Bryan Bailey has a gift.
Dubbed “The Wolf Whisperer,” Bailey is an expert animal behaviorist who has shared his expertise with several news agencies, along with veterinarians, dog owners and celebrities.
Bailey, who wrote a book in October entitled “Embracing the Wild in Your Dog,” has spent time researching dogs all over the globe, including studying canine problem solving and pharmacotherapy at Cornell and Tufts University and wolf behavior and social dynamics at Battleground, Indiana and Ely, Minnesota wolf conservatories. In addition, he is a certified Veterinary Technician and has professionally shown dogs in AKC Obedience, Conformation, Schutzhund and Ring Sport.
Bailey, who describes himself as “an avid outdoorsman” from Fairbanks, Alaska, said that he is a firm believer that our dogs have more wolf in them than what we suspect.
“All behavior has its anchor in genetics. Without genetics, you have no behavior,” said Bailey. “Some of that stuff has been suppressed over thousands of years of the domestic process.”
He points out that dogs and wolves share a pair of 39 chromosomes. Because of this link between today’s dogs and wolves, Bailey said it is important to understand how to treat the dogs we own.
Many Americans have dogs for companionship, but many also want dogs as an activity partner. But before you purchase a new dog to run with or take your existing dog out for a long run, make sure you have the right dog for doing so. And be sure to know what kind of runner you are, Bailey said.
“It’s very important that you establish your own goals,” Bailey said. “Think about that first and acquire a breed that can at least do those distances as good as you can or better.”
Once you know how far you want to run and what your goals are for fitness, it makes it easier to select a dog as a running partner.
Bailey said that if you plan on running long distances with a dog, “the more of an extreme athlete you need. It only makes sense that we pick breeds that are genetically engineered for that kind of movement.”
Rhodesian ridgebacks, Siberian huskies, German shorthair pointers and English setters are just a few examples of dogs that are quality long distance runners. If you’re entering 10K races or half marathons frequently, you’re going to want to have one of those dogs as your running partner.
“These are dogs that are made to run all day. They’re going to outrun most humans,” Bailey said.
If you just do casual running or hiking, you’ll want a good middle distance dog, Bailey said. Australian cattle dogs, labradors, German shepherds and Australian shepherds are middle distance dogs.
Once you get out and run, Bailey pointed out that it is important to monitor the dogs just as you would monitor yourself. Common sense things such as stopping for water, rest and shade are important to make sure dogs don’t overheat.
“If you’re hot, your dog is extremely hot. Make sure you have water and shade. Don’t push it too far,” Bailey said. “If the dog is either ahead of you or right next to you, you’re fine. The dog is doing well. It’s cooling enough and moving enough. If your dog starts falling behind you, we have problems.”
Bailey also has a solution for those whose dogs might bark or growl at humans or other dogs during a walk or run.
Bailey explained that if your dog is on a leash, their natural flight response is taken away. That’s why dogs bark and growl at other dogs. They figure that if they can’t run away, they will make other dogs or humans run away from them.
“You can end up with a dog that shows a little bit of aggression on a run to a full-blown attack dog,” Bailey said.
But by switching the dog to the other side of where oncoming runners are heading, it serves as a buffer between that aggression and will lessen their instinct to lash out.
Far more information is available in Bailey’s book, which he wrote to educate people on why dogs do what they do.
“We tend to view our dogs as little people in fur coats. It’s really gotten us in trouble,” Bailey said. “This is an understanding of what it is that you own. I cannot tell you how many times over the years how many problems I’ve seen with clients who thought their dog thought like they did and understood things like they did. The problem with thinking your dog is a person and not a dog can be minor to absolutely fatal. To help us with that, I wrote it. If you embrace it, you’ll understand exactly why your dog does every single thing it does. It’ll no longer be a mystery to you.”
Bailey’s book is available for sale at http://tamingthewild.com or on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other major book outlets. He plans to follow up his book with a book about dog aggression and a book on how to better train your dog.
About Bryan Bailey: Bryan Bailey is a nationally-recognized, award-winning animal behaviorist who has shared his expertise with Fox & Friends, WGN Chicago, SiriusXM, SheKnows.com, Dog World, At Home Mid-South Tennessee, Bloom Magazine and Fox News, along with veterinarians, dog owners and celebrities.
Bailey’s unique qualifications also include: nationally-certified Master Trainer and Pharmacotherapy Behaviorist, decorated veteran of the U.S. Navy, working extensively as a supervisor and trainer for the U.S. Navy’s dolphin and sea lion projects, honor graduate of the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy with duties including training supervisor of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department K-9 narcotics detection, and search and rescue teams, and trainer for the Indiana Department of Health and Social Services to train service dogs for children with Muscular Dystrophy.
He has also studied canine problem solving and pharmacotherapy at Cornell and Tufts University, wolf behavior and social dynamics at Battleground, Indiana and Ely Minnesota wolf conservatories, is a certified veterinary technician, and has professionally shown dogs in AKC Obedience, Conformation, Schutzhund and Ring Sport. Bailey and his wife, Kira, reside in Memphis, Tennessee, with their children, dogs and cats. Together, they own ProTrain Memphis and Taming the Wild.