In the kennel with … Peter Neville

Clickety Clips interviews top dog trainers & behaviourists

Peter Neville, Professor in Companion Animal Behaviour
Peter Neville has been in practice for the treatment of behaviour problems in pets for over 25 years. He is a founding partner of COAPE (Centre of Applied Pet Ethology) which offers a range of residential and distance learning courses in companion animal behaviour and behaviour therapy and Adjunct Full Professor, Dept of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University, USA. He is a lecturer and speaker in high demand at veterinary, behaviour and training meetings around the world.

He is also the author of the best-selling books Do Cats Need Shrinks? and Do Dogs Need Shrinks?
and helps run ‘behind the scenes’ special safaris with top South African wildlife veterinarian Dr Peter Brothers, observing the behaviour and studying the ecology of African wildlife, especially the African Wild Dog.


CC-vsmll-logo-pple How would you advise owners on the best way to bond with their dog?

PN: Take time and be kind, teach and develop clear signals to help your dog learn what you want of him, read his body, facial and other language so that you learn what he is trying to say to you, never punish, never distance yourself in the relationship, play lots. Never forget your dog views you as a parent, not some autocratic pack leading despot – that type of thinking belongs to the dark ages.

CC-vsmll-logo-pple What would be your 3 top tips for owners wanting to be a good dog trainer?


  • Take time – lots of it
  • Only ever use reward-based training
  • Work within both your own patience limits and concentration span, and those of your dog

CC-vsmll-logo-pple And your advice on 3 things owners should never do when training their dog?


  • Never punish verbally or physically
  • Never use equipment designed to hurt such as choke chains
  • Never reach the point of your or your dog’s frustration – know when to take a break

CC-vsmll-logo-pple In your experience, what do owners find most difficult about dog training?

PN: Communicating in a way that the dog can understand. (Many novice owners especially, don’t realise that their dog has no idea what is expected of them in training, and speaking English to your dog doesn’t help: words are simply cues, not language.)


 CC-vsmll-logo-pple And, finally, what do you envisage the greatest challenges will be for pet dogs – and their owners – over the next 10-20 years?

PN: Overcoming the problems of restriction by local councils and government about where responsible owners may take and exercise their dogs. The planet is getting ever more crowded with people and dogs alike, and more and more rules will come into force that place huge adaptive demands on us all for a peaceful co-existence.

Peter Neville is a founding partner of COAPE which offers dedicated and independently accredited professional training programmes in companion animal behaviour and behaviour therapy. Find out more »

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