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

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Am I On The Right Website?

Usually the saying goes that something “has gone to the dogs”. However, at Dog Star Daily we’ve clearly already done that, and some of you may be concerned that we’ve instead “gone away from the dogs” lately, with our recent posts about various farm animals and a few past posts about cats.

Rest assured, we won’t be changing our site name to Donkey Star Daily or The Monthly Moo. However, occasionally it is helpful to both reach beyond our comfort zone and look to other species from time to time to get a fresh perspective on dog training.

We people think we really know dogs, right?  Yet sometimes things can still get lost in translation. Familiarity and comfort can lead to complacency, and from there our habits may drift even further down the river of effort, away from the land of learning and growth towards the state of stagnancy.


In Service Of Dogs

This is a reprint of our Special Inaugural Edition of our weekly newsletter Puppy Bite. Several people have asked to link to it in order to share this call to action with others, so I decided to post it as blog so it will always have a home on the Dog Star Daily site. Though please keep in mind, the post and it's sentiment will remain relevant, however, the offer for the free download of Dr. Dunbar's book is for a limited time only.

If you receive Puppy Bite, this is an exact copy of it, minus a few links. If you don't receive Puppy Bite and would like to, please register on this page.

Leslie Smith was my co-author for this piece.

Kelly Gorman Dunbar
Executive Editor, Dog Star Daily

Ask not what dogs can do for you, but what you can do for dogs! 


If Only It Were That Easy

Many people see training a dog as a one-time process. They’ll take a class or hire a trainer to help them for a while or for a particular problem and once the course is over they think, “Great! The dog is trained now.”

On the one hand I commend these people, because at least they understand that a dog needs to be trained. Training meaning taught to respond to human verbal cues generally by performing certain positions or activities and to follow a human list of expectations for manners and interactions. Dogs don’t come that way.

However, their expectations are not realistic and therefore they are likely to be disappointed either in the training process, the specific trainer, the methodology employed, or all of the above.

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Shelter Dog Prevention

People often misunderstand Dr. Dunbar’s and my intense focus on puppy training. “Your materials are so focused on puppies, what about shelter dogs?” they ask.  Others lob zingers such as, “It’s easy to focus on puppies, real dog trainers deal with problem dogs.”

Rescuing dogs is most definitely en vogue at the moment; philanthropy and social causes have permeated the collective consciousness as never before. I’ve heard statements such as “shelter dogs are the new black” and I think it is wonderful that so many people out there are now aware about the plight of homeless animals; that is a beautiful paradigm shift for humankind.

But the fact still remains that all shelter dogs started out as puppies.

Puppies with extremely malleable personalities and super-spongy-ready-to-absorb-input-brains taking things in and creating a behavior profile and bias based on these early experiences.


What Elephants And People Both Know

I am not really that sappy of a person. Sure I tear up at the sad parts of movies, but generally not while watching commercials. Unlike my husband, I didn’t cry during the movie Zoolander! (To him, it was really sad when Derek had nobody to turn to except Hansel for protection from Mugatu and Hansel confessed that Derek was the person he admired most and the reason he became a male model. My hubby is a sucker for male emotional epiphanies, but I digress.)

This morning I watched a video clip of a friendship that looks beyond color, size, and even species to bring two sweet souls together in the lonesome environment of a sanctuary for unwanted animals down on their luck. And I lost it. Well, lost it for me. Actually I just welled-up a bit but a rush of emotion hit me like a Mack truck and sent my mind racing.


Cold Nights, Warm Hearts

Years ago, back when I lived in Chicago, I worked for a kind woman who watched the winter weather like a hawk and sprung into action on the city’s coldest (cruelest) nights. Chicago can get pretty cold (gross understatement) and there are lots of watchdogs on various lots with little-to-no attention and minimal-but-standard-meeting housing. 

During these cold spells she’d gather blankets and prepare a warm gruel and attend to these forgotten canine servants under cover of the winter darkness. She wasn’t being sneaky, she was always one for honesty and education and also took time to befriend the dogs “owners” with the hope of coaxing them to take better care of their furry work crews and chose to lead by example and also provide the necessary tools for making life more comfortable for the dogs herself. She may have also brought chew-bones now and again, I don’t really remember, but providing warmth and basic care was her main goal.


Hugo. Hates. Winter.

The reason I wrote about Ollie and his winter chill almost two years after his passing is because I was recently reminded of my dear, sweet Ollie when, as the days grew darker and colder, Hugo attached himself to the various heat vents in my house as though they were long lost lovers.

Hugo is quite lean and fit and doesn’t have much body fat, and apparently he gets chilly. He’s learned to cope with this in various ways; either by using Dune's always slightly elevated body temp to his advantage or, as mentioned above never leaving the heat register. But I finally got the message yesterday. Hugo. Hates. Winter. And he is COLD.

So, yesterday afternoon I went out and did something I never thought I’d do. I took Hugo-Louis shopping for a sweater he could comfortably wear indoors.


There Is A First Time For Everything

Several years ago, on my first or second trip to Japan, I visited an upscale shopping center in Tokyo where one of the shops was a lovely clothing store, with a nice mix of high and low fashion, casual and formal wear, even pajamas and costumes. This store had both a men and women’s section and also has dressing rooms with mirrors, as most clothing stores do, but they were very small, even for Japan. What is interesting about this store? Why am I telling you about it? Because this full-service store in one of the finest shopping centers in Tokyo was a clothing store exclusively for dogs.


It Could Happen To You...

While out walking with one of my dogs, Claude, in the neighborhood yesterday, I suddenly came to the conclusion I was being followed. It was one of those moments when you sense a presence behind you and then realize that actually it’s been there for a while.

I looked behind me, nothing. Walked on a few steps and looked back again. There! A flash of movement, then another one, ¬ there were two of them! What to do? They were kind of far behind me but definitely staying with me. I calculated that I could probably make it home before they came upon me.

So I hotfooted it to my house, put Claude inside, grabbed my mobile phone, car keys, and a few other supplies and raced back out the door to deal with the situation. Pretty brave, eh?

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People And Their Dogs At Their Best

Dr. Dunbar and I have just completed our short lecture tour of South Africa. Our gracious hosts from Animal Behaviour Consultants of SA truly pulled out all the stops and showed us a very good time by providing us with multiple experiences and memories that will stay with us for the rest of our lives.

At the beginning of our trip we met the insightful and delightful people of Cape Town, where the welcome was warm, the conversation simulating, and our stay was all too brief.



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