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Words from Ian Dunbar: king of positive dog training
Ian Dunbar

Ian Dunbar: King of positive dog training

Ian Dunbar is arguably the biggest name in positive reinforcement dog training. I just read this article of his and I’m sharing it with you. It’s a bit heavy with dog training terminology, but I found it very inspiring. Two points stood out to me:

  1. Training your dog with with treats as a reward is useful in the beginning, but it shouldn’t be used as a permanent fixture in your training. During adolescence dogs are less likely to respond to food so it’s best to switch over to real life rewards such as playing tug or fetch. My dog certainly prefers playing to food any day.
  2. New directions in dog training involve using a dog’s problem behaviours as a reward. Interesting eh? So if your dog performs really well during training you can use ‘Running Away on Cue’ as a reward. Dogs love to be chased so if you engineer this into a reward it can be very effective. I like it. As long as your dog doesn’t run too far!

2 Responses to Words from Ian Dunbar: king of positive dog training

  1. The Sarks says:

    After reading this article I wanted to share a tragic story that came through our French Bulldog Network and we do strongly believe that this is a message worth spreading and petition for. If you read the story, it will give you a background/history of what has transpired and led to the campaign “Justice for Bailey” (further details can be found on:

    We cannot imagine what Bailey and Family are going through. Being in the same position as they were, trying to find an appropriate dog training class, we came across quite a few “training methods” that we strongly object to and couldn’t believe that they are still offering classes. Our main aim was to find a school where positive and not punitive behaviour training is a key to achieving and developing lifelong obedience and a strong relationship/bond between dog and owner. Learning a language in which both can communicate and understand each other. Thankfully, we found a programme that provides a platform where we always felt safe and re-assured that we as dog parents are doing right by our Frenchie. However, a lot of other people do think it too, however with sometimes tragic results as in Bailey’s story:

    For The Love Of Bailey
    16 weeks old !!

    Gee it was hard enough coming into this world, but I did it along with my brothers and sisters on 8th October 2014.
    I’m 2 weeks old now and I am being held by humans that I know love me cause they keep coming back to kiss and cuddle me and watch me grow. These are my new mummy and daddy. I can see them now. Time to leave my canine home and go on my new adventure with Christie and Brendan, that I know cause they have visited me all the time. Not too bad, cause I know their touch, smell, they love me, i love them. I am happy to be with them, secure and safe, lots of toys, cuddles and love. I am healthy !! I love walking and meeting people and my canine buddies. I am their first fur baby and we are growing together.

    They want the best for me and I heard them talking about puppy kindergarten. I don’t need to go there, I am great the way I am! But mum and dad decided this would be best for me. Christie my mum, did lots of research and decided on a puppy school named “COMMAND.” Being local at Albert Park we could walk there. How great is this. We enrolled and on January 31st I attended my first class. Look at all these puppies…Dalmations, Whippet, Terrier and a Frenchie, lots and lots of friends that I am playing with. Mummy and Daddy happy too.

    My uniform as recommended by [Basil] owner and director[of the school] was a harness. A lady I don’t know “Michelle” placed and adjusted this to fit my tiny body. I’m excited!! We commenced class and 45 minutes later we finished. I played, had fun and was very tired and decided to sleep under a tree.

    Wait!!! I am being woken up by this lady “Michelle” The experienced trainer. And she states ” I am going to demonstrate a restraint hold, which is very important for future reference. This hold must be practised three to four times a week to make us subordinate to humans ”
    I don’t like this. Neither does mummy or daddy. I struggle, I jump, I look for my human family. But I am too late. I cannot move, the trainer has hold of me, Im in between her legs on the ground. I frantically try to get away. I want my mum and dad !! What is this hand doing over my mouth and nostrils. I can’t breathe. I struggle and struggle. Let me go !! I will force her hands away with my legs. First my back then my front legs. I cant breathe ! I heard the instructor Michelle state. ” Now that he is struggling – I will tighten my grip ”

    I screech for my mum and dad. I love them, they love me. Help me please, but this lady is too strong, and she knows best – she’s a qualified instructor.
    My lungs hurt, I can’t move. I am going to sleep now, because I can taste blood in my mouth. I am vomitting blood, peacefully now, I have left this earth and gone to Rainbow Bridge. Where one day, I will meet my mummy and daddy again.

    I want all animal lovers to know so my death is not in vein, what you read about a recommended training school is NOT always what you get. And no other dog buddy should be subjected to this.
    The qualified instructor, Michelle is upset. Why didn’t she let me go ?? I am upset, how do you think Christie and Brendan, my mummy and Daddy feel ??
    COMMAND dog training, Basil, don’t want to know anymore.
    As another instructor stated ” Don’t worry – Basil has insurance ”


    (written by Gwenda on behalf of Bailey, Christie and Brendan)

    Please support the petition:“To adopt a legislation qualifying a person that makes claim to being a “QUALIFIED” Dog Instructor and or business as such with Government credentials to support this statement. A guideline to positive reinforcement as apposed to harsh and barbaric tactics”

  2. zoe says:

    That is a devastating story. And it should definitely be shared. There are so many ‘qualified dog trainers’ out there who are doing incredible damage to dogs. It is really scary how casually the term can be used.

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