Creating a Pawsitive Cultural Shift for the Love of Dogs

Creating a Pawsitive Cultural Shift for the Love of Dogs title=
Ringo Starr of Inquisitive Canine
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By Joan Hunter Mayer

“Little did I know when we adopted our dog in 2003 that my life would go to the dogs!” proclaims Joan Hunter Mayer, a local dog trainer, certified professional canine behavior consultant, inventor and entrepreneur. Joan founded her Santa Barbara-based dog training business, The Inquisitive Canine in 2005 and in the quote above, she’s referring to the original Inquisitive Canine, Poncho Gonzales Hunter Mayer, a “ten-pound mutt who knew a lot about human and canine behavior.”

Poncho adopted his mom and dad on Father’s Day in 2003. Within a couple of years, he was spending his days helping his mom practice her dog training skills, assisting in dog training classes, running security, answering emails, alerting when the mail or packages were delivered, food tasting, and product testing for various dog training and enrichment toys.

Hoping to inspire other inquisitive canines to take a bite out of life, Poncho enjoyed blogging about dog training tips, and even writing his ‘Pooch’s Perspective’ column right here for Edhat! Additionally, Poncho was very serious about his lap warming duties and the important job of reminding his mom when to take a break and get some sunshine. Poncho enjoyed helping run the family business until he left the Earth in July of 2015. His legacy lives on, and to this day, his light continues to shine on every aspect of The Inquisitive Canine.


Education was a big part of Poncho’s life with his mom, Joan. He believed continuing education was as important for his own well-being, as it is for certified dog trainers. Joan’s own unique educational background blends fashion (a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, Joan spent 14 years in costuming for film and TV), nursing (she studied at Ventura College and Stanford Medical School), business (an MBA from Antioch University) and multiple dog training and counseling certifications (including as a Certified Separation Anxiety Trainer and Certified Canine Nose Work Instructor). This combination of art, science and caring, is what Joan brings to her work as an advocate for her clients, both two- and four-legged.

Ultimately, it was Joan’s love of dogs that sparked her interest in understanding the science of animal learning and wanting to bring a humane, force-free approach to pet care. Working as a team with pet guardians to promote living harmoniously with dogs, Joan’s vision is to live in a world where dogs are encouraged to romp, bark, play, and enjoy life with their people.

And with Santa Barbara being such a dog loving community, it’s a great place for a business that is dedicated to barking with the dogs, cheering for the humans, and having fun! Joan helps people not just train their dogs, but to create an entire pawsitive cultural shift where dog guardians are empowered to enhance the bonds they have with their canine companions, making the world a friendlier place for pets and people who love them.

To that end, The Inquisitive Canine is on a mission to offer the dog guardians of Santa Barbara and beyond humane, pawsitive, practical solutions for a wide range of daily challenges dogs and their humans face in everyday life. Using force-free, proven approaches to dog training and addressing behavior concerns, Joan helps her local Santa Barbara clients and virtual clients from all over learn how to bring out the best behaviors in their best friends.

Joan provides customized dog training services with easy-to-replicate, practical techniques and skills. Pet parents have the option of training locally in-person, through virtual coaching online, signing their pups up for one-on-one day training - or a combination, hybrid approach – whatever works best! “It’s a team effort,” after all, as Joan explains, “Clients put the work into it. I’m there to teach and guide them like any good coach so they have the skills to reach goals on their own once they graduate- or until the next step in their training journey.” Her favorite part? “It’s fun to see the graduates walking around town and showing off their skills.”

Meanwhile, Joan wasn’t alone in always keeping an eye on the mission of bringing dogs and humans together. In January of 2017 something wonderful happened. On the search for a more fulfilling life, Ringo Starr (now Ringo Starr Hunter Mayer) made his way from the streets of Los Angeles to his new home and office in sunny Santa Barbara, California. (With help from the kind and caring group Ken-Mar Rescue).

Being a smart, tenacious, and lively inquisitive canine, Ringo adapted quickly to his new role as both family member and CCO - that’s Chief Canine Officer - of The Inquisitive Canine. Ringo loves to learn and is always working on advanced manners (because it’s just doggone fun)! Whether collaborating on Doggy Blog posts, composing updates and tweets, or working on new behaviors or tricks, Ringo enjoys spending his days working with Joan, helping her run the business.

Following in the tiny – and at the same time huge - paw prints of the original inquisitive canine, Poncho, Ringo is always the first one in the office and last to leave. He works tirelessly with Joan to help pet lovers nurture and enhance the human-canine bond, to ensure that every outing with their dogs can be a walk in the park and to help move society forward into a mutually respectful space between dogs and humans – thereby creating a pawsitive cultural shift.

Interested in learning more about a Pawsitive Approach for Positive Results™? Contact The Inquisitive Canine with your training needs and the behavior goals you and your ever-inquisitive furry friend would like to explore.

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