Our Doggy Dan Review: A Certified Dog Behavior Consultant’s Take

Dog Training


Kayla Fratt



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Doggy Dan Trainer Review

YouTube can be a treasure trove of information for new dog owners.

If you enjoy learning all sorts of useful tips and adorable tricks and watching free dog training videos, you’ll be able to find them on YouTube. 

However, just about anyone can make a YouTube channel and start sharing how-to videos. And unfortunately, on-camera charisma doesn’t necessarily translate to top-notch advice.


Today, we’ll dive into one popular training channel — Doggy Dan (channel name: The Online Dog Trainer). We’ll explain a little about the trainer, his philosophy, and some of his most popular videos below. And then, I’ll give you my thoughts on Dan and his training lessons.

I am a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant, meaning my area of expertise lies in working with dogs with serious behavior concerns, such as aggression, anxiety, fear, phobias, reactivity, and obsessions (though I certainly do lots of basic manners training as well). 

Doggy Dan is specifically focused on pet dog behavior around the house, but at times, he strays into behavior modification for dogs with fear or aggression issues.

Key Takeaways: A Certified Dog Behavior Consultant’s Take on Doggy Dan

  • Doggy Dan is a popular YouTube personality who offers a variety of video training courses. Some of these courses are available for free, while others are only accessible to those who pay for them.
  • Doggy Dan is a successful marketer, but he doesn’t seem to have completed any formal dog-training education or informal mentorship programs. This isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker, but his lessons illustrate several key misunderstandings of dog behavior, training techniques, and canine psychology
  • Doggy Dan’s videos may prove helpful for some owners, but most will be better served by seeking training advice from other sources. Specifically, owners should seek out trainers who eschew antiquated methods and meet other key criteria, which we’ll outline below.

Doggy Dan: The Basics

You can find Doggy Dan on YouTube or his website

Doggy Dan is clearly a highly successful marketer and businessperson. In fact, the first few paragraphs in his bio are mostly about the success he’s found in marketing, rather than his expertise or education in dog behavior and training. 

To me, that’s always a little red flag. 

While it’s impressive that his book and videos draw lots of eyes, I am more concerned about the accuracy of the information he provides than the popularity of his offerings.

Doggy Dan’s story sounds familiar enough: He was confused and overwhelmed with the dog training options out there as an owner. 

But he does not mention any mentors, influential books, or education programs; instead, he states that he:

“read every dog behavior book I could get my hands on and watched more dog training video’s [sic] and DVDs than I care to remember.”

Doggy Dan’s Training Philosophy

Doggy Dan's training method

Doggy Dan claims to have developed his own training methodology that dogs instinctively understand. 

I find this sort of marketing speak to be yet another red flag. 

I see nothing in his material that indicates he understands – or has even researched – learning theory, ethology, hormones, neuroscience, applied behavior analysis, or any other important bodies of work in the animal behavior world. 

His bio is full of grand claims, such as:

“This method is without a shadow of a doubt the simplest, gentlest and most logical way to change your dog’s behavior. Based firmly on the dogs [sic] own communication signals they understand it immediately.”

training dogs

However, he never explains anything further regarding the baseline of this method. After reading his biography, I have no clue if he supports using shock collars or treats or something else altogether. 

The language is so vague and grandiose that I am highly skeptical.

On another page of the website, Doggy Dan does explain that he aims to use force-free methods. He claims that his dog training method uses no force at all. 

While that is a laudable goal, when I read his training suggestions they do in fact use force (such as placing a barking dog in a small quiet space and not releasing him until he’s quiet). 

This isn’t inherently bad advice, but it’s disingenuous to claim that it’s force-free.

In watching another one of Doggy Dan’s videos on dealing with aggression towards people, I immediately noticed that either due to his lack of skill or the desire to get a flashy video, Doggy Dan is putting the dog in a very stressful situation

Rather than slowly approaching the dog at a long distance and offering treats, Doggy Dan is focused on using non-confrontational body language and helping the owners learn to body block. While this is a decent start, Doggy Dan claims success while the dog’s tail is still fully tucked.

I am alarmed to see that Doggy Dan claims to not need to use food while attempting to counter condition the aggressive dog. If you are unwilling to use treats, toys, praise, or petting to reward the dog, you will almost always need to resort to physical force or intimidation to control the dog.

dog treats

To be clear: I have not seen any violent training techniques from Doggy Dan. However, I am incredibly concerned that he claims that treats are “bribery and temptation” that will not work over the long-term for serious dog behavior issues. 

This is completely counter to all research in learning theory and the best practices most leading dog trainers and behaviorists embrace. 

He suggests that treats only work for tricks, which is categorically incorrect.

At one point, he completely misinterprets the point of clicker training, which left me ready to turn the video off in disgust. 

If he truly mentored under and learned from a variety of trainers, he would understand that clicker training and counterconditioning are not bribery. They are a way of using positive reinforcement-based dog training to help four-footers make connections about the lessons they’re learning. 

He is either intentionally misunderstanding the bodies of work put forth by most true animal behavior experts, or he has not actually looked into it.

What Does Doggy Dan Offer?

dog training

Aside from his free YouTube videos, Doggy Dan offers a variety of training options for dog owners.

  • The Easy Way To An Obedient Dog (free):  It is a bit unclear what this course covers. The four videos highlighted don’t give any explanation or indication of what they entail. The videos are titled “ Why Most Dog and Puppy Training Fails,” “How to Get Your Dog to Choose to Follow You,” “Five Rules That Will Change Everything,” and “The One Resource to Solve Every Dog and Puppy Issue.” As with other Doggy Dan products, I am concerned by the sensationalist marketing language that overshadows any substance of what the buyer actually gets or what the training methods actually are.
  • Potty Training (free): This course looks like a standard potty training course. It covers schedule making, your responsibility as the owner, dealing with accidents, getting your puppy outside at the right times, and nighttime potty options. The sales language is a bit cringey with lots of exclamation points and grandiose guarantees, but the actual substance of the course seems solid enough.
  • The Dog Calming Code ($47 for 2 hours of video): This course aims to assist owners dealing with over-excited dogs and “naughty” behavior. Several exercises mentioned on the sales page seem oriented towards aggressive behavior, which isn’t really equivalent to dogs who are easily over-excited or “naughty.” Like the first course, the page for this course doesn’t really explain what’s covered. All of the content is extremely salesy, such as that you’ll learn about “The WORST possible thing to do… Rewarding bad behavior when training your naughty dogs (avoid like the plague).” More concerning to me, though, is that many of the reviews mention “pack leader” terminology. Pack theory is outdated and based on shoddy science that’s since been disavowed by the original researcher. I am concerned that such a popular trainer is continuing to push pack theory and avoid using treats as a solution for so many issues.
  • The Puppy Coach ($19): This course heavily emphasizes relationship-building with your puppy and understanding the pup’s psychology. While I love the sound of that, I can’t help but remain skeptical that Doggy Dan’s understanding of psychology is based on crock science and anecdotes rather than actual behavioral research. I love that Doggy Dan seems so relationship-oriented and that he poo-poos punishment and shock collars. However, he seems to replace punishment with vague promises of solutions and paradigm-shifting approaches. I love that this program not only offers instructional videos but also includes a video diary from Doggy Dan’s new puppy. It appears to me that the puppy products from Doggy Dan are the most solid options he offers.

What Do Dog Owners Think about Doggy Dan?

doggy dan reviews

Rather than highlighting the glowing reviews Doggy Dan has on his website, I chose to dive into the YouTube comments on his channel. I wanted to get an idea of what reviews said without being hand-selected to be highlighted on the website.

Generally, YouTube reviews and comments are extremely positive of Doggy Dan’s videos. Several commenters mentioned that dogs looked uncomfortable or that there wasn’t enough detail in the videos.

However, most comments were either thanking Doggy Dan for his free videos or asking for further guidance on a specific question.

It’s important, though, to note that people often leave YouTube comments in the spur of the moment. People rarely come back weeks or months later to share successes or – more importantly – failures.

Accordingly, it isn’t easy to determine how effective his lessons are proving over the long-term, even if they do provide some instant improvements in some cases. 

There Are Better Options Out There

If you’re looking for free YouTube dog training, there are much better resources than Doggy Dan out there.

I’ve reviewed Zak George’s dog training channel as well and have much more favorable things to say about him.

There are some solid dog training resources on YouTube, but Doggy Dan isn’t one of them!

Doggy Dan FAQs

dog training methods

There are a couple important questions to answer before going forward with any trainer, but given Doggy Dan’s profile, questions about him are quite numerous. Some of the most common questions about Dan and his programs include:

What Kind of Training Does Doggy Dan Use?

Doggy Dan seems to use a “pack leader” training approach that neither relies on treats and clickers nor on shock or prong collars. While Doggy Dan claims to use force-free training, most of the videos I watched included physical manipulation or intimidation (body blocking) to get the dog to comply with instructions. 

How Much Do Doggy Dan’s Training Programs Cost?

Doggy Dan’s programs are pretty affordable, ranging from free mini-courses to monthly subscriptions of $37/month.

What Are Doggy Dan’s Five Golden Rules?

Doggy Dan has “Five Golden Rules,” but they’re actually framed as questions. They are as follows:
Who controls the food?
Who will take care of any danger?
When you are away from your dog, who is the pack leader?
Who dictates the terms (i.e. Do you listen to your dog or vice versa?)
Who walks who?

Are There Coupons Available for Doggy Dan’s Courses?

Most of Doggy Dan’s courses seem to be perpetually on-sale. There do seem to be some coupons on coupon aggregator sites, but several that I tested did not work.

Does Doggy Dan Offer a Guarantee?

Doggy Dan offers a 60 day money-back guarantee. According to the site, if you want to cancel you’ll get a refund with no questions asked. 

Conclusion: Doggy Dan is a Doggy-Don’t in My Book

doggy dan reviews

While Doggy Dan comes across as gentle, earnest, and kind in his videos, I am deeply concerned by his training methods and lack of continuing education. I suspect that Doggy Dan is popular due to his marketing skills and charisma rather than his actual dog behavior expertise.

Doggy Dan relies on outdated pack leader methodology that is strict and difficult to follow through on. His training is based on body language and physical manipulation. While I have seen far worse training in my day, Doggy Dan is far from the best!

Doggy Dan’s programs are affordable, and his puppy programs seem to be in line with those offered by other trainers, so they may provide some value for some owners. But I would stay far away from his other programs.

K9 of Mine offers basic obedience courses and puppy raising programs, which I suggest checking out instead (see below).

But no matter where you learn about training your dog, you’ll always want to be sure to seek out trainers or behaviorists who exhibit the following traits:

  • Clear evidence of continuing education through mentorship, conferences, certifications, and/or courses.
  • Honest communication about expectations. Avoid trainers that make grandiose claims about dog training – there are no guarantees in this line of work.
  • Specialization in the area you need help with. Don’t hire an agility trainer for aggression issues; you need a certified dog behavior consultant for that. Conversely, you don’t want a behavior consultant for basic obedience — just seek out a trainer instead. Some trainers also specialize in breed groups.
  • Explanation of training methods. One of the biggest red flags about Doggy Dan is that it’s nearly impossible to understand what type of dog training methodology he uses without hiring him. 
  • Adherence to dog training ethics. There are several acceptable options, including fear-free, force-free, LIMA, Humane Hierarchy, or positive reinforcement based. These ethical standards are important to ensure your dog is treated fairly in the classroom!

For more tips on finding a great dog trainer, check out our how-to article here.

Need Help Training Your Pooch?

Chances are, you’ve stumbled across this article because you need helping training your dog. And by now, you’ve probably realized that we’re not the biggest fan of Doggy Dan’s approach.

But that’s OK! We have tons of dog training resources you can check out. This includes basic lessons as well as more complex skills.

In fact, we have two in-depth training programs that make great starting points:


What about you? Have you completed any of Doggy Dan’s courses? How did they work for you? What kinds of things did you like or dislike about them?

Let us know in the comments below! 

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Written by

Kayla Fratt

Kayla Fratt is a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant through IAABC and works as a conservation detection dog trainer.

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  1. Cyntlhia Avatar

    Wow, welcome to the world of “how dare you criticize a ‘dog trainer’ who has no credentials or training, when you only have your paltry Animal Behavior education and certifications!”. The vitriol brought on by what I thought was a fairly balanced evaluation seemed very out of proportion to me. But, I’ve seen many other force free trainers subjected to the same venom.

    I was happy to find this evaluation, as I was trying to evaluate his offering to affiliates, and this is exactly the sort of program I was afraid it was. I will not willingly recommend a trainer like this. Thank you for your insightful and honest and educated opinion. It’s really sad that so many people do not understand the harm that is created and the trust that is destroyed with aversives. In a way, I suppose, ti’s understandable: when you do not understand what the dog is “saying”, and instead you see what look to be the desired results.

    So thank you for this; I appreciate what your education and certifications mean and are worth.

    1. Megan Marrs Avatar
      Megan Marrs

      Thanks Cynthia, we appreciate the kind words.

  2. Graeme Avatar

    Wow, there’s so much to say about this. Firstly, I have to state that I’ve used Doggy Dan’s method, with incredible results. My American Pitbull was completely out of control. Now I’m a big guy, but Zeke could pull me uphill…snarling and barking viciously at anyone we came across on our walks. I ended up only walking him at midnight. I actually became afraid for my family. I tried 4 local dog trainers, all who had fancy titles, and claimed to know dog psychology, but they were quite frankly, useless. And cost me around $4.5K. I also went the free route, trying Zak George, and reading Cesar Milan’s blogs, but nothing helped.

    Desperate, I found Doggy Dan and put his 5 Golden Rules in place. And in 3 days, I had a completely different dog. He taught me what nobody else could, how to live with a dog and demonstrate to Zeke that he did not need to be so protective, always on guard and stressed out. Now he naps most of the day. The change is quite literally unbelievable.

    So my question to you Kayla, and the K9 blog owners, is why would you take such an offence to Doggy Dan and write such a scathing review of him. Have you even tried Dan’s method on any of your dogs? Or on any of your clients?

    I wrote him a 5-star review, and would have given him 6 if I could. I see he has over 3,000 5-Star reviews. How many do you have? Where is your success?

    Is your success in the fact that you studied dog neuroscience? Kudos to you, but have you ever completely transformed someone’s overly aggressive dog in just 3 days (without even touching the dog)?

    So what’s driving your vehemence? Maybe you need to review your own motivation first before you throw rocks at others?

    Our brains are programmed into the pattern of comparing ourselves to others, and it’s a hard cycle to break. You see someone around you accomplishing big things, and you automatically check in with how you measure up.

    This negative mindset can stop you from being grateful for what you have. You can change your thinking – let their success be helpful for you. They can become an inspiration that drives you to be a better version of yourself.

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey there, Graeme. We appreciate you sharing your thoughts about the article and your experiences with Doggy Dan.

      I’ll shoot Kayla an email and see if she has time to respond personally, but as the K9 of Mine managing editor, I’ll address this part of your comment:

      So my question to you Kayla, and the K9 blog owners, is why would you take such an offence to Doggy Dan and write such a scathing review of him. Have you even tried Dan’s method on any of your dogs? Or on any of your clients?

      Aside from the typical editing process all of our articles go through, this article is entirely Kayla’s. “We” didn’t write it. Additionally, we don’t set out to publish “scathing” reviews of anyone. We set out — as we do with all of our articles — to educate dog owners.

      This, we hope, will improve the lives of pets and their people.

      That said, I wholeheartedly agree (and suspect many of our other team members do) with most of the points Kayla makes in the piece.

      No, I have not tried Doggy Dan’s “pack-leader” methods on my own dogs. I don’t ask for leeches when I go to the doctor either.

      They’re both antiquated approaches that are not consistent with the modern science.

      It is important that dog owners understand what science has to say about the best way to train and care for your dog. Unfortunately, many owners begin following the strategies laid out by celebrity trainers who have little to no formal training or education instead.

      And this:

      I see he has over 3,000 5-Star reviews. How many do you have?

      illustrates the problem perfectly.

      Dog training is not about popularity; it is about using science to improve the lives of dogs and their owners.

      Nevertheless, we’re sincerely happy that you’ve found something that works for you and your doggo. But we’d encourage you to check out some of the resources Kayla referenced in the article to learn more about dog training and behavior.

    2. Megan Marrs Avatar
      Megan Marrs

      Hey Graeme – I just want to jump in here even though Ben has already done a great job of answering your comment. I just want to add — using fear, pain, or coercion to change our dog’s behavior only brings results that are beneficial to the owner. You have not done anything to change your dog’s inner mindset. Most aggression stems from fear. When you add painful corrections and intimidation, your dog becomes more afraid of you or the punishment than the trigger.

      But the dog is still VERY much afraid of the trigger.

      Too many people focus on the benefits they experience — your dog is quieter around the house, he does what you say (because he is scared of you). But is the dog happy? Is he no longer afraid of strangers? I highly doubt it if you’ve used Doggy Dan’s horrific approach. He may be more afraid of YOU than the strangers, but that isn’t a win in my book. That’s not the relationship I or most people want with their dog.

      I really encourage you to read up on some of the resources Kayla provided. Intimidation-based training is rewarding for the teacher, but not for the dog. It gets “results”, but they are artificial and are not REAL behavior change (which takes time, empathy, and work). This is especially dangerous because people who prescribe to these methods think “Oh, my dog isn’t barking or growling at people now, so I guess he is safe around them.” If you observe dog body language, you will realize this isn’t the case. But most people don’t bother to learn the basic signs of fear and stress. Then, they allow their dog to be around triggers without adequate precautions and suddenly the dog “attacks out of nowhere”. But it was not out of nowhere — the owner just chose not to listen.

      Anyway, like I said, these conversions don’t tend to go anywhere because many people who have had “success” with methods like these are more focused on the benefits they experience (I feel macho and my dog stops being annoying) rather than being concerned about the dog’s actual mental state. A shut down dog isn’t a success!

  3. Keith Avatar

    Best method I’ve ever used. Complete change in our dog. Pack/family call it what you like. There are leaders and followers in every family. Our dog is now a very happy follower. The method does use treats but doesn’t overly rely on them. And there is absolutely no force. Loved it!

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Keith.

  4. Michael Krailo Avatar
    Michael Krailo

    I’m not a dog trainer, but I know a good one when I see one. This comment is disturbing.

    “Doggy Dan relies on outdated pack leader methodology that is strict and difficult to follow through on. His training is based on body language and physical manipulation.”

    My question to you is how do you think dogs communicate? Do they give each other treats? One of the most popular dog whisperers out there is Cesar Milan and being the pack leader is all he talks about and have a calm state of mind while doing it. So for someone to say it’s outdated tells me they don’t acknowledge the dogs reality. Anyone can bribe a dog or a human, that’s not training. I’m indifferent about this particular training method as I don’t know what’s involved. I had hoped maybe you would have tried it out an given an honest review. Instead you speak like you watched a few of his YouTube videos and passed judgement on him. Nice try though. As far as the trainers with clickers, that is the least desirable method of training I have ever seen. Not saying it doesn’t work, just that you won’t catch me clicking my dog around ever.

    Now one thing against the pack leader method is that if you don’t actually have a pack of dogs, it’s not really a pack. You can pretend that it is, but I don’t think so. You’ll notice Cesar Milan actually owns a pack of dogs. If you only own one dog, socializing with other dogs and humans becomes really important. As far as being difficult to follow through, that can be said about any training method.

    1. Megan Marrs Avatar
      Megan Marrs

      Michael, Kayla is an IAABC-certified dog behavior consultant.

      This certification requires a minimum of four years and 500 hours of experience in animal behavior consulting, in addition to an extensive exam and several letters of recommendation. Neither Cesar Milan and Doggy Dan have these certifications — or any other kind of accreditation. Have you read our piece on the debunking of “alpha” theory? This concept has been debunked for decades. I’d really suggest you look into the science and research if you have so many questions.

      You do not need to use a clicker if you don’t enjoy this training method. But to act as if your layman understanding of this complicated topic better than Kayla’s (who is, unlike you, a professional dog trainer with years of high-level experience and currently trains scent detection dogs) is ridiculous.

      I’d suggest working on that ego, friend.

  5. Tanya Avatar

    Iveused Doggy Dans method and it completely changed my dog. In three days I saw a massive difference.
    The method does you food, but not continuosly. He has a whole course on clicker trainer so that’s wrong too. He’s not going to give everything away for free on YouTube so to say its ambiguous is unfair.
    My dog was facing death from aggression. He is now extremely well balanced, social, respectful, obedient and it’s not all thanks to Doggy Dan.

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Not sure I completely follow your comment, Tanya, but we appreciate you sharing your experiences and are glad your doggo has responded well!

  6. Kelley Avatar

    I used Doggy Dan’s five golden rules on my over excited barking dogs. Worked like a charm. I’m still amazed. My girl is more relaxed and happy knowing she can let the humans determine if danger is near. The few times she had to go to time out it was not forced and she walked willing and quietly to the room (I did have a rope on her collar). She quickly got the message and adapted her behavior. I will say she is super smart and is a pleaser. I’m thankful for Dan’s five golden rules. They have helped us! I will add one should always use common sense when grabbing ideas from others and I do have experience with my own dogs owning several different breeds and I have researched dog training techniques.

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Kelley. We’re glad you found something that worked for you and your pup.