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William Koehler

William Koehler with Roy Rogers.

William Koehler

  • Bill Koehler trained dogs for over 50 years.
  • He trained dogs in the military during WW2.
  • Method of training uses positive punishment and negative reinforcement.
  • Was the head animal trainer at Walt Disney Studios for over 20 years and trained dogs at many leading clubs. “The Shaggy Dog” was one of the animals he trained during his tenure at Walt Disney.
  • Some of the methods he spoke about are as controversial today as they were 40 years ago, but his influence on the world of dog training cannot be disputed
  • He is known to have tested very early models of eCollar, but they did not have the refinements available to trainers and owners today.
  • Wrote many books ("The Koehler Method of Dog Training", "The Koehler Method of Guard Dog Training" etc).

Training Method

  • Method uses positive punishment and negative reinforcement.
  • A sharp correction is applied if the dog behaves incorrectly and the dog is praised when it performs the correct behavior.
  • In other words, correct the dog very sharply once, and let it figure out the consequences of its’ actions itself. Far easier and less stressful for the dog, rather than giving weak nagging corrections one after the other, hoping the dog will eventually “get it”.
  • The practical training aspect involved repetition after repetition of the individual commands and training courses could last as long as 14 weeks. The purpose was towards achieving off leash reliability.
  • A lot of time is spent working initially with long lines, and later in the program with short lines, getting the dog to understand what is required of him.
  • A claim of the program is that by week 7 the work is off leash.
  • He used throw chains to control the dog from a distance and advocated letting dogs make mistakes, correcting those mistakes and then providing praise for the correct behaviour.


For anyone wishing to examine the details of the Koehler training, pay a visit to the Koehler training website, as it is far too lengthy to be included in this brief article.

In summary, the Koehler method is based largely on the principles of negative reinforcement and punishment.

His critics bring up some of his drowning and hanging statements. People who knew him, talk about his lifelong love of dogs, and that these “harsh” methods would only be applied to a problem dog(s) whose next trip was one way to the vet, and they were not intended to be used on the average family dog.