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.

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.

Continue reading

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.
Continue reading

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.
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

Continue reading