I couldn’t decide between Jean Donaldson and Chirag Patel for this final week of trainers-who-influence-me month, so I decide to write about both of them.
I first learned about Jean Donaldson from reading her book, The Culture Clash. Since then I have read several of her books and taken her Great Courses Dog Training 101 Class. As a positive reinforcement trainer, Donaldson has influenced the profession for decades. Her books Mine! and Fight! are on trainers’ bookshelves around the world. Her style is straightforward and clear, giving trainers and dog guardians step-by-step instruction for teaching new behaviors like recall and for modifying more intense behavior like resource guarding or dog-to-dog aggression. In 1999 she founded the Academy for Dog Trainers, an intensive program for learning the art and craft of dog (and human) training.
In the early days of the pandemic, the trainer who ran the behavior modification program at the Oregon Humane Society shared Chirag Patel's talk Ten Things Your Dog Wishes You Knew with volunteers like me who were quarantining at home. His kindness and empathy were the first things I noticed, followed by his knowledge, patience, and creativity. While Patel started his career training dogs and their humans, he now works across a wide range of species both domesticated and wild with his company Domesticated Manners. I visit his YouTube channel frequently because it provides a wealth of training games and information. I’ve used his method for teaching the drop cue with many of my clients (and my own dog). Other games like the Counting Game and the Bucket Game are go-to training exercises for me and my clients.
All of the trainers I've profiled this month have left important marks on the training world, helping other trainers and pet guardians find the best ways to understand and teach their dogs while giving them enriched, full lives.