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Who was the first dog trainer?

Who was the first dog trainer?

It’s a fascinating question: who was the first person to actually train a dog?

Unfortunately, it’s also an almost impossible one to answer. After all, it is said that people have been training dogs since at least as long ago as Roman times. And unfortunately, the evidence we have of that tells us little or nothing about exactly who is likely to have been the first dog trainer.

As much as 2,000 years ago, it is also thought that Tibetan Terriers were being bred and raised by monks in Tibetan monasteries, to make them acceptable pets also capable of helping to look after flocks and herds. But again, this hardly tells us who the first dog trainer was.

Dog training has a rich and multi-dimensional history

In any case, it’s rather unlikely that dogs only began to be ‘trained’ in any way just a few thousand years ago. To get to the true origin of dog training, you’d probably have to go back a minimum of 15,000 years, when our prehistoric human ancestors started domesticating wolves.

That’s probably not the kind of task you’d want to take on now, even if you did have a time machine. We’re talking here about dangerous pack predators, with only the wolf cubs from the wolves with the shortest flight distance (this is where they choose to come close to human civilisation and eventually rely on humans for food) able to be taken into the dens of the cavemen of the day.

But it was those domesticated wolves that also stood the lowest chance of dying and the strongest chance of breeding, thereby helping to ensure more of these domesticated wolves were bred. It effectively began a story of friendship between dog and man that persists to this day.

Anyway, let’s get back to the subject at hand: early dog trainers. With us knowing relatively little about how dog training developed in the intervening time, I’ll fast-forward the story to just a few hundred years ago.

From the late 18th century, informal dog competitions were held in England as part of events largely resembling country fairs. Informal dog activities became popular in the country by early the following century, and in 1859, English dog fanciers staged the first organised dog show. The Kennel Club (England) held its first official dog show some 14 years later.

On the other side of the Atlantic, organised dog training was also gaining momentum in the United States of America. Competitions involving pointers, setters and hounds were apparently commonplace in the 18th century, with George Washington even maintaining a kennel of foxhounds at Mount Vernon.

The evolution of contemporary dog training

Read articles online on the history of dog training, and they might not even start with the above eras, instead of beginning with key 20th-century figures like Colonel Konrad Most, Blanche Saunders, Josef Weber, William “Bill” Koehler and Milo Pearsall.

There’s no doubt that these pioneers greatly helped to shape dog training into the sophisticated and influential practice it is today. None of them were the first dog trainer, but they nonetheless all played their part in making 21st-century dog training effective for the broadest range of dogs and behavioural concerns.

Would you like to learn more about the dog training services I can provide to resolve the behavioural issues that might be worrying you about your own canine friend? If so, don’t hesitate to book your free assessment call with me today.


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