Instructor: Sarah Stremming
This course is all about dogs that have been labeled as shut-down, down-stressers, shy, or low-drive. Dogs that run fast in training but slow in trials, dogs that have good days and bad ones, dogs that give up on training, and dogs that seem to prefer the couch to the clicker. This course will help you to build confidence, address the stress, and tailor your training to bring out the potential of your reluctant dog.
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 will begin at 9:00am PDT.
For answers to commonly asked questions see our FAQ page.
Enrollment limits: Gold: 12 students, Silver: 25 students, Bronze: unlimited.
If you are interested in a bronze level subscription, you can sign up at any time during the registration period.
Never wrong, sometimes more “right”
Putting yourself out there
Identifying the issues
Opting Out is Ok
Opt out signals
Fading “not wrong” reinforcers
Stress reduction in trials
Putting the consent signal to work
what IS reinforcement
when repetition is aversive
“sessions” for environmental comfort
the power of the conditioned emotional response
protected contact training
dog-guided bravery games
move toward/move away game
Suggested--The Whole Picture https://fenzidogsportsacademy.com/index.php/courses/11613
Never Wrong, Sometimes More Right!
This week introduce your dog to the idea that she can’t make a wrong move. In this you’ll utilize two separate marker signals: one will indicate a low value reinforcer (depending on your dog this could be sliced carrots, frozen peas, cheerios, or kibble—be sure it is actually a reinforcer, not something yucky!) and another signal that indicates a high value reinforcer (something that is in clear contrast to the other reinforcer). You will introduce your dog to a targeting project and you’ll decide which behaviors earn low value and which behaviors earn high. This will largely depend on your dog’s shaping skill (and yours!) but I suggest keeping it simple while you are still learning. The key is that every move your dog makes gets paid for. We want to reframe their thoughts on training to be that training is a game they always win; all they have to do is play.
Potential Criticism of this Game
There are legitimate criticisms surrounding this game, I have discussed the two that I think are the most relevant below.
Matching Law and Confusion
If we reinforce something (say the “wrong” target) it will keep happening. This is why I would never use this game to train a behavior I truly cared about, or to train a behavior that absolutely needed to stay clean. For example I would not use this process to train a discrimination behavior because I would inevitably get false indication in the discrimination for the rest of the dog’s career. This game has a conceptual purpose; to show the dog that training is a game he can always win. It is not a smart way to train a behavior that is important to you.
The Toxicity of Disappointment
It is very possible that we will introduce disappointment to our dogs if we mark with the “less great” signal that indicates the carrots (etc), and disappointment is typically an aversive stimulus that could turn our dogs off the game. In my experience this is the LEAST potentially disappointing way to train; the dog always gets a payoff. Imagine a slot machine that gave you a little money every single time you played, versus one that only gave you the jackpot or nothing. Which is more disappointing? I know which one I would put my money in…
A sampling of what prior students have said about this course ...
I very much enjoyed this class especially as there were so many concepts that were new to me. I applied what I learned to my 3 yo Sheltie who has great agility potential but is shy of people in the ring. After the 6 week class, and not trialing during it, I took her to a trial at a location she had not run well at 2 months previously. The change in her performance was quite marked, the consent signal being hugely successful for us. In the ring we are still a work in progress as a team but now I feel I have a new set of tools that can really help in bringing out the potential of my young girl. Many thanks for a very interesting class.
This class is a mind blowing experience, it bucks common practice, often times can seem counterintuitive but Oh My God it works! I love that Sarah is such an advocate for the dogs and is turning people's thoughts upside down....for the benefit of our four legged companions who don't generally get to choose what sport the humans want to play.
I found the class and material really helpful and it gave me lots of ideas and tools to use with my own dogs and client's dogs. The consent signal has been working beautifully with both my dogs. It actually gave my "100% always ready" dog a way to tell me he couldn't run, he really had to use the bathroom.(Everyone was thankful that I listened to the lack of consent and left the ring.) I love your philosophy and how the dog ALWAYS comes first. I am embarrassed to admit that I have lost sight of that once or twice over the past few years when competition has made me a bit insane. It won't happen again, the relationship with my dogs is the top priority. Thank you for your knowledge, tools, and perspective!
It was great information! I've already been using a consent signal and acknowledging opt out signals. In some ways I was doing "sessions", but that lecture added some structure to what I had been doing, and it seemed to make a difference at a recent fun match. Can't wait for trials to start back up in our area so that I can put it to use there.
Sarah's class was informative and transformative to every gold student who embraced her message. There was so much to learn that can be applied to relationships with all dogs not just hidden potential dogs. Sarah's lessons were full of amazing insights, her responses were thoughtful, and her understanding of the topic was clear.
I truly enjoyed this course. My husband and I both love Sarah's podcast and blog, and this class was just another interesting and more in depth way of getting to learn more of how to help those dogs that have behavioural challenges in dog sport and life. I wish so much I had had this class back when I was training and competing with my 'hidden potential' dog... but I at least know now I have more tools should I own one of these dogs again :)