Mark is a degreed engineer and worked in the automotive industry for nearly 20 years. During that time, he owned a dog that had behavioural issues, and in 2006 decided to complete a course in dog training. While completing that course, Mark discovered his calling and decided to pursue it full time as a career. He later left automotive to pursue his passion of dog training.
Mark holds these formal dog training qualifications:
Mark is also a member of these professional organisations:
Continuing education is vital for dog trainers to keep up with the latest methods and research. Mark has made an effort to study as much as possible and continues to refine his methods and techniques based on industry best practice and scientific research. Below are some examples of Mark’s continuing education:
2016: 3 day APDT (USA) conference in Las Vegas, USA
2015: Became Victoria Stilwell Positively Certified
2014: 3 day APDT (USA) conference in Hartford, CT, USA
2014: Completed Canine Social & Physiological Development course (with honours)
2013: 3 day APDT (AUS) conference in Sydney
2012: Dangerous Dog Handling and Assessment seminar
In addition, Mark is an active Delta Therapy Dog Volunteer since 2012, and takes his dog to visit patients and staff in hospital. For more information, or to volunteer with your dog, please contact the Delta Society Australia.
Like a lot of trainers, Mark studied and began training using traditional punishment and “pack leader” (dominance) based methods and philosophy. This had worked for decades and was standard at the time.
But things are always improving. Studies in psychology have shown us better ways to discipline and raise our children. Similarly, scientific studies regarding dog behaviour and cognition have shown us better ways to train our dogs.
The “pack leader” and dominance based training philosophy has been debunked. Please see this page for Articles Debunking Dominance Theory, including links to numerous articles and papers explaining in detail why this is now considered outdated. In addition, there are position statements from both the APDT (USA) and The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behaviour. Both declare that we should not be using dominance based training techniques for our dogs. Mark has read and fully agrees with these positions.
There are also studies into the tools and techniques of dog training that have proven conclusively that dogs trained using aversive punishment-based techniques (technically called “positive punishment”) develop into more aggressive dogs. Therefore, we should avoid using positive punishment at all costs.
The alternative way we can train our dogs is to manage consequences in a neutral or positive fashion, without using pain, fear, intimidation, physical force, etc. This modern style of training uses Positive Reinforcement.
Mark has joined this philosophy wholeheartedly. This is demonstrated by his becoming the first Victoria Stilwell Positively Dog Trainer in Australia (check separate page for details), and Mark’s absolute refusal to condone the use of check chains, shock or e-collars, physical force, etc.
Unfortunately, many people who claim to be “positive” trainers (or “balanced” trainers) still use punishment, force, or outdated dominance methods. Victoria Stilwell has an excellent article How to choose a good dog trainer and red flags to look for and avoid.
Mark welcomes any questions or conversations about his training methods and why he believes this is the only way forward with training our pet dogs, cats, or any other animal!
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Advice, News and Tips
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