Understanding How Behavior Works

Take a deep dive into understanding behavior from your dog’s perspective, as well as from the human side of the equation.

Kim:                  Welcome to Good Dog Pro, the weekly video podcast that’s all about having a good dog without using fear or pain. Hosted by Drayton Michaels, CTC, Pitbull guru and founder of Urban Dogs and ModernDogTraining.com; and Kim Merritt, co-founder of GoodDogInABox.com and GoodDogPro.com, and founder of The URL Doctor. This episode is brought to you by GoodDogInABox.com, reward-based dog training and dog bite prevention products for families with kids and dogs. GoodDogPro.com, the online content subscription and community for dog professionals with reward-based dog training products, curriculums and online courses to educate, motivate, and positively impact those that work with dogs. And ModernDogTraining.com, remote consulting for you and your dog with Drayton Michaels. Now let’s join Good Dog Pro.

Kim:                  Hi everyone and welcome to Good Dog Pro, the video podcast that is all about dog training with no fear and no pain. I’m Kim Merritt, I am the co-founder of Good Dog In A Box and Good Dog Pro, and I’m here with my co-host Drayton Michaels, pit bull guru and the founder of UrbanDogs.com and ModernDogTraining.com. How are you Drayton?

Drayton:                  I’m well thanks. That was a great intro.

Drayton:                  Thank you. So I want to just kind of give a little background on you and your training so that we can just kind of set the stage for what we’re going to be doing in this video podcast.

Drayton:                  Sure. I’ve been professionally working with dogs for 20 years. I started as a dog walker in New York City and then moved out to Seattle, did it there for a while, then came back East to New Jersey in 2005 and kept dog walking. In 2007 went to the Academy for dog trainers, which at the time was a six week course taught out of the San Francisco SPCA with Gene Donaldson and Janice Bradley. When I graduated from there, Urban Dogs put together a facility here in Red Bank, I started teaching out there doing puppy classes and so forth. Did a lot of work to look for shelter for a few years. And then in 2012, I went to a two day course with Bob Bailey and that was pretty life changing. And then in 2013, I did an eight week course with Dr. Susan Freeman, her course living and learning with animals. Basically if you want to know why I did this is because somebody said, “Hey, will you walk my dog?” And I said, “Sure.” And they said, “Well, we’re going to give you $25 an hour.” And I was like, “Uh, okay.” I didn’t even know you could make money as a dog walker. When I was in New York city, I saw people walking dogs, but I didn’t know they were making any money. I was just like, “Oh, they walk a lot of dogs.” So that’s how I started. Around 2004 I had a pit bull, Mojo, and there was all this stuff going on in the pit bull world. Advocacy, it was craziness. So I started researching and I said, “Well, you know, nobody is really talking about behavior.” And at this point I’d been around dog trainers and dog training enough where I was like, “Okay, so this is something that needs to be done.” So I decided to start researching and that led me to making The Pit Bull Hoax, which is a short film that I made in 2009. Along the way when I was researching that and learning about dog training, I found there was a concurrent advocacy problem: positive reward based dog training versus fear and pain training. So I kind of came into the game officially in 2007, I was now professionally certified and that’s why I became a certified dog trainer. So when I went out to advocate for pit bulls, I would have ammunition to talk about behavior because that’s what everybody’s concerned about anyway, behavior. We didn’t have a lot of flowery language and a bunch of feelings, but at the end of the day what everybody wants to know about was behavior. So that’s why I did what I did. I was fortunate enough to get a feature in Dog Fancy magazine, and in 2009 they did a pit bull issue. Any chance I’ve gotten to be on local TV, or I was on the Today Show, I started doing this with advocacy and media, all that in mind. It wasn’t just because I should, it was like I was going to do it all at the same time. So I kind of came into the dog world being a pit bull advocate, being a positive trainer, and being part of the media. Not only making media but being in the media, whether it was writing for magazines or being on television. So for me, I chose to do it this way because I just saw problems here and, I’ll be honest, I have a superhero complex so I get up every day, put on the cape, and fight the good fight.

Good Dog Pro Video Podcast Premiere

Kim:                  I want to just tell the story about how we got associated. So as the co-founder of Good Dog In A Box, our mission is all about dog bite prevention products and training. All reward-based, we did our first dog bite prevention week set of webinars, I had six lovely ladies, reward based dog trainers, who were all set up as guests. And I get this email from this Drayton Michael’s guy who I didn’t know at that point in time and said, “Hey, you don’t have any men on your lineup.” And it was like, “Oh, well you’re right, that that wasn’t on purpose.” A lot of the problem was I couldn’t find at that point reward-based dog trainers who were men, and Drayton contacted me and I got you on our lineup, and we did. And you are a continuously learning dog trainer, you are always learning. You’re always trying, they’re researching and improving, and we’ve got a very strong sense of wanting to put the message out there that you can train your dog without having to use a choke chain, without having to use a shock collar, without having to use invisible fencing. You can do it from a reward based fear free standpoint. And you know, that has been the basis of how this all got started.

Drayton:                  Yeah, and we need more people like you who are not dog trainers but are in the media. We need more people because there are more people like you who could be helping than people who are going to become dog trainers. And when I say people like you, I mean people who are in the media or creating media who love dogs. I give you a lot of credit because you’re not making a whole lot of money at this, and you’re doing this to help people, that’s your goal here, right? Because if you were doing it just for the money, we wouldn’t be doing this right now, you’d be doing something else. You could do all kinds of multilevel marketing to sell dog products and probably make tons of money. So that’s what attracted me is that you, I could see right from the outset just the optics of Good Dog In A Box. I could tell you’re not just trying to make money and that you’re trying to help people. Dog bite prevention isn’t just a week out of the year, it’s every day. So when you have media that you can put out and people can rewatch, then you’re helping. Like I said, anything that anybody ever watches that I do, whether it’s me being interviewed or me creating media, safety is my religion. I want all people with dogs to feel safe and be safe. Safety is my religion above everything else with dogs, I don’t do things with dogs that aren’t safe. I just don’t. If people see me doing something and they’re like, “Well that didn’t look safe.” No, it didn’t look safety to you because you don’t know my skills. And I tell people about that. You may not want to do what I’m doing, not because I’m doing something unsafe, not because I’m doing something that’s going to compromise a dog. It’s because from 5:30 in the morning to midnight every day, I’m in it. So you know when you see me doing something, if it looks weird you, it’s just because you don’t have the skills and it’s your perspective. But it’s safe.

Kim:                  Well, and we are here to educate, help the the dog owner, the puppy owner, the person who wants to get a dog Tell them how to minimize risk, make it safer, make their life for themselves and their dog and their family less stressful. And then on the flip side, for the professional dog trainer, the professional dog walker, pet sitter, or whoever is a professional that works with dogs, giving them more education, more information, resources on how to bring new methods, new thoughts up their game, share resources. It’s all just getting the word out that we can all be reward-based and pain and fear free.

Drayton:                  It’s a big myth that some dogs need it and others don’t, or some problems need fear and pain. No, that’s not the case, and the thing that I tell people is dogs need food and water. They don’t need shock and choke. You have to give dogs food. It’s a choice. Right? And it’s already been proven right. It’s proven. You can teach an animal, an animal beyond a dog, you can teach an animal anything you need to teach it without using fear and pain. So it is a choice. It’s a choice. It is not a necessity. It does not meet any need or requirement at all.

Kim:                  So you can either watch this video podcast which is a little bit different, we are videotaping every week. So if you’re a visual learner you can actually watch Drayton and I as we talk, and we’ll have some episodes with guests and some episodes with just be the two of us. Then you can also listen to the podcast on your favorite podcasting platform, whichever one you like to use. We’ll also have it posted on our sites. The first 30 minutes of the show is going to be geared toward the general public, the dog owner, the dog lover, that’s available to everyone. And then the second 30 minutes is really geared towards the dog professional, and that’ll be part of our Good Dog Pro subscription. And you can find out more about that at GoodDogPro.com, and Drayton is available at ModernDogTraining.com. He’s available to professionals and the general public for whatever your dog training issue would be. If you got questions, he’s your man. So we look forward to coming to you every week. And

Drayton:                  My pleasure. I’m honored to be here.

Kim:                  Hey, thanks Drayton.

Drayton:                  Thanks Kim.

Kim:                  Bye.

Drayton Michaels has been working with dogs professionally for over twelve years. In 2007, he earned his Certification in Dog Training and Behavior Counseling from the San Francisco SPCA Academy for Dog Trainers, directed by the renowned authors and dog experts Jean Donaldson and Janis Bradley. Drayton offers a specialty subsidiary of his Urban Dawgs, called Pit Bull Guru, and offers reward-based training and behavior consulting through ModernDogTraining.com. Drayton is the producer of The Pit Bull Hoax, a short film that set out to debunk common myths about Pit Bulls. His two YouTube Channels, Pit Bull Guru and Urban Dawgs have over 300,000 views.

Kim Merritt is a serial entrepreneur who started her first company, Kim’s Khocolate, at eleven years of age. As a teenager, she was discovered by Guy Kawasaki who invited her to make custom Khocolate for Apple. Kim went on to do business with The Rolling Stones, AT&T, MCI, Becton Dickinson, Bausch & Lomb, and Range Rover. Her second company, an e-commerce play, sold brand name dinnerware and home decor items across North America. She founded Good Dog in a Box with her sister, professional dog trainer Jenn Merritt, CPDT-KA. Her love of dogs and kids has pushed her to develop and co-develop a number of products, online training courses, and curriculums revolving around dog bite prevention and dog safety. Her latest endeavor, Good Dog Pro, is a subscription based online education system and community for dog professionals.

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