How to Find a Good Dog Trainer

How Pet Professionals Can Use the Hierarchy of Dog Needs

DVD: Learn to “Make the Case” for Force-free Dog Training

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This series of blog posts recounts topics drawn from the Pet Professional Guild Radio Show, featuring Linda Michaels (2).

What are some of the benefits of using Positive Reinforcement (+R)?

Answer: The benefits of using Positive Reinforcement training with our companion animals are pretty much the opposite of the drawbacks of using aversive punishment.



Goodness, today, all progressive zoos and wild animal parks use management and positive reinforcement ONLY even with large and potentially dangerous animals. 

Surely, we can train our pet dogs without the use of aversive punishment, whatever the task.Read more

Hierarchy of Dog Needs TM. Linda Michaels, M.A., — Del Mar Dog Training

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Introducing the The Hierarchy of Dog Needs TM
A Wellness and Humane Force-free Behavior Modification Guide
Created by Linda Michaels, M.A. Psychology, Del Mar Dog Training

The Hierarchy of Dog Needs was developed as a progressive Force-free alternative to the paradigms that have been, and that are currently available. You will note in the Hierarchy of Dog Needs TM that neither Positive Punishment, Negative Reinforcement, Negative Punishment nor Extinction appear in the Force-free Training block: Indeed, they are purposefully absent. This easy-to-use training guide for Force-free dog training was long in the making. The principles apply to ALL animals. The guide is available FREE.Read more

Del Mar Dog Trainer Linda Michaels Rated in the U.S. Top Ten. Linda Michaels, M.A., — Del Mar Dog Training

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Best dog trainer del mar california

Linda Michaels Dog Trainer Del Mar California dog trainer positive

Photo Courtesy of Ambassador Journey and Nicole Marlin

Del Mar dog trainer Linda Michaels M.A. Psychology, was recently named one of the top ten dog trainers in the U.S. by Top Ten Magazine. Linda is the only all-positive dog trainer on the list serving Del Mar, La Jolla, Rancho Santa Fe and the coastal Southern California cities between San Diego and Beverly Hills. The list was compiled based on a combination of fame and experience, as well as her Master’s Degree in Experimental Psychology, research experience in Behavioral Neurobiology,  Victoria Stilwell professional license (Animal Planet’s It’s Me or the Dog fame), numerous professional dog training credentials including the Pet Professional Accreditation Board (PPAB) coveted Professional Canine Trainer (Accredited) PCT-A credential where she was among the first 20 certificants to pass their rigorous test, plus her 15 years of experience, earning her a spot on the list.Read more

Open Letter to Canine Research Scientists. Linda Michaels, M.A., — Del Mar Dog Training

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Del Mar Dog Trainer Linda Michaels, M.A. Psychology, calls on canine research scientists to lead the way on the ethical treatment of companion animals and take a stand against shock collars.

It would require a long list to delineate the benefits of companion animal canine research conferences and live streams. Admirably, these conference bring canine researchers into the mainstream of the canine applied practices fields, i.e., dog training. Many pet parents and trainers take careful note of scientific positions and plan to incorporate the lessons-learned into their practice. The researchers benefit in kind from relationships forged with dog trainers and pet parents.Read more

Wolfdog Radio Online with Linda Michaels, MA. Feb 15 5pm PST | 8pm EST — Learn to Train Your Wolfdog with Positive Reinforcement. Linda Michaels, M.A., — Del Mar Dog Training

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Listen to the Wolfdog Radio broadcast, with special guest, Linda Michaels, MA Psychology, and learn how to use the principles of Positive Reinforcement/ForceFree training to help develop a trusting, working relationship with your wolfdog. Linda outlines the techniques of Reward-based Training and Benevolent Leadership that you can use to get more of the behavior that you want, and less of the behavior that you don’t want. Find out how you can ameliorate some of the most common behavior issues with your beloved wolfdog. Learn to communicate with your wolfdog in a language he/she can understand through signals and manipulating resources. Discover the importance of ultra-early socialization and how to prevent and decrease fearfulness/shyness.Read more

What is your dog thinking… Linda Michaels, M.A., — Del Mar Dog Training

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Screen shot 2015-01-30 at 11.09.52 AM


Local expert keeps things on positive level when it comes to dialogue with dogs

By Diane Y. Welch


Linda Michaels and Ambassador Wolfdog Journey

Linda Michaels has positioned herself as a leading authority on force-free, positive pet training. 
If you’ve ever wondered what your dog is thinking, pet psychologist Linda Michaels may be able to give you some clues. From her decades devoted to the care and understanding of canine companions, Michaels comes as close as it gets to reading doggy minds.

It is a skill derived from her degree in experimental psychology from San Diego State University, paired with thousands of hours of practical experience with dogs and years of volunteer work at the San Diego Humane Society, said Michaels.Read more

2014 Art for Barks Hero Dog Awards. Linda Michaels, M.A., — Del Mar Dog Training

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The First Annual Service Hero Dog Awards at the San Diego Polo Fields!

14555 El Camino Real, San Diego CA

If you love dogs, art, fashion, and horses, please join us for a truly delightful and amazing afternoon in support of our local canine heroes.The San Diego Polo Club is hosting an Art for Barks fundraiser, to celebrate the Spreckles Cup, a SD Fashion Week Service Dog runway show, Arabian Horse Demonstration and much more! Linda Michaels, MA, Del Mar dog trainer along with Victoria Stilwell and Dr. Marty Becker and other local businesses, are proud to sponsor Art for Barks — non-profit artist and educational advocate for dogs, First Annual San Diego North County’s Service Hero Dog Awards contest!

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UT Pet School: Grazing Game™. Linda Michaels, M.A., — Del Mar Dog Training

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keep dogs busy grazing gamesThis is an excerpt from Linda’s book, Do No Harm™ Dog Training and Behavior Manual, available to download here.
The easiest, scientifically endorsed methods to train and socialize your dog involve food. If we couldn’t go to the grocery store and bring home bags of groceries, we would be asking, “Who’s got the food? What can I do for the people who have the food?” Use your dog’s ration of food calories to train basic skills and to help your dog overcome socialization difficulties. Food can be used as a reward, to enhance emotional connections, and to dispel fear. It can effectively focus, redirect, distract, and calm a hyperactive, fearful, or noise-phobic dog, and safely treat all types of aggression.

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FINDING A GOOD TRAINER. Linda Michaels, M.A., — Del Mar Dog Training

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UT Scratch & Sniff 2013 Logo




One of the most important decisions you will make in paving a path to happiness with your pet is choosing a competent and kind dog trainer. The absence of standard credentials required by law, or established professional ethics, makes it problematic for pet parents to find a great trainer in an unregulated field.

Journey, wolfdog ambassador of WolfCreekRanch, admiring his harness.

Journey, wolfdog ambassador of WolfCreekRanch, admiring his harness.

However, science and culture are moving away from punishment/pain-based methods. Behavioral scientists resoundingly endorse dominance-free, reward-based training as the most effective, long-lasting and safest method, particularly for aggressive dogs who may bite if underlying issues are not adequately addressed.… Read more


Linda Michaels, M.A. Psychology, Del Mar Dog Training, serves clients in Del Mar and San Diego County from La Jolla to Carlsbad, plus Rancho Santa Fe, Hollywood, and Beverly Hills. Linda Michaels was recently rated one of the top ten dog trainers in the United States, by Top Ten Magazine. Linda has a master’s degree in Experimental Psychology (Hons), and is the creator of the Hierarchy of Dog Needs™ (HDN). She focuses on the psychological aspects of dog behavior that often mirror human psychological conditions, such as: fear, separation/attachment disorders, and aggression toward humans and other dogs. She also teaches private, customized basic manners/obedience lessons for dogs of all ages and every breed.

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