Notes on Dr. Ian Dunbar

About a year ago, the Nanaimo Kennel Club hosted Dr. Ian Dunbar for a three-day seminar and hands-on workshop.  Part of that included a question-and-answer event where people who hadn’t attended the seminar (i.e. me) could come and ask questions and listen to his answers.  I intended to write a blog post with the crappy notes I took, but… yeah.  So I came across them now and decided that hey, why not just post them here so my readers can see A) my crappy note-taking skills and B) read some of the hilarious things that Dr. Dunbar said.  He really is an awesome speaker and he LIKED MY HAT.  He said that to me when I was poking around after the Q&A.

So here you go.  Notes, with commentary.

Auto shaping device (I assume this refers to a treat ball/food dispensing toy.  Why?  Educated guess.)
Food treats
Stops barking
Bark activity counter  (The first thing that came to mind was a collar that clicks in a number whenever a dog barks.  Probably not what he was talking about.  But, somewhere… probably on Amazon, there’s someone selling them.)
Food bowl – no
Don’t feed dog out of food bowl – use food dispense toys, chew toys
Intervention: take away the food bowl 
Reduce barks by 90%
Barkathon – let it out of the system
On cue. 1234
1. “Speak” Teach it to bark on command
2.  Accomplice
3. (Yeah, no number 3.  WE’LL NEVER KNOW.)
Treat add one second of silence each time
Fear based behaviour
“your dog is in pain every day. Same for the tiny dog as for the Rottweiler”  (This really resonated with me.  I had never thought of it this way, but it’s true.  Fear is not fun when you have no way of processing it like humans can.)
No treats, only kibble hand fed
Fearfulness is not funny in animals 
People ignore it
“Does anyone mind if I drink my beer?”  (Yeah, he really said that.  And had beer.)
“2 am, your dog is barking with two other dogs at the end of the yard an you’re getting laid: not such a good training scenario.”  (He said that, too.  Awesome guy.) puppy book for free
Biting: not appropriate 
Bite inhibition
Pain causes reaction – ow! Then walk away. 
Normal puppy behaviour 
Tie food treat holder in an open crate
Night: stuff with honey, bit of kibble
Teach dogs to want to do the behaviour. 
“Your dog doesn’t understand English”
Stop crying: jackpot. Sleep: jackpot
Bite: yelp. 
10 positive feedback to 1 negative
Puppies tugging on pant legs: play tug of war
Play rules
Dog cannot grab without requesting
Teeth touch hand game over
Instantly let go
You can let dogs win. 
Blew Cesar Milan’s mind  (I’m not sure what blew Milan’s mind… I don’t think Dr. Dunbar is a big fan of his.)
Alpha rollover: what do you want to teach the dog?  That you’re an asshole? (Like I said, awesome.)
Pay attention
Be directive and instructive
Puppy license until about 4.5 months old (Note:  This apparently does not apply to dogs like Tierce, who reserve the right to hate all puppies except the rude ones that get in his face.  Unless he decides to hate them, too.  I keep plodding along, trying to understand him.)
Don’t give up
Differential reinforcement
If this dog has blown me off, he is going to suffer. Training is the most exciting thing a dog can do – stopping training is a punishment. 
Teach the rules of the game
Make sure dog understands
Suggestion: like a stop sign in Canada (Heh.)
Reward training
You know why you have to punish the dog?  Because you were an idiot and you let him do it wrong.”
The most important pee is the one in the morning, the dark yellow one that can kill redwoods. (And how.)
Breed excuses. “You have a dog, now train it.”  (Dammit, I have a SHIBA.  That ought to count for something… anything?)
And those are my notes.  I’m just lucky that this wasn’t college, because my old notebooks have a line or two of legible text which quickly devolves into lines with intermittent breaks and the occasional squiggle.  Dogs doodled in the margins, that sort of thing.

One Comment

  1. Thoughts going through my mind.

    I love Ian Dunbar. And Cesar Millan. The two of them aren’t as different as the caricatures of Millan, or as Dunbar himself would have you believe. The great thing about Dunbar is his high intelligence, his experience, his education. The best thing about Millan is his message (Important to remember that he uses his own terminology. He uses certain words in a different way than other use them) (some complain about his “methods” but ignore his message) about “energy” and being “balanced”. This is just his way of saying that our emotional state affects our dogs. All good dog experts have that correct emotional state, including most definitely Dunbar, but none of them talk about it.

    I like Dunbar’s 10 positive feedback to 1 negative feedback rule. A much better rule than the “all negative feedback is abuse” crowd. It reminds me of John Gottman (researcher into marital relationships)’s rule that humans need 5 moments of pleasant happy interaction for every 1 part of unpleasant/quarrelsome interaction, to keep a good relationship. Interestingly, Gottman found that couples seemed to need the one part of unpleasantness as much as the 5 parts of pleasant stuff.

    “Bit causes reaction: Ow!” As a professional child caregiver, this reminds me of teaching one year old humans not to bite.
    Dunbar reminds me a lot of the best toddler (human toddlers) caregivers.

    I wish I could meet him.

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