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

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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Dog Training Tools: Don't use food as a bribe! Don't let your tools become a crutch!

A hot topic for sure! An incredibily important one too. No topic is more misunderstood than the use of food in dog training. By all means we should use training tools but there is indeed a lot of urgency to phase them out. Here I discuss the appropriate use, and misuse, of food in training.

This is just an hors d'oeurve of what's on the menu of my latest seminar series, check out my 2010/2011 appearance schedule if you'd like to take a bigger bite!


Science-Based Dog Training (with Feeling): How Dog Training Transcends Learning Theory

I have spent the past few years puzzling over why dog training is no longer working that well. Today there is much more management and less reliability than 10-plus years ago. Far too many dogs develop behavior, temperament and training problems and so are surrendered to shelters in a day and age where we have more knowledge than ever.

There is so much that we used to do in the 80s and 90s that we are no longer doing. Consequently, nowadays, far more dogs are fearful of people, reactive to other dogs and unreliable off-leash. Puppy classes are seldom taught off-leash and so, adolescent classes are seldom off-leash and so, as soon as dogs reach adolescence, socialization grinds to a halt and aggression problems appear. We must go back to training off–leash to ensure that socialization continues and that owners are taught off-leash verbal control independent of training aids.

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Beyond Quantum

Learning theory is incredibly valuable to dog training, but since it was largely developed in a laboratory, there are limits to it’s applicability. We can learn a lot from experiments in which computers trained animals using quantum binary feedback, but that’s not how we, as humans, should train.  We couldn’t if we tried, and by embracing our human nature we can be much more effective trainers.  As people we can make instantaneous qualitative judgments and provide non-aversive, instructive, continuous, differential binary feedback that transcends anything a computer can do in a


My Contribution to Cesar Millan's New Book

Cesar Millan’s new book — Cesar’s Rules — features a number of trainers describing a variety of reward-based dog training techniques. The book is both comprehensive and representative with chapters on history of training and learning theory (Bob Bailey), training dogs for TV and film (Mark Harden), off-leash lure/reward training (myself), gentle physical prompting (Martin Deeley), and cancer detection dogs at The Pine Street Clinic. Cesar Millan’s name and fame now showcase reward-based training techniques of other trainers to the dog-owning public. It’s kind of like a vestigial book version of Dog Star Daily’s America’s Dog Trainer.


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The Onset of Adolescence and Aggression

A little ditty about how to deal with the changes that occur in doggy adolescence ("what happened to my sweet, obedient puppy?") and how to prevent these minor bumps in the road from becoming major roadblocks to living with, and enjoying, a solid, social, adult dog.

This is just an hors d'oeurve of what's on the menu of my latest seminar series, check out my 2010/2011 appearance schedule if you'd like to take a bigger bite!



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