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

An Interview with Dr. Karen Overall

In August of 2010, I interviewed Dr. Karen Overall.  During the 2–hour conversation we touched on many subjects.

Her list of credentials is as follows:

Karen L. Overall, MA, VMD, PhD, Diplomate ACVB, ABS Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist
Center for Neurobiology and Behavior, Psychiatry Department, University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine

PART ONE: Interview with Dr. Karen Overall
Part One deals largely with Pit Bulls, working dogs and why fear and pain-based methods are not a legitimate approach to train dogs. 


Advocacy Overdrive - Australia's dogs are under siege - Please send help!

When I first saw the advertisement in a Victoria Australia newspaper that Pit Bulls would be “seized and put down if not registered by September 30th” I admit I was waiting for a clever joke or perhaps it was one of those scary ads for dog owners to wake up. It was real a wake up call, it was not a joke and it is a real advert in an actual newspaper. This is not a joke or an exaggeration. By September 30th 2011 Victoria Australia is planning on seizing and killing dogs, "pit bulls" that are not registered. Be they “pit bulls” or not.


Sharks & Shock - The story of a frog in hot water

In 2010 Premier Pet Products merged with Radio Systems Corporation. The main concern for many people in the humane non-pain dog training community was that RSC is the main supplier of shock collars in the US and that Premier would in some way now sell and endorse shock collars.

Janet Velenovsky was the head of Premier’s training and behavior division for 7 years. She resigned from Premier in September of 2011.

This interview was conducted via email and was not edited or embellished in any way by me. What you read is what was asked and answered.


Another Potentially Dangerous Dog Trainer

When dog owners are considering hiring a dog trainer they have no shortage of options. The internet is flooded with all manner of businesses, products and individuals touting results and guarantee’s. Many tout credentials and associations with organizations to assure the dog owner they are spending their hard earned dollars well and getting the best service.

What many of the dog trainers do not tout is the how they will train the dog, how they will educate the dog owner and what exactly are the methods they use and if there are risks associated with those approaches.

Many trainers will promote various collars, both choke and electronic and many talk about “dominance” and “leading the pack” and of course the ever popular “life time guarantee” is seen all too often.


Loopholes in the System : Why the profession of pet dog training needs an overhaul

As I walk into the park by my house I see a man kicking a dog that is down on the ground. He is methodically kicking the dog and saying “AAHAT” each time.

I rush over and say, “Please stop”! The man hurls an epithet or two and mutters that he “knows what he’s doing” and then goes back to kicking the dog. I tackle the man to the ground. The dog is then taken by a two women that had been watching and wincing with each kick. They call the police.

I subdue the man and the police arrive and arrest the man. He is convicted of animal cruelty and serves a year in jail.  I am considered a “hero”.

However what if the man says “ I am a dog trainer, I wrote a book, I am a behaviorist, I have been helping dogs for 20 years”!

Then would I go to jail for assault? Would the “trainer” get away with his “methods”, and I am then considered the problem?


Sympathy for the Devil: Softening Michael Vick’s Image

Let me first state my biases right up front. I am not a football fan. I do like sports, so this blog is not about “hating on jocks”.  I’m a fan of basketball and baseball.

I voted for Barak Obama out of a pure place in me based on his assertions to work towards things and get our country headed in a better place. I voted for him because I honestly think he has what it takes to make some needed changes. As for his knowledge of dogs and the ripple effects of his forgiving Michael Vick, I doubt he has really considered all there is to consider.


Advocacy Overdrive: Addressing the Opposition - Facts Trump Feelings

Sad as it is there is still a segment of our society that has a prejudice against Pit Bulls. Despite the CDC, respected animal behaviorists and even the Department of Justice all saying that there is no need to ban dogs, some people persist in their xenophobic ways towards “pit bulls”.

To quote Bill Maher the host of Real Time with Bill Maher “It is not a debate when you have scientists debating non scientists”. He was speaking about global warming, but it could just as easily have been about dogs. This is not a debate; it is science trying to get the uneducated masses to see how unwarranted their fears about dogs are.


Advocacy Overdrive - How social networking can create change and save dogs.

With the touch of a button on a computer or a phone anyone can disseminate information or voice an opinion. This simple yet powerful act can transform the direction of politics, save cities and towns money and essentially save the lives of dogs. Now that’s pretty cool.

A few cases in point are recent victories in the area of Breed Specific Legislation in NJ (which at the state level declares breed specific laws unconstitutional) and Ohio, which if you know about BSL you know Ohio is one of the worst states.

On May 11th Garfield NJ attempted to enact a Dangerous Dog Ordinance due to recent incidents involving Pit Bull dogs. No humans were killed. A small child was bitten due to approaching a strange dog on leash. Though no one was hurt severely, the reason these incidents occurred was that the humans were not doing the right things. However the overblown hyperbolic press and the emotional outrage of the victims led the city council to “do something”.


The three D’s of dog training and why you need to know about them


 The three D’s of dog training are known as Distraction, Distance and Duration. They come into play in every context and all training exercises.

Distractions are part of life especially for dogs. Let’s face it a dog can be distracted by just about anything from the high value food reward to the wind blowing leaves. Distractions are part of dog training no matter what, so we might as well begin to work with them and take them into account.

 Always start with the lowest amount of distraction and build on it as your dog does better with the training.

For example, if you are working on down stays, get the dog rock solid in the house and the back yard before attempting the down stays at the barbecue at your neighbor’s house.

Distractions are often the reason for the dog breaking the stay, or tuning out or becoming frustrated.


Advocacy Overdrive: Why BSL & the humane treatment of dogs are linked

As both of these topics draw heated and emotional opinions, feelings and an overall sense of tension, please refrain from flaming this post with responses that are not conducive to furthering the discussion in productive manner.

 My sole intention is to help dogs and help people better understand them, especially Pit Bull dogs. Please let’s stay on topic.

If we had Breed Specific Legislation eradicated tomorrow, and all the dogs that looked a certain way were no longer banned or discriminated against, we’d still have the issues of training and understanding them in a way that will help them all lead happy, healthy, safe and productive lives. Or at least have the dogs evaluated in a way that would be just and fair. This works well for the people that are fearful of the dogs as well. When done correctly this will save time, money, dogs, lower injuries to humans and dogs and reduce anguish among many shelter and rescue workers.



Subscribe to The Dog Blog
Earn extra money by referring people to Dunbar Academy. Become an affiliate today!