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

Party Protocols for Big Challenging Dogs

With graduations and wedding season approaching no matter if it is family, friends or perhaps new folks coming in for a visit from out of town; when you have a party or a holiday event and a big dog that may be challenging you need a plan to reduce stress! Even friendly dogs can cause stress by jumping, or reacting at party sounds or perhaps simply just being in the way while you are attempting to entertain and feed your guests.


Filming Fido – Why a camera is a dog trainer’s best tool.

When I attended a 2 - day seminar by legendary animal trainer Bob Baily last year I was not surprised when he said that the “greatest tool an animal trainer has is film”.

What I was surprised at was the small amount of hands that went up when he asked the audience of more than 200 people “who films themselves training”? …”and not just the dog” he added “how many film yourselves while training”? Even more hands went down.

Considering that just about everyone has a phone that also shoots film or considering how inexpensive a quality camera is these days, why are more people not filming their dog training?


Belly Ball - A game for dogs and humans

Dogs and games with humans seem to be something that has existed since time and memorial. After all a dog that tracks prey could be playing the game called survival and the prize or “goal” or reward is the food.

Dogs and humans also both like games for the sheer fun of playing an activity that we find rewarding with no apparent survival contingency.

About 5 years ago as I tossed a ball towards my dog Keyshia it went under and through her belly and I said, “Hey that could be a goal?”

Belly Ball Overview and Description video - http://youtu.be/okfUai_islk


Advocacy Overdrive - Ohio Ends BSL After 25 years!

In February of 2012 after 25 years of breed discriminatory legislation in the state of Ohio, Governor John Kasich signed HB14 into law ending breed discriminatory laws aimed at banning pit bulls and other “types” of dogs deemed “dangerous”.

As with all BSL the dogs are judged based on "looks" or "type" and what amounts to gut feelings and guesses. Thus sending countless dogs to be euthanized without a proper evaluation. When dogs do seriously harm or in the rare event someone dies from dog bites those dogs are euthanized.

In it’s wake BSL leaves responsible dog people that are guardians of such types to be prejudiced against in various ways. These include refusals of insurance and housing or stiff fines and confiscations of innocent dogs. In addition many dogs are never considered for adoption and are euthanized or languish away in cells at shelters.


Advocacy Overdrive – BSL in New Zealand - The Godzone is a Canine Warzone.

Breed Discrimination is a problem dog owners and dogs themselves face all over the world. As I have detailed in a blog about Australia and the recent call for “dangerous dog laws” in Victoria and else where in Australia, the problem is not simply a US issue.

New Zealand is also practicing dog breed discriminatory laws. They have been in place for almost 10 years. Now due to recent media frenzy over dog bite incidents the attitude towards dogs of a certain type are becoming increasingly hostile.

As with all lethal or fatal dog bite incidents there is a human behavior criteria that is always present. These factors cannot be discounted or over looked. Though as in the US, some media in New Zealand are not doing their journalisitc home work.

In New Zealand, just as in other parts of the world you will find the same sensationalistic journalism accompanied by opinions and feelings about dogs by people that have little or no legitimate education about canines.


Advocacy Overdrive: A teachable moment in our midst

The corresponding video to this blog is on You Tube http://youtu.be/fFR4xBhqrKU

In January of 2012 actor Nick Santino committed suicide after he euthanized his dog Rocco amid pressure from his condo board and harassment from his neighbors.

The NY Post reported that a Veterinarian had issued a warning that Rocco was “becoming aggressive” this has now been proven to be false.

Nick had Rocco euthanized at the ASPCA not at his regular vet. In NY State any pet owner can have his pet euthanized without too many obstacles.

By all accounts from people that knew Nick and Rocco, they all said Rocco was a sound, friendly dog and Nick was a great dog owner.

This film is not documenting any aspects surrounding this tragic event that deal with Mr. Santino’s personal life or the assumptions that have been made about his state of affairs.

We sincerely extend our condolences to his family and friends.


Brandi & Nancy – A Study in Leash Reactivity July & August 2011

For those that have seen the first installment I posted on You Tube here is the second and third from July & August of 2011. If have not seen the first video of Brandi and Nancy check it out and then see how things developed in this new set of videos.


In the July session it was apparent that Brandi and Nancy had made great progress. Both of them were calm, poised and very efficient. All the qualities that usually make up well executed dog training for leash reactivity.

We did not change the environment from the first video we shot in June.
The July set up was virtually the same with the exceptions we started at a much longer distance and had the benefit of the previous session video and notes.


Drayton Michaels, CTC works on leash training with Seymour in NYC

Seymour is a dog living in foster care in NYC. I have worked with him three times since this blog and the corresponding video have been released.


Seymour is roughly 7 – 8 months old and a mix of we are not sure what. He has had a rough past; which I will not get into for the sake of time. Suffice it to say he has suffered some traumas in his young life from children abusing him.

He is now is a good environment and lives with two adults. They are dedicated and are working closely with me on his training and his behavior modification.

Seymour learns fast and is very keen with sits, stays and waits, following lures, speedy orientations to prompts and he has a great mouth, meaning no known bites and no known aggressions towards humans. He may grab a shirtsleeve or a hanging purse however!


Reducing Leash Reactivity - Video Featuring Drayton Michaels, CTC & Lucy the APBT

Watch as Drayton Michaels, (CTC) behavior technician and dog trainer explains and demonstrates how to reduce leash reactivity. Along the way scent motivation, scent stimulation and reducing puling are addressed. 

Lucy a 1 ½ year old female American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) was reported to have reactivity to running screaming kids, skateboards and sudden environmental contrast. 

There was considerable behavior information taken prior to this first session, and Lucy and Drayton worked in the Urban Dawgs facility for roughly one hour prior to the leash walk. However there were no definitive determinations made about distances of stimulus during reactive episodes. 

This was the first session with Lucy and what you see is what happened in real time. There were no set ups. 

We hope this video will help you when working with reactive dogs. 


Study in Leash Reactivity – Video 1 Brandi

Here is the link to the video for this blog http://youtu.be/a4kHsaUSylQ

Many dogs suffer from leash reactivity. Just many have various reasons for their reactive behavior. Additionally many dogs are a mix of fearful and frustrated and or have never been counter conditioned.

Due to their history reacting on leash and perhaps some type of sloppy application of compulsion "training" and or food rewards the humans have failed, and the reactivity has been the only real reinforcement for the dog’s feelings about stimulus in the environment.

This is the first video of many to start addressing leash reactivity. By understanding what it is we are looking for as training criteria we can have a better idea of what to train and when. 

Brandi has made great progress since this filming in July 2011. We have 4 more to edit and plan on filming a recent update.



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