FF180: Yes Please! Cooperative Canine Care

Instructor: Deborah Jones and Judy Keller

Course Details

Can you draw blood from a whale without force?  Yes, you can.  What about put eye drops into a sea lion's eyes with no fuss?   Again, yes you can.  But you have to train for it.  Captive animals need physical care and can be trained with positive and effective methods to accept all sorts of handling and procedures.  At a week-long workshop with Ken Ramirez at Shedd Aquarium I observed calm and relaxed husbandry training and procedures with many species of animals.  This experience inspired me to develop a similar program for dogs.  

It seems that we often neglect husbandry work and focus on obedience behaviors and performance skills instead.  But we need to rethink that approach.  If we are lucky our dogs will be with us 15+ years, and they will need vet care and grooming on a regular basis.  It is our responsibility to make these procedures as pleasant and stress free as possible.  Our overriding goal is to do what is in the best interest of the dog for a happy and healthy life.  

How does your dog react to nail trims?  Does he let you brush his teeth without complaint?  Can the groomer handle him with ease?  Are vet visits enjoyable?

This course is intended to guide you through proactive husbandry training for your dog.  Husbandry is a term that covers all types of necessary physical care.  Grooming and veterinary procedures fall into this category.  We often neglect husbandry behaviors and either ignore the possible future need or force the issue when necessary.  Our goal in this class will be to teach our dogs to cooperate with us for a variety of required behaviors.  We will do a quick review of operant and classical conditioning, and use both in our work.

Our ultimate goal is to have dogs who are relaxed and calm for procedures that will benefit their health and well-being.  This class is appropriate for dogs of all ages (our main model is Helo who started this work at 8 weeks old) and at all levels of training.  Sometimes very highly trained performance dogs have issues with being handled in certain ways.  

Here's a trailer for the class!


There are no scheduled sessions for this class at this time. We update our schedule frequently, so please subscribe to our mailing list for notifications.

Registration begins at 10:30am PST.

Enrollment limits: Gold: 10 students, Silver: 15 students, Bronze: unlimited. If you are interested in a bronze level subscription, you can sign up at any time during the registration period.

For answers to commonly asked questions see our FAQ page.


Yes Please!  Cooperative Canine Care Outline

*Note: this syllabus is still a work in progress, there may be changes as the class is developed.




Week 1 Lecture:


Why?  Husbandry behaviors for veterinary/medical procedures and grooming


Classical conditioning:



Systematic Desensitization


Week 1 Exercises:


Full body scan diagnostic with ratings (handout) 


Marker for stationary/calm behaviors


Table conditioning:


On / off table treats

The cheese bowl

The food tube


Ground work on impulse control:


Slow treats

Zen bowl

Food zen

Mat work

Stand still




Week 2 Lecture:


Operant conditioning:


Voluntary behaviors

Freedom & choice


Week 2 Exercises:


Chin rest:


On pillow or towel

With muzzle wrap


Table work on impulse control:


Slow treats

Zen bowl

Food zen

Mat work

Stand still


Types of touch (first on the ground, then on the table):



Changing intensity of touch

Poking & prodding








Week 3 Lecture:


Preparation (being proactive vs. being reactive)  


Week 3 Exercises: 


Eyes & Ears




Clippers & Dremel




Choice & Necessity (what you want to do vs. what you have to do)


Week 4 Exercises:


Mouth work:




Taking pills



Body positions:


Turn around

Lie down on side

Lie down on back




Week 5 Lecture:


Your relationship with your vet and groomer


Week 5 Exercises:


Grooming Equipment


Vet Equipment




Week 6 Lecture:


Generalization (other people, other places)


Week 6 Exercises:


Playing Doctor


Beauty School


Practice vet or groomer visit


Follow-up body scan

Prerequisites and Equipment

Our conditioning work and exercises depend heavily on the use of food.  Dogs in Gold spots MUST be highly food motivated.  

Child's Doctor Kit (optional, but Learning Resources brand recommended) 

Grooming tools

Table & non-slip cover/top.  

(Any raised table will do.  Grooming tables are nice because they allow us to stand upright and not have to bend over.  But a shorter table, such as an adjustable agility pause table, might allow you to sit or use a stool at a comfortable height.  An ottoman or stool might work as well as long as it's large enough for your dog to lie on comfortably.)  

*If you absolutely cannot find a way to have access to a table then you can develop a dedicated husbandry training area.  Use a mat or rug large enough for your dog to lie down on comfortably and keep it for this use only.  


Treats (variety of types and value levels)

Course Testimonials


Great class and so useful!! Deb Jones beautifully crafted the course to use positive training skills we learned in other foundation and obedience classes and applied them to things we have to do to our dogs, from simple brushing to vet visits. The most valuable part was setting up and conditioning a grooming table. We now have “a place” and I am no longer surprising Heidi with a toothbrush or scissors while she is enjoying her favorite chair. It also saves my back. I was also surprised how easily Heidi accepted handling. With the promised chicken and cheese she stands now still and allows me to brush her – even her rear end. I used to have to hold on to her to prevent her escape. Deb went through numbers of canine care situations and we could pick what we wanted to work on. For us that was brushing, cutting out mats and brushing teeth. Our success in these was more than sufficient for the course. The instructions and lessons are excellent, and I am sure we will refer to them in the future. Sandy H            

I think it's a course that every handler should take with their dogs-- not just because this is a great set of life skills, but because it gives a whole new perspective on how we interact with our dogs on a daily basis. I loved it.             

Every dog owner, vet, vet tech, groomer, shelter personnel should take this course! After working through it I discovered that my dogs have never been as comfortable with handling as I thought and now I have the skills to train that as you'd train any other behavior. Great job FDSA!             

As a heavily groomed breed, my dog has had a lot of experience with grooming procedures since he was a pup. And he tolerates them. But through this course he has relaxed and I no longer feel as if he's just waiting for the moment when he can escape. We have more work to do, but I know it's going to make grooming and vet experiences so much easier for him to deal with in the future. Great class. Mary Ann                

My Fenzi course was everything I hoped for and more. The instructors really cared about me, my learning, my dog, his well-being; and they were kind and funny too. Annie R.          

This course was very timely for us. My vet (of more than 30 years!) retired in April, so I used the "audition" visits to possible new vets to use Deb's techniques to condition the boy to being comfortable in a generic "vet's office". You never know where you'll end up.           

Even though I have not done gold I have noticed Fenzi trainers never try to teach their students by asking them questions, pop quiz or bullying style. Always lifting up the feelings and confidence of the human. I appreciate that more than you know. Once again Fenzi trainers shine above!!! Tracy R.       

This class was great! I now have many new "tools" for helping my dogs be comfortable with body handling. Very helpful!           

I am so glad this course was offered. It gave me a lot of confidence. Since Heidi is reactive, I can't really take her to a groomer. I don't want a set back and haven't found someone I can trust to work with her. Therefore, she was getting shaggy with very long nails. I added to the things I can do myself. (And she is getting less reactive and easier to handle).