dog training based on genetics


Domestic Animals Book CoverMark Deesing began his career in the livestock industry as a farrier and horse trainer. In 1993 he met Temple Grandin. They first began to work together on research and writing projects and co-authored four books together; “Genetics and the Behavior of Domestic Animals” 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Editions (Academic Press, 1998/ Elsevier 1998, 2014, 2022), and “Humane Livestock Handling” ( Storey Publishing, 2008). Mark and Dr. Grandin pioneered work using facial hair patterns to predict temperament and fertility in cattle and published several refereed journal articles on their findings. This research led trainers of seeing-eye dogs to discover some exciting similarities in dogs (see blog).

Mark Deesing, Dog TrainerMark lived on a ranch in Colorado during his 27-year career working with Dr. Grandin. Horses, dogs, and cattle all enjoyed the ranch. Since his early days working with horses, Mark liked and raised Red and Blue Heeler cattle dogs. In 1998 he learned of a rare native dog called the “Carolina Red Dogs” and people’s difficulty taming them. Intrigued, Mark liked the idea of learning to tame a wild dog with a reputation for biting people. His first dog was 14 weeks old and had little or no socialization with people or dogs other than her littermates. She was terribly fearful, but she learned to get along well at the ranch with patience and a gentle hand, but anything new or away from where she was comfortable caused her to panic.

The next Red Dog Mark took home at six weeks, where she was never left alone for the next several months. Socialization away from the ranch began at eight weeks with daily walks on the campus of Colorado State University. It was there where she lost most of her fear. People, traffic, noise, bikes, and other dogs around all the time systematically worked to calm her and get her used to all the things the first Red Dog never accepted.

From his work in animal behavior, he learned that a scientifically valid approach to training dogs was lacking. Ask a dozen different dog trainers how to train your dog, and you’ll likely get a dozen different answers. Most trainers use Dominance Theory, Positive Reinforcement, or what some call “the Scientific Approach.” When choosing a trainer for your dog, it’s essential to understand which methods they use and why. What may work for one dog might not necessarily work for another. Some dogs benefit better from the Dominance Theory; others may respond better to Positive Reinforcement. At Dog Behaviorist UT, we tailor the training to the individual dog using an extensive understanding of canine behavior and cognition to teach dog owners how to communicate and train their dogs effectively.