Bonking Dog Trainer Jeff Gellman Turned Away


Using kindness to teach dogs wins out. By viewing his own videos it’s clear that Rhode Island-based dog trainer Jeff Gellman is abusive.

Gellman was scheduled to appear at Bark Avenue Daycamp in Bartlett, IL. Oct 3-Oct.4. A core group and many other voices (thousands) participated in social media to impact change, and Bark Avenue cancelled, no longer serving as host to this trainer who defends hurling a heavy towel on to dogs’ heads to “train” which he calls “bonking.”

I want to first thank readers of my blog and who follow me in social media who have stepped up; without you my platforms wouldn’t be nearly as effective. A Facebook page was created s to keep those who are reviled Gellman’s techniques to stay up to date about actions that may be taken. Many sent emails to Bark Avenue Daycamp. Attorney/dog trainer Oleg Sobol authored a letter to DuPage County and Bartlett officials with signatures from many luminaries in animal behavior and dog training, and many others from people who simply love their dogs. In that letter, Sobel noted that Gellman’s techniques are so abusive, essentially suggesting that by appearing in Bartlett, he could potentially be arrested for animal abuse.

Dog trainers often don’t agree on specifics but it’s clear to all dog trainers I know that Gellman is over the top. Here’s an example. It’s what Gelman calls bonking. Who in the year 2020 can fathom a dog trainer hurling a thick rolled-up towel bound with rubber bands on to dogs’ heads while standing in close proximity. See for yourslef.

In this recent video, Gellman complains about how he is criticized for bonking dogs “cancel culture.” Well, for starters, he doesn’t clearly understand what the term refers to. More important, there’s no reason for him to bonk. If dogs learn anything, it’s not to trust the person hurling the towel on their head, or perhaps eventually to distrust all people. Sure dogs may – for a time – inhibit behavior. However, it’s unclear what they really learn.

What I truly want to understand is not Gellman so much – but why people actually buy into aversive and downright abusive training methods. How can people in 2020 truly think there isn’t a better way when we know that there is?

The Chicago area has proved that unifying trainers and also the veterinary community can impact a profound affect. I am so grateful to those who stepped up to help including dog trainer Yvonne Feeney; dog trainer Stephen Frost, humane education officer Anderson Animal Shelter; dog trainer Stacey Hawk; veterinary behavior Dr. Fila Jokela and dog trainer/attorney Oleg Sobol, and each and every person who commented in social, emailed or phoned Bark Avenue Daycamp or signed Sobel’s letter. Good has won out over Jeff Gellman, and most of all, dogs win.