During the past 25 years, there have been amazing advancements in the dog world. To commemorate them, we set out to find the people behind these accomplishments—the innovators, thinkers and achievers who relished challenges and whose creativity, compassion and commitment helped reshape the world of dogs and our understanding of it. Without further ado, we present our honorees: The Bark’s 100 Best & Brightest.
Teachers on a grand scale, our mentors guide, support and generously share their knowledge. Where would we mentees be without them?
Patricia McConnell combines her love for dogs with a well-grounded scientific understanding of them. For decades, she has spoken and written about the ethological aspects of canine behavior and the importance of applying that scholarship to practical work that helps both dogs and people. She brought a vast knowledge of canine visual signals to a generation of dog trainers and other professionals, and was the first to teach about the signals’ importance for reading dogs, understanding their emotional states and predicting their future behavior. She has always valued understanding people and dogs in order to improve the relationships between them; Trisha truly likes people as much as she likes dogs, and is respectful and kind to members of both species. Despite charges of anthropomorphizing, she maintains that dogs’ emotions are important and can be studied. By discussing the natural behavior of both canines and humans, she has helped dog lovers be closer to their animal companions and communicate more effectively with them.
—Karen B. London
The gospel of Jean Donaldson—cheerful training with profuse praise and gentle correction—has happily permeated the world of co-pilots like water on a sponge, thanks to her bestselling books, including Culture Clash, Dogs Are from Neptune and Oh Behave!, and the Academy for Dog Trainers—sometimes called Harvard for dog trainers—that she founded and directed for a decade.
The public gleans practical wisdom from animal behaviorist Nicholas Dodman through his bestselling books, including The Dog Who Loved Too Much. But his fellow veterinarians look to him as well. The founder and director of Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine’s Animal Behavior Clinic, one of the first of its kind in 1986, Dr. Dodman works on the frontier of behavioral pharmacology—conducting groundbreaking studies on the use of medication to tackle knotty behavioral challenges, such as canine compulsive disorders.
Couldn’t survive without a Gentle Leader? Gratitude goes to R.K. Anderson. The multi-laurelled, multi-degreed veterinarian, epidemiologist, behaviorist, researcher and professor co-invented the tried-and-true headcollar as part of his mission to gently and humanely prevent behavior problems that land dogs and cats in shelters by the millions. Dr. Anderson is also a main mover behind the Animal Behavior Resources Institute, a free, collaborative educational resource with expert videos, podcasts and articles for professionals and their clients.
Training methods using rewards and a whistle or a click—more formally known as operant conditioning and bridging stimulus—have become so ubiquitous that most of us take them for granted. We tip our cap to the late Marian Breland Bailey, who (along with Keller Breland and Bob Bailey) developed these humane approaches and taught them to others for more than 60 years; thousands sharpened up their skills and became better trainers at the Baileys’ operant-conditioning workshops, a.k.a. “chicken camps.”