Dog training advice from Joel Silverman
A while back, I had the awesome opportunity to personally interview Joel Silverman. With an impressive thirty-year career behind him, Joel Silverman is one of the most popular and well-known dog trainers in America. He has published books on the subject, hosted “Good Dog U” on Animal Planet, and became host of a nationally syndicated TV series called “Dog & Cat Training with Joel Silverman.”
Please share some background information about your skill set and experience that makes you a pet expert:
Being a California native, I worked in nearly every theme park in Southern California early in my career. I originally started out training birds. I did the animal show at Universal Studios with "Fred" the Cockatoo from the Baretta TV series, and I have worked with a variety of other birds including hawks, eagles, seagulls, pigeons, doves, penguins, and ravens.
I went on to train killer whales at Sea World, dolphins at Knott's Berry Farm and Magic Mountain, and dogs and cats at Universal Studios. I adapted the techniques I developed to launch a successful career in training animals to star in live shows, Hollywood films, television programs and commercials.
What is your philosophy behind dog training?
Trainers have become quite adamant recently about “positive only” training methods, but I believe that is being very closed-minded. I believe in an open-minded approach. Bond to the dog with your heart, but train with your brain. In other words, don’t get emotional about your training efforts. Make it fun for the dog. Sometimes the dog will need correction. I view the correction as merely an “interruption” of the undesired behavior.
What do you think is the most crucial point for training a dog?
It is most crucial to build a relationship with your dog first. Find out what he likes and dislikes. You are uncovering your dog’s personality in this phase, which important in order to begin the training process.
What five actionable steps can you share to help owners with training their dog?
First, get to know your dog and build a relationship with him. Find out what he likes and dislikes. Even notice where in the house he prefers to build the bond.
Second, set a goal of what you want to accomplish. If you display any doubt, your dog will pick up on that doubt and be less responsive. Have a game plan.
Third, understand that you will train only part of the behavior in each session. Keep the training sessions short, about two to three minutes. Repeat the session several times a day.
Fourth, keep it as positive as possible when working with your dog, but understand there is a right way and wrong way for a physical correction. Corrections are merely “interruptions.” Be open-minded.
Fifth, always end on a positive note. You want your dog to look forward to the next training session. When it ends, go play with him, take him out for walk and just have a good time with him.
Please share information about your TV series.
A big part of the show is Dog Training where I go to people’s houses and work with their dog. We shoot live and come back and see how the dog has progressed. (At the time of this interview, “Dog & Cat Training with Joel Silverman” had been rolled out in over 50% of the nation.)
Why do you believe in and endorse Bil-Jac Foods?
I met the owner of Bil-Jac Foods during a dog training video shoot back in 1990. At the time, I thought all dog food was the same. When I started learning about how Bil-Jac processed the food in order to preserve the amino acids and nutritional value, it made a lot of sense to me. I endorse the product, and I advise the public to find out what independent researchers are saying. It’s a good product that all trainers use. You can learn more about the product and the nutritional difference on this Bil-Jac Foods website page.
Learn more at the Joel Silverman website.
Susan, Taurus and Gemini
First published on Examiner.com