Drayton Michaels


Drayton Michaels has been working with dogs professionally for over a decade.  He honed his dog training chops while working as dog walker in both NYC and Seattle.  In May of 2007, Drayton received his certification in dog training and behavior consulting from the San Francisco SPCA Academy for Dog Trainers, directed by award-winning author and dog expert, Jean Donaldson.  He owns and operates Urban Dawgs and Pit Bull Guru with his wife Vyolet, also a graduate of the Academy.  Drayton frequently attends continuing education seminars and continues to study dog training and behavior independently.

Upon graduating from the Academy, Drayton started a specialty subsidiary of Urban Dawgs called Pit Bull Guru to offer modern, reward-based training and behavior consulting for Pit Bulls of all ages.  At the Urban Dawgs training facility, Drayton teaches public classes, directs the day-training program, works one-on-one with clients and dogs, and presents dog training and behavior seminars/workshops; including Pit Bull awareness seminars.  He has logged countless hours counseling dog owners, shelter staff, rescue organizations and clients to train and modify behavior issues in dogs with utilizing modern, humane methods.

Drayton has devoted the past 7 years to documenting the current state of Pit Bulls in America; interviewing world-renowned trainers and behavior specialists to debunk common myths about pit bulls and educate the public on basic care and training needs for pit bull dogs.  Drayton has interviewed some of the best and brightest of the professional dog world including interviews with Jean Donaldson, Dr. Ian Dunbar, Diane Jessup, Jane Berkey (Animal Farm Foundation), Karen Delise (The Pit Bull Placebo), Dr. Nicholas Dodman, Dr Karen Overall, and Marthina McClay of Our Pack.  Drayton also interviewed people at the Vick sentencing and others around the US.  He has documented stories about some of the many wonderful Pit Bulls that have beaten the odds to become ambassadors of the breed.

Drayton released The Pit Bull Hoax in April 2009.  The 13-min educational DVD directly addresses the BSL issue and provides legitimate and accurate information to legislators, media and communities.  Visit www.pitbullguru.com/hoax.html for more information.  You can also view The Pit Bull Hoax on You Tube.

Recent Appearances:
Appeared on MY9 NY (FOX) discussing Pit Bulls
Guest Speaker at Pinups For Pit Bulls Pit Awareness Events
Featured dog trainer in Dog Fancy Magazine - Training Secrets for Pit Bulls
Interviewed for Beyond the Myth - a film about the effects of BSL on Humans and Dogs
Read more blogs from Drayton at Trainer Tails

Drayton is the proud dog dad to Mojo, a 14-year old Labrador/American Staffordshie Terrier Mix and Keyshia, a 9-year old female American Pit Bull Terrier.  When he is not training dogs, Drayton can be found making music or in the kitchen cooking vegan delights.

www.urbandawgs.com   www.pitbullguru.com

Blog posts by Drayton Michaels

The Connection Between Dog Training and Dog Advocacy Part 2

This also appeared in the Pit Bull Advocacy magaizne No More Lies printed in the UK Spring 2014. 

Part 2

Real Life Lessons

Between 2012 and 2013 my two businesses Urban Dawgs and Pit Bull Guru worked with over 700 dogs. We work with all sorts of dogs, all breeds and types, all ages, from puppies of 8 weeks, adolescent and adults and senior dogs; we see all pathologies of behavior, you name it and we have worked with it.

The Connection Between Dog Training and Dog Advocacy

This blog is Part 1 of an article for No More Lies Bull Breed Magiazne in the UK.


Like most people I woke up one day and based on the type of dog I had chosen, I was involved, like it or not, in advocating for “pit bulls”, and moreover, dogs.

Leash Reactivity Counter Conditioning Behavior Modification Memory Learning Cognition

Leash Reactivity Cognition and Memory

There is a corresponding video for this blog on You Tube at this link


In November of 2012, I asked myself one simple question: “Why do dogs react, orient and attend to the environment in the ways they do?”

Post BSL – Creating Safe Havens

The White House released a statement in regards to Breed Specific Legislation on August 23rd 2013 that summed it up by saying it was a “bad idea”. They primarily took the stance that the CDC has taken and that is a very good and logical stance to take. 

Advocacy Overdrive - Walking The Talk

I am releasing a new series of dog advocacy videos called Walking The Talk. They are short 1 – 3 minute videos of my exchanges with people while on a dog walk. These are real life occurrences not set-ups.  

Many people advocate for dogs and as much as they do via avenues such as Twitter or Facebook nothing is more powerful than real honest exchanges with dogs and people that result in a learning experience. 


Predicting Dangerous Human Behavior

The trouble with people claiming to be able to “predict” the “dangerousness” of a dog based on their breed or “type” is this, they have not put forth any proof they themselves know anything about dog behavior and or human behavior as it relates to the potential dangerousness of dogs, so they cannot make the claim. 

Counter Conditioning Leash Reactive Dogs - Less Stress More Success

Counter conditioning and desensitizing leash reactive dogs are perhaps one of the more challenging aspects of dog training. It is never as easy or as difficult as some make it out, but is surely work and it is work that needs to be done, after all no one wants to have a dog that is lunging and barking on leash.

Here is a link for a video that that corresponds to this blog. http://youtu.be/OMLrYaoxNOs

No matter how one goes about the process there are a few crucial aspects that must be adhered to or else things will either get very bad or stay at the same stressful level. The goal is to reduce stress and help the dog learn to deal with being on leash.

1 – Mechanics and timing of the dog handler. This is the prime function that all other aspect hinges on. If the dog handler is discombobulated and disorganized the dog will have many over threshold responses and thus the rehearsal of unwanted behavior will continue.


Advocacy Overdrive – Stop Verbal Violence Against Pit Bulls

The blog has a corresponding video at this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVRDrA8zuzw

The cheapest version of violence is verbal. It can be dispensed with out any consequences many times and furthermore in many social settings verbal violence is readily accepted as a “joke” or a slight on a group or individuals that everyone can gang up on.

In the media verbal violence against Pit Bulls is rampant. It lives on in the form of talk show hosts using the term “pit bull” as a conflated way to get attention, garner “phones” at radio stations and it has been long understood that headlines which create “monsters” and fear, especially fear of an “unknown” or “other” will sell the news like nothing else. This is programmed fear mongering.


Viewing training sessions on film

These days’ people log in many hours on screens watching TV, YouTube, Video games, Phones and so forth. However how much time is spent watching videos of training dogs that we do with clients dog or even our own dogs? Viewing videos for the nostalgia or the cute moments are fine and we all need to do a fair amount of that. Viewing for the purposes of bettering the training process and accurately observing and assessing the environmental and behavioral aspects for both the humans and the dogs is crucial for improvements.

Trainers spend all sorts of time and money watching other trainer’s DVD’s and so forth and that is fine. That is a very good thing to have access to. The truth is most dog trainers spend very little time watching themselves on film and critiquing the process accurately.


Filming Fido – How to get the shots you need and want

This is the second installment for this series Filming Fido.

I am not a professional photographer or have any legitimate experience with filming or making films. In fact I know so little about it from an actual schooling or practical stand point that I should not even be allowed to write about it. Nonetheless here I go. I mean hell that never stopped a dog trainer before from speaking about things they perhaps did not know all too much about.



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