A new slant on dog training

Excerpt from 
Dog Training For Humans
The Book Your Dog Would Want You To Read
By Bruno Gradi
Copyright © All rights reserved.

My philosophy is based on the notion that dog training, at its core, is about changing the owner’s habits and routines, rather than making the dog obedient and submissive.

Whenever I am presented with a case of a “bad dog”, I never ask “Why does this dog behave this way?” What I want to know is  “What do the humans around this dog do that make this dog behave the way he does?”

Most “dog problems” can be traced back to insecurity. Not the dog’s, but the owner’s.

The dog is not the issue, folks. We are!

Therefore, whenever we aim for behaviour modification, it must always begin within ourselves. A dog that lives with humans who comprehend, and meet its basic needs will require no constant correction. Dogs are simple, people are complicated. Truth be told, I have never met a dog I couldn’t work with, but I encounter people who are unwilling to put in the work and time necessary to learn how to behave around dogs.

What you want from a trainer

As an instructor, I intend to approach every case with humility and curiosity. Regardless of the subject, a trainer’s most effective tool is being curious. And when he ceases to be curious, he ceases to be a trainer.

Dog training is not about diplomas and certificates.The fact that someone can pontificate for hours about clicker training, or the the evolution of the wolves into lupus familiaris (domesticated dog) is useless if it will not help you to convince your dog to come back on the recall command.

Dog behaviourists tend to see the world that there are problems, and then there are solutions. My approach is different. I believe people can feel insecure and troubled, and what we first need is compassion and understanding.

Non sumus hic ad iudicandum, sed ad auxilium. “We are not here to judge, but to help.” This very phrase should be written above the gate of every dog school in the world. 

Most people genuinely strive to provide a wonderful life for their dog. And even if they make mistakes, it is because no one cared enough to enlighten them in a non-judgmental way on what to do, and how to do it. 

What is my job

Nevertheless, I am still being paid to get results. My job is to study and dissect a case, and find a way to (re)establish harmony between man and his dog. When all parties (owner, pooch and coach) are on the same page, pursuing a mutual goal, it is a marvellous collaboration for the benefit of all. And that's what I pledged to do: to help people realize that there is no need for harsh and stentorian training to make a “good doggy”.

I also strongly believe, and it is fundamental for understanding my “method”, that we never have the dog we wish for – we always get the dog that can teach us what we need to learn about ourselves.


Therefore, when we are faced with a “dog issue”, instead of rushing to find a fix, we must stop for a long moment, and think it over: what is it that our dog is trying to tell us? You mean there is something we need to learn to better ourselves as humans? No shit.


If nothing else, dogs can certainly teach us the three As: Attend, Accept, Adapt.


(If you have a feeling that this lad is more interested in the spiritual aspects than the technical part of training dogs, you are absolutely right.)

A new slant on dog training

The greatest barrier to dog training is our own fear that through the behaviour patterns of our dog, our worst personality faults will be revealed to the world, such as impatience, carelessness, laziness, and a bunch of scary phobias.

Dogs are living mirrors: what is wrong with us, humans, they clearly manifest in their behaviour.


Simply put, for most of us, the truth cuts too close to the bone.

The reason why a dog suddenly goes off the radar, and stops coming class at our dog school is not lack of time or money, but the owner's realization: “Holy crap, if I keep doing this, I might be found out…” We have seen it too many times.

No dog ever rebelled against coming to my class or training session, but I have lost students because they were unwilling to confront their own shortcomings.


Which is sad, as that is exactly why one should keep pushing on with the training: to have a chance to see what needs to be improved about himself – and not about the dog. The truth is, your dog acts in a certain way to make you get some help.  Dogs can’t speak. Their behaviour is their way to tell us: “Dude, something is wrong with your brain. You’d better get some training...”

For some, this idea may sound “too deep”, from a spiritual point of view, but never be mistaken to believe that you are the one who brings the dog to class. It is the other way around.

This is a new viewpoint regarding dog training, one you may have never heard before. But those who are willing to embrace it are up for a wonderful surprise: training your dog is a lot simpler than you had ever thought, as our dogs WANT US to be trained.

Speaking from experience: when a man starts to act like a fine dog owner, his dog will start to act as a well-behaved dog.

As simple as that.