Getting Sirius about dog training

Last weekend I had the privilege of attending a seminar in Portland, OR, about treating dog aggression, fearfulness, and anxiety given by Dr. Ian Dunbar.

Dr. Ian Dunbar and myself
Dr. Ian Dunbar and myself

For those that don’t know Dr. Dunbar, he is one of the world’s foremost authorities on positive training. For the past 40 years, his trailblazing work has changed the way the world trains its dogs.
I am not going to try to break down three-days worth of lecturing into a quick blog post, but I do want to touch on one of his biggest areas of focus: puppy training.
Dunbar founded the Sirius Puppy Training method and taught some of the first off-leash classes. I bring this up because puppies are wonderful, and fun and so absolutely cute. And, so incredibly easy to screw up. In fact, I think we do screw them up royally, all the time. We mean well and try hard, but so few dogs are being properly train, socialized, and raised that we(trainers) are seeing a huge increase in social problems in dogs. This becomes even more problematic as people take dogs into more places, and more cities try to make themselves dog friendly. Dogs are raised incorrectly in the first few months, then have issues that need to be dealt with for the next dozen or so years.
A point that Dr. Dunbar made that really hit home for me, is that if a dog has an issue, say fear or anxiety, at 8 weeks, it will take a few repetitions of positive training to change that behavior. At 8 months, it may take weeks of training to fix the problem. At 3 years old, it will take months if not years to make a problem manageable- and it will probably never actually be fixed.
For more information, check out his website, Dog Star Daily.
Funny aside: prior to getting my picture taken with Dr. Dunbar, he had several young female trainers getting theirs taken with him. They all cozied up and he was of course all smiles as these young ladies gathered around him. When I stepped up, I tried to be funny, and said, “You don’t have to hug me in this picture.”
He grabbed me around the shoulders and said, “Why not, I am a confident man.”
Hence, a picture of two confident men looking maybe a tad uncomfortable.

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