Applied Dog Training And Dog Behaviour Books And Manuals by S. A. Kent

About Silvia Anne Kent

Take The Class! - Overcoming Dog Behaviour Problems - Dynamic Dog Training - Your Dog & Baby - Harmony

Hi There!

Thanks for dropping by and taking an interest :-)


Silvia Anne Kent & Rio - Powdermill Black Elite in 1981

I started learning about formal dog training in 1981, when I first joined a dog training class with my dear Rio, an all black GSD I had acquired from an advertisement in Exchange&Mart (!!!).

It was all very traumatic back then, with choke chains and so much shouting and negativity, and not just at the dogs, I may add. The brutal methods used at the club I was at didn't work for me at all; they made my dog depressed and unwilling to do anything much. But I really wanted her to show that she was just as clever and wonderful as those dogs in the top class, because I KNEW she was. So I started learning about dog training and behaviour, and I experimented at home with what worked and what didn't.

After a short time, I became an instructor at that club. That lasted only for about two months, before I was hauled in front of the entire committee and accused of "ruining everything with my new fangled ideas" - I had suggested to a beginner's class that their dogs were more likely to lie down if they were offered a food reward. Funnily enough, I hadn't read or heard about that as a method at the time. I had worked it out for myself using left over pieces of toast from the breakfast table!

I realised I couldn't stay and resigned. Another lady, Rowna Wyatt, who was also deeply unhappy with having to yell and shout at and wrestle with her dog all the time, left with me. Together, we hired a small hall in a Sussex village called Berwick to practise on our own, and somehow, after a few weeks, people from the village came and asked us to help with various problems.


One evening, there were 8 of them, all at the same time, because the lady at the post office had told everyone "there was a dog training club in town"!! And so and entirely by accident, Berwick Obedience Association or BOA for short, was born. In time, BOA would become the largest training organisation in the South, with over 20 venues, 7 senior instructors and 30 assistants. There are now BOA trained instructors running commercially successful professional dog training and behaviour practises all over the UK, and some in the US and on the continent, too.

From Left To Right:

Me, Olive Winterbourne, then Chairman of Eastbourne & District DTC and Rowna at one of our first official progress tests in Berwick.


So Rowna and I began to build up the club. A lot of what we did at first was based on what I had learned at a Roy Hunter course I had attended the previous autumn - there I had for the first time heard about structured classes and step by step learning. At the time it seemed impossible to take it seriously because the club we had come from didn't work like that - it was all haphazard and just basically, a mad barking mess of a chaos, week in, week out.

But here, with these people who stood there all expectantly and thought we were experts (!) we had a chance to start with a blank slate and to see if we could do any better.

And I can tell you, yes, we could.

We looked upon the owners like you would treat customers or clients - respectfully, with a friendly attitude. We never said anything cynical or nasty about their dogs and really tried to be all that we had so wanted from our old club but had never received - proper help and advice, congruent between the instructors, homework assignments and most of all, methods that worked and didn't traumatise the dogs.


The Gang Of 6!

 Rowna with Petra, Michele Boys with Elsa who was our first assistant and first instructor trainee and me and Rio at Hartfield BIPDT.*

Silvia Kent, Rowna Wyatt, Michele Boys ca 1985

BOA outgrew the little hall in Berwick and we moved. 

We gained our first assistants and the good reputation of our training classes began to spread.



All of us who were involved in BOA at that time (Michelle Boys, Wendy Hanson, Marilyn Pawson, Elisabeth Kroell plus Rowna Wyatt and myself) were determined to be the best we could, and to this end we took any conceivable and available training. 


We went to the British Institute for Professional Dog Trainers - Obedience Division ( I stopped with a 1st Hons). 

We attended talks, lectures and organised our own trainings as well. 

We acquired virtually every book ever written on the subject of dog training and behaviour, and behavioural science, and anything else that would help us create classes and strategies that would really work for any kind of owner with any kind of dog. 

Michele Boys + Elsa and Silvia Kent + Rani with their 1st Hons Certs from The British Institute of Professional Dog Trainers, Obedience Division

A Proud Picture! Michele Boys and Elsa and me and Rani in BOA uniform showing off our 1sts With Honours from the BIPDT for the local press photographer.   Not often two instructors from the same club get that on the same course. 


We talked endlessly amongst ourselves, tested approaches, discussed methods and argued furiously on occasion. 

We experimented with our classes and with our own dogs and continuously tried out new ideas. What worked, we kept and shared, what did not, was ruthlessly discarded. As the venues expanded, I was becoming the referring behaviorist and at that time, also became an associate of the APBC Association of Pet Behaviour Counselors which was newly founded then, and was a referring practice member of John Fisher's. 

My first foray into writing full length, personal and practical dog training manuals for companion dog owners came about as I found myself pregnant. The feedback I received from nurses and health visitors because, at that time, I had a house full of rescued dogs of various disturbed behaviours, was shocking. 

They tried to make me feel uneasy, tried to make me afraid "of all the possible dangers", one even tried to threaten me with social services. Further, and thus sensitized to the problem, I began to take note of how many of the telephone calls I was receiving had to do with women and grandparents being worried about dog/children/baby related issues. 

Silvia Kent, Rio & Steve Kent in 1989

So, and right in the middle of training my own dogs in preparation for my (second) baby as my other son was already 9 by then and the newer ones didn't remember him as a young child,  I wrote "Your Dog & Your Baby" and mailed it off to John Fisher for feedback. 

He phoned me right away to say he thought it was great and offered to write a foreword. For a year or so I tried to find a publisher for the manuscript but was told that "no-one needs that kind of thing" and there was no "customer base". 

I self published the first edition and it sold out within the year and is still one of the most popular books I've ever written. 

The next project arose from the instructor's courses we were holding for our own assistants at the time, to make sure that BOA classes were taught by people who really knew what they were doing. Our in-house manual was expanded and updated to become "Take The Class!" which proved to be a huge success and has sold thousands of copies, in spite of the fact that it is such a specialist publication.
By then (1993) I was developing my own theories and approaches, backed up by the continuous study of what was available in the field up to that point and the fact that I was seeing behavior clients all day long and was taking dog training classes at night, with courses, shows and lectures at the weekends.

Some of the underlying theories I was developing were at right angles with much of the commonly held beliefs in the field and still are today, based, as they are, on relationship dynamics with real people and their dogs rather than on laboratory beagle experiments or crass over-simplifications of observations about wild canids.


Rowna Wyatt, Roy Hunter & Silvia Kent Horam Dynamic Dog Psychology Lecture 1996

A Most Extraordinary Moment

In 1996, I gave a day long lecture called "Dynamic Dog Psychology" to an audience of about 60 top behaviourists and obedience instructors in the UK, containing the principles of my original work in the field. Amongst the participants that day was my own first teacher in dog obedience instructing, Roy Hunter. He had come all the way across the country with a broken leg which rested on a second chair throughout the day to hear me speak. I can seriously say that this was one of the most extraordinary days of my life so far and absolutely underlined for me what an amazing person Roy is - he is *still* willing to learn new things and *still* has an open mind to new ideas. I can only hope that when the time comes for me, I will be as gracious.

Rowna, Roy & Silvia at Horam 1996

I try to communicate what I have learned and observed as clearly and simply as I can.

I have found that theory is great but when tempered with some common sense, it gets to be a great deal better. 

No-body is perfect.

There is no such thing as the perfect dog or the perfect owner, and in combination, boy do we get to have some fun trying to understand each other and get along!!

I've been very blessed with my friends at BOA and in the dog training world in general who have helped me test my (often unconventional) ideas and who helped me develop the confidence to stand up and say things such as, 

  • "Dogs have emotions." and 

  • "Dogs and people form meaningful, mature relationships with all the complications that entails." and 

  • "Without love between an owner and their dog, you might as well give up and go home - it's the most essential ingredient in all dog training and behaviour modification attempts." and 

  • "Dogs understand much, much more than just simple command words." and 

  • "If you speak to dogs in real language, with real meaning, they do understand you on a very profound level." and 

  • "Dogs are not just stimulus-response robots." and 

  • "They're smart and they have their own agenda, and each one is an individual in their own right." 

  • "There's no way I'm going to treat my dogs as though I was a wolf in a pack. They're not wolves - they are my companions, my charges, my friends."and

  • "Dog owners aren't stupid, uneducated, deluded. They're people, for God's sake. Take time to listen to them and find out their point of view, their own strengths and beliefs, and make your advice fit in so it works FOR THEM and THEIR DOG and you've got dog training that actually works in the real world."

... out loud, in public, and if need be, I can support these statements with very long and complicated words and "et al" studies from neuro-physiological research and quantum biology insights that have recently been discovered and turn the old Skinnerean worlds upside down - at last.

If you want to learn about my kind of dog training and behaviour, you're welcome. It won't suit you if for you dogs are nothing but stimulus-response robots, or if you like to think of them as machines or privates in your army.

If you have dogs for the love, the relationship and the challenge of communicating with another species on the other hand, and you're a fallible human being, then be most welcome. You might just have found the right place here with us.

With best wishes,

Silvia Kent, 


PS: Life after dog training? You'd be surprised but yes, there is. Plenty of it at that :-) Check it out at (I got divorced in 1997 and reverted back to my maiden name after that).

PPS - Here are some very good (I daren't say old!) friends of mine. I recommend them highly.


Joyce Stranger Books 

Joyce Stranger has written about the life she leads with dogs and other animals for many years. Especially for beginners in the field, but also of interest for even the most experienced people, her novels and factual texts are full of insights, wisdom and most importantly, a deep love for dogs. I defy anyone not to be both touched by her words, or to learn from them.


Roy Hunter Books 

(for details go )

Roy Hunter was using treats in training forty years ago, when everyone else still beat their dogs with sticks. He is a most amazing man, one of my first instructors and my personal hero as far as dog training is concerned. From Police Dog Training via Working Trials to Companion Training, he's been there, done it and has had the T-Shirts! He has written two unbelievably comprehensive books on games with dogs, Fun&Games With Dogs Parts 1 & 2, and a terrific introduction to professional scent work. He also edits a most useful quarterly newsletter - make enquiries to ACA, Dyers End, Stambourne Nr Halstead, Essex CO9 4NE, United Kingdom.


Take The Class! | Overcoming Dog Behaviour Problems | Dynamic Dog Training | Your Dog & BabyHarmony

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