All of my adult life – 1981 to present, I’ve made a living helping dogs and people understand each other better. Many people are misguided about the true nature and intelligence of dogs, or their role within our family structure. The “Old School” terms “Pack Leader” and/or “Dominance” were thrown out by science and top trainers many years ago. I was one of those “Old School” trainers; right out of High School I joined the Air Force where I trained police dogs. It was there that I had discovered my passion for animals and for training. I excelled quickly at this newly learned skill that, in just a few years, my assigned police dog “Joe” and I ended up competing in a worldwide Military dog handling competition.
After the 4 years of Military service (1987) I moved to Los Angeles where I got the chance to train animal actors for the television and motion pictures industry. Although our company (primarily) specialized with dogs and cats, I got experience working with many different kinds of animals. It was during that time I started “clicker training”, learning much more about animal behavior, behavior modification, non-aversive training methods and teaching people about operant and classical conditioning, which are the building blocks to how dogs learn.
Thank goodness for that early exposure to those “New School” techniques, because up until that point, I thought dogs did things out of dominance or because they wanted to please me. unfortunately people are still being taught “Old School” philosophies , i.e. if a dog walks ahead of you, through a doorway first, leaning on you, eat before you, etc. they are doing so to show dominance over you. and you must not let them or you will lose your “pack leader” position. Whoever is still teaching you this, must have fallen asleep for about 28 years. Run!
The experience during that time was invaluable but I grew tired of the long hours, so In 1991, I opened up my own dog training business in Los Angeles, later moving to Malibu. For 20+ years I was the dog trainer to the stars. Mel Gibson, Olivia Newton John, Pamela Anderson, James Cameron and Dick Clark, are just a few celebrity clients I worked for. During that time I became a member and attended many conferences of the APDT (Association of Pet Dog Trainers). Their goal was to educate many new trainers to positive reinforcement in place of the traditional dominance approach.
January of 2010 I relocate to Australia, the Gold Coast to be more specific. I then opened up a dog training business. I had many clients dogs that I also did pet sitting for and I had dogs around me all the time but deep down I knew that I wanted to adopt a cat someday. I had this idea to start a YouTube channel, I wanted to educate people more about cats, and the importance of spaying and neutering, keeping them indoors, not to declaw them, feeding the rights foods, show how smart and teachable they are, etc. So in April of 2012 I went to the shelter and found a cute 13 week old female kitten, very confident and energetic, I named her Didga (short for Didgeridoo) and today, 2016 we have over 43 million YouTube video views (over 90 million on Facebook) and Didga has many-many fans from all over the world who follow us on social media. Our video clips have been used in many programs and commercial all over the world, we’ve even attracted the attention of Camera giant GoPro who has “teamed-up” with us to create 6 projects in the coming months. I’m so busy with the cats that I’m not training dogs at this time, yes working with Didga and now the new cat “Boomer” is a full time job. I hope you come visit us on Facebook, Instagram and of course YouTube @catmantoo and follow along Didga and Boomer’s adventure’s.
Previous animals of mine: RIP Shultz (A miniature Schnauzer) and Quiz (a ginger cat) special pets of mine who were both talented enough to appear in television and movies. The Leeza Gibbons show, Americas greatest pets, Donnie and Marie show, Americas & Australia’s funniest videos, Worlds most amazing animals (Japanese production), Late night with David Letterman (stupid pet tricks) and Pet Star (Animal Planet). Schultz had a big role in the HBO movie “Devil In The Flesh”.