Dog training in your home

Southeastern Pennsylvania

Ellen Brown

Member, Trulydogfriendly, trainer for the Northstar Foundation, workshop teacher for DogBONES of Massachusetts , author, article on treating  Separation Anxiety and 2006 2nd-place winner of APDT's John Fisher Award for article "Metaphorically Speaking."

References available on request.


Jack Parson Russell terrier
  • Would you like to enjoy your dog?
  • Would you like to have a well-behaved dog?
  • Would you like to be in control of your dog's behavior, rather than some "expert?"
    If so, this style of teaching is for you!

Relax! This stuff is easy!

Does your dog need training?
Yes, all dogs do. Training (actually, teaching) is how we communicate with a pet, and build a relationship.

You are already teaching your dog! Are you getting the behavior you want?
In a way, we are always teaching our dogs, no matter what we are doing. Every time we choose to give them attention or ignore them, to pet them or react to what they do, we are sending a message. If you are not getting the behavior you want, you may be accidentally giving out a message that the unwanted behavior is OK. But sending the message you want is easy, once you know how!


How to be your dog's teacher, as well as a friend, for the rest of your life together
How to solve problem behaviors like begging at the table, pulling on the leash, or jumping up on people 
How  to ease your dog's fears -- of noises, people, being alone, etc.
How to have a wonderful relationship, without your having to pretend to be a dog, or that your dog is a person in fur
How to have a comfortable, easy, free flow of communication between yourself and your dog 

And, if you forget anything you learn, you'll have a the full curriculum, in writing, to remind you, plus resources and techniques to help with future teaching.


Who says greyhounds won't sit?

Frequently asked questions about reward-based teaching:

I always need the clicker?

No, the clicker is only used to say "That's it!" about a new behavior, so the dog knows we like what he did. It is not even needed for many things.
Once the dog starts repeating the behavior, the clicker is no longer needed for that action. That sometimes happens after a small number of repetitions.

Will I always need treats? Will this make my dog unwilling to do anything unless I have food on me?

No and no! Rewards are based on what individual dogs want, which may not even be treats for some dogs.
 In any case, treats can be replaced with other rewards once a behavior is learned, even with a dog who adores food. Dogs will respond to requests for familiar, trained actions without a reward in sight.

Shouldn't I be "alpha?"

Your dog will obey because you will be the one who controls what she wants, then, in time, because trust and good habits have been built.
The old-fashioned ideas that inspired things like alpha rolls, scruff shakes, and preceding the dog through doors are invalid. Dominance rituals are not needed between dog and human

How will the dog know what I consider a bad behavior?

Your dog will learn what you don't want without your doing anything unpleasant -- managing and ignoring unwanted behaviors will go a long way towards stopping them. Just withholding reward can be a powerful  consequence, for a dog who has learned you will reward desired behaviors.

More important, your dog will learn something much more useful; what you do want -- specific behaviors in specific circumstances, that replace the unwanted actions and become good habits. 

Unpleasant attempts at punishment can have unexpected fallout, including confusing, frightening or even completely shutting down a dog. They can inspire aggression, nervous hyperactivity, or even backfire because the dog likes something the person thought would discourage him!

Isn't this stuff a cookie-cutter formula, that treats all dogs the same?

It couldn't be further from that. This method of teaching is based on the way all beings learn naturally, by trying to get what they want.
Every creature has a different opinion of what is rewarding, and different behaviors that come naturally, so every teaching program is tailor-made to that animal. A dog's personality, and the tendencies of the breed, if applicable, are taken into account.

Even the behavior being trained can inspire fine-tuning. The perfect reward for sitting might be a treat. But for the same dog, the perfect reward for not pulling on the leash might be walking quickly. And the best reward for a long stay might be the opportunity to chase a ball.

This sounds complicated -- is it a lot of work?

Not unless you spend no time at all with your dog now. The amount of time and effort you put into your dog may be about the same, but is likely to consist of more pleasant interactions, with you in control of what is going on, rather than reacting to unwanted behaviors after it's too late.
 It does take practice, and using everyday activities as training opportunities, especially at first, but it is not unpleasant or hard work.

This may be OK for pet owners, but will it work for more difficult activities?

Yes, this type of teaching is being successfully used for competitive obedience, agility, and other dog sports and work.

Shouldn't my dog do what I say, just because I say so?
That will happen with this method. But you will have even more than that, something joyous and beautiful.

Think about people for whom you do things willingly. Why are you motivated to work for them? Are they the people who force you to do things, or is it because you get some satisfaction from it? 

Do they give you respect, admiration, comfort, pleasure, or a salary?
How would you feel about someone who gives you all of the above?

  Perhaps there is someone in your life with whom you've settled into an easy, comfortable routine, someone who has been so valuable, trustworthy and kind in the past that you always want to give them what they need, without expectng immediate large rewards any more.

Well, that's who you will be to your dog. You will be worth obeying -- someone who recognizes your dog's value. Someone who knows how to reward and communicate in a way the dog understands, to build a relationship -- a partner in fun rather than a party-pooper. 


Now that's a joyous dog!


The curriculum teaches the human students the techniques for teaching their dogs anything they want to teach. It also includes ideas for managing the environment, desensitizing dogs to the things they fear, and for teaching:

attentiondown, off, waiting for permission to eat, taking treats gently, coming when called,  sit, staypolite greetings, enjoying being handled, potty training,  releasing objects, targeting 

Since these are private lessons, some of this can be adjusted to fit the individual needs of the people and dog(s) involved. If your dog knows some of the above, or if you are experienced with dogs and only want to learn about clicker training, I won't waste your time with things you don't need.
If you need help with an aspect of basic pet training that isn't listed here, we can add it. Students receive handouts at every session that are added to a looseleaf binder as we go along; individualized materials can be added to that, as well.


What's under this snow?
Fees and scheduling:
Only private training sessions are offered, in your home. Generally, students take five sessions, with an option for more -- each session lasts about an hour and a half.
If there are more than one person in the household, I recommend having at least two of them come to the sessions and learn the techniques.
I prefer to see the entire household, including any children aged 4 or older
. I have game-based, fun ways to help children and teenagers learn how to teach the dog, and keep both themselves and the dog safe.

Sessions are arranged to fit our mutual schedules -- email to let me know what is good for you, and to find out what is currently available. I generally prefer to stick with the same day and time, once a week for five weeks in a row, but am always willing to discuss other options, as long as we stick with the schedule we plan. 

The basic rate is $50.00 for each session, teaching 1-3 adults, and any children in the household able to understand what we are doing, with one dog (the same people and dog at every session). This comes to $250 total. An additional $5.00 fee per session will be charged for adding each of the following aspects: additional adults, additional distance (contact me to find out if this is applicable), or additional dogs.

A discount of $5.00 off of each lesson is offered to adopters of ex-racing greyhounds.

If you own more than one dog, you are welcome to learn the techniques by having one dog go through the program with us, then applying what you learn to other dogs; you will have the skills to work with both dogs when we are done. However, if I help you directly with more than one dog, even if the time is split between them, the additional fee needs to be paid. One option, which I recommend, is to take the five sessions with one dog, then take one or more extra sessions with another dog, if you find you need more help.

You are welcome to create a mini-class by getting together with another person or family and their dog, and splitting the fee. If you do this, I would like to do some sessions at each house, since household set-up and management can be a big part of what helps a dog learn.

Payment for all five sessions is due at the conclusion of the first session. If, at that time, you have decided not to continue, only payment for the first session is due.

Please make sure you can do the sessions on the days and times we plan, and cancel only in case of emergency. If all five sessions have not been taken within an 8-week period due to cancellations from the client, any make-up sessions need to be paid for at the same rate.

I feel strongly about people taking the whole course, and truly learning the ideas behind the training. However, please contact me if you think you only need one or two sessions to solve a specific problem. Sometimes that's just what the doctor ordered! Generally, those sessions are $55.00 each ($60.00 if the distance is great).

Agreeing to use my services means you are agreeing to these terms.

If all of this fussing seems excessive to you, you're probably very organized, honest and responsible, and have never taught anything privately! I really am very sympathetic to anyone who ends up with a real need to reschedule a session. But, many years of  teaching have taught me that there are people who try to "beat the system," or who innocently don't understand how this sort of thing works, not realizing that our appointment is probably part of a tightly-scheduled day for me, and a time slot that needs to be open for someone else when they are done. So I've learned to make it all clear, and I apologize to anyone who didn't need it all laid out in such detail! 

Please feel free to email for further details about anything.
Please email to schedule lessons.

Ellen Brown

For the quickest possible answer about scheduling and availability, please tell me where you are located when emailing.


Geographical areas covered

Depending on scheduling, I can come to much of Montgomery County, Philadelphia, and some of Bucks County or Lancaster County. If you do not see your town listed, please ask!

Ambler, Blue Bell, Bridgeport, Cedars, Colmar, Conshohocken, Creamery, Devon, Dresher, East Norriton, Elkins Park, Erdenheim, Flourtown, Fort Washington, Glenside, Gladwyne, Gwynedd, Hatboro, Haverford,  Horsham, Jenkintown, King of Prussia, Kulpsville, Lafayette Hill,  Lansdale,  Miquon, Montgomeryville, Narberth, Norristown, North Wales, Oreland, Philadelphia, Plymouth Meeting, Radnor, Rosemont, Skippack, Spring House, Valley Forge, Villanova, Warminster, Warrington, Whitpain, Willow Grove, Wissahickon, Worcester, Wyncote

Favorite links    
A discount on training from Joyousdog is offered to adopters of ex-racing greyhounds! 

Here are the sites of some of my colleagues throughout the country, who teach dogs with kindness:

Don Hanson, Bangor ME,

Pat Miller, Hagerstown MD,

Bonnie Hess, Lancaster PA,

Colleen Pelar, Woodbridge VA,

Beverly Hebert, Houston TX,

Darla Lacey, Acworth GA,

Leah Roberts, Sanford FL

Jo Jacques, Salem MA,

Suezanne M. Law, Shawnee KS,

Laura Van Dyne, Carbondale CO,

Jolanta Benal, Brooklyn, NY,

Dede Crough, Glen Moore PA,

Becky Schultz --

Courteous Canine, Inc. Dog School & Doggie Gym


Links to sites that support and promote dog-friendly, pain-free training:


Links to general business information -- these listings do not constitute a recommendation of anything on these sites: - PA Website Directory