Sophia Yin

A photo of Dr. Yin, a woman with short, spiky brown hair. She is holding a small brown and white dog. The podcast logo is on the lower left.
Women in STEM
Sophia Yin

Birth: Unknown

Death:  September 28, 2014

Specialty: animal behavior

Major Contributions:

Pioneered “force free” training

Author, “How To Behave So Your Dog Behaves”

Image Courtesy of

The Association of Professional Dog Trainers celebrates Train Your Dog month each January, where they encourage owners who brought home new puppies during the holidays to begin the task of socializing and training their new pets.  In recognition of this goal, we’d like to introduce you to the work of Dr. Sophia Yin.

Yin was a veterinarian who studied animal behavior and training.  She studied Veterinary Medicine at the University of California and went into private practice in 1993.  But after seeing that many pets were being euthanized due to behavior problems rather than because of medical conditions, she went back to school to earn a master’s in animal science, focusing on animal behavior.  Yin’s experiences attempting to train her own large aggressive dog informed her studies and her philosophy.  She believed that “every pet needs a human who can lead.  Not like a boss, but like a partner in a dance” and emphasized nonverbal communication methods like body language and movement.  Yin’s philosophy, dubbed Low Stress Handling,  looks to positive reinforcement and “force free” training rather than focusing on dominance or coercion.

In addition to her veterinary work, Dr. Yin was an accomplished author,  writing a weekly column on pets for the San Francisco Chronicle and the books How to Behave So Your Dog Behaves, and Low Stress Handling, Restraint, and Behavior Modification of Dogs and Cats.  She served as a behavior expert for shows on Animal Planet, has consulted for several zoos, and served many professional organizations and committees.  She also taught at the UC Davis Animal Science Department.

Dr. Yin died in 2014, but her website continues to house information and resources for pet training and those interested in learning more about animal behavior.

Written by Mary Ratliff

Suggested By: Jennifer C. Lee


Dr. Sophia Yin’s Website

Veterinary Practice News

See Also:

Train Your Dog Month