Dr. Mark Teaches for HSU at Memphis Animal Shelter

Dr. Mark Demonstrating Scruff

Last week I had the pleasure and honor to teach a dog handling course for Memphis Animal Services at the Memphis Animal Shelter as an instructor for Humane Society University (HSU).  The course was titled: “Humane  Handle of Fearful Dogs for Shelter Staff and ACOs”.   Administrator James Rogers arranged for me to teach the 1-day workshop twice so all shelter staff and ACOs could attend.  This course was offered through Humane Society University.

I was extremely impressed with how receptive all MAS personnel were throughout the course and at how much fun we all had exploring humane ways of handling dogs!  To honor their expertise, I invited several people to demonstrate either new techniques or variations of techniques I was teaching.  We are all each other’s teacher and I learned as well as trained. Continue reading

Dr. Mark’s View of the Master Dog Handling Classes in India

Banner for Master Dog Handling Courses

What an incredible experience teaching three 5-day courses to dog handlers from all across India and to receive support for these classes from the Animal Welfare Board of India, Vets Beyond Borders, Jeevashram, the Municipal Corporation of Gurgoan, and the Brigitte Bardot Foundation.  I am honored to be a part of this and I believe this government supported program will have excellent influence on the culture of dog handling in India.

For Phase 1, I taught about 50 students over the three courses.  These “train-the-trainer” courses included classroom time with PowerPoint and Video, afternoon hands-on labs,  sunrise

Dr. Mark teaching netting techniques

captures, and student presentations to strengthen their ability to teach.  All of the dogs gathered for this course were sterilized by Jeevashram veterinarians, vaccinated, and returned to where they were captured.  The course was held at Jeevashram in Village Rajokri near Delhi and I am extremely grateful to Dr. Sharma and his colleagues and staff for working so hard in hosting the course. Continue reading

Dog Non-Chemical Capture Course in Olympia, WA Nov. 6-7, 2010

Boxtrapping Dogs After Hurricane Katrina

I am excited to announce that I will be teaching a 2-day dog non-chemical capture course at the Red Lion Hotel in Olympia, WA on Nov. 6-7 (Sat-Sun), 2010.   This is the most extensive course about handling fearful and dangerous dogs for shelter staff, disaster responders, dog rescue groups, and spay/neuter programs.  Here is the course announcement.

This course was just created this year.  Training for dog chemical capture (which I also teach) is available for animal control officers, but there has been no training on non-chemical capture for other volunteers and professionals working with fearful dogs.  I have created this course specifically to meet that need.

In this class we will cover catching with leash and similar tools, physical restraint (without fighting the dog), working with Y poles, catching with boxtraps, and how to catch entire packs of dogs.  This unique course focuses on how to catch dogs in a calm, humane, compassionate, and safe manner. We explore the potential conflict between people and fearful dogs and discuss how to minimize the conflict even when the dog refuses to cooperate. We also discuss how to work with large dogs and dangerous dogs.   No live dogs will be used due to class size.  But there will be abundant teaching aids and videos.  We will also end our two days with an open forum to specifically address the questions and challenges raised by the participants.  Each course participant will receive a course notebook, Certificate of Training, and a thumb drive with all course material.  The 2-day course fee is $360.

Visit our website Course Schedule to register on-line or by mail or to get more information.  The class is limited to 40 participants so be sure to register early. The Red Lion Hotel offers a room rate of $89 before Oct. 5, 2010 if you mention “Global Wildlife Resources”.

As I organize my teaching schedule around the country, I will be posting more course announcements.  Visit GWR’s website for the latest updates.

For those wishing to get training with chemical capture, I will be teaching a wildlife chemical immobilization course at Wolf Haven International near Tenino, WA Nov. 2-4, 2010.  To attend, please register through their website.

I hope to see you there.  Dr. Mark

A Wonderful Course in Springfield Mass

I just returned to Bozeman, MT after teaching in Springfield, MA.  Quite a contrast leaving 90 degree weather and coming to rain and morning snow!

An fun dog capture & handling class at TJ O'Connor Animal Shelter!

It was a great class and we had a lot of fun.  We had a nice mix of ACOs, shelter workers, and dog rescuers.  The first day was primarily devoted to non-chemical capture.  We talked about ways of catching fearful dogs by hand and practicing physical restraint with calmness.  We set boxtraps in a way that really catches dogs and discussed unusual baits and attractants.  Of course we talked at length about the Y pole and what it can and cannot do, covered nets, and even methods for catching entire packs of dogs.  And we enjoyed videos for most of these topics.

On Day 2 we focused on Chemical Capture with legal responsibilities, the newest dartguns, and how to select the various immobilizing drugs like picking the right tool for any specific job.  I was excited to see how each class member had all of the immobilizing drugs and accessory drugs figured out by the end of the class.  Trivia:  Do you know why the term ”tranquilizer gun” is incorrect? We had a fun outdoor dartgun lab even though it was very hot!  Even with chemical capture we talked about staying connected with the animal and all of the messages the animal provides us when it is under anesthesia.

On Day Three we spent more time on Chemical Capture and had a needle and syringe lab learning safe and accurate methods and several ways to load a syringe pole.  As usual, I customized the course to meet the needs of each student.  Rabies is a big topic in Massachusetts so we talked about rabies and other wildlife diseases.  Danielle Robertson has a business, Compassionate Pets, helping people find their lost pets and we opened up class discussion to go through the whole process of recovering a lost dog.  Every student was also a teacher in this way.

My sincerely thanks to Wendy LeSage, Sage Dawg Services, for setting up the local arrangements. Thank you also to Sara Rohan, Operations Manager, and the TJ O’Connor Animal Shelter.  It was a great classroom and it was an honor to teach at such an awesome facility.

Over the next month I will be lining out my course schedule for fall/winter/spring.  The dates and locations will be posted on my website Seminar Schedule and on my blog Training Page.

What fun!  Mark


I am excited to announce that I will be teaching a two day humane feral dog handling course in Springfield, Massachusetts specifically for the animal control officer, shelter worker, and disaster responder.  This is the most extensive course in handling fearful dogs. This is an essential course for professionals addressing hoarding cases, responding to disasters, handling fearful dogs in shelters, assisting with trap/neuter/release programs, and rescuing dogs in general.

This course is a product of my experience handling over 2,000 feral dogs throughout the world including the Caribbean, India, tribal lands, and rescue operations after Hurricane Katrina.

O Connor dog course Announcement Here are details about the course.  The course is limited to 40 people. Visit our website Seminar Schedule for more information and for registering.   Either register on-line or by mail.  Feel free to contact me if you have any questions  at mjohnson (at) wildliferesources (dot) org.

Please note:  I will also be teaching this humane feral dog capture course in Seattle in June, 2010. The specific dates and locations are yet to be determined.


Feral Dog Capture and Handling Workshop In India

First Day in the Field

After resting a day to acclimate myself to the 10,000 feet elevation, I went out with Kunzang, Sonam, and Tsering to capture dogs.  Although the Tru Catch (48F) folding dog traps had arrived long before I arrived no one wanted to take them out until they were shown how to use it.  I was soon going to learn that they were going to teach me how to use a boxtrap!  That first day I went out to merely watch and learn.

Although I have handled over 1,000 dogs they have always been on my terms in my way.  It was time I learned how other people caught animals.  It is not only different types of equipment, I wish to learn how other cultures influence their actions,  how does the public react to them, what are their greatest challenges and needs.  It is also important for me to watch to see if they have an inherent desire and dedication for compassionate and respectful handling and if so how do they convey that when handling the dog.

Animal Handlers from Sikkim

Animal Handlers from Sikkim

Kunzang and his team definately had an inherent care and compassion for the animal.  Their primary approach was to use long handled nets and catch dogs who were sleeping.  There were several escapes but they were very quick.  I could see they can concern about working in front of the public.  Chasing dogs with nets and then hearing them yelping as the other pack members are barking and upset makes the public upset and the animal handlers were often scolded even though they were helping their community.   It usually does not have to be that way.

I taught Kunzang, Sunam, and Tsering how to scruff a dog and how to muzzle it with a leash.  This combination safely and humanely controls the front half of the dog and if it is moved another person can hold the hips for a two person carry.  I also taught them how to be calm and use the breath to relax when the animal is tense.  The crazier the animal is, the calmer we should be. I explained that animal handlers usualy add far to much excitement and tension and the animals are very sensitive to this and react to it.    Throughout my trip as we were handling dogs, I would stop in the middle of a crazy moment of excitement remind them how to watch ourselves and our behaivor and relax so that it will reduce the struggling of the dog and help us better control and guide the situation.  As in all things in life what we are being is usually more important than what we are doing. Continue reading

Welcome to my Feral Dog Weblog


The purpose of this site was initially  to tell the story of first my trip to Ladakh, India to help an animal shelter capture dogs for sterilization.  This has led to 3 more trips to India.  The last in 2011 was five weeks long training Master Dog Handlers for the government of India (Animal Welfare Board of India) with the support of Vets Beyond Borders and the Bridgette Bardotte Foundation.  This blog will expand to provide more information on tools and techniques for humane capture and handling. My goal is to develop a comprehensive source of articles, e-b0oks, and videos which will benefit animal welfare programs around the world.  To those working in the animal welfare circles, Thank You!  Toether we are striving to make the world a better place one animal at a time.

Mark Johnson DVM (Dr. Mark)

Please visit the ABOUT information to learn about Dr. Johnson and Global Wildlife Resources.

And visit the Training Page for a list of courses I am teaching.

Dr. Mark

Hamilton, Montana   December, 2016