Day 1: Friday Oct. 4

Friday Oct 4

8:30 AM

Main Hall

Experience Level: Lecture Only

Join us all in the main hall for a welcome talk from FDSA Founder Denise Fenzi!

Friday Oct 4

9:15 AM

Hall D

Experience Level: All

Join Melissa for a session focused on games for loose leash walking, recalls, and building a stronger understanding of your cues… all done through games! During this session, Melissa will pull 9 games from her popular Pet Professionals Program presentation, “Show Don’t Tell – Games for Teaching Complex Ideas.”

Working spots will be split into small groups of up to 5 dogs and will get to play multiple games designed to build their dog’s focus in a group environment, teach loose leash walking skills, and take your dog’s recall to the next level! All games are adaptable for both beginners and advanced students. The only prerequisite skill is that students should have at least introduced dogs to the idea of coming when called for a cookie.

Auditors get to see how games can elevate training in a group situation so that everyone — dogs and handlers alike — have a good time and are successful. We’ll also briefly discuss some of the psychology behind the games and why they work well for the human learner while also setting the dogs up for success.

Friday Oct 4

9:15 AM

Franklin Room

Experience Level: All

This is probably the most critical component of searching that is also one of the most neglected. In this session, we will explore reinforcement systems and delve into what works for OUR DOG. We will get cleaner with our markers and figure out how our specific dog wants to be reinforced to drive motivation. We will talk about the impact of arousal and figure out just how much we need or should have depending on the dog at the end of the leash. This session will work for any team that is on odor. Working teams should bring a variety of treats and toys of various importance to your dog.

Friday Oct 4

9:15 AM

Hall B

Experience Level: All

Are you struggling to maintain your dog’s focus during training or trials?

Common reasons dogs disconnect include:

-Dog isn’t mentally ready to work
-Distractions are too much for the dog
-The handler disconnects from the dog
-The dog doesn’t understand generalization
-The dog disconnects after a reward

Thankfully, there’s something we can do: we can play games that are fun and instill naturally focussed attention that will hold up in challenging environments—even the competition ring.

During this session, we’ll dive into why your dog disconnects. Then, you’ll learn a variety of games that prevent your dog from disconnecting and reduce the chance that your dog will disconnect in the future.

Finally, you will learn how to observe and listen to your dog through the different games. If your dog is telling you it’s too hard, you’ll know while playing the games, before you ever ask for behaviors!

Join Nicole to achieve better connection with your dog!

Friday Oct 4

9:15 AM

Hall C

Experience Level: All

Don’t we all want a good standing dog!

Having a verbal cue to stand your dog is one of my most favorite cues to teach! I don’t know why! I must just like a good standing dog! I also tend to use a stand as my dog’s default position for stillness (instead of a sit!). This builds value for the stand – and what they learn first they learn best!

This lab will cover:
– various methods for teaching a verbal stand cue, along with that beautiful kick back stand
– developing an instant “wait” with moving stands,
– fun ways to address anticipation,
– subtle footwork for the signal stand,
– breaking down the exam portion

Having a strong response for the stand cue will make all the difference for a successful performance. For each participant’s turn, be ready to pick your “stand” topic that you would like to work on!

The goal is to make standing one of your favorite exercises too!

Friday Oct 4

9:15 AM

Hamilton Room

Experience Level: All

The goal of this session is to introduce your dog to the idea that rewards can be out of your hands, out of your pocket, and at a distance!

To do this we will be working with what is referred to as a “Zen bowl”- a small dish or lid on which a single reward (or small handful of rewards) is placed. The dogs will get started on being able to focus on you or “work” and willingly leave their reward of food (or a toy) they know they can grab at any time!

Friday Oct 4

9:15 AM

Agility Hall

Experience Level: All

In this session we will discuss some motivation issues, why it happens, and what you can do about it. We will go over several games to help unleash your dog’s inner feral beast.

Fun games = DRIVE!

Friday Oct 4

11:00 AM

Franklin Room

Experience Level: Lecture Only

In this lecture session, I’ll be going over the Play Way system itself, beyond just the how-to of the play itself, and into why we want it to be a conversation, what doors that opens for both reducing stress and pressure and allowing you to know a lot more about whether you’re over threshold or not.

We’ll also look at the principles of Look and Dismiss (LAD), and the ways we practice it on simple things so dogs get fluency in the skill and have it as a strategy!

Come learn how to apply Play Way in setups to facilitate new learning!

Friday Oct 4

11:00 AM

Agility Hall

Experience Level: All

Do you walk courses and find that you don’t execute those handling decisions when you run your dog because you are not in
position or you mistimed a turning cue? Then this session is for you. Learn how to use those 8 minutes of your walk through
to develop a plan that you can successfully execute.

Teams will then have a chance to run the course with feedback.

Friday Oct 4

11:00 AM

Hall C

Experience Level: All

All performance dogs experience challenges and pressure when competing. We must provide our dogs with the skills to work through them. In this workshop we will use platform games to build a positive conditioned emotional response to pressure and distractions. These games can be adapted to a wide variety of sports and behaviors. Dogs think platform games are tons of fun… and you will too! Whether your dog is inexperienced or a seasoned competitor, these games will improve your dog’s self-confidence and give them the skills to overcome adversity.

Friday Oct 4

11:00 AM

Hamilton Room

Experience Level: Novice & Above

We spend a lot of time teaching our dogs to retrieve items to us and to hold onto items, and then when we want them to take an object away from us and drop it in the middle of nowhere our dogs are understandably confused.

In this Drop It Like It’s Hot hands-on workshop I will teach you how to train your dog that taking an object away from you and dropping it on cue is just as rewarding as giving you an object.

It is a step by step process that will teach your dog on cue:

  • “Drop it Like It’s Hot”
  • With the handler at a distance
  • And then return to the handler having left the object behind

Prerequisites: your dog must be able to pick up an object off the floor

Supplies

  1. Small floor target (a fit paws silicon paw target is a good example; we likely have a few available if you  do not have one with you)
  2. Food your dog will do backflips for
  3. Clicker or other marker, a whistle or a duck caller
  4. 5 or 6 objects your dog likes to put in their mouth

Friday Oct 4

11:00 AM

Hall D

Experience Level: Novice & Above

Tricks aren’t just for fun anymore! This lab will focus on training tricks that offer more than meets the eye. Each of the tricks taught is specially selected for improving body awareness, developing critical thinking skills or for strengthening specific muscle groups.

Sara will talk about looking deeper into behaviors traditionally taught for entertainment to see how they can help you reach your training goals. Join us and see what tricks are hidden up our sleeves, you won’t be disappointed!

Friday Oct 4

11:00 AM

Hall B

Experience Level: All

Targets are a great way to communicate criteria, often doing so more quickly and accurately than shaping or luring. Targeting is a previously trained behavior that is used to convey criteria for a new behavior.

In this session you’ll learn how to use a variety of targets to isolate movement, maintain stillness, speed your dog’s understanding of both broad and nuanced behaviors, and transfer to a new verbal cue.

Friday Oct 4

1:40 PM

Agility Hall

Experience Level: All

This session will focus on getting your dog to understand, once cued to take a jump, that they should stay committed… NO MATTER WHAT.

How awesome would it be to be able to have 100 percent confidence that your dog will never pull off a jump again?

Friday Oct 4

1:40 PM

Hall B

Experience Level: All

Focus is so much more than just attention on the trainer! Our understanding and view of the value of focus in dog training has expanded over the years. We now understand that our dogs are always focused on something; it just may not be what we want or need at the moment. Rather than trying to force or limit focus, our goal is now to help our dogs learn how to shift focus quickly and easily.

The four main focal points for a dog are 1) external (things in the environment), 2) self (emotions & sensations), 3) trainer (the person they are directly interacting with), and 4) task (a specific set of behaviors or skills).

We can accomplish these focus shifts by introducing and practicing interactions with our dog in different modalities that encourage different points of interest. These different categories of interaction include 1) food, 2) play, 3) movement, 4) control, and 5) tactile. Within each category we can break down games & exercises even further. For example, we have stationary & active food delivery, interactive & independent play, shared & individual movement, passive & active control, and interactive & independent tactile activities. Our goal is to broaden our dogs’ experiences with the different types of interactions so that we have a wide range of ways to establish and nurture desired focal points.

These different interaction modalities allow us to naturally introduce focus shifts into our play & training sessions. Used thoughtfully we can help our dogs comfortably move between the different focus states. We will consider the types of focus each game encourages.

In this session Deb will introduce and walk you through several games from each category. Working teams will have the opportunity to practice and customize games to meet their needs. We will also discuss sequencing games for the ultimate in fast focus shifts.

Dogs in working spots should have basic interest in food and play. Working teams please bring a variety of your dog’s favorite reinforcers with you to the session.

Friday Oct 4

1:40 PM

Hamilton Room

Experience Level: Novice & Above

Setting up puzzles is a fun way for our dogs to build confidence sourcing hides. Sourcing a hide is all about problem solving and it’s our job to present appropriate and educational challenges. We can build their sourcing skills with purposeful hide placements that require dogs to push deep into areas or to puzzle out what the visual context might NOT be telling them!

Most dogs love to problem solve and thrive with the challenges. This lab will showcase many of my drills including mazes, use of airflow and setting up contrasts to build confidence and clarity. Dogs learn that the most relevant and salient component is the target ODOR!

Prerequisite: Dogs should be proficient on all 3 odors (Birch, Anise, and Clove).

Friday Oct 4

1:40 PM

Franklin Room

Experience Level: Lecture Only

REACTIVE INTEGRATION – Integrating various training and behavior modification protocols to help your fearful or reactive dog in the real world.

This lecture is for those who have or work with dogs that are exhibiting behavior that is often described as ‘reactive or aggressive’. These behaviors can come from frustration, anxiety, fear, or over arousal. Many of the topics discussed will also help the sensitive or fearful dog. Regardless of the dogs’ underlying motivation for their behavior, the information here will help you learn to modify the dog’s emotional response as well as their physical one.

Creating clarity in reinforcement procedures, environmental exposure, and using agency to teach alternative skills, we can help develop a more confident dog. Applying principles of classical and counter conditioning we will work to change the dog’s emotional state in situations where the dog struggles with fear, frustration, or arousal.
You will likely be familiar with some of the concepts and topics discussed. Having a variety of tools in your toolbox will allow you to implement the most effective process or concept with the dog in front of you. Come join me in exploring your options for working with reactive dogs!

Friday Oct 4

1:40 PM

Hall D

Experience Level: Intermediate/Advanced

Heeling is an incredibly complex behavior. The dog must maintain focal point, position and engagement around distractions and pressure. When you add duration things often fall apart. In this workshop we will look at games that increase energy and engagement. We will teach our dogs to give us more effort on individual pieces which adds momentum to the chain. We will learn how to use variable reinforcement and optimize the use of our reinforcers. We will introduce our dogs to backchaining which creates confidence and adds enthusiasm to the end of the chain. Your dog will learn to heel for a full pattern… and more without losing precision or attitude.

Friday Oct 4

1:40 PM

Hall C

Experience Level: All

This lab will help you develop excellent toy play with your dog. Denise will introduce both the mechanics and the qualities of the dog-human interaction that can make toy play either highly enjoyable for both parties or an absolute misery. Toy play is not simple! It is fascinating and complex and subtle and, best of all, it can be learned!

Whether your dog shows absolutely no interest in toys or is a rabid tugger who simply refuses to return to re-engage, Denise can improve your game.

Friday Oct 4

4:00 PM

Hall D

Experience Level: All

Play is your best stress reliever! Have you ever thought about what play would look like if you didn’t have a toy to play with? Have you ever thought about playing with your food instead of handing it over? Play, especially play that doesn’t involve toys, is often something we don’t explore with our dogs, but it’s really a useful skill for making your dog feel better!

Developing a good personal play relationship with your dog will allow you to play anywhere and reduce your dog’s stress levels (and maybe yours!). Additionally, playing with food raises its value and introduces dogs unfamiliar with play to the kinds of body language play has. Come play with us!

Friday Oct 4

4:00 PM

Hamilton Room

Experience Level: Novice & Above

Ready to conquer real world distractions with your dog? This lab will go over a step by step process for determining when a behavior is ready to be subjected to distraction, how to properly introduce different distractions as well as what to do when your plan fails. The world is a crazy place, let’s make sure those trial behaviors are ready for it!

Friday Oct 4

4:00 PM

Agility Hall

Experience Level: Intermediate/Advanced

This seminar will cover all aspects of blind cross handling, including:

What are they?
Who should use them?
Where should they be executed?
When should they happen?
Why use them?
How should they be executed?

Bring your questions about blind crosses to this session. Also, bring your running shoes to try different short sequences where a blind cross could be used.

The working teams in this seminar should be able to get ahead of their dog by sending them to an obstacle like a jump or tunnel. Blind crosses won’t work well if you have to run with your dog.

Only jumps and tunnels will be used in this session.

Friday Oct 4

4:00 PM

Hall B

Experience Level: Novice & Above

Looking to add some paw-zazz into your sport training? Wanting to try something new, yet familiar? Thinking it’s time to push your Rally skills to a new level?

Rally-FrEe is a rockin’ sport that emphasizes the precise execution of fundamental freestyle and obedience skills while encouraging creative and novel behaviors, all on a Rally style course! Come learn about this cool titling sport embraced by dog sport enthusiasts all over the world!

Friday Oct 4

4:00 PM

Franklin Room

Experience Level: Intermediate/Advanced

Close Proximity Hides are a challenging upper level skill because the dog not only needs to work through odor convergence, but they also need to be able to re-engage in searching immediately after finding a hide. In this session, we will work through an exercise designed to help build those expectations in the dog in a way that they start to search more quickly after the first hide and in a way that will set them up to not miss hides that are a part of close proximity sets. This session is targeted at NW3 through Summit or AKC Master and Detective teams.

Friday Oct 4

4:00 PM

Hall C

Experience Level: All

Working spots will have 1-1 hands-on experience applying techniques to maintain optimal arousal levels in your dogs. Through practical demonstrations and personalized guidance, you’ll learn how to recognize and achieve the ideal arousal state in your own dogs, maximizing your dog’s ability to learn. You’ll explore various reinforcement methods, from behaviors to food rewards, personal play, and toy engagement, tailored to your dog’s needs. Working spots will leave the lab equipped with practical strategies to enhance your dog’s engagement and focus in training sessions.

Audit spots offer an opportunity to gain valuable insights into the principles and techniques of maintaining optimal arousal levels in dogs. Through detailed explanations and live demonstrations, you’ll learn how to apply these methods effectively in your own training sessions. Understanding a variety of team’s hierarchy system of reinforcements and its impact on canine behavior, will enable you to identify and address arousal-related challenges in your dogs. You’ll leave the lab with a deeper understanding of training methods and practical strategies to enhance engagement and focus in dogs.