I trained my first dog at the age of 16 using “The Koehler Method of Dog Training.” For those of you under the age of 40, W. Koehler trained most of the animals in Walt Disney’s movies of the 1950s and 60s. It went out of favor by most because of its use of “positive punishment.” I also studied Cesar Millan, Dr. Ian Dunbar, Doggy Dan, Jean Donaldson, Karen Pryor, among many others in my past, to develop my professional dog training in Minnesota.

I mentioned above some of the dog trainers that I have studied over the years. They represent a diverse collection of methods, philosophies, and techniques. I believe that there is a definite advantage to being aware of these differing philosophies. I don’t believe that anyone’s philosophy is a panacea when it comes to training dogs. Each dog is different, and not all dogs or behaviors respond well to a particular technique. It is helpful to have a wide range of behavioral techniques to fall back on when one particular technique is not working for your dog or a particular behavior you are trying to eliminate. It is also advantageous to study these differing philosophies because you learn very quickly that those who have not studied philosophy other than their own tend to have erroneous beliefs. For example, some trainers believe that dogs exhibit dominance and submissive behaviors. Some trainers believe in positive-only techniques. Both groups exhibit misconceptions about the other. For instance, I commonly hear from the positive only trainers that they believe that those that believe in dominance training use corporal punishment to dominate the dog. Nothing could be further from the truth. Dominance trainers also don’t believe that every dog’s behavior is because they are trying to be dominant over you. On the other hand, many trainers who believe in dominance believe that the positive only trainers have only one response when it comes to training dogs. That is to avoid the problem behavior and redirect.  This is also an erroneous belief. Positive only trainers do offer specific training techniques that can be used to eliminate unwanted behavior.  They don’t believe that simply ignoring the problem will make it go away.

I have come to believe that a “balanced approach” works best.  I take the best ideas from all of the trainers I study and put them into practice.  I am a lifelong learner, and although I have been studying animal science for over 45 years, I continue to learn new ideas everyday. Dog training is not an exact science, so trainers should continue learning, studying, and keeping an open mind to new ideas.

I would love to discuss all of my techniques and philosophies on professional dog training in Minnesota, so feel free to contact me today for a free consultation, and I will explain in much greater detail!


Don Dahlberg