Instructor: Amy Cook
Note: Week one class lectures will be released on June 1st but your instructor will not join the classroom until Monday, June 4 due to participation in the FDSA Training Camp. This class will be extended to July 15th to allow for this delay.
This class is for learning strategies for managing and controlling dogs that are reactive to dogs and people. Helping them get over their fears is best done when you can set up ideal conditions, but real life means you have to take your dog for a walk outside, and even when you do your best to set things up, surprises happen! You need management strategies that help you get through daily life that support your larger goals of reducing reactivity in your dog.
In this class you will learn leash handling skills for real life dog walking (u-turns, speed changes, side changes, quick sits), tricks you can do outside to keep their attention and help them stay calm (hand touches, two feet on, four feet on, find it), and strategies for minimizing in-home reactive barking (go to place, timed treats, pacifiers, settling in the crate). You will learn when to feed your dog and the importance of timing (pro tip: it doesn't actually matter sometimes!). You will also read about topics in reactivity, how to support your dog at classes and trials, how to travel in the car, how to be your dog’s advocate, and more!
All of the skills in the class can be practiced indoors, so this is an ideal cold winter or blazing summer class.
This class is designed as a companion class to “Dealing with the Bogeyman - Helping Fearful and Reactive Competition Dogs” and they can be taken in any order. In the Bogeyman class, we get to the root of the issue and heal it from the bottom up, using long distances and play therapy, and in this class you will learn strategies that minimize and even avoid the reactive outbursts when you find yourself too close to be able to play, which help you get through your regular day.
This course is intended to be an introductory course for people new to this issue of management but is suitable for people who have successfully been managing so far and could use some polishing. Every skill in the class can be made more challenging if you already have some of them well in hand. If you do have a lot of experience but just want to pick up tips and clarify a specific issue that eludes you, the silver level is right for you. Please contact the instructor to ask if the class is right for you if you aren’t sure.
Next session starts: October 1, 2018Registration starts: September 22, 2018Registration ends: October 15, 2018
Registration will begin at 9:00 AM Pacific Time.
Enrollment limits: Gold: 12 students, Silver: 25 students, Bronze: unlimited.
Gold Level includes access to all course materials and the ability to post questions and videos to the course forums. Students will receive instructor feedback on written and video assignments.
Silver Level includes access to all course materials and the ability to participate in the discussion forum. Students may ask GENERAL questions about course materials and may submit two, one-minute videos for instructor feedback. Any questions specific to your dog MUST be accompanied by a video.
Bronze Level includes access to all course materials and the ability to read all questions and answers posted in the class forums. Students will not post questions or submit written or video assignments.
For more details, refund policies, and answers to commonly asked questions see our FAQ page.
Each week will be structured like this:
You will learn and practice two small leash handling skills, which will build each week through the term. This is the "leash handling series." Examples are having them walk next to you (rather than pulling out ahead!), sitting next to you, switching sides when asked and changing speed. Each week adds a new component, so as you practice you can include each of the previous week's skills with the new skills.
You will also learn one or two assigned skills, each one independent of every other (hand touch, two paws up, four paws up, find it, leave it, stay on a mat). This is the "management skills series." They each have introductory and more challenging versions that you can progress with through the term, so it's ok if you have introduced some of them to your dog already.
Optional bonus work: Each week you can choose to teach one "trick" of your choice. It is fully optional, and for people who have the time, interest and skill in doing more work, and to increase the challenge for people whose dog may have some foundational skill already. Though I am not choosing your trick for you, I will decide if your trick will work for reactivity management, and will help you teach it (even making spur-of-the-moment videos if possible!). I can suggest to you where and how to incorporate it as well. You can also use this option to tailor the class to a specific need your dog has, giving you some flexibility to make this course your own. For example, if crates are a big issue for your dog, you may choose to work on a crate trick.
You will also read a lecture on one or more select topics per week, and any questions or suggestions that come from the forums may indeed turn into lectures! Examples are how to deal with issues in the car, whether food is reinforcing all those reactions (spoiler: it isn't, but don't worry, it doesn't actually matter!), how to set your dog up for success, and maybe a Q&A style "what do I do if" guide, if I get enough questions that fit. The more you ask, the more I write!
Depending on the gold students that sign up we may do more, but we will at least do this in this class:
Leash handling series -- walking next to you, both sides, sitting in that position, both sides
Management skills series -- hand touch, mat work intro
Mid-week lecture: The human half of the leash
Leash handling series -- speed changes (without tripping!), coming to front (you walk backward)
Management skills series -- classical recall, find it
Mid-week lecture: What the heck is reactivity, anyway?
Leash handling series -- quick sits, coming across body to switch sides
Management skills series -- Paws Up and/or Up On Top
Mid-week lecture: Your dog needs an advocate!
Leash handling series -- peeling off on the side your dog is on, peeling off on the side your dog isn’t on
Management skills series -- stationary leave it, mat work revisited
Mid-week lectures: Car reactivity, and Crate management
Leash handling series --180 u-turn with backup, 180 u-turn with "front cross"
Management skills series -- dynamic leave it
Mid-week lectures: Counter-conditioning basics, and Set your dog up for success in all situations
Leash handling series -- leash handling with hand touches, freestylin’ with paws up, hup-up
Management skills series -- polishing, putting it all together
Mid-week lectures: Managing multiple dogs, and When it all goes wrong!
Please contact the instructor for more information.
None. This is a novice level course.
Please contact the instructor for more information.
Being your dog's advocate
It's tough having a reactive dog. We feel constantly on the defensive, watching for every difficult situation, explaining our dog's behavior to those who don't understand, taking the blame when the people with the "friendly" dogs barrel off leash right up to us. Or, we just don't go anywhere with them, for fear of these things.
Part of what you're learning in this class is how to get your dog out and about successfully, without big reactions occurring, and with your dog being controlled and hopefully feeling better in the process. The better you get at that, the more places you can go successfully.
But management is what we do when our dogs need our help because they are too nervous or upset or emotional to regulate their behavior on their own. If left to their own devices they'd "spin up," and with us there, they can focus a bit better, walk past the trigger, and keep the problematic behavior in check, at least while you're actively providing the support and structure they need to lean on.
What's going on for them emotionally during all that? Well, it's hard to say for sure since we can't read minds, but we do know that if we needed to help them contain themselves and that if we didn't they'd bark and lunge and snark, then they can't be feeling good. A dog who is being successfully handled and managed and isn't acting out may look like he feels ok, but he very likely isn't. If he felt ok, we wouldn't need to be doing all that management!
So your chief concern when you're out with your reactive dog (or stressed dog, or shy dog, or any dog who isn't feeling emotionally positive and happy, even temporarily) is reducing that emotional negativity. And that usually means space from their triggers! You don't always have the luxury of that space, which is of course why you're managing them, but your chief goal underlying all your actions should be to leave or to get the space you need at your very first opportunity.
Lingering in close proximity because things are going well due to your management gives you a false sense of security about where your dog is emotionally. He is behaving well, and it can give you some confidence that he will continue to behave well and that you have it all under control. But time is your enemy. The longer you're managing, and therefore the longer you're in proximity to your dog's trigger, the higher the chances are of that trigger changing in nature or strength and overwhelming your management strategy. New triggers show up, triggers change their behavior, and dogs get overwhelmed. Time spent is time risked.
Also, dogs fatigue. Keeping control of themselves, even with your total support and distraction, is a huge effort, and that wanes over time. Being over threshold emotionally, even if managed behaviorally, takes its toll. They can only be managed for so long before the strategy loses its power and the behavior comes through. You very likely only have a window of opportunity in which to help them get the distance and comfort they need, and when that closes, you're maybe back to where you started.
Each dog has a different timeline and path through this, of course. For some, you have 15 seconds of management time and you must leave in that span or the reaction will come, and some have a whole weekend of time, where just keeping them crated far, and walking with a buffer zone around them will keep them fine and working well the whole time, up until the end of the second day when they're just too tired and can't keep things together anymore. It's your responsibility to know what your dog's limits are and to respect them fully.
It is best, by far, to be proactive about your dog and what he needs. Articulate for yourself ahead of time what you know to be the distances your dog has been doing well with, and what kind of dogs or people or situations he struggles with. Know where you're going and what it's likely to be like there. Will you have crating space? Will you have shade to park in? Will there be narrow corridors or waiting rooms, or clumped start gates or too much traffic or more men or kids than he usually sees? Will there be lots of intact males (conformation show), lots of unexpected factors (a walk downtown, but it's a holiday today and families are out), lots of space pressure (and indoor trial with tight crating when you're used to outdoor trials and car crating). How about will there be windows facing the street in the house you're planning to visit? Know ahead of time what you will see, and have a plan worked out in your head for keeping distance. If in doubt about this at all, consider not going.
So how do you keep distance? Of course, sometimes that just means moving away yourself, but far too often it means talking to people and directing them to give you the space you need. And for some of us, that can be uncomfortable. Telling people that no, they cannot pet your dog, even though he may seem friendly, is hard. What helps me be firm in my boundaries is connecting in that moment with what it would be like to be my dog and seeing what he really wants. Does he like being touched by strangers? Usually not, though he tolerates it much of the time? Then say no on his behalf.
We often have to override what other people think about our dogs. They don't see our dogs the way we do, and if we're good at management, our dogs don't even look like they're having any trouble! We can seem over-protective, unrealistic, coddling or inexperienced and just open for unsolicited advice.
Let it all roll off, and do what your dog needs. When strangers try to engage me when I'm out with a reactive dog, my friendly and deferential nature says to talk to them, apologize for not being able to stop ("sorry, she's shy!"), and answer their questions ("oh, was she abused?" "Um, no, undersocialization in the critical period results in..." <nervously trying to leave>). I control that part of me and look at my dog as people talk to me, and either look very busy with my training and my management and my leaving, or I talk to the stranger while looking at the dog ("yes, she's pretty, thanks!"). The less you look at someone and look like you're concentrating, the less they feel they can engage you and bother you.
When your problem is with dogs, you just get the distance you need or control your dog's head as best you can as they pass. Look as unavailable to the people attached to them as possible so they don't come over. :)Sometimes all your best effort doesn't work and people or people and their dogs come up to you anyway. What then? If you're someone who is good at being firm and even rude, say what you must to stop them. Do it even if you're not good at it, haha. I do not suggest you explain anything that opens a negotiation, like "can you stay back? My dog is shy," or "he's not good with other dogs/people." That just invites them to offer a counter to it like "oh, all dogs love me" or "oooooh, is the widdle baby SHYYY????" which just means they're still coming! Give a directive, say what you need to have happen. Try "no thank you." It's often just strange enough to say since it doesn't really match whatever they just said that it gives people pause! A pause may be all you need to turn away, to block them with your body, to turn your back or to leave.
The more you know about exactly what makes your dog uncomfortable and what they really need in a given situation, the less you'll be swayed by "oh, but dogs love me!" or "can't they just play? My dog is really good with dogs even if they're a little testy!" You'll know that it's non-negotiable that you keep a 20 foot distance, even if your dog is sometimes ok at 10, because staying well under your threshold is a way to ensure success. And with dogs, each successful event influences the next event. You're teaching her what to expect from outing with you! After all, she's tied to you, and makes few decisions of her own. Tell her that being out with you isn't going to result in you running roughshod over her needs and desires.
Proactivity is far better than reactivity, on both of your parts. You being proactive in setting situations up correctly, or going into a building first to see what is in there before you bring your dog in, or scouting out a location to see what your exits will be, or having enough treats with you and in easy reach and practicing what you're doing to dole them out, all of that reduces your need to be vigilant and reactive to whatever happens. You're tilting the odds in your favor, and not as likely to be surprised by a new challenge. And proactivity is better than reactivity on your dog's part, too. With enough practice of the management behaviors and interruptions of them attending to their triggers, they start to internalize that and offer them before you cue them. That's a way your dog is being "proactive" in handling his problem instead of "reacting" to it! In one way of looking at it, anyway. :)
A SAMPLING OF WHAT PRIOR STUDENTS HAVE SAID ABOUT THIS COURSE ....
It was a really great experience for me and my dog. All lectures were clear and I admire Amy´s style of explanation and her remarkable power of observation and details. It was for the first time I understand clearly not only HOW to do it, but also WHY to do it.
I loved this class and so wish I had taken it at Gold. Although I have worked with Bogeyman over many sessions, this was the perfect class for us. I “know” all these techniques, but turns out I didn’t know them as well as I might. As an example, she goes over loose leash walking in 6 different lectures with a new twist – how to “get out of Dodge” when your dog is in trouble. The goal is to move smoothly and confidently, ideally with a happy, cooperative dog. Her lectures in this class help you get there. Amy’s lectures are gems. The forums are filled with practical advice and lots of food for thought. Her videos are specific and helpful. In addition Amy recognizes how beleaguered those of us with reactive dogs can be. She is positive and encouraging. You come away thinking “I can do this!”
I recommend this course to everyone who is dealing with dog reactivity . It is so great resource of information and Amy can help everyone to fill their baggage of managing skills.
I wish I had come across something like this years ago to help my dog and I. We eventually worked some things out but if I had had Amy's instruction in the whys and wherefores I could have helped my dog far sooner and in turn doing what we wanted to so much sooner. I am now on to the next generation of dogs and utilizing these skills in Management. Benefits my dogs and my anxiety levels so reduced. Thankyou thankyou thankyou.
I learn so much from Amy. This Management class dovetails so nicely with the Bogeyman class and I feel I am much better equipped to help my dogs in real situations. Amy has such a great eye and knows just what to suggest in each situation. I am so grateful to have Amy as my instructor.
Before discovering Fenzi Academy, my dog was anxious, reacting to all the dogs around her, and I really didn't know how to communicate with her and make her feel better about her environment. With everything I learned in Amy's Dealing with the Bogeyman class, and Denise's play class, I started to understand what she was trying to tell me and what I could do to reduce stress and increase fun! After taking BH150 Management, I finally have the last set of tools that I needed to get through the sticky situations that can easily arise when trying to do dog sports. Thank you to Fenzi Academy for teaching me about my dog and giving me the tools to make her life happy and fun. I now have a dog that is happy to play, not worried about every turn, and trusts me to get her out of scary situations! Can't wait to see what else I can learn!
I thought this class was great! I learned A LOT even though I was only lurking at the bronze level. Even without the specific feedback I would have gotten at higher class levels, I still thought the class was worthwhile learning from others. At first I thought an online training class would be strange but being able to go back over the class videos and lectures time and time again was a big plus. I definitely recommend this class to anyone with a reactive dog. Anita C.
I really enjoyed this course! I learned a lot and discovered new ways to help the reactive dogs that I walk (and have one of my own at home). The videos demonstrated exactly what the instructor was teaching us which made it so much easier to understand and try on my own. I highly recommend this course!! JoAnne
Great class. Instructor answers all questions fully and clearly. Very thorough. Lectures leave little to question regarding her responses to students. I would take classes she offers in a New York minute.