Jeff Silverman


Jeff is a Certified Dog Behavior Conultant (CDBC), and co-owner of Training Tracks Canine Learning Station with 2 full-service training centers in Southwest Ohio. He has been working with dogs for over 20 years, and training professionally since 1998. He specializes in working with fearful and aggressive dogs and assisting animal shelters in creating behavioral enrichment programs and support services for adopters. He also serves on the Board of Trustees of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. Jeff has a BA in political science, completed the coursework (if not the dissertation) for a PhD in history, and has a background in IT management consulting in addition to dog training. This background inspires and informs a special interest in the professional culture and institutions of the dog training profession. He lives in College Corner, Ohio his partner in business and in life, Melissa “Mel” Bussey. They share their home with 4 dogs - Maggie, Ubu, Professor Chaos, and Miley as well as 2 cats who are expert dog trainers in their own right - Iculus and Raja.

Blog posts by Jeff Silverman

Who me

Puppy Behavior Emergency - Resource Guarding

Think the puppy I’ve been posting pictures of in this series looks sweet and innocent?  You should have seen him with the very fresh raw deer leg that a friend gave us last Thursday.  I’d been feeding Chaos from Kongs and handling him while he ate, but I wasn’t doing a lot of hand feeding outside of training sessions like I should have been.  That all changed when the deer leg turned him into a snarling little demon-pup.  I promised to write about mistakes in doing this blog and there will be some today. 


A Week of Chaos - A Dog Trainer Gets a Puppy

So the first full week with my new puppy, Professor Chaos, has been a blast.  There’s so much going on with a new puppy that it’s hard to focus on what to write about.  We do have a couple of emergency issues that we’re working on with Chaos:  a bit of resource guarding and some difficulty with crate and alone training.  I’ll write a separate post about those.  In this one, I’ll cover all the routine things that are going right. 



A Dog Trainer Gets a Puppy - Days 1 and 2

It looks like Professor Chaos (or Kaos) is going to be the puppy’s name.   My wife, the breeder, and several friends mounted a lobbying campaign for Chaos, but it didn’t seem right to me by itself.  Professor Chaos, on the other hand, has a cuter ring to it for me.  I think we may settle on it today.  I’m trying it on for size throughout the day.  He’s been an absolute joy so far.  He’s a lover who always wants to be touching someone (human, dog cat, whatever).  He’s already bonded to me with particular intensity, but he loves my wife as well. 

Much of the last 48 hours since he left his mom and litter-mates has been pretty text-book.  There’s a lot of important stuff going on with him already.  He got a great dose of socialization both days.  In the last 48 hours or so, he’s experienced:


New Beginnings - A Dog Trainer Gets a Puppy

For the past month, I’ve been a dog trainer without a dog of my own.  Last spring my 14-year old dog Cheyenne and my 11 year-old dog BJ were both diagnosed with cancer.  I lost them both this fall within 6 weeks of each other.  I don’t want to write about my grief in this forum, but I’m coming out the other side of that grief now.  Tomorrow I start an exciting new chapter when I pick up my new – as yet unnamed – puppy.  


We’ve Been Discovered! Oh No!

A couple of weeks ago, I heard an NPR story (") that, for a brief moment, I mistook for dog training satire.  The story featured dog trainer Vladae Roytapel, who bills himself as “The Russian Dog Wizard.”  NPR tells us that Roytapel emphasizes making certain sounds – which he refers to as “Doglish” – in his training, and views knowing who’s in charge as a dog’s single most important need in life. The story plays up Roytapel’s youth working alongside his behaviorist grandfather and being tutored by an unidentified legendary deaf-mute Russian dog trainer as evidence of his status as an expert.  Sadly, the story was not satire, but instead a reflection of how dog trainers are now understood by popular culture.      


You Talk Too Much

Have you ever witnessed the embarrassing spectacle of a tourist attempting to communicate with someone who does not speak his language by talking VE-RY LOUD-LY and VE-RY SLOW-LY? It’s not a pleasant experience for anyone. The speaker gets frustrated because the listener still doesn’t understand, while the listener now thinks that the speaker is kind of a jerk. Watching people talk to their dogs frequently reminds me of such scenes. We talk and talk and talk. Our poor dogs do their best to figure out what we’re trying to say, and often succeed in spite of us. When they fail to get the message, however, we tend to blame the dogs rather than our own foolish insistence on attempting to communicate in a manner that they cannot understand. This leads to all sorts of trouble for dogs.


A Great Day to be a Dog Trainer

Most of the time I enjoy helping people train their dogs so much that I feel almost guilty getting paid for it. Still, even the best job can get frustrating at times. Sometimes I get a really difficult class or a stretch of trying clients at the same time that I fall behind in paperwork, and start to look at work as a chore. At those times, I like to remember cases – or even just small moments – that can remind why I love what I do. I had one of those cases just recently. It was a simple case, but one I won’t forget soon.


Three Very Important Words

I attended my first dog training conference in early 2000. I’d been teaching obedience with a local club for a few years, had a read a ton of books, belonged to more training listservs than I could count, and had rehabilitated a couple of fosters and a dog I adopted for aggression issues. I fancied myself quite the expert on dog behavior, and I wasn’t shy about sharing my opinions. I went to the conference because I couldn’t make any progress with another aggressive dog that I was working with. Nobody local could help me, so I sought the advice of people whose books I’d been reading.


Angels or Devils?

Most of us readily accept that our human loved ones and acquaintances have both good traits and not so good traits. We understand that good people with good intentions can get into serious conflicts. We recognize that children must be taught how to behave with others and will occasionally make mistakes along the way. We even know – and in most cases can forgive – that even the best people occasionally act very poorly. That kind of nuance often goes out the window, however, when we judge dogs and even dog owners. The specifics of how we judge dogs differ, but I’ve been noticing that the judgments tend towards the black and white. Some people seem to think that dogs are born either good or bad, with little room for anything in between. Others come right out and state that all dogs are born sweet and loving. If a dog behaves otherwise, they tell you, then blame the owner.


Nothing In Life is Free

In my dog training business, most of the animals I work with come to me with a profound misunderstanding of their place in the human/dog relationship. They have their own ideas of how things should work. The slightest distraction can lead them to blow me off, even when I’m certain that they know how to do what I’m asking. Many of them suffer from a low frustration tolerance, and having to deal with anything they don’t want to deal with can lead to hyperactive behavior, excessive vocalization, and even aggression. I’m a big fan of using the “Nothing in Life is Free” (or NILIF) protocol to teach these recalcitrant students their proper place in the pack. I’m speaking, of course, about my human students.



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