Kelly Gorman Dunbar


Kelly Gorman Dunbar is a cofounder and the executive editor of and a contributing editor at and Animal Cafe.

She is the Founder and President of Open Paw, a non-profit organization devoted to addressing the unwanted animal problem in a whole new way, arming communities worldwide with valuable user and animal friendly training and behavior information with the goal of keeping cats and dogs out of shelters by keeping them in their original homes. Kelly lectures internationally on the principles of Open Paw and consults for animal shelters regarding layout, and staff-and-animal training protocols and procedures.

She is a Director of the Center for Applied Animal Behavior, a multi-faceted business that focuses on teaching people how to train their dogs to be the best canine citizens possible via fun and efficient training techniques involving games and environmental enrichment as rewards for desired behavior. She is a Director for the K9 Games Corporation, a venture dedicated to bringing fun and games to the process of dog training in order to make it easy, entertaining, and accessible for all people, including children.

Kelly recruits and trains the instructors for Dr. Ian Dunbar's SIRIUS Puppy & Dog Training company based in Berkeley, CA. She is the creator of the SIRIUS Sniffers scent-dection curriculum and is also in the process of bringing the French sport of cavage to the United States. Kelly has titled her French Bulldog Hugo-Louis via National Association of Canine Scent Work and enjoys competing in both NACSW nose work and AKC rally trials with her dogs.

Blog posts by Kelly Gorman Dunbar

Embedded thumbnail for Rufo's Legacy For Shelter Dogs

Rufo's Legacy For Shelter Dogs

Today I saw a lovely video that brought tears of joy to my eyes. It was about the story of Rufo, a shelter dog that spent six years waiting for a new home. The video is sweet and full of hope, however, even though Rufo has a happy ending, his story is both quite sad and unusual.

Normal dog behavior is messy and delightful, just like farm-fresh eggs.

Normal Dog Behavior Is Messy and Delightful, Just Like Farm-Fresh Eggs!

This weekend I was lucky enough to score some farm-fresh, organic eggs from pasture-raised chickens. They are delightful! For me, opening the egg carton to behold the soft palate of pastel-colored eggs of different shapes and sizes was akin to opening a treasure chest. Not to mention the thought of the rich, golden goodness that is waiting inside. Farm eggs look at taste nothing like store-bought factory eggs or even “free-range” eggs produced in giant industrial barns under deplorable conditions. They are more nutritious than industrially produced eggs too.


The woman who gave me the eggs mentioned that a visiting family member would not eat these fabulous gems. The colors and variety in size and shape freaked her out. The eggs were... dirty! They had just come out from underneath the chickens after all. This visitor went on to explain that she would only eat white eggs with an ink stamp of approval from whatever “farm”.


Zou Zou Quietly Occupied By A Knucklebone

Dog Behavior Is Always Changing, Just Like Facebook

How does the hullabaloo over the new changes at Facebook relate to dog behavior, you ask? Well, it’s simple. People don’t like change. They like things to stay the same, tried and true. The inherent problem with this is that things are constantly changing, everything from Facebook, to one’s age, and to even your dog’s behavior at home and while out-and-about. Sometimes that change is for the better, and sometimes, not so much.

A dog’s behavior, is always in motion, it’s fluid, it’s responsive to the environment and the daily feedback it receives. And not just from you!

Just like a drop of water can begin the erosion of earth that eventually produces the Grand Canyon, your dog’s behavior is shaped in tiny increments by every moment in time, every interaction.


The Dog Walk, Obedience, And Training: Leadership From Behind, Dogs Out In Front

Ah, the dog walk... Is it an exercise in obedience training? An existential meditation? Or merely a convenient way to exercise both man and beast?

Today, as most days, I managed all three.

It’s hot outside today. Well, hot for Berkeley. While I was out walking Dune earlier he lagged behind a bit more than usual, taking extra long to sniff and urine-mark I’m guessing because of the heat.

I found it a tad annoying. I pondered my irritation (the meditation part), and realized it was partly because I like to go at a good clip (the exercise part), but also because, you see, I prefer to exert my “leadership” on our walks from behind. I like my dogs to be out in front of me, where I can see them. It’s a much safer vantage point and doesn’t require me to multitask or treat each hike as though I were a performer at a theatre in the round.


Dog Star Daily Is Getting a Facelift And I've Joined Animal Cafe

Well, I’ve taken a summer hiatus and then some, but school’s back in session and, after resolving a few tech problems (thanks Super Mario!) my bum is back in my office chair, often with a bulldog backup as well!

I’ve got lots of irons in the fire and plenty of things to tell you about, so expect to hear from me on a more regular basis from here on out. There are new projects, new creatures, old projects revived, and an upcoming new look for Dog Star Daily.

I’d like to start by telling you a bit about my new role as a contributing editor at Animal Cafe. I’m so pleased to join these folks! I’ll be covering training and behavior topics in my monthly podcast. However, there are new podcasts every Monday, on a broad range of animal-related topics, from nutrition to travel, so the site is quite an interesting resource.

Kelly Gorman Dunbar and Dune, American Bulldog

Want To Talk Dog? You've Come To The Right Place...

Fun times ahead! Today will be a big media day here at Dog Star Daily headquarters, and for us that also means it’s a family affair. Ian got home at midnight last night for a brief, 48-hour respite before heading out to give yet another seminar. (He’s gone Wednesday through Sunday most weeks this spring so it will be good to have dinner with him and Jamie and catch up tonight.)

I’m filming a local TV segment on the origin of Open Paw this morning, and then Jamie is coming by to record more episodes of iWoofs. By the way, if you have any questions you’d like us to address in our podcasts, please get in touch via our Dog Star Daily Facebook Page. We love hearing from you.


Leashed Love?

I’m in Marrakesh, Morocco right now. It’s been quite the cultural experience and has got me thinking… Yesterday, while walking in the Medina I saw a guy with a monkey on leash. It upset me. This poor monkey was alternately doing back flips (without being cued) and sitting looking at his owner while holding one end of his leash, near his collar, in his hand.

I thought, “Poor monkey, trapped like that, he looks like a slave.” But then I thought, “What’s so different about this situation than the typical dog on a leash scenario I see everyday back at home?”

I guess one could argue that a monkey is a wild animal, not domesticated, and that, in-and-of-itself makes it a less palatable situation. I’m sure that was part of what bothered me. But also, for me, it was the fact that the monkey had to be kept there next to the man by force. That’s what the collar and leash symbolized to me, an unbalanced relationship.


The Proof Is In The Pudding, Or Is It?

Hugo and I recently participated in a NACSW NW1 trial. I hate to say it, but I was nervous. Why? Besides the usual pre-competition jitters, I also felt a bit under-prepared.

Don’t get me wrong, we weren’t entered prematurely, Hugo most certainly had been taught the necessary skills to succeed, but that was a long time ago, and we hadn’t been keeping up our practices recently and I felt he was a bit rusty.

As the trial date neared I started to balk, and thought perhaps I was being hasty. Perhaps we should pull out and I should up my training regiment over the next few months and then enter again over the summer.

Sandra Mannion & Havoc demonstrating a beautiful connection while heeling.

Use Your Tools

Ah, it’s a lazy weekend morning and you’ve decided to take your pooch for a stroll to the local café to sit and sip and watch the world go by. You sit down at a sidewalk table and your peaceful morning plan is shattered because your dog is darting towards passersby of the canine sort and ruining what should be an idyllic moment just hanging out with your dog.



The Target of Target’s Demise

By now most of you have heard the story of Target, the hero dog originally from Afghanistan who was accidentally euthanized at Pinal County, Arizona's animal control last week in a case of mistaken identity. You may have also heard that the shelter worker who put Target to sleep has since been fired for making the tragic error.


My heart goes out to Target’s family for their loss, this is indeed a sad story, but I’m dismayed to see the shelter and shelter worker cast as the scapegoats or worse, as villains in this tragedy. They did indeed make a terrible, irreversible mistake but the real problem lies much deeper than this single, highly publicized incident.




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