Canine Culture: The Experts Speak

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An unprecedented series of in-depth interviews with the world’s most respected trainers and behaviorists offers invaluable insight for any pet owner interested in fostering a stronger relationship with their dog. Interviewer John Bell Young discusses canine culture with the best and the brightest to bring you a greater understanding of how to meet your training objectives while building a foundation of trust that will benefit your relationship with your dog for years to come. Stay tuned in the coming days for interviews with:


DR. IAN DUNBAR is a veterinarian, animal behaviorist, and writer. He received his veterinary degree and a Special Honors degree in Physiology & Biochemistry from the Royal Veterinary College (London University) and a doctorate in animal behavior from the Psychology Department at the University of California in Berkeley, where he spent ten years researching olfactory communication, the development of hierarchical social behavior, and aggression in domestic dogs.

Dr. Dunbar is a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, the International Society for Applied Ethology, the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, the California Veterinary Medical Association, the Sierra Veterinary Medical Association, and the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (which he founded).

He has written numerous books, including How to Teach a New Dog Old Tricks, the Good Little Dog Book and a series of Behavior Booklets—separate educational booklets on each of the most common pet behavior problems. Additionally, he has hosted eleven award-winning videotapes on puppy/dog behavior and training, including SIRIUS® Puppy Training, Training Dogs With Dunbar and Every Picture Tells A Story.

He has been lecturing to veterinarians and dog clubs for over thirty years. In fact, since 1986 he has conducted over 800 days of seminar and workshop for trainers and veterinarians around the world. There are very few educated trainers who have not been strongly influenced by Dr. Dunbar’s fun & games, from-the-animal’s-point-of-view, dog friendly dog training. Ian.

Dunbar is peerless in his field; there is simply no other person who has his qualifications, experience, and expertise in the realm of modern psychological dog training and behavior counseling-fields, which Dr. Dunbar has played a major role in developing over the past 25 years.


DR. PETER DOBIAS is a veterinarian and founder of Doctor Dobias Healing Solutions, a source of information and education in the area of holistic animal healthcare, nutrition and well being. Dr Dobias has a background in both holistic and conventional veterinary medicine, animal homeopathy and natural nutrition and more than 20 years of practical and teaching experience.

Dr Dobias Healing Solutions was established to make natural and holistic forms of healing more readily available. The company’s goal is to provide people with an effective alternative to conventional veterinary care, holistic consulting services. Their goal is to treat effectively and eliminate or reduce pharmaceuticals used during treatment. They also love sharing knowledge and educating people about the benefits of disease prevention and holistic healing.

Zak and Venus1

From training dogs to bowl, to gently persuading them to take out the garbage, to developing extreme Frisbee as a canine sport, ZAK GEORGE has shattered conventional perceptions. In his television broadcasts, lectures, and videos he continues to demonstrate what is possible when people simply make time to connect meaningfully with their dogs.

Host and creator of Animal Planet’s popular prime time program. “SuperFetch, and the BBC’s Who Let the Dog’s Out, Zak has appeared frequently on national television, including interviews on the Rachael Ray Show, The Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, The Early Show, Fox and Friends, Dogs 101, and Discovery’s Time Warp.

In 2006 YouTube emerged as a new and innovative technology for the distribution of video content on the Web. Recognizing its potential, Zak filmed, edited and produced his own training videos, which he made available free of charge, and with the intention of improving the quality of life for dogs — and their human companions — everywhere.

In his view, the benefits were obvious: once people were shown how to make their dogs happier, they would be repaid tenfold: with consistently good and reliable behavior, trust, loyalty, and not least, affection. To this day, Zak’s training videos remain the most popular and frequently downloaded on YouTube, and with good reason: both trainers and dog devotees, having tested and invested in his ideas, have seen the results for themselves.


ANNA JANE GROSSMAN is a writer, dog advocate and certified animal trainer in her native New York City. She is a graduate of the Karen Pryor Academy of Animal Training & Behavior and of New York University. She comes to dog training with a background in journalism, and has written on the subject of animals (both human and non-human) for The New York Times, Gizmodo, Motherboard,, The Huffington Post, The New York Observer and The Bark. She blogs about pets on her site, TheDogs, and currently teaches both dogs and people at her Manhattan-based education center, School For The Dogs.



KAREN PRYOR is the CEO of Karen Pryor Clickertraining and Karen Pryor Academy. Karen is an active, leading spokesperson and teacher for effective force-free training across the globe. Her work with dolphins in the 1960’s revolutionized animal training by pioneering and popularizing force-free training methods based on operant conditioning and the conditioned reinforcer.

Karen’s 40-year career working with and educating scientists, professional trainers, and pet owners has changed the lives of countless animals and their caretakers in zoos, oceanariums, and pet-owning households. She is the author of six books, including Don’t Shoot the Dog!, the “bible” of training with positive reinforcement. Her most recent book, Reaching the Animal Mind, is about how to bring out the undiscovered creativity, intelligence, and personality of the animals in our lives. Karen lives outside Boston, Massachusetts.



 Dr. S KWANE STEWART continues to bring awareness and reformation to animal welfare issues. Although it is an ongoing, never-ending battle, Dr. Kwane has signed on for life. “Human synergism” he says “can literally move mountains. When people unite and harness their collective passion, most anything is possible.” He is confident that one day animal shelters will serve a much different purpose than they do now, and that mass euthanasia will be a thing of the past. Dr Kwane heard his early calling before the age of 10.

His love for anything on four legs coupled with his aptitude for science inspired him to enroll at Colorado State University, a leading veterinary school, in 1993. He earned a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine in 1997. At the age of 26, he moved to San Diego and began his career in small animal medicine, practicing routine care by day and emergency medicine at night. In 2004, he was promoted to Chief Medical Officer for Vetco Hospital, Inc., a company that he assisted taking public in 2006.

Following five successful years his career path took an unexpected turn. While visiting an animal shelter in a Northern California in 2007 he learned they had been without a vet for nearly three years. His desire to relocate and be closer to his son and the prospect of developing a new area of his medicine took him to Modesto, where he was appointed County Veterinarian. Today, he oversees the daily care of more than 400 animals. His broad skill set includes management, triage, shelter medicine, client education and public speaking, all invaluable assets in the dynamic and highly political animal welfare arena.

Although Central Valley’s pet overpopulation problem is among the worst in the country, Dr. Kwane is optimistic that brighter days are to come. With his help and guidance a brand new, state-of-the-art animal shelter was completed in 2010. A reality television show, Sheltered, which follows Dr Kwane’s impassioned journey through the animal care thickets, is currently in production.



Born and raised in Wimbledon, England, VICTORIA STILWELL is one of the world’s most recognized and respected dog trainers, reaching audiences in over 50 countries. She is best known for her role as the star of Animal Planet’s hit TV series It’s Me or the Dog, through which she is able to share her insight and passion for positive reinforcement dog training by taming some of the world’s most unruly pets as she counsels families on their pet problems.

She also served as a judge on CBS’s Greatest American Dog.In the early 1990s, Stilwell began her career in pet training when she created her own successful dog-walking company and immediately recognized the need for qualified professionals to help her clients with the training process. While pursuing a successful acting career (working in London’s West End as well as in numerous films, TV series, commercials and voiceovers), she expanded her focus to dog training by learning from some of Britain’s most respected positive-reinforcement dog trainers and behaviorists.

Stilwell is a passionate advocate for positive reinforcement training methods that enhance a dog’s ability to learn while increasing confidence, resulting in a healthy, well-adjusted pet. She is a vocal opponent of punitive, dominance-based training techniques which often result in ‘quick fixes’ but ultimately cause more long-term harm than good while damaging the owner-dog relationship.

Her two best-selling books, It’s Me or the Dog: How to Have the Perfect Pet and Fat Dog Slim: How to Have a Healthy, Happy Pet, have been widely praised, and they detail her core reward-based training philosophy: “There’s a better way to train… Positively.”

A regular guest on countless talk shows, news broadcasts and radio programs in the US, Europe and Asia, Stilwell was named 2009’s Dog Trainer of the Year at the Purina ProPlan Dog awards and was the recipient of the prestigious 2011 Excellence in Journalism and Outstanding Contributions to the Pet Industry Award. Since its premiere in 2005, Stilwell’s show, It’s Me or the Dog, has filmed over 100 episodes in both the UK and US and has been the recipient of multiple honors including two Genesis Award Nominations and a 2009 People’s Choice Award nomination.

Stilwell has served as a regular columnist for The Bark and Dogs Today magazines, and she has been featured in numerous magazines, journals and newspapers including The New York Times, USA Today, Cosmopolitan,, Oprah Magazine, Rachael Ray Everyday,, Self Magazine, Shape Magazine, The Daily Mail, and The Sun.



DRAYTON MICHAELS has been working with dogs professionally for over a decade. He honed his dog training chops while working as dog walker in both NYC and Seattle. In May of 2007, Drayton received his certification in dog training and behavior consulting from the San Francisco SPCA Academy for Dog Trainers, directed by award-winning author and dog expert, Jean Donaldson.

He owns and operates Urban Dawgs and Pit Bull Guru with his wife Vyolet, also a graduate of the Academy. Drayton frequently attends continuing education seminars and continues to study dog training and behavior independently. Upon graduating from the Academy, Drayton started a specialty subsidiary of Urban Dawgs called Pit Bull Guru to offer modern, reward-based training and behavior consulting for Pit Bulls of all ages.

At the Urban Dawgs training facility, Drayton teaches public classes, directs the day-training program, works one-on-one with clients and dogs, and presents dog training and behavior seminars/workshops; including Pit Bull awareness seminars. He has logged countless hours counseling dog owners, shelter staff, rescue organizations and clients to train and modify behavior issues in dogs with utilizing modern, humane methods. Drayton has devoted the past 7 years to documenting the current state of Pit Bulls in America; interviewing world-renowned trainers and behavior specialists to debunk common myths about pit bulls and educate the public on basic care and training needs for pit bull dogs.

Drayton has interviewed some of the best and brightest of the professional dog world including Jean Donaldson, Dr. Ian Dunbar, Diane Jessup, Jane Berkey (Animal Farm Foundation), Karen Delise (The Pit Bull Placebo), Dr. Nicholas Dodman, Dr Karen Overall, and Marthina McClay of Our Pack. Drayton also interviewed people at the Vick sentencing and others around the US. He has documented stories about the many wonderful Pit Bulls that have beaten the odds to become ambassadors of the breed. Drayton released The Pit Bull Hoax in April 2009. The 13-min educational DVD directly addresses the BSL issue and provides legitimate and accurate information to legislators, media and communities. Visit for more information. You can also view The Pit Bull Hoax on You Tube.



Now one of Europe’s most celebrated trainers, NORA VAMOSI-NAGY is the co-founder of the celebrated Mirror Method of dog training. She and her partners have established three dog training schools in Budapest. What distinguishes Ms Vamosi-Nagy is the profound degree to which she has taken positive reinforcement training, a view that has made her a leading and much sought after authority in Hungary and throughout Europe.

“The main idea is that everything is up to the owner,” she explains. “So, if you have a dog who’s not behaving or if you have a problem, then you should look at what you are doing wrong, rather than blaming the dog. A dog is a mirror in this whole process; he reflects what you are doing well or poorly. In our school we teach in groups of twelve, and the dogs are off-leash.”

As the Mirror Method continues to grow in popularity –there are already eight franchises throughout Hungary — Nora Vamosi-Nagyhas plans to expand the Mirror Method schools, and will bring the first formal training center to the United States in the summer of 2012. Born in Budapest, Nora has been working with dogs and their owners for more than ten years. She has two male Dogo Argentinos, Paco age 10, and Peru, age 3.



With over twenty-five years experience as a professional dog trainer, SARAH WILSON has a lifetime of living with animals and written eight books on the subject. Her first, Good Owners, Great Dogs, published in 1992, has sold more than 360,000 copies. Seven more followed. Titles have been translated into Japanese, German, Italian, and Polish, and three have made Amazon’s Top 100 list. My Smart Puppy (book with a DVD included) and Childproofing Your Dog are her current top-sellers.

For over a decade, Sarah has overseen an active community at her high-traffic website, Appearing on a variety of network and cable TV shows including PBS’s Nature “Why We Love Cats and Dogs,” Good Morning America, Nick Jr’s A Pup Grows Up, Comcast, and CBS “This Morning”, and quoted in O Magazine, Parade, LA Times,,, and, Sarah is an active advocate for easy, effective and fun methods that add joy to our lives.

Winner of Dr. A. Wayne Mountain Memorial Media Award, Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association and the Dr. Steve Kritsick Memorial Award, New York State Veterinary Medical Association as well as being nominated for two Genesis Award Nominations from the Humane Society of the United States, Sarah is recognized for her enthusiasm, passion and dedication to educating people and their dogs.


JOHN BELL YOUNG (interviewer) who lives in rural Massachusetts, is owned by two magnificent and loving dogs: Ben, a black Labrador Retriever and Justice, an Irish Setter. A self-described amateur du chien with an appetite for reading as great as his lab has for kibble, he devours daily a voluminous amount of information about canine history, behavior, dog training, and breeds. When not playing with Ben and Justice, he is a concert pianist and recording artist for Sony Classical, Newport Classics, and Americus Records, and a widely published music critic. He is the author of five books published by Amadeus Press, and is currently at work on a sixth, this one about dogs and their celebrity owners.