. Dunbar. In 1996, Dr. Dunbar was inducted into the Dog Fancy Hall of Fame along with four of his heroes-James Herriot, Konrad Lorenz, Lassie, and Balto. I think it is fair to say that he has also made it into the Hall of Fame of the hearts and minds of most dog trainers, veterinarians and basically anyone who cares about teaching our canine companions with compassion, common sense and a decidedly dog-friendly approach.
Some months ago I was able to make it to one of his seminars in New York. For anyone who has not yet heard him in action, let me say two things: Do so ASAP and Get ready to be entertained while you learn loads about how to improve your relationship with your dog and to increase the ease and effectiveness of training. If you can’t make it to hear him in person, then do yourself and your dog a favor and get your hands on one or more of his books or visit his website www.DogStarDaily.com
In 1997, Dr. Dunbar visited New York City and was surprised to find that there were no puppy training classes being offered in place that was so dog-oriented. So, he encouraged me to offer these classes as well as puppy play groups and then headed back in 1998 to help spread the world about early, preventative education for dogs. Approximately 70 veterinarians and veterinary technicians attended the event held at the Waldorf-Astoria and once again, with the help of the Good Doggie Doctor, ever more puppies were about to get the opportunity to start their life off on the right paw. The event was covered by the New York Times and you can check it out by going to
At the time, puppy training classes and puppy play groups were relatively unknown. Until recently, so was the concept of making training fun. On Sunday Dr. Dunbar talked about how playing games with our dogs is a sure-fire way to instill behaviors that result in great dog manners when applied to real life. Being that these games are fun for the dog and all other members of the family, they best ensure that consistent teaching is more likely to happen and that the process will be as easy, efficient, effective, enjoyable, and efficacious (solving potential problems without creating others) as possible.
Dr. Dunbar organizes the K9 Games, a competition that has been held in San Francisco, Long Beach, Maryland, Toronto, England and Japan. Events include doggy-dashes, musical chairs, retrieval races, woof relays, and doggie dancing. Variations of these activities can be found at local dog-friendly training schools in their Tricks Classes or can be organized in your local dog run or your very own home by inviting neighborhood dogs and their families over to play. Regardless of where you play these types of games with your dog, or how many people participate, they are a superb opportunity to show off how much fun people can have with their dogs and how well-behaved dogs become that way while having a tail wagging good time. So, get out there and play some games with your dog that will help improve manners and socialization and to give your dog an opportunity to be an ambassador for dog-friendly dog training.