The Bucket Game -Giving Dogs Choice

The Power of Choice

Giving your dog, or your client’s dog, the power of choice is an excellent way to foster cooperative care. We all like to have choices, especially if we’re up against something that is frightening to us or makes us wary in any way. It gives us empowerment and a sense of control that makes us feel safe.

My neighbor once knocked on my door, crying hysterically that there was a snake in her house and she didn’t know what to do, she was terrified. I wasn’t sure what to do either, but started gathering strength and went over to her house. It took me a few minutes, and plenty of false starts, but finally I removed the snake from her house and all was better. If someone had told me I had to remove that snake “or else!” and forced me to do it immediately, without time to calm myself, I’m not sure I could’ve done it. There are a lot of things we can all do given the time to think and prepare ourselves and feel comfortable about what we are doing and dogs are no different.

Chirag Patel, a leading expert on dog training and behavior from the United Kingdom, has developed a method of helping dogs tell us when they are ready to begin things that may be uncomfortable for them. For example, instead of just taking your dog’s paw and starting a nail trim while your dog tries to pull away in fear, Chirag has helped us teach the dog to say when he’s ready for that nail trim, leading to a much calmer and easier nail trim, better for the dog and human. His method is called The Bucket Game and it has become known and used by trainers all over the world to help husbandry care become more cooperative and fear free. Chirag shares this game openly with the world in an effort to help spread a more positive and fear free husbandry experience for all animals. Through his Domesticated Manners website, Chirag encourages conversations between animals and people. The bucket game can be used in many instances, not only for husbandry training and caregiving behaviors, but also as a confidence builder, phobia reducer and for fun.This game uses shaping, targeting, stationing and many other behavioral principles in a way that makes it fun for both the animal and the care giver.


The Bucket Game – The Game of Choice

This fun and easy animal training game is designed to empower the learners.

By creating an environment where our animals have choice and can communicate their intentions to participate. The Bucket Game gives animals the ability to tell us:

  • When they are ready to start
  • When they need to take a break
  • When they want to stop
  • When we need to slow down

Below is a video showing the beginning steps from Chirag himself and also one from Shana Dietrick showing the use of the game further along.


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