Dog Training – An Interview with ChatGPT

Michael Baugh CPDT-KSA CDBC

If you don’t know what ChatGPT is ask any teenager. Our friends’ 13-year old son regaled us with its magic over dinner recently. He swooned with the enthusiasm of a boy who’d met his first love. “look,” he said, “ask it anything.”

So, ask I did.

Michael: How do your source your information?

ChatGPT: I am a large language model trained by OpenAI, and my knowledge is based on a dataset that includes a wide range of online sources, including articles, books, and websites. The dataset used to train me was created by scraping the internet and includes a diverse set of texts, including news articles, scientific papers, and literary works.

It’s not secret.  We dog trainers already know you scour Google and YouTube for dog training information. But, what if you had real (or at least emerging) artificial intelligence at your fingertips? How well could ChatGPT handle your questions? We sat down for an interview (I sat. Does AI sit?).

Michael: Tell me what you know, in general, about dog behavior.

ChatGPT: Dogs are highly social animals and have evolved to live and work closely with humans. As a result, they have developed a range of behaviors that allow them to communicate and interact with us. Understanding and interpreting these behaviors can help us build stronger bonds with our canine companions and train them more effectively.

Okay. Impressive. We were off to a great start. ChatCPT is quick, articulate, and pretty spot-on. It went on to list some common dog behaviors and then added this.

ChatGPT: Dominant behavior in dogs may include standing tall, making direct eye contact, and growling or snapping. These behaviors are often displayed when a dog is trying to assert its dominance over another dog or person.

Michael: Are there any concerns about framing dogs as “dominant” or “submissive” when training them?

I certainly had concerns about asserting dominance in dog training. That’s when my interview subject deftly clarified its position.

ChatGPT: The terms “dominant” and “submissive” have often been used to describe and categorize dog behavior, but they are not without controversy. Some experts argue that these terms can be oversimplified and may not accurately reflect the complexity of dog behavior and social dynamics…. Instead of trying to fit dogs into rigid categories of “dominant” or “submissive,” it may be more helpful to focus on understanding and reinforcing positive behaviors and teaching dogs to communicate and interact in appropriate ways.

Using punishment-based training methods or trying to “dominate” a dog in an attempt to establish dominance may be harmful and may lead to negative outcomes such as fear, anxiety, or aggression in the dog.

Wow. It looks like someone has been studying. I pushed to see if there was a bit more depth to the AI’s knowledge.

Michael: How can positive reinforcement help dogs who have aggressive behavior?

With barely a pause and nary a hint of nervousness under the bright lights of inquisition, ChatGPT whipped our a worthy list.


  • Use rewards to reinforce desired behaviors: Rewarding your dog with treats, praise, or other rewards when it behaves appropriately can help to reinforce positive behaviors and reduce aggressive behavior over time.
  • Use a consistent and predictable training routine.
  • Avoid punishment-based training methods: Punishment-based training methods, such as yelling or physical punishment, can be harmful and may actually increase aggressive behavior in some dogs.
  • Gradually expose the dog to new situations and people.
  • Seek help from a qualified animal behavior professional.

Fantastic. Now we’re talking. Apparently ChatGPT isn’t quite ready to replace me.

Michael: What credentials should I look for in an animal behavior professional?


  • Certification from a professional organization: Certification from a professional organization, such as the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC).
  • A degree in a related field: A degree in a field such as animal science, psychology, or biology can be helpful in providing a solid foundation in the principles of animal behavior.
  • Practical experience: Practical experience working with animals, particularly the specific type of animal you are seeking help with, can be valuable in understanding and addressing behavior issues.
  • Continued education: Look for professionals who are committed to staying up to date on the latest research and techniques in animal behavior by participating in ongoing education and training.

Nice. ChatGPT mentioned the Association of Professional Dog Trainers as well. It failed to mention the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers. Nonetheless, it didn’t make any other egregious errors.

Maybe it’s a bit too soon to say the future is here. It’s safe to say, though, that the future has definitely begun. I doubt AI will replace human dog behavior consultants, at least not before I retire. Who knows?

But, looking across the table at our young friend, barely a teenager, I  had to wonder what all this would end up meaning for him. Already our relationship with technology is changing week-to-week, day-to-day. What’s next in this future that’s already in motion? Will AI replace our imaginary friends or even our real friends? Certainly, it will never replace our dog friends.


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