Dr. Ian Dunbar


Dr. Ian Dunbar is a veterinarian, animal behaviorist, and writer. He received his veterinary degree and a Special Honors degree in Physiology & Biochemistry from the Royal Veterinary College (London University) and a doctorate in animal behavior from the Psychology Department at the University of California in Berkeley, where he spent ten years researching olfactory communication, the development of hierarchical social behavior, and aggression in domestic dogs.

Dr. Dunbar is a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, the International Society for Applied Ethology, the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, the California Veterinary Medical Association, the Sierra Veterinary Medical Association, and the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (which he founded).

Dr. Dunbar joined the Society for Veterinary Ethology (now the International Society for Applied Ethology) over 35 years ago, at which time he was the only member specializing in dog and cat behavior problems. Later he was involved in the establishment of the American SVE (now the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior).

He has written 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, he 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 of 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 always 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. His books and DVDs can be found at: James and Kenneth

Before SIRIUS® Puppy Training Classes there were simply no puppy classes-Dr. Dunbar developed them in 1981.

Certainly, the SIRIUS® Puppy Training video had a dramatic influence on the pet dog fancy, completely changing the way dogs are trained in a number of countries around the world. Dr. Dunbar’s unique lure/reward, off-leash training techniques provided a delightful alternative to inane and inhumane leash jerking. In a sense, SIRIUS took the jerks out of training. SIRIUS techniques have been adopted and adapted by most thinking and caring dog trainers worldwide. For more information go to: Sirius Puppy Training

Dr. Dunbar was invited to develop and write (for over seven years) the American Kennel Club's Gazette "Behavior" column, which was voted Best Dog Column for a number of years in succession by the Dog Writers' Association of America.

In 1993, Dr. Dunbar founded the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) APDT in the United States and organized the first two Annual Conferences. Dr. Dunbar's current project is the creation of the K9 GAMES®-an exciting spectator event featuring fast-moving, motivating, competitive games for dogs and owners.

He has been lecturing to veterinarians and dog clubs for over thirty years. In fact, since 1986 he has conducted over 800 days of seminar and workshop for trainers and veterinarians around the world. There are very few educated trainers who have not been strongly influenced by Dr. Dunbar's fun & games, from-the-animal's-point-of-view, dog friendly dog training.

Dr. Dunbar is peerless in his field; there is simply no other person who has his qualifications, experience, and expertise in the realm of modern psychological dog training and behavior counseling-fields which Dr. Dunbar has played a major role in developing over the past 25 years. 

Dr. Dunbar's books, CDs and DVDs are available from the DogStarDaily online digital store.
Also, many of Dr. Dunbar's multi-day seminars for dog trainers and
veterinarians are available on DVD from Tawzer Dog Videos, and
his "Give Them A Scalpet and They Will Dissect A Kiss: Dog Training
Past, Present and Future
" lecture is available from Dogwise.

Dr. Dunbar's Upcoming Seminars & Appearances

Products from Dr. Ian Dunbar

Blog posts by Dr. Ian Dunbar

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My Call To Action

I've got a plan to help keep puppies from ever become shelter dogs in the first place. But I need your help to make it happen. In this vlog I explain how The SIRIUS Puppy Initiative works. 



This January we celebrate the 30th birthday of off-leash puppy classes. Happy Birthday SIRIUS® Puppy Training! It’s hard to believe that I taught the world’s very first off-leash, puppy socialization and training classes thirty years ago at Live Oak Park in Berkeley (where SIRIUS classes are still held to this day). Basically, I started SIRIUS simply because I wanted a local puppy school for my Alaskan Malamute puppy, Omaha. After ten years researching dog developmental behavior at UC Berkeley, I was well aware of the critically important and permanent effects of early socialization and of science-based training techniques and I certainly didn’t want Omaha’s schooling to be put on hold until he was an adult. Little did I know that SIRIUS puppy classes would change the way that pet dogs are trained worldwide.


Ian Dunbar with his American Bulldog, Dune

The Force In Dog Training

What I find so fascinating about dog training is that even after 40 years in the field, I still get so thoroughly excited about new innovations. Animal training continues to be a rapidly evolving field. Off-leash puppy socialization and training classes caused a paradigm shift in obedience training — creating a new and separate field of pet dog training. Lure/reward techniques introduced science-based principles and the subsequent rapid rise in popularity of clicker training prompted many trainers to embrace the study of learning theory. And now, I think we are approaching an additional tipping point and are about to take yet another quantum leap that redefines dog training.




Yesterday was a 7-poop walk. Just two from Claude and five from other dogs with owners, who either didn’t notice what their dog was doing, or didn’t have a poop bag at hand. I always carry at least two bags with me because Claude is a serial pooper. For example, this morning he pooped three-times on the walk. Nonetheless, I always try to get all the poops in one bag. I know this is more information than most of you need to know but this is interesting … I think I have unintentionally trained Claude to be a Poop Detection Dog — a PDDX in fact.

Lately, I have been taking a bunch of classical conditioning treats on walks because both Hugo and Claude have been jumped on and bitten recently. Claude simply ignores most attacks (as he ignores lots in life), but he is getting old and I would not want the onset of geriatric grumpies to change his stellar doggy demeanor. And so, whenever we see other dogs (and people), I offer him a food reward.


Give A Puppy A First Chance: Take Two

Raising a puppy to be a good-natured, well-behaved and mannerly companion dog comprises: 1. Manners Training; 2. Behavior Training; and 3. Temperament Training.

First: It’s possible to teach a dog manners, obedience, tricks and games at any time in his life. However, it’s just so easy and bordering on the hilarious to teach four- to five-week old puppies to come, sit, lie down and roll over and so, why not? I loved Brad Phifer’s videos of him beginning to lure/reward train his litter of 3-week old basenji puppies



Give A Puppy A First Chance

There is lots of talk these days about giving second chances, and there is certainly nothing wrong with that in most cases. However, why not do our best to give every puppy and every dog owner a first chance? We have the ability to go a long way towards resolving the shelter problem and to change the quality of life for dogs and their owners by letting all prospective puppy buyers know that they should only consider buying housetrained, chewtoy-trained, socialized and mannerly pups and then continue to raise them according to Open Paw’s Minimum Mental Health Guidelines. Please email the URL to this page to every dog owner, prospective dog owner or dog professional that you know.

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A Taste of Ian's World

Here's a clip from my newest DVD, the concept is by my dear Japanese friend Kaoru Cooke and her husband Jeff Cooke and produced by Dancing Dog Productions. I really love the format of this project and it was a ton of fun to film it in Tokyo. I hope you enjoy! If you'd like to see the whole thing, the entire DVD can be found here. Cheers!

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Binary Feedback Puts the "B" in Balanced Dog Training

Here's a brief clip on punishment in training. The more information you provide in training, the clearer the message and the tighter the behavior becomes. (Think of playing the "hot and cold game" versus just playing the "hot OR cold game".) There is nothing in the little book of learning theory that says punishment has to be aversive and I believe it ought not be painful or frightening. I've come to realize that it is possible to punish a dog without any fear or pain, without even raising your voice. Maybe the problem is in the choice of words, perhaps we should call punishment a penalty

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Phasing Out Tools In Training

Whatever tools you use to train your dog, it's important that you phase them out eventually. Ultimately you want a dog that will listen to verbal commands under any circumstances, off-leash, at a distance, surrounded by distractions. It's just as easy to become dependant on a leash or a shock collar as it is to become dependant on food treats. With lure reward training you can phase out the use of food and replace it with life-rewards, the fun and play that are probably you got a dog in the first place!

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Lure & Reward Training Done Right

Forty years into my career and I still believe lure/reward training is the way to go. Here I explain why.



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