About Gary Wilkes

I have more than 35 years experience working with people and dogs. I have worked at the highest levels of competence and difficulty with real world behavioral control. A big part of my passion is the 8 years I spent in shelters, where killing unwanted animals was a big part of the job. Most of those owners would have kept the dog if simple solutions had been offered to them. At the time I didn't have anything to offer but a kennel and a two in ten chance of adoption. Now I have the solutions. I had to build them myself because those who claim to want solutions to the humane tragedy haven't bothered to. If I make a statement, it's based on more than 25 years experience with thousands of dogs. If it's speculation, I'll tell you. My goal is to provide information you can take to the bank. I hope you like the offering.

Gary Wilkes Jacksonville Seminar Dec. 9&10, Jacsonville, FL

We are going to have a blast in Jax! For those of you who don’t know what to expect, take a look at these links. They will give you a taste of construction tools that can dramatically improve performance for working and sport dogs. Contact Anne Baxter in Facebook or go to Dog Obedience Group of Jax

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Anne will be handling registrations.

Now for the fun stuff.

Targeting basics with a raw dog.

What you can do with it…

These are videos on my youtube channel, wilkesgm1. There are about 60 of them there and you can also see videos dealing with behavior modification and a variety of topics.


Prep for a Gary Wilkes Seminar…cont’d.

“The most sane voice in the dog training world is Gary Wilkes. His life experiences have qualified him from a unique perspective to point what is right and wrong in the dog training world. The man that brought clicker training (positive) to the dog world is also an expert and proponent of well-time, safe and effective corrections.”
Mark Fulmer: Owner, breeder, master trainer: Sarah Setter Kennels, Aiken, SC

To get you ready for one of my seminars, there are some simple things that can dramatically improve your experience. They are simple and require very little time. I have included links to blog posts and videos that you can examine in your spare time. I offer two types of information – basic and advanced. The basic stuff covers foundational knowledge that will get you up to speed, quickly. The advanced stuff won’t likely make sense unless you have experience that examines the topic in a manner similar to mine. Don’t be bothered if some of the information doesn’t make sense. It will.

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Burlington, Vermont: Two-Day Gary Wilkes Broad-Band Training Seminar Aug. 5/6

Teaching ‘agility’ behaviors with a target stick

This seminar will introduce you to real clicker training – the first practical and humane application of operant conditioning for dogs, from its creator.  You will gain first-hand knowledge of how to shape and control behaviors with precision and maintain great performance. You will also learn how to stop behaviors on a dime. No, this isn’t that namby-pamby “all-treats” stuff. You will learn to use the full spectrum of behavioral tools at your disposal. Contact Pam Loeb at rottnut@aol.com for details and registration.


More info: Pam Loeb – 802-985-5585
Sponsoring Club Registration Page: http://www.botcvt.com/Gary%20Wilkes%20registration%20form.pdf
Location: http://www.cloverfieldfarmvt.com/
or, on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CloverFieldFarmLLC/

Rather than a simplistic single-minded view, Gary Wilkes provides a balanced and broad perspective on controlling your dog’s behavior.  From competitive obedience to working dogs, dogs with neurological disorders or just dealing with a rowdy pet, this information will sharpen and polish your knowledge of dog behavior and allow you to realize your dog’s full potential. Come to this hands-on seminar and find out how to use the solutions from o

Broad Band Seminar, Durango, CO

ne discipline to solve problems in another. Broad Band Training Seminars will show you how to teach accurate and reliable behaviors without losing your dog’s spirit.


Agility seminar, Cato, NY

Gary Wilkes has more than 35 years working with animals – 8 in the humane industry in every capacity other than executive director. He has worked for the last 30 years as a behaviorist and trainer working with everything from dogs with neurological disorders, serious aggression and especially top performance working and competition dogs. Gary created clicker training for dogs between 1987-1992. When Gary and Karen Pryor introduced clicker training to dog trainers, he had already clicker trained more than 1,000 dogs, primarily by veterinary referral. Now that number is around 7,500 plus and growing.  His consultant list includes MIT, The Seeing Eye, US Army Special Ops Dog Training Command, search and rescue groups, service dog training schools and many others. His focus is always on top-level performance with working and competition dogs. He has years more experience using clicker training at the highest levels of difficulty than anyone else. If he makes a definitive statement it’s the result of direct experience over many years with many dogs. i.e. It’s not speculation. You can take it to the bank.

¨      The Basis of Learning —  Connecting Behaviors to Consequences: The purpose of the clicker is to create precise connections between well-defined behaviors and predictable consequences. This simple but powerful tool can dramatically improve your ability to control your dog’s performance.

¨      Strategies for Building New Behaviors – Getting the Behavior to Happen: Unlike theoretical images of operant conditioning, clicker training takes a proactive view of creating new behaviors. Learning to use free-standing and moving targets will allow you to rapidly develop behaviors, rather than waiting around for something to happen.

¨      Commands and Signals — How to attach commands to behaviors: Perhaps the weakest link in most behavioral control is the development of cues that consistently trigger acceptable behavior. The basic principles that govern  commands and signals are quickly learned and easily applied. Learning to offer your dog consistent patterns will rapidly improve his responsiveness to your requests.

¨      Controlling Behavioral Variability — Repeat vs. Variable, the essence of learning vs. performance: Modern education focuses almost exclusively on learning to repeat patterns. Teaching new behaviors requires an animal to intentionally deviate, over a series of repetitions. These functionally opposite tasks must be integrated into your training program or rapid learning and consistent performance cannot coexist. Learning to control how behaviors remain the same and when they are supposed to change is the key to a powerful clicker training program.

¨      Building a dependable repertoire — Integrating new behaviors into a dog’s current bag of tricks: When you have created a new behavior, such as “down,” you will invariably get more of it than you want. If you ask for “sit,” you will most likely get “down”. Ask for “roll over” and you’ll still get “down.” Ask for an aspirin, you will once again get “down”, “down” and more “down.” Dogs are certainly not one-trick ponies, but they are more accurately styled as “new  trick” ponies who tend to offer the behavior that has been reinforced most heavily, most recently. A proper knowledge of clicker training includes taking all the behaviors in a dog’s repertoire and creating a balance that allows you to get the behavior you want, when you want it.

¨      Troubleshooting and maintenance — Polishing behavior to make it stick and fixing it when it breaks: Using primarily positive reinforcement allows for deviation. Over time, any behavior will start to fluctuate, wander, decay or entirely disappear. Depending on the type of behavior, your strategy for repairing it may not be as simple as merely repeating your original shaping techniques. Appreciating how to repair and maintain behavior is as important as creating the behaviors in the first place and an integral part of behavioral control.

¨ Teaching Reliable Inhibitions: This seminar will include a logical and rational discussion of the use of aversive control in dog training and behavior modification and how to do it safely, effectively and humanely.

¨  Controlling Behavior Problems: Gary Wilkes has spent more than 25 years defining, refining and perfecting practical applications in settings as diverse as Delta Force War dogs, animals with neurological disorders and thousands of pet dogs with one foot three feet in a shelter and barely staying in the home. Bring your case histories and it’s all fair game.

Variable Consequences – Key Ingredient of Learning

Variable Consequences – Part 1.

“Consistency is contrary to nature, contrary to life. The only completely consistent people are the dead.” – Aldous Huxley

While Huxley may not have known much about dog training, his point was well taken. In order for  an  organism to be alive, it must be able to vary its behavior according to changing circumstances. Even though most forms of dog competition require consistent performance, behavioral variability is  a key ingredient to  creating exceptional performance levels. Trainers who understand how to use variability and consistency are better able create and maintain their dog’s great performance.
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Two Day Broad-Band Seminar – leaning toward gun-dogs and other working dogs

Aiken, South Carolina May 6/7, 2017
Contact: Mark Fulmer on Facebook or email me at wilkesgm@aol.com

This seminar is in the construction phase but it will be aimed primarily at hunters or those who wish to have great control in the field. As specific topics are firmed up I will amend this to whet your appetite. MageeGunDogsB


A couple family photos for you – circa 1920, Pineburr, Mississippi. MageeGundogA

2-Day “Broad Band” Seminar with Gary Wilkes – Phoenix, AZ January 28/29 2017


Using a target stick to teach S&R style “agility’.

seminarlocation1Contact for details, price and registration: Michele Wilkes scooterzmomi@aol.com
Lodging: See bottom of page

Phone: 480-649-9804

This seminar will introduce you to real clicker training – the first practical and humane application of operant conditioning for dogs, from its creator.  You will gain first-hand knowledge of how to shape and control behaviors with precision and maintain great performance. You will also learn how to stop behaviors on a dime. No, this isn’t that namby-pamby “all-treats” stuff. You will learn to use the full spectrum of behavioral tools at your disposal. The facility is guide dog school with a lovely open grassy area and covered areas in case it rains. We will have plenty of room to move around and shelter from the storm. Continue reading

The Emperor’s New Khaki Clothes.

Once upon a time I was asked to go to one of the most prestigious zoos in the country as a consultant. They are so prestigious that I was not allowed to refer to myself as a consultant. The behavior director gave me an intimate tour that included going past an adult ocelot in a long, narrow ‘natural’ cage about 30 yards long and 6 yards wide. The cat stayed at one end. He would leap up on the fence, leap to the corner fence, drop to the ground, head toward his starting point and do it again…and again…and again. The cat was clearly mad from confinement. Why was it on display? To attract customers. It was the only ocelot they had.ocelot

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An Open Letter to Dog Trainers:

After 8 years of watching the results of shelters and animal control I knew what dog owners needed. You can’t have people hand you their dog and not figure it out after ten or fifteen thousand. Yes, they lie on exit questionnaires. That should be assumed. They say what they can to get themselves off the moral hook. As they are new to the process of giving up a dog the use trite, non-justifications – they’re moving, The dog digs holes. It jumps the fence. All may be true – but the questionnaire readers swallow the lies and discount the truth. That is because they haven’t received 10,000 dogs from people. They extract the data and then twist it to their own purpose.
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The Formula

1) Strengthen tendencies toward a behavior that the dog can pigeon-hole as a unique behavior. This can be done with either positive or negative reinforcement.
2) Once the behavior is predictably replicable, precede the behavior with an arbitrary cue. If you wish to use different modalities (visual vs. auditory vs. tactile) put them in sequence, NOT at the same time.
3) Practice the pattern using positive reinforcement.
4) Create a situation likely to fail. Apply “punishment for failure to perform a known behavior in a timely fashion” – Do it right and do it right now. You may have to use positive reinforcement to increase likelihood of response. Then repeat this process until it happens ‘right, right now’. This is a critical step and may take several shots dropping to #3 to get to another round of #4.
5) Integrate the behavior into the dog’s repertoire so that you can get it when you want it and no other behavior conflicts. This will use reinforcement and punishment (both types of each) as needed to maintain high levels of performance and reliability.
6) Maintain the behavior as needed. If it fails, go back to step 1. Do not try to take a short cut by dropping to a slightly lower level of performance. You may have a fundamental error embedded in the behavior at any part of the process.

p.s. If you can’t state a concise formula for what you do, work on it. Simplifying it to basic principles helps clarify the process. It also makes trouble-shooting easier.