If you’re thinking about getting a canine friend, have a new puppy, or have a dog with behavioral issues, the Brandon McMillan MasterClass could be the dog training course you’ve been praying for.
It certainly answered my prayers. My dog has a willful terrier nature. I let that beat me and didn’t quite complete her training as a pup. So I was super excited to take this Brandon McMillan MasterClass to see if I could identify where I lost my way and how to put things right.
I will be putting everything I learn in this MasterClass into practice. And I’ll be sharing my experiences, good and bad, to help you decide whether this class is worth the money, unique in terms of content and whether there’s anything better out there.
This Brandon McMillan MasterClass review is going to be detailed, so if you just want the key takeaways, this round-up is for you:
- Successfully master 7 common commands
- Overcome common behavioral issues – including housebreaking
- Build trust with your dog to maximize and accelerate progress
- Effectively deploy the control, train, treat process
- Embed training for long lasting results
- Understand when, and for how long, training sessions should take place to optimize results
- It works (for me and my dog at least)
- Well structured
- Great balance of theory vs practice
- Great delivery and teaching style
- Includes lots of canine students of different breed, size and temperament
- Key points and key takeaways are highlighted
- Great supporting workbook
- More geared toward early training
- Does not address some problem behaviors
Course length: 15 lessons, 2 hours and 55 minutes
Best for: Those thinking of getting a puppy or who already have a young puppy.
It will also help anyone who has an older dog who’s missed some training steps, or has history that has resulted in trust or behavior issues.
Overall: Brandon McMillan shares what he has gained after years of transforming dogs of every type and temperament into well mannered pets and service dogs. His easy to follow, well structured, positive system will help you master basic commands and overcome some common behavior problems.
Now for my more detailed review, here’s what I’ll be covering:
- A look inside the Brandon McMillan MasterClass
- Pros and cons of the course
- Is the content unique?
- Is there anything better?
- Verdict: Is the Brandon McMillan MasterClass worth it?
First the basics:
About Brandon McMillan
Brandon McMillan grew up in a family of exotic animal trainers and has almost forty years experience of training animals.
Starting out at the tender age of 4, his first recruit was a tiger. The big cats, reptiles, bears, wolves, birds and elephants he has worked with have become stars of both the big and small screen.
After training a dog to become a service dog for a veteran of the Afghan conflict, Brandon realised his calling: to train dogs to improve people’s lives.
Since then, he has rescued many ‘untrainable’ dogs from shelters. As well as winning the trust of those dogs and transforming their lives, he has enhanced the lives of those who came to care for them.
Brandon is also a founder of the Argus Service Dog Foundation and has received three Emmy Awards for his show, Lucky Dog. The show transforms shelter-shocked dogs into well mannered companions using the same system taught in this MasterClass.
If you haven't seen the trailer for this MasterClass yet, I highly recommend you watch it:
MasterClass was founded in 2015 with the aim of giving each of us access to genius.
The online education platform is famous for its inspirational MasterClasses taught by celebrities who have gained global recognition in their fields of expertise. With over 85 instructors and hundreds of lessons it is at the forefront of online learning.
Famed for its superlative production values, MasterClass provides classes for students of every ability level and interest. From cooking with Gordon Ramsay, to filmmaking with Martin Scorsese and space travel with Chris Hadfield.
The most common way to enjoy MasterClass is with an all access pass. This provides unlimited access to every class on the platform for a year. So you can dip in and out of as many classes as you please.
That being said, MasterClass might not be for everyone. In this Brandon McMillan MasterClass review, I will be weighing up the pros and cons to help you decide whether it's the right learning resource for you.
Inside The Brandon McMillan MasterClass
The Brandon McMillan MasterClass consists of :
- 15 videos lessons which vary between 5-20 minutes in length. The total run time is just under 3 hours
- The Brandon McMillan Dog Training Workbook: a 35 page printable PDF resource containing a mini biography, a round up of Brandon's top dog training tools, a training tracker, advice on identifying the perfect dog for you, guides to all the commands in the course, and much, much more.
As with many MasterClasses, Lesson 1 is a brief introduction to your instructor and Lesson 15 includes a few closing words from Brandon.
After four sessions with Brandon on understanding different dog breeds, building trust and preparing yourself for the task ahead, the remaining lessons are practical. With Brandon working on a series of different commands with different dogs.
To give you an idea about what’s included I’ve summarized the lesson content below, as well as documenting my own progress with my dog, Missy.
Lessons 1 Introduction: Meet your Instructor
“When you learn these things… you’ll not only have a well trained dog, but you’ll have a best friend who trusts and loves you, and will be there for you through thick and thin – for the rest of their life.“
In his introduction Brandon sets out his background, and the things he hopes you will learn from this MasterClass:
- Understanding what makes your dog’s behavior unique
- The importance of control
- Technique and conditioning – and why they go together
- The massive significance of trust in your relationship with your dog
- And how to train yourself to train your dog
He tells of his upbringing with a family of animal trainers and how, since the age of 4, he trained wild animals to perform in commercials and film.
He then shares the story of how he trained a service dog for a veteran of the Afghanistan conflict. And how this experience moved him and led to him, dedicating everything to training dogs to change people’s lives.
This was an incredible context in which to set this MasterClass. Right from the get go you can see the extent of what’s possible, and how life changing a companion a dog can truly be – with consistent effort and input from you.
Lessons 2 & 3: Building a Strong Foundation
“Dogs are good poker players. They know your tells. They know when you’re being authentic – and when you're full of it.”
Brandon kicks off by introducing the variables that make each dog unique – breed, age, history and imprinted DNA. He explains each in detail to help you make sense of your dog’s nature and make informed decisions about how to manage his or her training.
When it comes to breed, for example, my dog’s a terrier. Terriers were bred centuries ago to kill small vermin. Their prey drive is hard wired. It can’t be trained out, it has to be managed.
Had I appreciated this, I would not have chosen to begin her training in a park full of squirrels!
He then moves on to emphasize how pivotal trust is to effective training. In this section he covers:
- Easy ways to bond and build trust with your dog
- The importance of being patient when building trust
- Why you should lead, not dominate, your dog
- The one thing that accounts for 90% of a dog’s behavioral issues
And he uses the moving story of how he earned trust with his rescue dog, Lulu, as an example of how long this can take with a damaged dog.
What I loved about this section was Brandon’s sincerity, and how great he was at driving home key takeaways in a meaningful way. I was left in no doubt about my part in the task ahead of me.
These takeaways were also helpfully summarized at the end of each class.
Lessons 4 & 5: Knowing the Fundamentals
“If you give up during this training process, remember, you will always have this hanging over you: You were beaten by an animal that walks on all fours. An animal that can’t read, write or understand detailed logic like you!”
Brandon is describing me in this quote. I started out with good intentions, but when the going got tough, I settled for ‘good enough’. The result is that Missy, my dog, doesn’t reliably obey some basic commands. So I was keen to sit up and pay attention at this point.
Starting with a realistic description of the ups and downs of dog training, Brandon goes into:
- How to mentally prepare for setbacks so you don’t give up
- The control, train, treat process – and the importance of following that order
- The difference, and connection, between training and conditioning
- When, and for how long, training sessions should take place
- An introduction to giving, and signalling, the 7 common commands – and why you should start with “sit”
In the second part of this section, Brandon provides an overview of the basic techniques you need to use to teach each of the seven commands. He also demonstrates how to professionally use the most important tool you have to control your dog, the leash.
What I loved about this section was that it realistically prepared you for the task ahead. Both in terms of the likelihood of setbacks and all the basic techniques you would need to teach the seven common commands. It provides a great segue into the next module.
Lesson 6-12: Discovering the 7 Common Commands
This section is the largest in the MasterClass. In it, Brandon leads us step by step through the principles for teaching each of the 7 basic commands:
In each case, he works with different dogs and shares the variables that influence that dog’s behavior. This builds nicely on the earlier section, because we can clearly see how Brandon is working with each dog’s specific traits.
The dogs are all different sizes too, so you get to see how to use different strategies for small, medium and large dogs.
Each lesson begins by setting out what you will need to teach each command. Even more helpfully, key takeaways are listed at the end, together with references to the workbook for extra support.
It’s super useful that Brandon explains the value and versatility of each command, why it made it on to his essential list, and why he teaches it the way he does.
Best of all, you can easily tell that the dogs are not pre-trained. This means you can see how to persevere with a dog that isn’t ‘getting it’, or is being stubborn. Great for my purposes! Brandon also provides a voice over to explain what’s going on.
I found this encouraging, if Brandon can’t get a dog to perform a command straight away, it’s OK if I can’t either! And, more importantly, I don’t feel like giving up.
My own dog, Missy, had already mastered two of the seven commands prior to me taking this MasterClass. So after carefully following all the steps for ‘stay’, here she is day 3:
And to show how successfully she picked this up, here we are in the park, day 6. This was a 30 second stay, with distractions in the form of squirrels in nearby trees.
With the exception of “come” and “heel”, which I have only just started, the other commands worked equally quickly. And I am following Brandon’s advice to condition and embed them!
Lessons 13-15: Tackling behavioral Issues
In this final section, Brandon addresses the most common behavioral issues and how to remedy them.
The first of these is housebreaking. Brandon shares his method for getting to grips with this issue efficiently and quickly. It involves what he calls the housetraining triangle. He explains why each aspect of the method works, and with his guidance you will learn how to:
- Choose, prepare and use the right crate for the job
- Know when to take your pup outside and how to command and reward your pup
- Use observed ‘free time’ to reinforce the training
- Recognize signs that tell you the dog needs ‘to go’
- How to adjust for mealtimes
- Use the housetraining triangle in an apartment
- And how to cope with accidents and marking
This is a great way to house train a pup as it builds on a pup’s natural instinct to keep its den clean.
Following on from this we take a look how to solve the problem of dogs dashing out the door. This is mega important as door dashing is a common cause of lost or injured dogs.
Then to round off the MasterClass, we get to Missy’s problem. Excessive barking. This is tackled in the final lesson along with chewing and digging.
This last section is the one I focussed on the most, as nothing I’ve tried so far has worked and my neighbors are pretty tired of it. I learned:
- To understand why dogs bark
- To know when, and when not, to intervene
- How to use a ‘penny bottle’ and the ‘quiet’ command
- How to reduce the use of the penny bottle and embed the verbal command
I’m frankly ashamed at how easy it was to sort this problem out.
I got my penny bottle ready and waited for the mailman. Sure enough, barking bedlam began. A firm “quiet” and a one shake of the penny bottle and Missy sat on her butt and stopped instantly. I almost forgot to say “quiet” again and reward her, I was so astonished.
Best of all, when another dog reacted to her the park, and she began to respond in kind, a firm “quiet” and a quick shake of the penny bottle instantly stopped both dogs.
And so, for the first time ever, another dog owner complimented me on my dog handling skills!
That’s a good feeling.
What I liked about the The Brandon McMillan MasterClass
This class helped me out a lot and has garnered a lot of praise from me so far.
However, it’s not without fault. So I’m now going to share what I think are its many strengths, along with one or two shortcomings, to help you decide whether Brandon McMillans’ MasterClass is right for you.
Letting a dog down by not training it properly, and then living with the consequences, is not pleasant. As I know to my cost.
You can fall out with neighbors and attract criticism in public places.
I have to confess that there have been occasions when both these scenarios have happened to me. This course helped me solve the worst problem (excessive barking) and has motivated me not to give up again on tricky aspects of training – such as “come” and “heel”..
Great structure and a good balance of theory vs practice
This MasterClass is carefully structured.
It kicks off with sound theory that underpins the whole course, and prepares you extremely well for the task of training your dog.
Learning about the variables that influence each dog’s behavior is super helpful for providing a framework for training. Also, if you haven’t yet chosen your pup, it might give you paws (couldn’t resist) for thought about whether the breed you’ve chosen is right for you.
The order of the basic commands is well thought out and you can see how each command provides a stepping stone to the next.
Also super helpful, are displays that reference back to earlier lessons where a technique has been covered in more detail – should you need to go over it again.
Great delivery and teaching
Brandon has great credentials to be teaching this MasterClass. But beyond that, he is a great presenter.
He has years of experience of being in front of a camera and knows how to engage his audience. Brandon is genuine and warm, but when he has something serious to say, you will know about it!
He clearly understands the importance of explaining ‘why’ as well as ‘how’. Getting the story of WHY I should do something is key for motivating me to do it.
Lots of canine students – including some challenging ones
It was super helpful to see that the dogs Brandon was working with were not already prepped. Some were clearly just not getting it, or being downright awkward.
That was great, because we get to see how to deal with this, and how not to give up!
Key points and takeaways are highlighted
Each lesson has key takeaways that are highlighted at the end. This is super helpful as there is a lot to take in.
Additionally, key points are displayed on screen during lessons to emphasise their importance.
Great companion workbook
This MasterClass comes with a 35 page workbook.
It follows the flow of the course and makes a great companion which you can print to highlight and annotate, or just have as a post course reference.
There are clear diagrams and photographs to remind you of each and every technique in the MasterClass, all the equipment you should have to hand and lots of additional tips – such as other scenarios where a technique might be useful.
What I Thought Could Be Improved
Too focussed on early training
My main criticism is that this class is strongly focussed on early training. If you have a new pup, absolutely everything in this class will be useful to you.
However, if like me you have a partly trained dog, you might find yourself going over some familiar ground.
For me, I got my money’s worth…. However, I took this class with $180 all access pass. So this class is one of many I’ve taken, enjoyed and benefited from.
Missing some problem behaviors
To balance out this MasterClass and make it more universally applicable, it would be great to get some advice from Brandon on other common behavior issues. For example, separation anxiety, reactivity and nipping.
Or even better, Brandon and MasterClass, a second MasterClass which includes tricks and agility training!
Who is this MasterClass for?
This MasterClass is a must for anyone considering a canine companion, or who has recently got a pup.
You will understand, from the off, the factors influencing a dog’s behavior. This will enable you to make an appropriate choice of breed, or adjust your training to account for the pup you have.
Beyond that you will learn everything you need to know to have yourself a friend for life.
It’s also useful for anyone who has rescued a dog with a problematic history, or has a dog that has missed steps in its training. However, you may find that not everything in the class is useful. For example, your dog may already be housebroken and have already mastered a few of the commands covered.
How much does the Brandon McMillan MasterClass cost?
At the time of writing MasterClass had three subscription offers. The cost of these (per month) is:
- Individual (1 user) $15
- Duo (2 users) $20
- Family (6 users) $23
All are billed annually, which at first glance may seem pricey.
However, you can considerably reduce your costs by joining with friends or family. And of course by taking as many courses as possible.
With over 150 courses on the platform you’re likely to find quite a few to interest you. Even if you buy an individual membership and find only 10% of the courses of interest this still works out to only $12 a course:
$180 (annual individual membership fee) / 15 courses = $12.
Bearing in mind that these classes are taught by global leaders in their fields the value is unbeatable. You can pay over $100 for an online course taught by someone you’ve never even heard of, never mind the calibre of teachers on MasterClass.
What’s more, MasterClass also offers a 30 day refund if you’re unhappy with your purchase.
You can also purchase MasterClass as a gift.
Dogs are big business and there are plenty of individual free videos on YouTube to help with specific issues. The disadvantage here is you may need to spend a long time watching various alternatives (and their associated ads!) before you find what you want.
That's more than a MasterClass all access pass and only gives you access to that single course.
Sirius Dog Training is another option. Sirius courses start at $120. They last for 3-5 weeks and there's a range to choose from. From puppy basics to courses for older dogs. Live classes on Zoom are a bonus, though the instructors are not quite of Brandon's quality.
But, once again, if there are other classes that appeal to you on MasterClass, you will get greater value for money with an all access pass.
What Others Have Said
No review is complete without taking a look at what others have said.
Amongst the MasterClass community itself there was lots of activity and a myriad of photographs of other students’ dogs.
A couple of students already experienced with animal training commented positively on Brandon's techniques which is reassuring. And in fact, the response on the community – which is a lively one – was overwhelmingly positive :
"I am a former horse trainer for carriage driving. Nice to see that Brandon uses the same types of techniques I utilized training horses over the years. The key is praise, treat and short training sessions. I have enjoyed this process with Brandon. What most people don’t realize that you have to put in time with your dog - or any animal. You have to work at establishing a relationship of respect and what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Well done Brandon!" -Comment from the Community
I have been through dog training school but I don't have a dog now - I'm about to put myself on the German Shepherd Rescue list. I am taking this course as a refresher, and to see if there are better techniques than I was taught to use. And yes, this is a far superior method of training. I’m so glad to be taking this and being able to refine/change what I do. Cant’ wait to get my own dog again. LOVING Brandon’s techniques! -Comment from the Community
“I was hooked on Brandon’s technique in teaching within the first preview clip. Initially, I was seeking training on how to break excessive barking and control issues with Bella. She is an American Eskimo full of energy with the attitude of a princess. Bella is very protective of me and believes everyone is a perceived threat including my son and most visitors. With this training, I’ve been able to better control her along with her behavior. She is like a new dog. Thank you so much!” - Comment from the Community
Is the Content Unique?
There are a large number of short (around 3-5m) clips from the show Lucky Dog where Brandon teaches various dogs individual commands.
Brandon has also written a book called Lucky Dog Lessons: Train Your Dog in 7 Days which is available on Amazon. The book is just over 300 pages, and a glance at the contents page shows that the content is very much the same as that in his MasterClass.
So, no. The content is not totally unique.
That being said, MasterClass has packaged this course so that it gives a complete overview of everything the book contains in just 3 hours. It’s visual and engaging in a way that a 300 page book can’t be.
In addition, actually seeing Brandon working with dogs who were stubborn, or just not getting it, helped me to see how to work through problems. Honestly, for me, this MasterClass provided a learning experience that, in my view, you simply can’t gain from the pages of a book.
In this class you get to see him interacting with dogs and can get to hear his thought process as he trains them. For me this was invaluable
What You Will Need
Essential basic equipment
- A six foot leash
- A long leash (25-30 feet)
- Harness (especially if your dog is small)
- Petmate Lure stick (only for small dogs)
- Martingale collar (for heel)
- Treat bag
- Plastic bottle and small coins, or shake and break tool
- Crate (for housebreaking)
- Pen (in addition to the crate if you live in an apartment)
- Screw in ground dog lead stake (especially useful for the ‘no’ command)
How long does it take to complete the Brandon McMillan MasterClass?
The class itself is 2 hours and 55 minutes long. How long it takes you to complete it is entirely up to you and your learning style.
I watched the whole thing through once – and then rewatched the sections I wanted to focus on several times.
In order to write this review, revisit ‘sit’ and ‘down’, teach ‘stay’, and work on the barking issue – I have devoted an average of around 90 minutes a day for one week.
Is the Brandon McMillan MasterClass Worth It?
On the whole, yes.
To employ an individual dog trainer for a one to one session can cost well over $100 per hour. This class comes in under that, is led by someone with an impeccable training pedigree, and you can revisit it whenever you want.
My own view is that if you have a new puppy, this class is unquestionably worth taking. It gives you access to a complete system that will give a happy, trusting canine companion.
If, like me, you have a dog that’s partly trained (already housebroken with a few basic commands) you will cover some old ground, but there is still much to be gained. In my case, not just a happier more well mannered dog, but happier neighbors and a happier me.
However, it’s worth taking a look at what’s on offer on the platform before committing. If you can find at least two (and I challenge you not to) other classes worth considering, the $180 all access annual pass represents fantastic value for money.
And MasterClass has a great 30 day refund policy so you're protected in the unlikely event that you don't like it!
Frequently Asked Questions
A MasterClass all-access-pass costs $180 a year ($15 a month). This gives you access to Brandon McMillan's MasterClass, alongside 150+ other courses.
Unfortunately not. Not unless you are lucky enough to have someone buy it for you – and MasterClass do have gift options and refunds if you're not happy.
Yes, MasterClass offers a 30 day refund policy. However, if you have purchased your MasterClass through another provider you may find that their own returns policy applies.
The Brandon McMillan MasterClass consists of 15 lessons. It lasts 2 hours and 55 minutes, but obviously as it is a practical course it is up to you how long the course takes you to complete.
Liz Hurley has 30+ years of high school teaching experience and is one of our senior writers here at Learnopoly.