Changing your mindset

Dr Katie Friel-Russell

BVSc MAPDT PGDip CCAB MRCVS Veterinary Behaviourist

Changing your mindset

When your first start looking into force-free training for dogs it can feel difficult. Especially if you’ve used other training approaches in the past. Changing your mind about anything can be a real hurdle, but the fact that you’re looking into it is a huge step in the right direction.

There are a few common barriers to fully accepting force-free and changing your approach which we’ll run through briefly here:

  • Guilt

  • Embarrassment

  • Concerns over effectiveness


The first one is a huge one. If you change and accept force-free training, and all the benefits it brings in respect to animal welfare, it means that you have to accept that aversive training is not ethical. That is a massive thing to do especially if you’ve been practicing those techniques previously.

We are not here to judge at all. We know that any aversive training is likely to have come from so called professionals recommending this outdated approaches, or through complete desperation and frustration. We know most people have reacted towards their dogs in ways that they wish they hadn’t, and we’re here to help.

Giving yourself a break, understanding that everyone makes mistakes and that these mistakes were done with the best intentions to train your dog, but that you got it wrong and forgiving yourself for that will allow you to progress with force-free training for you and your dog.


Some people also struggle with embarrassment. It can feel hard being told what to do and have mistakes pointed out to you. So it can feel safer to keep doing what you’re doing rather than seek help.

Again there is no judgement here and we aim to help everyone feel confident and included in all the steps that we take in order to make the most progress for them and their dog. So please don’t let embarrassment stop you from enjoying life more with your dog.

Concerns around effectiveness

And finally people often worry that force-free training won’t be effective. That all dogs need to be scared and told off. This can be really hard for some people as initially we do need you to trust us. Especially when it comes to behaviour changes which take a longer time to see the full results.

But we can back up all our training with evidence, plus we all know that it’s easier to learn when you’re not stressed and dogs are much, much happier when training force-free and we all want our dogs to be happy!

So wherever you’re at with your journey into force-free training and whatever training you’ve done in the past, take each day as it comes and be the best you can be for your dog.

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Dr Katie Friel-Russell

BVSc MAPDT PGDip CCAB MRCVS Veterinary Behaviourist


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