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

  • Dr. Dunbar has always been one of the best at explaining dog training from the dog’s point of view, and in this video he highlights many of the most common mistakes humans make when trying to train their dogs.

  • Covers the last three developmental deadlines: 4. Socializing Your Puppy to People, 5. Teaching Bite Inhibition, and 6. Continuing Socialization in The World at Large.

  • Learn how to train dogs the SIRIUS® way! Learn how to run and promote your own dog-friendly dog training business.

  • In this DVD lecture, veterinarian and animal behaviorist Dr. Ian Dunbar addresses one of the most worrying behavior problems any dog owner can face — dogs that bite.

  • Children have natural advantages as trainers. Dogs like being with them, because they are playful and fun. All they have to do is learn a few simple training techniques and they’ll soon put grown ups in the shade.

  • Topics include: Following. Leash Training (preventing pulling). Leash Walking & Heeling. Preventing Jumping-up.

Blog posts by Dr. Ian Dunbar

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A Proper Puppy Class

This is one of my favorite topics of all time. I am passionate about puppy classes and have worked very hard over the years to develop the perfect formula for raising a safe, solid canine citizen and well-behaved companion dog. However, over the years the idea of what a puppy class is has drifted, and in many cases, has lost the primary objective of the benefit of training young puppies. Here's my idea of a proper puppy class.

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!

Embedded thumbnail for Puppyhood: A Golden Opportunity, Often Wasted

Puppyhood: A Golden Opportunity, Often Wasted

Dr. Ian Dunbar explains the absolutely critical nature of puppyhood. Young puppies are impressionable, adorable, and eager to learn. With a little preparation and training they can learn so much, and they can learn it so quickly that they'll be inoculated against the problematic behaviors that are so very predictable and cause adolescent dogs to end up in shelters. Owners (and shelters, breeders, anyone who finds themself caring for a young pup) need to start their puppies off right, with an effective housetraining, socialization and obedience training program that starts the very first moment

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My First Vlog Entry!

If this works, I've found my medium and will be off and running!

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!



Some forty years ago, when I started to re-popularize the use of food lures and rewards in dog training, many trainers were adamantly opposed. ”I don’t want to bribe my dog.” “I want the dog to do it for me.” “That’s sissy training.” I knew these knee-jerk statements stemmed from a lack of understanding of basic learning principles and so I wrote a number of articles, explaining how the temporary use of food as lures and rewards was very different from using food as bribes.

Not A Wolf, White German Shepherd

Let's Just Be Humans Training Dogs

Basing dog training on a misunderstanding of wolf behavior is as useful as basing human education on a misunderstanding of chimpanzee behavior.

Dogs are not wolves and dog behavior is not the same as wolf behavior. In fact, the most striking difference between dog and wolf behavior is their interaction with people.  Wolves have been naturally selected to grow up to be wary of people, whereas dogs have been artificially selected for their ease of socialization towards people. Consequently, it is hardly sound to use wolf behavior as a template for dog training.
Also, dog-dog interactions are very different from wolf-wolf interactions. Dog behavior is like watching simplified wolf behavior in slow motion. By and large, dogs are easy to read and usually give ample warning (intention signals) of their actions and reactions, whereas watching wolves requires a brain with a few more GHz and a bunch more Gigabytes.


Dog Training Is As Easy As 1-2-3-4 (And 1-2-3)

Well, the party’s over! After spending a most relaxing five weeks at home (with some mega sunny gardening days), I shall now pretty much be on the road until the 8th July, with seminars in Washington DC, Seattle, Tarrytown NY, Phoenix and England. I’ll have one week at home and then off to Japan for the opening of Hotel WOOF and then 10 days at home and then off to the South of France for a K9 GAMES Workshop. And then, two whole months at home! Whooooo Hoo! A bit of a busy schedule but I am so excited about my upcoming lectures. It feels so good to be back on the seminar circuit and with lots of ultra new information.


Humping is Normal, Yet Rude and Lewd

Recently, I received a question from a dog owner who was concerned that her neutered male was a dog park predator — hooked on humping. She was worried whether there was any harm in letting him mount, or whether she should be discouraging the behavior.


Unlike most other mammals, neutered male and to a lesser extent, neutered female dogs will continue to mount other dogs. Quite common and quite normal. In fact, neutered male dogs tend to mount more than intact males, presumably due to a lack of discriminatory experience.




Laboratory study has revealed a variety of reinforcement schedules. Puppy training has revealed that most of these are notorious ineffective, or impossible to administer in practice, with the notable exceptions of variable ratio and especially, differential reinforcement. Yet educators and trainers persist in using these relatively ineffective schedules of reinforcement when trying to teach children and employees and when attempting to train husbands and dogs. Wake up! Puppy training has taught us that most of this stuff doesn’t work too well.

Continuous Reinforcement (CR) — the dog is rewarded after every correct response, for example, the dog is rewarded after every sit



These days, many trainers eat and breathe learning-theory. The Little Book Of Learning Theory (LBOLT) is creedally accepted by one and all, even though little of it works in practice. Please don’t stone me. I am not being heretical. Learning theory is a real and valid description of how computers train animals but the LBOLT offers little for when people teach people or train animals. People are not computers and have neither the consistency, computing power or timing. LBOLT has many constraints in practice. To make matters worse, the really useful principles that LBOLT has to offer are ignored by many trainers, for example, that consequences are binary — from the dog’s point of view either things get better, or worse. Instead, trainers will debate for hours, which quadrant they are in, even though it’s all really a moot debate.



Off-leash puppy socialization and training classes caused an unplanned paradigm shift in dog training. The off-leash format was ideal for socialization with people and puppies and produced confident, friendly, good-natured and well-behaved dogs. Also the off-leash format was ideal for teaching off-leash verbal control at a distance in an extremely distracted setting without the continued need for training aids. The field of science-based, pet dog training exploded and other fields of dog training (obedience, protection, search and rescue, bomb/drug search and hearing-ear dogs) followed suit, because pet dog trainers were training puppies to off-leash control within a tenth of the time that it took on-leash trainers. Basically, teaching a dog what to do is quicker than teaching a dog what not to do, because … there is only one right way compared to the infinite number of wrong ways.



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