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

Leash Walking Q&A:

Leash Walking Q&A:

Walking in partnership with your dog. This is an excellent way to describe the paradigm of leash walking. Many times it is a question of doing the appropriate dance steps in concert with the dog. IE: Are you walking fast enough, are you not stopping for intense pulling, are you “working the dog” so the dog is attentive? Are you getting tangled up? As in many dog training context the dog walk is full of distractions, hence why it is many times a challenge. A partnership is intrinsically a more cooperative way to view leash walking as opposed to the militaristic view of old school leash walking.


Advocacy Overdrive - Help get the truth out about a dog attack

On Feb 4th 2010 in Hoboken NJ there was a dog incident that left three people injured and two dogs dead. Of course the press and the police have not released ANY information as to why the dogs acted so aggressively. The evening news flashed its obligatory “pit bull mauls” graphic and slanted the story to make it sound like the dogs were the ones at fault. http://hudsonreporter.com/view/full_story/5800790/article--Police-update-Hoboken-pit-bull-attack-?instance=up_to_the_minute_hoboken

There are at least two accounts that the dog named Giant was subjected to an owner that was abusive and neglectful.

I am asking people to please contact the press and the authorities in NJ and request that the owner be investigated and the truth be told about the owner’s abusive history towards Giant.


Dogs & Wii Games

One night as we were enjoying a game of Wii tennis and bowling, our dog Keyshia started barking. The dogs in our house are separated by a gate, so she was at the baby gate barking. I thought, “Well she is safe, and nothing bad will happen, so let her bark it out”. She continued for another 5 min, then as soon as she stopped for a good 5 seconds or so we heaped some praise on her and gave her a work to eat toy. Once that was dissected she was back to barking. We ignored her during both accounts. Again as last time as soon as she was quiet for 5 seconds, we refilled her Planet Dog Orbie and she went about her way working for the goodies.

We decided to play Wii golf and put up the visual barrier and all the barking stopped. Many times a simple antecedent intervention as Jean Donaldson calls it, will do the trick.

Here are some things to consider for dogs that may react to hectic video games.


Advocacy Overdrive – Some Great Advocates from 2009! (Y2K9)

As we embark on a new year I’d like to mention a few groups and organizations that have really made an impact on advocacy in 2009.


Divisions Among The Choir: Why Pit Bull Advocacy Is In Flux

On December 1st 2007 I attended the American Bar Assoc. Animal Law Committee Regional Conference. The conference attempted to discuss dangerous dogs and what to do about reckless owners. After some 9 hours not a thing was concluded about actual dog behavior or ideas on how to educate dog owners and the general public! There were tons of stories and a whole lot of words; everyone agreed that owners should be responsible. There was an air of hopelessness about the whole affair, as if they had no way of explaining to people that are afraid of dogs that they are safe and they are not inherently dangerous. This can all be done based on factual evidence compiled each year by the CDC.


Living In The Moment Based On A Plan

It’s often said many people either give the dog too much information, “stop no hey no agrh get off down…”, or perhaps do not do anything that has any real consequence or value to the dog, “That’s good old Buster he’s just a jumpy dog”. Either way the behaviors that the human is looking to decrease are getting rehearsed, thus becoming stronger.

Many times with clients I will explain that getting in front of the behavior is very important in having good timing. Being aware of the surrounding context and being ready is one of the major ways to keep dogs paying attention outside or even inside around hectic events such as door greetings.
Once you’ve established a good solid reward history and a humane consequence history what follows are some ideas to tighten up the training. Always factor duration and distance as well as level of distraction.


Advocacy Overdrive - Vick – Fair Shake or Shake Down?


Being in Denial About Your Dog

Pondering this thought I came to the realization that this can go many many ways.
The unique aspect of owning a dog is that it is a conduit to the truth. The agenda of the dog is one that is unfettered with unnecessary desires, unless we're talking about dogs who over eat! However even there you'd find something more honest than gluttony.
I would be willing to wager that even dogs that appear gluttonous are somehow driven by a biological need to do it, or something associated with not getting enough food at some point.

As we progress in the humane dog behavior sciences we're finding more and more that dogs are at the mercy of our behaviors, our actions, inactions and our understanding of them.
The denial aspect of human behavior is prickly patch in deed. It can be disastrous or funny. The same can be said of our relationship with our dogs.


Advocacy Overdrive – Numbers, Criteria, Intentions and Motivation

This is the first part in a new series I’m calling Advocacy Overdrive. It will be a chronicle of happenings, events, and discussions surrounding The Pit Bull Hoax DVD and other subsequent media related advocacy projects. The purpose is to get more people involved, hence the word overdrive in the title. Past that it will be a way for people to better understand the subject matter at hand as well as who is behind the media.

What is the percentage of “pit bull” dogs?

The numbers that are associated with dog information is often times fuzzy. In some cases the math is fuzzy because the people involved are fudging numbers, sometimes it is because there is just no accurate way to arrive at a number so the results are distilled through research and let’s face it personal bias.


What’s the deal with food & bribes?

Often when I am working with clients there are questions about food rewards. The main concern it seems is “Will I have to use treats forever? The second question is the often misunderstood notion that the food is a bribe. It can be, if used in the wrong order.

Let’s first get a few things established. 1 – Shifts in context create behavior changes and secondly consequence drives behavior. Dogs do not do things simply because they are filled with undying servitude; dogs do things because it pays off in some way.



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