Friday, 20 January 2017

David Ryan #DogExpert

Featuring David Ryan, retired policeman, dog handler, author, and

Q. Welcome, David. I’d like you tell us all about your work in the dog behavioural sector if you wouldn't mind?

A. I was a police dog handler in North Cumbria and latterly an instructor at Headquarters when I retired in August 2007, having misspent most of what laughingly passed as a career messing about with dogs. I’d already been working as a dog behaviour counsellor on the side for three years, so it wasn’t a huge leap to take that up full time. 

I’d qualified with a post graduate diploma in animal behaviour counselling (PG dip CABC) in 2002 and was a member of the UK (if not the world’s) leading association for pet behaviourists, the APBC  when in 2008 I was Certificated as a Clinical Animal Behaviourist by the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour. 

(There are only 38 people working at this level in the UK even now) making me a “PG dip CABC, CCAB”.

In 2009 I was accidentally elected APBC chair and amongst other things worked with the top organisations in the country instigating an industry-regulated independent register for animal trainers and behaviourists, the Animal Behaviour and Training Council (ABTC) , which has recently been mentioned in DEFRA documents as go-to place for qualified professionals.

If I tell you that it is well known in the (totally unregulated) industry that the only thing two dog trainers can agree on is that the third one is wrong, you might get a glimmer of the magnitude of our achievement.

All of this work was done on a voluntary basis, but I got to meet many of the big nobs in animal welfare and training (and I know the 07.46 to Euston very well). 

Having done my bit, I retired from the APBC chair in 2012, handing over a very healthy organisation which continues to thrive.

I’ve written four books on dog behaviour and training and contributed to two others (available through my website and all good online book retailers. Check out the following amazon link.

These make a great present for all the family), and written articles for many newspapers and magazines (for example the Liverpool Echo on “how to tackle a dog that is attacking your child”, yes, I know, a bit niche, but they asked…)

Whilst that was going on I was asked to present on dog training and behaviour subjects by various organisations across the UK, including Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, Victoria Stillwell’s Dog Bite Prevention Conference, the National Search and Rescue Dog Association, the Dogs Trust, The PDSA’s annual “state of the nation” conference (twice), the London Vet Show, on behalf of the RSPCA at the National Status Dogs Summit, and many dog training clubs as far afield as Aberdeen, Jersey and even Venice. 

In 2011 was asked to lecture on Newcastle University’s MSc in Applied Animal Behaviour and Welfare, which I still continue.

As a result of the contacts I was making it was probably inevitable that with my background I would fall into the legal aspects of “Dangerous” Dogs, and that’s what the majority of my time is taken up with now.

As a legal expert witness I take instruction from solicitors for clients that have been charged with dangerous dog offences, from owning a pit bull (in itself an offence), to dogs that have bitten people. I also work with police and prosecutors and have assisted in the investigation of several incidents in which dogs have killed or have been suspected of having killed people.

I lecture on the behaviour of allegedly dangerous dogs to Police Dog Legislation Officers (DLO) courses and helped write the course syllabus, aims and objectives for the Policing College.

I keep a presence on Facebook at
and the internet at  writing occasional blogs on dogs when the fancy takes me hopefully educating as well as entertaining.

In case you think the titles conceited, “Dog Secrets” is the ironic title of my second book – there are no “secrets” in dog training only stuff no one has yet told you – and “Dog Expert” is designed to bounce off the website to hit higher google ranking when a legal exec searches for one  - it’s all about SEO (I’m told you’re nobody unless you’re on Google’s first page).

I’ve been on a few TV programmes as a guest talking about dogs – probably the best was, “It’s Only a Theory” with Reg D Hunter and Andy Hamilton, which was recorded in Pinewood studios – the after party was a blast and both Reg and Andy were fun and approachable. 

There’s a clip of it still on the BBC4 website 

Sadly they didn’t get past the first series and I had to cancel the condo in L.A. but the other lass on it was a relatively unknown called Clare Balding who has since done quite well for herself. I like to think I gave her a leg up.

To keep myself rooted in a mild form of reality I assess dogs for local and national rehoming charities, working with dogs that have bitten to see if they can be safely rehomed.

I’m also behaviour advisor to the charity Wag & Co, North East Friendship Dogs, a Northumbrian organisation that, “enables visiting dog teams to build meaningful new friendships with older dog lovers across the North East of England” .  This was a complete accident (as have been most of the things I’ve ever done – I never meant to join the police in the first place) as I misheard when Diane rang me and thought I was joining Legs and Co, the dancers from the late 70’s Top of the Pops, to assess them at close quarters (an offer that is still open to them).

Hobbies? When do I have time for hobbies? I try to keep reasonably fit by cycling instead of driving where I can, and of course walking the dog. I am fortunate in that my family still lives in Carlisle and any spare time I have I spend with my four grandchildren (12, 10, 10 and 8) – watching everything from football training to clarinet concerts.

Oh, and I’m still working on my novel – a tail of real police dog handling. Watch this space…

Q. Thank you, David, and good luck with your  work.

Readers, check out some of the books below and don’t forget to click into David’s amazon page mentioned above.