There’s a good likelihood that this lack of choice is at least partly responsible for the amount of stress we are seeing in many of our canine companions these days. Imagine how stressed you would be if your life was as tightly controlled as your dog’s!
We can introduce choice to our dogs by teaching them a “You Choose” cue:
Select a very high-value and very low-value treat. Show one to your dog and name it (Meat, Beef, Chicken). Let her eat it. Repeat several times. Show the other to your dog and name it (Kibble, Milkbone). Let her eat it. Repeat several times. Now tell her to “Wait,” say your high-value name, put it in a bowl and set it on the floor at your feet. Repeat “Wait” if needed, say your low-value name, put it in a bowl and set it on the floor six inches to the side of the first bowl. Now say “You choose!” “Pick one!” (or whatever you want your “Choice” cue to be) and invite her to choose a bowl. While she eats that treat, pick up the other bowl.
Repeat numerous times, randomly putting down high-value/low value first, on random sides, until it’s clear she’s realizing she can choose her preference. (You might be surprised to discover what you think is higher value for her; it may not be!)
Now think of other ways you can offer your dog choices in her daily life!