OB170: Bridging the Gap - Reducing Reinforcers, Proofing and Generalization

Instructor: Denise Fenzi

Course Details

NOTE:  Traditionally this has been a two-term class; both halves were purchased at the start.  This time, the FIRST half will be for sale here and ONLY the first half of class will run live.  The second half will be available for purchase for those who wish to continue as an optional self-study.  There will be NO live second half to this class.

Does the thought of training without a cookie in your pocket make you nervous? Are you happy with the quality of your work, but have no idea how to prepare for the rigors of competition? Do you worry about getting a high quality performance when there are distractions nearby? Are you comfortable training in a novel environment without your toys and cookies to keep your dog engaged?  Do you understand the concept of engagement, and can you get it without showing your dog a reinforcer?

The purpose of this two-part class is to move you from the acquisition of behaviors to preparing for competition - two very different things! To do this, we will systematically consider three of the factors that are essential for a competition dog: Generalization of behaviors, proofing for distractions and reducing "classic" (toy and food) reinforcers. This class will include short lectures on each of these topics, along with specific exercises and a training plan that will allow you to reach your goal: the dog show!

This class will also lay the groundwork for how to handle those “I have something better to do” moments. Rather than resorting to a leash pop, we will discuss the alternatives which will effectively get you to your goal - sustained focus - without the need for physical compulsion. Part two (available for self study only) of this class will consider this issue much more extensively and in depth.

While all of the examples and Gold spots will be obedience or rally specific, this class is designed to be valuable for competitors in all sports, from agility to freestyle to obedience and rally!

Gold level participants will actively practice the process of preparing for the ring, so your dog should be close to ring ready for a given class of either obedience or rally competition. If you cannot get the behaviors you want even when you're using reinforcers, or if your interest is not specific to either proofing, generalization or reducing reinforcers,  then a Gold level spot in this class is premature. If you simply want the information for the future, consider signing up at Bronze instead. 

This class also assumes the ability to get away from your home training field on several occasions over the course of the class. Please do not sign up at Gold if you'll be homebound for any reason.  

Other courses that you may wish to consider: 

  • "Confidence Building for the Obedience and Rally Ring" should be taken either before or after this class - but definitely before you compete! 
  • Our "Bogeyman" or Management for reactive dogs class will be helpful if your dog is fearful or stressed; Bridging the Gap will not we address the issue of helping a stressed dog succeed on the trial grounds.
  • Our "Handler's Choice for Obedience - Polishing" is a better choice to work on the details of your completed behavior chains.
  • If your issue is quite specific to general Impulse Control, then you might want to consider our Impulse Control courses.
  • Our Skillbuilding or TEAM obedience classes will help your dog learn specific exercises.

If you are not sure of the appropriateness of this class for your situation, contact Denise to discuss.

Watch our short promotional video for this class! 

Here's a compilation video submitted by a student that struggled with impulse control; watch her young lab progress over the course of class!: