PEOPLE | PETS | COMMUNITY

Connections: Julie Forbes

Julie Forbes has always been fascinated with behavior. When she was in high school, Julie read everything that she could about dogs and dog behavior. When she went to college, she studied Animal Science at the University of Vermont, graduating in 1999.

“My classes included Dog Behavior and Training, Animal Welfare/Animals in Society, and Zoo Exotics and Endangered Species,” Julie explained. “I also took a lot of Sociology and Nutrition classes.”

After moving to Seattle in 2001, Julie found the Academy of Canine Behavior’s (AOCB) Apprentice Program. “I applied, completed, and then worked at AOCB for three years training their board and train dogs, teaching group classes, and working with clients to training the human half of the equation,” Julie said. “AOCB was a great place to start because I was exposed to a lot of very difficult cases – dogs that a lot of other trainers wouldn’t/couldn’t touch. After I started Sensitive Dog, offering in-home private lessons and training programs, I earned a certificate in Dog Aggression from John Rogerson, a brilliant behaviorist from the United Kingdom. I have had a lot of education in dog behavior and training, but the biggest teachers have been the thousands of dogs I have worked with over the last fifteen years. As all trainers should, I have had to adjust myself over the years to accommodate each individual dogs I have worked with. The dogs and their humans have been my greatest guides.”

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In the fall of 2008, Julie had the idea to do a radio show that offered a variety of topics. “Most of what I had found was very specific,” she recalled. “You’d call in to ask the veterinarian a health question, or call in to ask a trainer a behavior question. So I asked a friend if she knew anyone in radio, and by February of 2009, I was hosting my first show. Over seven years and almost 400 episodes later, we reach a local, national, and international audience. I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of interviewing some incredible people. I’ve learned SO MUCH!”

Julie’s guests have included Temple Grandin, Patricia McConnell, Brian Hare, Marc Bekoff, Jean Dodds, Michael Fox, and Alexandra Horowitz as well as the Beagle Freedom Project, Old Dog Haven, Courthouse Dogs, Prison Pet Partnership Program, and many more.

As a natural extrovert who enjoys networking, Julie has loved hosting the show. “I really value other people, so I haven’t experienced much conflict. The dog industry is all over the place when it comes to philosophy of how to work with dogs, though. People are really confused about how to set boundaries in a way that’s respectful and sensitive, but also effective. Also, anytime you put yourself ‘out there,’ you open yourself up to criticism. I have gotten some of that, so I have learned to embrace feedback, and not be too attached to what other people think, both positive and negative. I know I am effective. I know I’m a good, intelligent, respectful, conscious person. All I can do is my best.”

One of Julie’s career highlights on The Dog Show with Julie Forbes was her first interview with Temple Grandin. “Not only is she massively brilliant and has contributed so much to both animals and people, but her autism provided a unique challenge in a live radio interview. I had talked with her a few times on the phone prior to the interview, which helped. It was an honor to have her on the show, and a fun challenge as a host. I’ve really appreciated the guests who have surprised me. For example, I interviewed Grant Hayter-Menzies, author of From Stray Dog to World War I Hero. I was expecting a rather dry read with that book, but it was so interesting and gripping – not to mention well researched and beautifully written. That book, and interview, are one of my favorites.”

Julie recently wrote her first book, which will be published next year. “I’m knee-deep in the editing process,” she said, “and this is a project I have been working on for over three years. The book is about how learning to communicate with dogs provides people with the opportunity to gain self awareness in a way that can positively impact all relationships in life.”

Julie continues to be inspired to be of service in a way that promotes healing – especially emotional healing. “I have facilitated healing for so many dogs and I have witnessed people gain some pretty profound insight into themselves, through their relationship with their dog. What that gives me is a sense of purpose. That I’m giving my life to something that will contribute to the betterment of this planet. Also, I feel so fulfilled when I think of how coaching people to understand their dogs gives dogs an improved quality of life. Dogs have given us so, so much over the last 40,000 years. I’m sure we wouldn’t be as successful as we are as a race, if it weren’t for the partnership we have had with dogs: hunting, herding, guarding, pulling and otherwise working at our sides.”

Julie looks forward to continuing to cover conversations that happen in the local, national, and even international industry of dog professionals. “Although it isn’t without conflict, we’re looking into our relationship and understanding of dogs in a much deeper way. Our level of consciousness expands when we recognize that animals have emotion and consciousness, too. We need to remember that even when we disagree, especially when we disagree, it’s important to listen to others’ perspectives and treat each other with respect.”

To learn more about Julie, including listening to podcasts of her past radio shows, visit the Dog Radio Show website here.