Jeff Silverman

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Jeff is a Certified Dog Behavior Conultant (CDBC), and co-owner of Training Tracks Canine Learning Station with 2 full-service training centers in Southwest Ohio. He has been working with dogs for over 20 years, and training professionally since 1998. He specializes in working with fearful and aggressive dogs and assisting animal shelters in creating behavioral enrichment programs and support services for adopters. He also serves on the Board of Trustees of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. Jeff has a BA in political science, completed the coursework (if not the dissertation) for a PhD in history, and has a background in IT management consulting in addition to dog training. This background inspires and informs a special interest in the professional culture and institutions of the dog training profession. He lives in College Corner, Ohio his partner in business and in life, Melissa “Mel” Bussey. They share their home with 4 dogs - Maggie, Ubu, Professor Chaos, and Miley as well as 2 cats who are expert dog trainers in their own right - Iculus and Raja.

Blog posts by Jeff Silverman

The Blame Game: Who's at fault when dog bites Denver news anchor?

When a dog bit Denver morning news anchor Kyle Dyer in the face last week, it set the dog blogosphere and social media on fire. A high profile incident like this provides wonderful opportunities to help the general public better understand our dogs, how to be safe around them, and show them appropriate respect. The best example that I've seen of such education came from Dog Trainer Michael Baugh in a Houston TV segment that I highly recommend.  In most discussions other than Baugh's, however, I've noticed a disturbing trend. Almost every discussion (in fact almost every single comment) that I've read has focused on who to blame for this tragic incident. The dog trainers and animal welfare advocates who make up most of my Facebook feed have mostly blamed Dyer herself.

 

Dealing With "Stubborn" Dogs or What SuperNanny Can Teach Us About Dog Training

“My dog is stubborn.  I’ve tried everything and none of it worked!  I don’t think my dog can be trained.”  Most dog trainers hear some variation of that refrain from novice dog owners every day.  Needless to say, these dogs can be trained.  They’re probably not even especially challenging dogs to train.  Their owners just need to master a couple of key concepts:  consistency and perseverance.   Few human habits play such a critical role in training a well-mannered family pet.  If your dog has a bad habit that you just can’t solve, the odds are overwhelming that one of two things is going on.  Either you have failed to figure out a way to keep the behavior from being rewarding for your dog or you found the right way to fix it and gave up too easily.  I once saw a brilliant illustration of the concept on ABC’s reality show SuperNanny that I often share with my students. 

 

One Trainer's Path to Change

Drayton Michaels recently posted an impassioned condemnation of trainers who employ training methods that involve fear or pain and advocated forcing people to adopt more positive training methods.  I’ve felt that kind of frustration myself.  There are some truly horrific and abusive trainers in my area who I would love to put out of business (and worse).  I’ve seen quite a few dogs whose minds and spirits have been destroyed by a small number of self-styled local dog trainers.  I’ve looked into the eyes of owners who saw me as their last hope and told them that I didn’t know how to undo enough of the damage to make their dogs safe.  One dog traumatized by these abusive hacks injured my wife badly as we worked to undo the damage.  I watched the woman I love endure months of pain due to their cruelty, stupidity, and greed.  I understand the rage.   

 

Why I Love Cesar Milan Fans

It happens about once a month.  Some enthusiastic student keeps punctuating my opening remarks to a new class with that “tsst!” sound popularized by Cesar Milan.  The dog on the receiving end of this “correction” seldom seems to notice.  He has usually learned to tune it out completely.  I envy him.  That sound travels up my spine like nails on a chalk board.  Somehow it taps directly into my frustration over the fact that - in spite of all that we have learned in recent decades – the public face of dog training in the US relies on confrontation and pseudo-mystical ideas about projecting the right energy towards the furry Machiavellis who allegedly spend their lives like Pinky and the Brain, plotting to take over the world.  Fortunately, I am able to take a deep breath, ignore the sound, and remind myself that I LOVE it when new clients are Cesar fans.  I honestly do, and for many reasons.

 

A Tale of Two Trainers

At first, Steve’s story sounded pretty typical: a family with three small children had lost control of their dog.  Murphy constantly grabbed, chewed and swallowed toys, sippy cups, socks, and anything else that wasn’t nailed down.  He ignored basic obedience commands.  The family’s impressive efforts to manage the environment ultimately failed.  When Murphy was loose in the house, they spent most of their time chasing after him and prying things from his mouth.  Unable to control him, they reluctantly resorted to putting Murphy outside or in his crate almost all the time.  Then one day, he bit the nanny as she went to pull something out of his mouth.  He did no damage, but his place in their home was now in danger.  I get calls like this all the time, but one thing was different about this family.  They had already spent thousands of dollars on intensive dog training.      

 

APDT 2010 - The Joys of Networking

Like several other DSD bloggers, I thought that the recent 2010 APDT conference (my 10th) was one of the best ever.  We had great attendance and some wonderful speakers that I’d never seen before.  The many hands-on workshops filled up early and generated tons of enthusiasm.  My only complaint was the number of time slots that forced me to choose between 2 or 3 “must-see” presentations.  APDT raised the quality of the official program to a whole new level this year, but my favorite part of conference was the same as always:  hanging out with other trainers. 

 

The Chaos Chronicles: A Winter Puppy's Adolescence

It’s been a couple of months since I’ve provided an update on my puppy Chaos.  He coasted through January and February without offering much to write about.  Now that he has reached 6 months of age, however, adolescence has reared its ugly head just in time for me to realize that I overlooked some of the challenges of raising a winter puppy.   We had a long snowy winter here in Ohio.  I never thought of it as a disadvantage for raising Chaos because I did so much with him.  He went to classes, visited vet clinics, played with boarding dogs, and went to lots of people’s homes.  I failed to do enough of 2 very important things:  leash work and building Chaos’ frustration tolerance.

 
Bow Head

Lazy Man's Dog Training: Six Weeks of Chaos

I’m a lazy dog trainer, but I think that actually helps me in my work.  Many dog trainers have trouble identifying with seemingly unmotivated owners looking for a quick fix.  I don’t have that problem.  I was that guy.  I always loved dogs, but training used to turn me off.  I never thought that I’d take an obedience class, let alone teach them.  Then I adopted a catahoula as my first dog of my own.  The bills for replacing my roommates’ chewed up possessions started piling up.  Desperate, I reluctantly signed up for my first obedience class.  I didn’t finish.  Only months later did I get serious about applying what I learned, and only because I had to.  My dog learned to be very obedient, but I still saw training as a necessary evil; the price of being able to take my dog places. 

 

Three Weeks of Chaos - Puppy Socialization

There’s been a great deal of socialization to report on in the last 3 weeks for Chaos.  Going home to visit my large extended family over Thanksgiving weekend set the gold standard.  Chaos made 3 trips to a nursing home, where he met people in wheelchairs, people using walkers, and people who move a little oddly for a variety of other reasons.  He made especially good friends with a dog lover who had suffered a stroke.  I’d put Chaos in her arms and he’d lay his head on her shoulder bathing her face in puppy kisses.  We made a point of visiting her every day.  I've never done therapy dog work before, but I might be hooked.  The joy that lit up people's faces when they met a puppy was really wonderful to see.  I don't know how many therapy catahoulas there are, but who knows what the future holds? 

 

Update On Chaos' Resource Guarding

I’ve been crazy busy lately and not able to post too much about Chaos’ early weeks with us.  I figured that an update on the guarding deserved its own post.  I’ll get to the rest of his education in a post tonight or tomorrow. 

 

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