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Articles BIBLIOGRAPHY of Barry McDonald Experienced Dog Trainer/Handler

Barry is now a non-active speaker in the DogThink listserve. (I beleive that, as of 2007, this listserve is defunct.)

I found his discussions so insightful, and interesting that I asked Barry if I could keep a journal record for him. Such words would be wasted otherwise. PLEASE NOTE: Barry doesn't write any more articles.

Clicker Training... to heel and other issues

One of the most important pieces of clicker knowledge is to know when NOT to use a clicker

Advice for Beginners -- clicker training

Suggestions if you are starting to clicker train

obsessive-compulsive behavior

I was wondering if my dog has OCD

Running away and getting Dog to come back- The Recall

I am completely against breed-specific legislation. While effort to convince legislators and fight pending breed-specific laws are ....

"canine stereotypy"

Scent marking in the house

Where does most of us start off as a trainer?

Crating and arrivals and departures

Bite Inhibition

How to break up a dog fight

DAD Deritualization Anxiety Disorder Here are the specific indicators

Barking and E-collars

Promoting Socialisation, the nervous dog, body language, getting the dog to focus on you, learning from other dogs

Socialising your adult dog

Do dogs have feelings like us humans?

Separation Anxiety and other good training tips. "A correction must always be instructional!"

My dog is mounting! What to do...

Hugging your dog

The puppy who jumps at the table. How to train for a nice sit/stay elsewhere

"no" and "off": the difference in command

(2005) Barry lives in lower NY State. He has just begun my 30th year of teaching high chool English, and he also run a computer lab. He has published the school's literary magazine for about 8 years, and designed and maintained the school district's first web site for its first 4 years. Through teaching humans, he first became interested in behavior, its causes and the things that influence it.

He spent a couple years doing free-lance writing for magazines, mostly on technological and computer topics--but that was over ten years ago.

He has spent his life studying several martial arts, including the Japanese Aikido and the Chinese Tai Chi. He has studied Eastern Philosophy, meditation, and psychology in some depth. All of these things,which emphasize passivity and gentleness, existing in the present, letting go and relaxing, have contributed to his feelings about dogs and their training. (More about that below.)

He owns five dogs at present(2002), four of which were rescues from the Humane Society or SPCA. The only non-rescue is his 10 month old Basenji, pedigreed name "Wakan Let Freedom Ring," and called Pinto. The rescues include a 4 year Rottie mix with many health problems (hypothyroidism, acral lick dermatitis which as become a stereotypy (Obsessive-Compusive Disorder),inter-pack aggression caused by a type of anxiety-based aggressive disorder known as DAD (Deritualization Anxiety Disorder).

He also has a 4 year Shepherd mix, a Rottie/Husky puppy of 10 months, who is starting to turn into more of a Husky than a Rottie, and a 5 year old Basenji mix. He plans to purchase a second female Basenji from this winter's breeding to be a companion for his male, Pinto. Six will definitely be enough, he says! His wife, Lynn, shares in his love of dogs, and the two Rott mixes are the ones she favors and considers "hers" although the Basenji is a hard one to resist for anyone!

He has clicker trained all of his five, and has had to learn to diagnose and treat various common behavioral and health problems typical of kennel animals, so he is somewhat of an expert of canine rescues. He has some limited experience with using human medications such as Prozac and Elavil to treat mental disorders in dogs. He is a member of BRAT, the AKC, and the BCOA (Basenji Club of America).

He also has studied a great deal about large breed nutrition, especially in large breed pups, and specialize in analyzing body language and diagnosing and treating aggression and the problems of multi-dog households and rescues, as well as straightening out normal pets who have been either neglected or poorly trained by their owners. This involves counterconditioning and desensitization techniques, which he has become familiar with.

His interest in dogs began about five years ago when, after surgery on his arm, he was incapacitated for one summer. During that time, he was cajoled into helping take care of his son Joseph's dog while he spent most of his time playing in the orchestra and rehearsing at a local summer theatre. Up until that point, he absolutely hated pets and dogs especially, and never had had one as a child or adult. When his son left at the end of the summer, after he has spent several months with his dog, he felt an emptiness in his heart. (He was the first to be shocked!) He started visiting kennels and shelters, and within a year adopted my first dog, Shadow, the shepherd mix. He had spent the first 9 months of his life in institutions or who knows where, and when he got him, he was shy, submissive, and had NO IDEA how to play with anything! He was afraid to eat, and seemed to behave as though they had put poison in each of his meals! (today, he is 500%improved!)

As he adopted more dogs, each with their own problems, he became--to be frank--angry. Angry that people could allow these animals to become this way through neglect, overbreeding, poor diets, etc. So, one by one, he studied and researched and mastered each problem that each dog presented, dealing over the years with shyness, aggression, problems of a multi-dog household, training all his dogs in basic obedience, educating himself on nutrition and switching to super premium kibble, studying the causes and cures for hip dysplasia, thyroid problems, large breed skeletal disease, the effects (positive and negative) of neutering or spaying, and then becoming thoroughly immersed in the social structure of dog packs, the relationship between dogs and wolves, the evolution of dogs, and fell in love with two particular breeds, the Rottweiler and the Basenji--ironically at opposite ends of the size spectrum!

Though he is not a licensed dog trainer, he has trained dogs for four years, offered advice over the Internet to people in the US and other countries, and run a part time local training practice. He is an active participant in dozens of canine web forums. He believes that his independence from the licensed and sanctioned world of professional trainers gives him a unique outlook and some controversial opinions on dogs that help me to stay ahead of the crowd.

Training Philosophy:

He is primarily a Clicker Trainer or Operant Trainer, who mostly sticks to the tradition Karen Pryor methods and theories of the mid-1980's, but he does carefully add newer ideas when he thinks they are valuable.

He believes the average pet can be trained using 90% positive methods supplemented by some mild negative punishments such as time-outs or short periods of withdrawing attention. He is strongly against any abusive or aversive methods, and he has a much broader definition of aversive and abusive, unlike many who think of many traditional training methods or tools as acceptable! For instance, when people ask me which will give them more control, a choke collar, a studded collar, or a Martingale modified choke collar, he tells them he has no idea because his dogs are not trained on leash or in a collar. It is unnecessary! The only time they wear a plain soft comfortable cotton collar is when they go out in pubic, for the purposes of identification should they become lost! Even a normal collar can be a weapon in the hands of an aggressive "snapper." So he favours harnesses as the best restraint for dogs when necessary.

He does not believe in correction (or punishment) in the conventional sense of the words. He believes that if a dog's unwanted behaviors are ignored and not reinforced, they will diminish in frequency naturally. He believes the main work to be done in 80% of all training cases is to educate and "train" the owners, not the dog, and to increase the frequency of desired behaviours through repeated positive reinforcement! His signature line is "A dog cannot be bad, it can only be a dog." By this, he means to express the idea that dogs are creatures of nature who have no moral ideas about their actions, There is no right or wrong for a dog, only "works" and "doesn't work."

As with little children, when a dog breaks a vase or gets into something it should not, it is typically the owner's fault for not managing the household in a dog-safe and dog-friendly manner. He believes that unfortunately, many of today's popular beliefs about dog training are incorrect, outdated, and harmful. When books are written, the authors may change their views a decade later, but the words in the book stay the same forever! He also believes the overall intelligence and capacities of most dogs is very much underestimated!

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