Doctor Who?

One of the thrills for me in conducting seminars is that I get to meet new people. Meeting “seasoned” trainers which have a few years on them, much like me is a real treat as we can discuss the “old days.” But even more enjoyable for me is to meet the new trainer; the future of our business.

At a seminar recently, I was approached by a young, female trainer. We began a conversation that flowed over into dinner. Later, several of the attendees and I went out for margaritas. During the conversation this young trainer asked who some of the influences on my training style were or who were the people that had influenced my career. I responded with a few names some may know, but most people wouldn’t know. Then I said that by far the person which has influenced me the most is Dr. Dunbar. Now, from the conversation thus far, I had deduced that this young trainer was well educated, used very positive training methods and spoke about lure/reward training, off-leash puppy classes, and many other topics in which Ian is known for creating or promoting, so her response to the answer I gave to her questions really floored me. She said, “Dr. Dunbar? I don’t think I’ve ever heard of him.” Now those of you who know me, know that not much shocks me, but I had no clue that there were any trainers, much less a positive trainer that did not know of Ian Dunbar.

Now, from this story, I have come to several conclusions; first of all Dr. Dunbar has done an excellent job of permeating the dog training culture over the years to the extent that his teachings have now transcended him and are widely accepted, secondly, an empathetic and thinking trainer can come up with good training philosophies in spite of the influence of the media, and without being guided down the “lighted path;” and most importantly, we as seasoned trainers need to ensure the future of our business does not forget from whence it came. This task has become difficult and will become increasingly so now that Ian is not doing the intense seminar schedule he maintained for years. This makes his every appearance that much more valuable. We need to make it our mission to get as many young trainers and veterinarians as possible (owners too) to hear him and his messages at every available chance the good Doctor gives us.

I know Ian is speaking at the APDT conference in Kentucky this year; and he has agreed to a wonderful weekend in Atlanta in December of this year with his lovely wife, Kelly. This seminar is being billed as a Weekend with the Dunbars and will feature both of the Dunbars speaking on a variety of topics. A Weekend with the Dunbars will be held at the famous Atlanta Zoo. Kelly will speak on the Open Paw program and Ian, well, if you’ve ever heard Ian speak, you won’t care what he talks about. If I saw Ian was speaking on the mating habits of the banned sea snake I would buy a ticket.

For more information on the APDT conference, visit their web site at And to find out more on A Weekend with the Dunbars, click here.