Bonus: A brief history of modern dog training (audio of lecture from the SFTD Professional Course)


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Warning: If you're not a very nerdy aspiring dog trainer or a science geek when it comes to the history of the study animal behavior, this episode might not be for you! You've been warned. Annie talks about the evolution of dog training, starting with hypotheses about the domestication of dogs, the rise of the "pet" dog in the late 1800s, covering the work of Pavlov and Watson in the early 1900s, the birth of clicker training in Skinner's lab in the middle of the century, up through the rise of dominance-based trainers on TV in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

This is the audio from a lecture Annie put together for the School For The Dogs Professional Course. School For The Dogs has been training up dog trainers for four years, and is in the process of putting much of this curriculum online for aspiring dog trainers. If you're interested in learning more about the SFTD Professional Course and would like to be notified when it launches, email

Partial Transcript:


So this is a bonus episode that is really for listeners who are super nerdy about dog training. You’ve been warned if you end up finding it’s boring, you might not be nerdy enough. I recorded this for our professional course which we have been building out and really putting the finishing touches on. We’ve had a professional course for a few years, but we’ve been working on putting the majority of it online with both on demand and live interactive parts. If you’re interested in learning more and being notified as soon as it officially launches, just email me, and I will give you more info.

But yeah, so this is the audio of this lecture. There is a PowerPoint and video, too, which obviously you’re not going to experience because this is a podcast. But I thought I put it up here, because when I first got interested in dog training, I really didn’t have any context for any of it. So I put this presentation together to try and give some context, and answer the question where did, for instance, where did clicker training come from? And why isn’t it more widely used, and was it just recently invented et cetera, et cetera.

So, hope that if you are an aspiring dog trainer or are just a geek about this kind of stuff as I am, I hope you will get something out of this. All right, here you go. Oh, and by the way, if I sound like I’m talking a little bit slowly or whatever, it’s because I’m going through slides while I’m talking. So that is that is my full disclaimer. Now go forth and listen.

This lecture is going to be a brief history of dog training. This is not meant to be a comprehensive history, but rather something that touches on both the last century-ish of dog training and with an attempt to put it into the larger context of dogs in the human world over time.

Did humans really domesticate dogs? We tend to have this assumption in our culture that domestication is something that we did to dogs. Actually, the more likely scenario is probably one of co-evolution, with natural selection favoring dogs who could exist in the human realm, favoring dogs who were less fearful of humans and more likely to engage in behaviors that human liked. Or have performed some kind of job for humans. The most basic job probably being eating a family’s scraps, which would reduce the amount of disease carrying vermin.

Full Transcript available at

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