choice training for dogs

Can Choice Training help my Reactive - Growly - Dog?

Training your dog with choice is much easier and more effective than you may have thought | FREE EMAIL COURSE | #newpuppy, #dogtraining, #newrescuedog, #puppytraining, #dogbehavior |

One of the interesting things I’ve observed recently is how much simple Choice Training changes life for those of us blessed with a Growly Dog - a reactive, anxious, aggressive, dog.

Of course, I always knew that! But it’s great to hear it come back from students and folk on my recent Workshop. That was all about Choice Training - training your dog by offering him a choice instead of telling him what to do.

And the results have been remarkable for many people!

They were surprised - and delighted! - to find that their growly dog was much better able to cope after only a couple of days of trying this new approach. Well, it was new for many of them …

Plenty of ideas in this free 8-lesson email course for changing your life with your dog!


How can a few simple games change my reactive dog?

What happens is that - through offering your dog a choice and not continually “commanding” him what to do - you build a completely new relationship with your pet!

No longer are you yelling and dancing, coaxing and cajoling, to try and get what you want. Instead you have a happy companionship where your dog is keen to do what you want because it’s what he wants too!

What I love about this way of training is that the dog doesn’t have to “be trained” at all. So how does the change happen? By you, the OWNER, changing!

Simple as that! Once you change your ways, your dog will just change with you.

And while you’re building up this amazing new bond between you, your anxious dog is getting less anxious, your reactive dog is able to cope much better with his fears, and your aggressive dog finds that - with you on his side - he doesn’t need to be aggressive any more.

I love my dog but …

Training your dog with Choice Training is much easier and more effective than you may have thought | FREE EMAIL COURSE | #newpuppy, #dogtraining, #newrescuedog, #puppytraining, #dogbehavior |

Many people come to me saying “I love my dog to bits, but …” What’s happening is that they undoubtedly do love their dog, but they don’t actually understand why he’s doing what he does. They know there’s a disconnect there, but are unaware how to fix it.

Once they start using Choice Training, things change fast. They become a team with their dog. They can now love him with understanding and empathy.

When I’m working with Growly Dogs specifically, I use a lot of strategies and techniques to achieve the desired change in the dog’s behaviour. But these are all based in giving him a choice and letting him decide on a good course of action.

When you have very young children, you have to show them and teach them all the time. Once your child is older, you’re no longer saying “do this, do that,” but you are backing them up in the informed choices that they are now able to make. This is what I aspire to for my Growly Dog students. That they can work together with their challenging dog to get the results they want.

One of the best things about Choice Training is that you can start it with your new puppy when he comes through the door at 7-8 weeks old. People used to say (some unenlightened people still say …) that you can’t train a puppy till it’s 6 months old. Why? It’s simply that the type of training they’re thinking of - harsh, punishment-based training involving physical pain - would be too tough on a puppy.

Why use it on any dog??? It’s quite unnecessary, as you’ll see from any of the 130-odd articles on this site, not to mention the many books, the audiobooks, and my free - as well as paid - programs.

And if a training technique won't work for a toddler, then it likely won't work for a dog —Stanley Coren

Take a look at this post which goes into the whole subject in great detail. There are some academic resources listed there for those of you who want to dig deep!

The fact remains, if you can treat your dog with the same courtesy, kindness and respect that you give to any toddler, then you’ll get the results you want!

Plenty of ideas in this free 8-lesson email course for changing your life with your dog!





Yes, There can be good stuff on tv about dogs!

A problem dog learns the same way as any other dog. Be careful what you watch on tv so you feed your mind and your dog with the right ideas! The relationship will blossom and life will improve | FREE EMAIL COURSE | Reactive dog, problem dog, fearful dog, dog behavior | #problemdog, #reactivedog, #dogtraining, #growlydog |

A lot of television programmes about dogs are either mawkish and miserable - or actively misleading, giving bad advice.

The programme-makers are always looking for the sensational to attract audiences and sell their advertising space, hence the many shows about mistreatment and cruelty to animals, and the dramatic attacks seen in some “dog-training” series. These programmes are made with no reference to the huge scientific advances in the knowledge of how dogs’ brains work, and are responsible for a lot of misery and suffering - of dogs and their owners, who try to put the techniques into practice with disastrous results. 

It's so sad when clients come to me with a problem that has been made considerably worse after trying these inappropriate or downright barbaric methods.

A fresh breeze!

So it’s good to come across a show that I can actually wholeheartedly recommend! UK viewers had a treat recently when a couple of well-known force-free behaviourists (Chirag Patel and Sarah Fisher) and a like-minded vet got together to deal with some very difficult cases - from a variety of animals. As well as a couple of dogs, there were a cat, a rabbit, a pig, and a parrot. It did have a sensational title - Nightmare Pets SOS - but the rest of it was fine.

[This program is available for UK viewers at for a limited time. You may also find pirated copies on Youtube]

What interested me here was that the solution to the many diverse problems encountered with very different species was always the same: 

1. Remove pressure

2. Provide correct environment

3. Enrich the animal’s life

4. Teach an alternative behaviour

5. Use only Choice Training

So what this meant in effect, was that the terrier who pulled frantically on the lead should be given a slack lead; the “vicious” parrot who didn’t want to interact with its owner was allowed space; the cat who was not using his litter tray was given the correct size and number of trays, and privacy; the pig was taught to go to his mat instead of begging from the customers in the pub he lived in; and the biting rabbit was given peace, suitable housing, and could only be handled with its permission.

In addition to this, the animals were offered enrichment with toys and objects they could interact with so that their brains were stimulated into more acceptable activities. 

There was no need to have more control of the animal, more restraints, tighter boundaries, or "NOOOOO". 

The animals were offered a choice in their care. And their owners were surprised how quickly their recalcitrant pet changed once they stood back and allowed a moment’s reflection and a freely-given choice. 

Lacy plays Retrieve Games

Lacy plays Retrieve Games

And they were united in appreciating that this could all be done without confrontation, without more controls, without alienating their pet further. 

All the pets had a successful outcome in varying degrees. Why did the success vary? Because once the owners had been shown what to do, it was entirely down to them to accept the advice and follow through with the training! 

It was very rewarding - as it was for those trainers on the programme, and indeed anybody involved in this type of work - to see how some of the owners really did what they were asked, and got the results to prove it. Any who carped and complained and made excuses didn’t get so far. 

Does this ring a bell?

And where have you seen those five points before? 

Here! All over Brilliant Family Dog you’ll see this training in action.  It gives you workable solutions to so many problems.

And once you get into the swing of this way of interacting with your dog, you can work out for yourself alternative ways of changing other behaviours you are less than ecstatic about.


Get started with this free email course, which gives you new approaches to old problems:


Want to turn your dog into a star retriever? Check Fetch it! Teach your Brilliant family Dog to catch fetch, retrieve, find and bring things back! and enjoy a new relationship with your dog.

Can I really train my dog by giving him a choice?

Dog training, new puppy, puppy training | Training your dog a choice is much easier and more effective than you may have thought | FREE EMAIL COURSE | #newpuppy, #dogtraining, #newrescuedog, #puppytraining, #dogbehavior |

We all want to do the best for our dogs. Of course we do! 

We love them dearly and want only good things for them. That’s why you’re here!

But it’s so frustrating that when it comes to training for your pet there are often so few options in your locality. Either the classes are at difficult times, too far away, or there’s just too much going on in your life. You were already using your allotted 24 hours in full before you got a dog! Now you’ve got to fit all this in - maybe three hours out of one of your valuable evenings at home with the family. 

Then there’s the trekking to the class, perhaps in the dark, having to organise babysitters - many won’t allow children. The weather may be awful, you may be held up at work, your car may break down! It’s common for even the most dedicated of dog-owners to have to miss lessons from the local class they’ve enrolled at. Life happens!

Another problem is that you can’t find any trainers you’d want to work with. There’s an awful lot of harsh training out there, often masquerading as good training - making it very hard to know what you’re letting yourself and your dog in for. Having your dog shouted at by a “trainer” is bad - being shouted at yourself, belittled, shown up - is even worse!

So all in all I do understand why lots of people decide to pass on classes and “do it themselves”. 

Trouble is, that only works if you know the answers already! Otherwise you may just be passing on the old-fashioned methods and old wives’ tales handed down to you in your childhood.

You need to have access to the latest in scientific training techniques, with convenient classes led by an experienced and understanding trainer.

Check out my new online Challenging Dog Mini-Course and Wild Puppy Mini-Course teaching new dog and puppy owners to achieve lasting results through a few crucial lessons of dog-friendly training


Times they are a-changing

Dog training, new puppy, puppy training | Training your dog a choice is much easier and more effective than you may have thought | FREE EMAIL COURSE | #newpuppy, #dogtraining, #newrescuedog, #puppytraining, #dogbehavior |

Well, I may have an answer for you! As a trainer who uses only dog-friendly methods, based in science (no pixie dust or magic mushrooms!), and who genuinely has the dog’s wellbeing at heart, I could be just who you’re looking for. I’m also people-friendly! You won’t be shouted at or belittled as sadly so often happens in dog training classes.

I get amazing results very quickly, and it’s all done by giving the dog a choice - just as you do with your family and workmates. You don’t order them around and expect them to comply! You show them what you’d like, then encourage them to choose to do that for you.

As you know by now, I don’t talk gobbledygook. Look at these emails - representative of many that I get. Life is too short to be trying to unfathom deep mysteries! We want it explained in language we can understand.

“Thank you for sharing your easy-to-follow tips, helping us to help Smidge become our Brilliant Family Dog!”
Janet and Smidge Patterdale x

“Thank you for your books and articles - they are a great help: clear, simple and easy to follow and remember. I've read similar books, but almost all are much more wordy and hard to remember.”
Carol and Charlie in Singapore

“Wow! Back to Amazon! :-) I’m only partway through the first book but it’s great. So easy to understand. So well explained.”
Shirley and Hettie, Huntaway

So that is always my aim. It’s absolutely pointless having information about how the dog’s mind works, and being unable to convey it to the person the dog has to live with - through not understanding how the owner’s mind works!

Hmm … but just look at the map

BUT - I hear you cry! - you live in the middle of England and I live in Australia / West Coast of America / Hong Kong / Scotland / [insert your location here]. 

Puppy Wilfred is proud to walk smartly along with his owner!

Puppy Wilfred is proud to walk smartly along with his owner!

Thanks to the wonders of the internet, things are changing. Anything can be taught effectively online, from baking to weight loss, from ancient philosophy to astro-physics, there are even popular courses on blacksmithing and aerial dance! I have personally taken a lot of online courses and found them hugely helpful.

And dog training is another subject that works really well! You follow the course in your own time, and in your own home! If things are explained thoroughly and understandably, and you are shown videos of the training in action, you can learn really fast. 

So here you go! I’m running a 5 Day Workshop live on Facebook, where you can learn how to teach your dog to connect with you, using games which your dog will love, in just five days. Yes, that’s my promise to you. Don’t believe me? Come along and take part - and prove me wrong!

It’s free, so you have nothing to lose! It’ll just take 15’ of your time each day to follow the Workshop, and as much time as you want to spend playing with your dog to do the homework.

The workshop starts on Monday 27th November at 0900 EST / 1300 GMT, so you’ve got a few days to get yourself organised.

You can register here, get access to the Workshop private group, and get started!

See you there!


The Workshop has ended (it was a blast!) but check out my new online Dog Training Course and Puppy Training Course teaching new dog and puppy owners to achieve lasting results through six weeks of dog-friendly coaching