Happy Birthday Puppy Training!

Welcome to the Dog Star Daily! This is indeed an auspicious date to launch into a new era of The Digital Age of Dog, because the world’s very first puppy class was taught 25 years ago today. It was the beginning of a new and progressive era in dog training and we are proud to begin DSD on this very special anniversary. This month the concept of creating a class specifically for young pups who are still at their most impressionable and that is designed to teach the necessary skills for pet dogs, is 25 years old! What an innovation, it has changed the world of dog training immeasurably!

Over the next few weeks you will find that the Dog Star Daily is THE “go to” comprehensive site for all dog enthusiasts, but first a little bit of history- why we chose to launch on this date: On 26th January 1982, English veterinarian and animal behaviorist Dr. Ian Dunbar taught the original off-leash family puppy class in Berkeley California. He called his puppy school Sirius® Puppy Training, cleverly named after the brightest star in the evening sky. Not only is Sirius the brightest star, but also it is located in the constellation Canis Major, how appropriate!

Dr. Dunbar’s puppy classes quickly revolutionized dog training and, in essence, created a whole new field of pet dog training. Before Sirius puppy classes, only dogs over six-months of age were allowed to go to school, where they would be taught on-leash obedience drills to prepare them for competition. There simply were no classes tailored to the needs of the average dog owner.

These new Sirius classes emphasized the crucial importance of early socialization, bite inhibition, temperament training, and simple solutions for common and predictable behavior problems, as well as teaching basic manners in an informal, home-like environment. Basically, puppy classes prepared puppies for life as adult dogs living with people. The dog-owning public immediately embraced Sirius® classes because the methods were quick, easy and effective, and also, a lot of fun.

Dr. Dunbar promoted the use of family-friendly and dog-friendly dog training techniques, which were suitable for all family members, especially including children. The classes were soon made available in video format (how 80’s!), which effectively spread the word around the world and soon puppy classes sprung up all over.

Lead by Dr. Dunbar, this new breed of pet dog trainers rallied together to form the Association of Pet Dog Trainers — the largest association of pet dog trainers worldwide. (Contact the APDT for puppy classes in your area). In an interview in his Berkeley home, Dr. Dunbar recently said, “I really had no idea that Sirius® classes would change the way that pet dogs were trained. I simply started teaching puppy classes because I didn’t have a job and I couldn’t find schooling for my Alaskan Malamute pup. I called over 50 training organizations in Northern California, but none would accept him until he was six to twelve months old. I continued teaching classes for many years thereafter because it was just so much fun.” Asked about his innovative and reward-based training techniques, he replied, “I just trained puppies the same way as my father and grandfather taught me to train gundogs. These techniques were certainly not new, rather they were so old that they were new again.”

Over the years, Sirius Puppy Training has helped tens of thousands of pups and their people start on the right paw. While the original Sirius is still in the San Francisco Bay Area there are independent, sanctioned, satellite branches as far afield as Scotland, Hawaii and Kobe, Japan. And nowadays, Dr. Dunbar’s gentle and easy, effective science-based techniques have been adopted and adapted by most progressive trainers worldwide and dogs everywhere are happy puppies because of it!

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