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

This Is Not A Test!

If you are perusing this website and reading this blog post it’s likely that you take the time to train your dog. And, if you’re like most people you diligently set aside specific time for training in your day or week, especially if you’ve got a puppy or new dog in your life, or a specific goal in mind, and that is wonderful. Thank you for being such a cool and responsible dog owner!


However, once your reach your goals, or your new dog acclimates, or your pup grows up you’ll probably knock off, or at least greatly reduce your number of training sessions because your dog is trained.


And that is the precise moment your dog’s training begins to deteriorate.



Snapshot : Why Canine Nose Work Is So Cool

Never have I seen an activity that benefits such a wide variety of dogs, and by wide variety I mean just about every dog on the planet and their owners too. Nose work teaches people to appreciate their dog's innate olfactory and hunting skills. It allows dogs to be dogs and it's really a beautiful thing. I've extolled the virtues of fun nose work for dogs over on the fab local mag Bay Woof, but it bears repeating so here's the link to the article. Sniff, sniff hooray!


A Music Video That's Gone To The Dogs

Remember the OK Go video that featured the guys in the band doing a synchronized dance on treadmills? It was super-creative and a huge hit internationally. Well, the guys have outdone themselves with their latest release, the video for the song “White Knuckles” features a dozen dogs (mixed and purebred) and, to my infinite glee, one goat. It’s a cornucopia of canine capers! The dogs rock it!


Four Days of Fun and Games In France

Today is day three of a four-day K9 Games® workshop hosted by Animalin in Aurimont, France. Aurirmont is a tiny village about 40 minutes from Toulouse, so we are really out in the French countryside. Many of the workshop attendees are camping on-site because Animalin is a wonderful facility for dog events, rolling fields, lots of different fenced areas for training, agility equipment, and even sheep. It’s really very nice.

Right now I’m sitting outside in the main training field watching the four teams practice for tomorrow’s K9 Games competition. For the past 2 days they’ve been learning the foundation skills for the games, as well as the games themselves and tomorrow is the big day when they get to put it all together and show what they’ve learned.

Courtesy of the Corvallis Gazette-Times

When Strange Myths Override Common Sense

In the spring of 2009 I was in Oregon, presenting the Open Paw Shelter Program to a small, lovely humane society in Corvallis. During the three-day workshop the staff, volunteers, and I worked with many wonderful dogs awaiting adoption. One dog in particular both caught my eye and captured my heart; she was a little Sheltie with no name. “Sheltlie”, as I oh-so-creatively called her, was at least 12-years old if she was a day and as well mannered as could be, sweet as pie. She’d obviously been loved and well cared for, “How could a dog like that end up in a shelter?” I wondered. Turns out she came in as a stray. Hmm.


Dune's Nose & A Rose

A Treat By Any Other Name…

I have a pet peeve about dog training. Okay, actually I’ve got a few peeves about dog training; you caught me! I’m only going to mention one of them today though. It’s when people transpose the words “treat” and “reward” when talking about reinforcing a dog’s behavior. As in, “When the dog sits, give him a treat.” Or, “Reward the dog for not jumping up.”


Actually using either of the words above in a training scenario isn’t totally accurate; the word “reinforce” is the one that best suits the action and intention when acknowledging a dog’s correct response in an exercise in an attempt to increase the likelihood of a behavior.


Let’s look at the definitions of these words. All can be used as nouns or verbs; I’ve chosen the definitions of the words used as a noun, something you give to a dog.



Silly Human! A Dog's Nose Knows

The other day I was practicing fun nose work in my garden with Dune and Hugo. It was Dune’s turn and I’d hidden a single cotton swab infused with just a hint of birch oil along a fence line, near some tall grasses and Mexican sage plants.


I released Dune to search and he scanned the environment with his nose before even taking a step into the area. The wind was blowing and he didn’t catch the scent right away, I could tell because he didn’t turn immediately to the left, where the odor was hidden a mere five feet away, but instead veered slightly right to begin his perimeter search along the top rock wall. Halfway through his perimeter search he abandoned this strategy and made a beeline across the garden, heading straight for the source. He found it in less than 30 seconds. Good boy!



What If We Let Dogs Roam Free?

I recently read a blog post by Dino Dogan that asked, “Do we need animal shelters?” His question was, “what would happen if we were to let dogs roam free?” The premise being that dogs and humans have successfully coexisted for hundreds of thousands of years and that our modern arrangement, including animal shelters are only a few hundred years old, so clearly dogs did okay before they hooked up so intimately with us. Dino then lists several arguments and counter arguments to give food for thought. And thought-provoking it is!



When Dogs Ask Why

What is a trained dog? It’s not simply teaching certain behaviors, or cues, that produce a reliably trained dog. Relevancy is often overlooked, but it’s what makes for a trained dog. Think about it. Training is not about teaching dogs what we want them to do and enforcing them to comply. Successful training explains to dogs why they should comply.


There are several aspects to training a dog. First, in some cases, you have to teach the dog what you’d like him to do and when, as in “sit when I ask you to do so”. After a few repetitions you’ve got to wonder if the dog starts to think, “Okay, it was fun to learn something new, but why do you want me to keep doing it over and over! Or, why should I do it when there is something better to do?”



Change Your Perspective And Train Your Dog

As a dog trainer there are two questions I get more than any others: “How do I get my dog to stop doing (insert annoying, yet often natural, behavior here)?” & “How do I punish my dog when he’s just being bad?”



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