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 Method To My Gladness

The age-old question of “how did they do it”, what was the method? This is a good question indeed. Let’s first start out by stating a few things up front that can define what it is we’re looking to do.

I am starting with the understanding we’re working with companion dogs as well as shelter dogs. The goal would then be to build bonds, not binds or bombs. We’re looking to train basic manners and get a few cute tricks in the repertoire of the dog. Let’s leave the hardcore behavior modification of fear and aggression issues off the table for now, though I’ll touch on fearful dogs and greeting people briefly. 

Bob Bailey one of the master animal trainers said, “Dog training is a mechanical skill”. I would like to add those mechanics are based on timing and accurately and legitimately recognizing the dogs behavior.


Dangerous Dog Diatriabe Part V: Solutions to End BSL

To resolve the BSL issue on both sides of the debate we need education. I know this I sound like a skipping CD, but it is the answer... First, it has to be a task that is undertaken by those of us “in dogs”. Many people are doing research that shows the ineffectiveness of BSL. Janis Bradley has published two well thought out and understandable pieces of literature on the subject of dog bites. Her policy paper on the math, science and factual statistics about dog bites is something every dog owner in America should have as a reference. In addition it is something everyone should carry out of the shelter door when adopting a dog. Her book Dogs Bite - But Balloons And Slippers Are More Dangerous is dead-on accurate and pulls the whole dangerous dog issue down off the ledge.


Dangerous Dog Diatriabe Part IV: The Finanical Burden of BSL

Most of the focus on BSL is placed on dog behavior and how to effectively reduce dog incidents that are injurious or fatal. There is another aspect that does not get spoken about by proponents of BSL, the cost to implement such legislation and the lack of effectiveness of the approach.

Since its inception around 1989 BSL has not reduced dog - human fatalities or serious injury statistics; they have held steady.

How can a breed ban even begin to be enforced? How can you really be sure there are no “Pit Bulls” in your city? You cannot, and this is the fundamental problem with BSL, it is unenforceable and the cost does not justify the results.


Leash Manners

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 “working the dog” so the dog is attentive? Are you getting tangled up? As in any dog training context the dog walk is full of distractions, hence why it is many times a challenge.
How do you get a dog to stop pulling on leash, can it be done?
Yes and no. I often counsel people about leash manners and let them know “All dogs pull and dogs pull all the time”. When dogs are on the leash they are prevented from checking out the world at their own pace. Remember dogs are genetically predisposed to investigate things. This need to check things out is especially true of doggie smells and other dogs.                              


Dog Training Is An Art, But Guitars Don’t Bite

As an artist first and a dog trainer second, I surely get why dog training is an art. My area of artistic talent and experience is in music. I am trained and have sought the tutelage of musical mentors along the way. I have also followed this course of education as it relates to my dog training profession.


Dealing with Fear: Q & A

Is it wrong to offer a food reward or to pet to a dog that is displaying fear?
If the dog is under threshold meaning the dog is not tipping over into an overt display of reacting, lunging, barking, growling etc… the dog is concerned but not upset… it can be useful in making a positive association to the dog. As long as the appearance of the scary thing predicts the food is coming then it is paired correctly. Where many people go wrong in this food for scary “things” is in the distance factor of the Counter Conditioning & Desensitization Protocol and the sequence. With the proper distance and the right sequence you can make great strides in getting a dog to like, love or at the very least tolerate something they once found scary.
Is this just reassuring the dog or reinforcing the unwanted behavior?


Dangerous Dog Diatribe Part III: The Circumstances That Surround Fatal or Injurious Dog Incidents

Unfortunately people only hear about the sensational and terrorizing aspects of dog incidents that result in injury or fatality. As with any news story or myth, there are facts and factors left out for effect. It is this news, based on partial information, slanted to be sensational, coupled with word of mouth myth making that leads to any breed getting an unfair reputation. The over-representation of the negative in the media is what causes people to fear a breed. We’ve seen this throughout history. In addition, if at any point in time a certain breed of dog is used for intimidating or negative functions such as guarding / protection or fighting, it is the type of dog most represented in the news; we saw this with the Doberman in the 1970s.

The fact and the factors of fatal or injurious dog incidents:


Part II: Dangerous Dog Diatribe

What kind of dog is that? This is a question many people ask whenever they see a dog. I am asked what kind of dog my two dogs are at least once a day. Even the best eyes in the dog business are often puzzled as to what types of breeds a dog may be or even what supposed pure breed it is. Of course there are the dead ringers; you see a “Poodle” or “Shepherd”. You can see the “types”.  Or can you?

With the many fad breeds and new breeds in addition to mixes, crosses and in some cases mind boggling concoctions of breeds that have been intermingled; how can anyone be 100% sure of what a dog is unless there are reputable papers by a reputable breeder or you get a dead ringer of a unique breed such as an English Bulldog. Even the new DNA tests for dogs are proving to provide questionable results.


Dangerous Dog Diatribe

What is BSL?

Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) is legislation that proposes certain breeds of dogs are inherently “dangerous” “aggressive” or “vicious” and that ownership of said breeds should be heavily regulated or even banned. BSL identifies a dog as dangerous based on breed alone regardless of the actions or behaviors an individual dog. At present it is mainly concerned with bull-breeds and mastiff type dogs, though the list of banned dog breeds is growing.

Why does it exist?


It’s Just a Dog?

Since 2000 I have been working with dogs professionally. I am sometimes given the answer or solution to a troublesome canine scenario with the following statement “It’s just a dog”. Meaning it is not worthy of any further consideration.

This mindset of a dog as lesser than or unequal to humans is sad. In my own experience nothing that I have ever been involved with has brought as much joy to others as my dog Mojo, notice I said to others, not just myself. The smiles and the joy Mojo conjures up in people is quite a site to see. He is one of only millions of dogs who bring untold happiness to millions of people, other than their owners, simply by existing.

This “it’s just a dog” mindset comes up in discussions about the use of pain or force when training and maintaining dogs. The dog; who some so callously toss aside like dead leaves during yard work has the ability through nothing more than existing, to cause joy.



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