Kelly, Nancy

Kelly, Nancy

Professional Dog Trainer & Behavior Consultant at The Mannerly Dog

Nancy Kelly has a long history in dog training. When she started in the 1980s, she learned common dog training techniques, employing force and punishment in the teaching process and poisoning some cues along the way, but winning at dog shows. As she questioned her own training methods, answers were few and incomplete until she discovered Dr. Ian Dunbar and then Dr. Bob Bailey in the 1990s. Both of these pioneers taught training and behavior from a scientific point of view, demonstrating the effectiveness of positive reinforcement as a training tool. Questions were answered in detail, backed up by scientific research, and she never looked back. She has been working with and learning from Dr. Bailey for 20 years and has collaborated with him on various projects. She owns The Mannerly Dog, teaching people and pets behavior science-based skills. Seeing many clients with stressed, anxious dogs adopted from shelters and rescue groups over the years brought to light the idea that a better understanding of behavior science could help shelters and rescue groups increase animal welfare along with adopter success. In 2015, she went to work as a behavior specialist for BARC, the open-intake municipal animal shelter in Houston, Texas, and quickly discovered the weakness of a single-person behavior department in a shelter that serves over 20,000 animals per year. She had already been incubating the idea of standardizing animal caretaker behavior, based on the known human role as part of the environment allowing animal behaviors to emerge. She and Amelia Nusbaum immediately began building their human-centered Shelter Behavior Program from scratch, including staff training, shelter policy, and support structures. They are beginning to study the effects of the program as part of the requirements for Nancy’s master’s degree in behavioral psychology.