FE500: Train the Dog in Front of You

Instructors: Denise Fenzi and Deborah Jones

Course Details


Are you training and handling your dog in a manner that builds on strengths, while thoughfully addressing and improving upon your dog's weaknesses and challenges? Or are you following someone else's training plan; a plan that may or may not have anything to do with what YOUR dog needs?

Generic training is a great idea if the dog in front of you happens to fit the training plan that you or your instructor has laid out. But what if your dog doesn't fit that plan? What if your dog is handler sensitive, lower drive, or tends towards frantic or fearful behavior? Is your dog focused on the environment and oblivious to you? Or so focused on your that he cannot relax and make decisions for himself without being micromanaged at every moment? Does your dog need more energy and drive? Or are your decisions simply building your dog's frenzy and exacerbating the problems that you already have? Or maybe you have the opposite problem - maybe your training choices are making your soft and sensitive dog even more handler dependent and slow, unsure and reliant on you.

Train the dog in front of you!

In this class, we'll spend the first three weeks taking a hard look at your dog - who is your dog? What does YOUR dog - your unique teammate - need from you to bring out his or her best, most confident and engaged self?

We'll consider building up love of work and confidence in less determined dogs and we'll also consider methods for reining in dogs that show different temperaments; impulsive, driven, independent or maybe just self interested!

And then we'll look at the process of adding skill building to each of those types of dogs! Should your dog have shorter or longer sessions? More hard work or easy work? Should you train new skills to fluency at home first, or take your skills on the road early on? What motivators are most appropriate at different times and under different circumstances? When and how will you raise criteria in the training process? All of these questions are a function both good training AND your dog's needs.

The goal?

A secure and confident dog that is engaged with us and what we are doing together! A better understanding of your own dog's temperament as it relates to training so that you can avoid distress in training, and use reinforcers and the work/play balance appropriately for a given dog. A respectful balance of power between dog and handler. The correct amount of choice in training, so that your dog can thrive and progress! Bright eyes and confident focus!

Denise: Weeks 1 - 3 : Focused on "balancing" the dog's temperament with discussion of strategies for the specific types of dogs.
Deb: Weeks 4 - 6 - Focused on setting up training plans that address the unique temperament of your dog for specific skills (exercises).


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.

Gold spots will be available by lottery - the lottery is now closed.  No gold spots are available.

You can register for a bronze level spot at any time.


Intro Lecture:

Lecture:Creating Balance in Your Dog. 
Good dog or a bad dog? 
Behavior "Packages"
First assignment 
Second assignment


Lecture:  Secure and Curious vs. Cautious and Nervous

Assignment #1:

Assignment #2:

Summary: If your dog is more secure: 
Summary: If your dog is more nervous: 


Lecture:  Power Dynamics: assertive or respectful:

Definition of power 
The relative nature of power 
Issues with Problematic Power Dynamics 
Assignment #1 
Changing the power dynamic 
Raising your dog's power
Lowering your dog's power
Using personal pressure 
Summary of types (lower and higher power) 


Lecture:  Working drive:

What is working drive? 
Working Drive and Competition Preparation 
Summary Lower working drive 
Summary Higher working drive and risk points 


Lecture: Environmental vs. handler focus 

Quick and Dirty test
Assignment #1: Environmental or handler focused?
Environmental Curiosity or Fear 
Curious about people 
Curious about the environment
Curious about dogs 
Handler Focused Dominant Trait
Balanced dogs 
Environmentally focused - handler avoidance 


Lecture: Biddability/Handler Sensitivity (Cooperation with the Handler) 

Definition, general 
Handler Sensitivity 
Handler Hard dogs
Summary of biddability and handler sensitivity
Summary for training 


Lecture:  Who is this Dog? Who is this Handler?

Generic Seminar evaluation process 
observations and interpretations 
Summary in relation to this class 
Case Study #1: Sample student (Labrador Retriever)
General observations (sample student) 
Goal for the session (sample student) 
Primary point of focus and techniques used
Points of risk in changing this team
Case study #2: Sample Student (Golden Retriever) 
General observations 
Goal for the session 
Training session: 
primary point of focus and technqiues used -
Points of risk in changing this team 


Lecture: (Closing Lecture for first three weeks): How well matched is your temperament to your dog? 


Week 4 topic:  Motivation & control

Week 4 Assignment:  Summary & description of your dog’s core characteristics

Exercises:  Impulse control/drive building

Finding the right balance of drive and control for your dog.  Adjusting for your dog's tendencies.  

Week 5 topic:  Attitude & precision  


Week 5 Assignment:  When is your dog ready to show?

Exercise:  Warm ups

Getting your dog in the desired physical, mental, and emotional state.  

Week 6 topic:  Challenge & confidence

Week 6 Assignment:  The Perfect Training Session for the Dog in Front of You

Exercise:  Own it!

Increasing attitude and enthusiasm.  Using classical conditioning to develop a positive CER to exercises.  

Prerequisites and Equipment

No prerequisites or equipment required, though if you use a platform you might find it helpful for a small piece of this class (can easily be skipped).  Minimum age for a working spot:  12 months 

Course Testimonials

Brand New Course April 2016

Please refer to the instructor bio pages for sample testimonials from other courses they have taught.