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What is Choice Theory Dog Training 
And what makes it different from reward only training?

Choice Theory  Dog Training

Working Dog Training for the Pet Dog

Most of us have seen some sort of working dog or another and found ourselves thoroughly impressed by their ability and training. Many of you have probably wished that you could get your dog to perform so well under such great distractions. Well now you can.

Choice Theory Dog Training is the first organized system developed to use working dog training techniques and philosophies to train the average pet. It works quickly and safely with guaranteed results.

Choice Theory Dog Training was developed by Master dog trainer Gregory. Gregory has over 2 decades of training high performance and police dogs. He has studied the training methods of top service dog, agility dog and obedience trial trainers.

Gregory is also a naturally gifted and well versed teacher of people. As the k-9 training NCO for the US Army Southern Command, Gregory was task with creating new, more effective training scenarios to improve the dogs work performance. His philosophy for teaching people to train their dogs is; if you are going to teach them, teach them to use it in real life, not in the classroom.



There are many definitions of work but here is one that describes it best for me.

Work <noun>: an exertion of oneself by doing mental or physical activities for a purpose or out of necessity;

Understanding this definition is the secret to Choice Theory Dog Training. As people, we choose to work for several different reasons that vary from paying the rent to doing something that we love. It’s an easy choice for those of us that are lucky enough to do something that we love.  However for those that are not so fortunate staying motivated and making the right choice is not that easy.

Understand when we choose to work for a purpose we tend to work as hard and for as long as that purpose exists. For example if we want to buy a new TV then we might take on additional hours of employment and stay focused until the TV is purchased. Once that purpose is fulfilled more often than not we will choose to quit.   However when we are working to pay the bills of necessity then we will more than likely choose to keep working every day until retirement or until your survival instincts no longer function.

The same is true with dogs. If a dog performs a task for her owner in hopes of getting a treat, she is in fact choosing the treat. If you remove that treat from the dog or the dog isn’t hungry then more than likely she will choose to quit working. However if a dog hunts or scavenges to provide for her own survival then just like the human she will choose to do so every day until her survival instinct no longer functions.

The original domestic dogs were trained by exploiting two of the dog’s basic needs. First was the need for nutrition (food and water), second was the need to avoid, eliminated or alleviate pain (being beat). By understanding these two needs early trainers were able to get their dogs to choose appropriately.

Tens of thousands of years later we as humans have evolved physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Herein lays the problem in most modern pet dog training systems. Even though the human specie has gone through great evolution, the canine species hasn’t. This is where the real challenge exists for working dog training. How do we get a dog to choose to work without food bribery or causing the dog excessive pain or discomfort?


By-product of evolution

Earlier philosophies and methodologies on dog training were very simple. But then again so were early ideas on employee management. Neither took psychology into consideration. However both seemed to work well when applied with consistency.

We as a species are infinitely more intelligent than our ancestors and can be motivated by our needs as well as our aspirations or the aspirations of others.

This isn’t true however for dogs. Unlike people the modern dog is not an evolved creature. He is a creation of an evolved creature, man. He is the result of selectively breeding one dog with another. However with all of the selective breeding over the 10,000s of years the dog as a species has not evolved. His intelligence level is no greater than that of his ancestors. Therefore to raise and train dogs in the same manner in which we raise and train children and adults will almost always prove to be futile.


The Basic Principles of Dog Training

All dog training regardless of the methods or philosophies start with the assumption that we must exploit one of the dog’s basic needs in order to train him

. Those basic needs are;

· Food: All nutritional needs fall into this category including water.

· Social: This includes the need to be around another being and to touch or be touched.

· Prey-kill: This is the need to chase down and bite on objects or animals.  

· Pain-relief: This is the need to eliminate, alleviate or avoid discomfort and pain.

As a dog trainer you are either working with or against one of the dog’s basic needs. Any need that you do not control is a distraction to your dog. The short coming of most modern training methods is that they focus on one need, food. If for any reason the dog isn’t hungry or is distracted by its social, prey-kill or pain avoidance needs, there is high probability that the dog will choose to do something else.

Every dog has its inherent hierarchy of needs. For some dogs food might be at the top of their list and they will do everything from sitting to washing your dishes for it. Another dog might not have a big appetite but loves to be around and be touched by people. An even entirely different dog could care less about food or people if there is an opportunity to chase a ball, bike, car or animal. Finally all dogs have a need to relieve pain however some dogs have a higher tolerance for pain than others.

I hope you’re starting to see now why treat training by itself almost never delivers results high enough for the average dog owner to use in everyday life. First of all it’s impractical to carry treats with you all of the time. Second, it’s ludicrous to believe that all dogs have a high food drive and will always respond to treats.


We use shock collars

as a

LAST resort, not first