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


Mulitple Dogs? Rember Each Member Of Your "Pack" Is An Individual

We live with three dogs, Claude, Dune, and Hugo, and two cats, Uggs and Mayhem. Most activities are fairly routine and deviate very little from day to day. For example, each mealtime is a well-rehearsed three-dog, two-cat, three-human performance.

Similarly, the dogs' morning walks usually follow a prescribed schedule — but with one big difference. The dogs are sometimes walked together, but my wife Kelly tries her best to also walk each of the three dogs individually at least once a day. After all, each dog walks differently. The dogs walk at different speeds, for different distances, and have very different interests and abilities while walking.

American Bulldog Dune yearns for really long power walks with occasional short breaks for heavy-duty peeing. For Dune, the purpose of the walk is physical exercise — to move and to move quickly – and to leave reminders for those who come after that he was there first.


Debating Terms vs. Training Dogs

“Words can only hurt you if you try to read them.” (Derek Zoolander) Or, of course, if arguing about words detracts from training dogs.

Having researched the development of domestic dog social systems for ten years, I know two things for certain: 1. Dog social structure is pretty darn complicated and 2. Most notions, discussions, and disagreements about the terms: alpha, dominance, hierarchy, rank and aggression are all largely irrelevant when it comes to training dogs. Moreover, moot debate, banter and badinage only delays us from training dogs.

Tucker Running.jpg

The Holy Grail Of Dog Training

Two-thirds of the Dog Star Daily team is in the Sierra Mountains. Yesterday, the weather was absolutely atrocious. Cold, windy, and wet. After trying to keep up with my son Jamie all day, everything below my neck ached — but nothing that a long soak in the hot tub and a blazing fire wouldn’t improve.

Still "ouching" on the couch (in just moderate pain), I decided I would check email… a whole bunch of messages, including four from our editor, one of which instructed me to write a blog post. I just felt too tired to write and anyway, why would Dog Star Daily readers be interested in a blog about weather conditions and skiing? I stayed prone on the couch.


Good Behavior is Free, Yet Hugely Unappreciated

Perhaps our biggest human foible is that we take the good for granted and moan and groan at the bad. This is most certainly true in dog training. We ignore dogs when they are quiet, only to shout back whenever they bark. We ignore friendly, or non-eventful, greetings, only to reprimand our dogs for growling. We customarily ignore dogs when they walk calmly on leash, only to become frustrated when they pull.

However, when we representatively time-sample behavior, we find that most dogs behave wonderfully most of the time and only very infrequently behave inappropriately or unacceptably. We let the good go by and instead, focus on, and highlight, the bad.

One of the easiest ways to change a dog’s personality (and hence behavior) is to reward the dog for good behavior on a regular basis – to make a point of catching the dog in the act of doing something right, and conveying our heartfelt approval.


Are We To Smile Only On Cue?

The best things in life are free.


The Phoenix And The Turkey

I was grateful to Phoenix because she returned the turkey. Of course, this event wasn’t quite as embarrassing as the time she stole a barbequed chicken from the top of the barbeque of a huge family picnic in Codornices Park on her Fourth of July birthday. But this story is about turkey.

Many years ago I had prepared a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for a bunch of friends. I cooked and set the table and it looked just so wonderful. A quick step into the kitchen to get the carving knife and fork and when I returned to the dining room, the turkey was GONE! My grandmother’s beautiful antique meat platter was still in the center of the table. But empty! So, the dinner party began searching for the missing turkey. After several minutes, there was a shout from the bottom of the garden. The turkey had been found!


A Perry Mason Moment

Quietly enjoying the blogs and comments on DogStarDaily.com, DogTime.com and YouTube, all of a sudden, I burst out laughing. Occasionally, one reads a comment that is perfect… succinct, sweet and precisely to the point. “ Confused’s” post was such a comment — a nail-you-to-the-wall comment — a Perry Mason moment.

On many occasions, I have been quoted as saying, that we can never really know for certain what dogs are thinking, or why they do what they do.


Diversity Dilemma in Dogs

In 1990, I wrote an article entitled, Eugenics or Dysgenics, for my Behavior column in the American Kennel Club’s Gazette. Since then, the problem of inbreeding and the resultant health problems and decreased life-expectancy of pure-bred dogs have worsened considerably, largely due to the over-breeding of a small number of males in any breed.

Last night, the BBC aired a documentary entitled Pedigree Dogs Exposed — the results of a two-year investigation into dog health. The program showed Boxers with epilepsy, Pugs with breathing difficulties, Bulldogs who were unable to mate or give birth without assistance, plus a prize-winning Cavalier King Charles Spaniel with a condition that occurs when the dog’s skull is too small for the brain.


Why Did He Do It?

“Last Thursday, my sister came to visit. No, it was Wednesday actually. I remember clearly because I had to pick up Jake from soccer practice and drive him to cooking classes. The traffic was horrendous. Actually, it was Thursday. Yoga. Jake was at his Dad’s. Anyway, my sister doesn’t like dogs and so we put her in the non-dog guest room.  She says she’s allergic to dogs, but I don’t believe her. I mean for goodness sakes, she lives with six cats. But anyway… we put the dogs away while we had dinner and after clearing the dishes, we went upstairs and saw that Bandit had forced his way into her room… that door never closes properly… and he had ruffled the bedspread and urinated on the sheets. They were a wedding present. Egyptian cotton with a beautiful rose pattern. Do you think he sensed that she didn’t like him? Or did he smell her cats? You know, he always does get very tense whenever he sees suitcases. Or was he just being vindictive?


Sirius Introduces Me to the Dog's Point of View

In 1971, I moved to the US to research dog sexual behavior at UC Berkeley. This might sound like a strange choice (the research topic not the place) but at the time, I was a veterinarian with an intense interest in both animal behavior and obstetrics and my two favorite domestic species were cows and dogs. A coin toss came down in favor of dogs and so, dog sexual behavior was a logical research choice. Berkeley was not necessary a hotbed of canine sexual activity but rather, the site for the longest running study on dog behavior.



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