Friday Afternoon Session Descriptions

Working teams will each choose one morning and one afternoon lab during registration.

1:40 – 3:40

Agility: Extreme Commitment Lab

Loretta Mueller
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?

Bombproof Behaviors

Sara Brueske
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!

Toy Play Lab

Denise Fenzi
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.


Julie Flanery
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!

Working through the higher levels of the ODE protocol: Adding in distractions/”triggers”.

Sharon Carroll
Experience Level: All

In this session we will use the ODE protocol to help our dog build their skills for ignoring distractions / “triggers” (people / dogs / movement / sound). We will also discuss how and when to implement the final steps of the protocol (i.e. adding in reinforced alternative behaviors, and increasing arousal up to optimal levels for work without our dog reverting to focusing on the stimulus/trigger).

The working spots in this session are perfectly suited to any team that has started working with the ODE protocol previously. There is no requirement to have achieved a certain skill level though, just some previous practice of step 1 or above.

About Offered Durational Engagement (ODE)
When our dog perceives a stimulus that interests or concerns them, a portion of their attention shifts to that stimulus. At this point we may only see evidence of “split focus” (i.e. glancing away from us and the task, responding more slowly to our cues, missing cues, performing an “incorrect” behavior, etc.), or our dog may perform a large reaction that we perceive as inappropriate or extreme (e.g. lunging, barking, whining, squealing, leaping, leaving us and rushing to the stimulus, attempts to run away, unable to respond to our cues in the presence of the stimulus, etc.).

Our dog’s response to the stimulus may be driven by emotion (e.g. fear, excitement, frustration, etc.), it may be driven by instinct (e.g. prey drive, etc.), or it may occur due to prior learning (i.e. expectation of a specific outcome, or a previously formed habit).

Offered Durational Engagement (ODE) is a simple pattern that forms the foundations for a 10-step protocol. For dogs responding due to emotions, the protocol helps to reduce the intensity of their feelings and hence their response. For dogs responding due to instinct or habit, the protocol helps our dog to find time to think between the stimulus and their response, so instead of going from stimulus to the existing automatic response, our dog is able to think before responding. This allows them to choose an alternative behavior to the existing inappropriate or extreme response. We can then ensure that our dog perceives the new response as more rewarding than the original response.

ODE is useful as both a behavior modification protocol for reactivity, as well a protocol for helping our competition dogs build their skills for comfortably ignoring and dismissing people / dogs / movement / sounds in the competition environment.

What’s The Diagnosis?

Sue Yanoff, DVM
Experience Level: Lecture Only

When your sports dog is injured, it is important to get an accurate diagnosis. This gives you the best chance of getting your dog back to competition as soon as possible. In this lecture, we will discuss:

What do we mean by “accurate diagnosis?”
Why is it important?
What is the best way to get an accurate diagnosis?
What can you do if you can’t get one?
What is the role of rehabilitation practitioners in getting a diagnosis?
I will also demonstrate things you can do with your dog now to help you if your dog is ever injured.

Questions, including questions about your dog(s), will be welcome.

4:00 – 6:00

Figure Eights (Obedience)

Nancy Gagliardi Little
Experience Level: All

This lab will be an intensive focus on the Figure Eight exercise found in Novice and Open obedience, and all levels of Rally.

Nancy will discuss and refine the skills necessary for a focused, precise, and joyful performance. Both handling skills and dog skills will be covered. Nancy will show you how she strategically builds the exercise once dogs have mastered good heeling skills. She will not be covering heeling foundation skills, so working teams should have good heeling fundamentals before attending.

Solve It! Building Motivation With Mazes and Odor Puzzles

Sarah Owings
Experience Level: Novice & Above

In order to solve complex odor problems in complex environments, a search dog needs a strong, “can do” spirit. Some dogs seem born with this spirit, but in reality, learning through experience is a powerful force for all. Mazes, 3D challenges, and barrier work provide fun opportunities for dogs to learn that there are many roads to success.

In this session, come give your dog the opportunity to learn that persistence pays off, and pushing a little harder to get to source is always worth the effort. Dogs should already be on odor.

The Play Way: Playing Without Toys

Amy Cook, PhD
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 the kinds of body language play has. Come play with us!

Handler’s Choice

Shade Whitesel
Experience Level: All

Students get to work one on one with Shade on the topic of their choice. It is best if they’ve taken one of her classes!

Ring Prep without the Ring: Arousal Layering

Megan Foster
Experience Level: Novice & Above

In this session, teams will work through the process of generalization and proofing that is required for behaviors to hold up under the context of a competition.

Everything from the car ride to the rewards you use to the judge in the ring can impact your team’s arousal level. This impact can cause our precious sports behaviors to break down and “trial-only” problems are quickly developed. How can we improve our training in order to get in front of this common problem? I’m going to show you during this working session! It’s my goal to shift your focus from “I need to calm them down” to “I need to train them to be precise in high arousal” – after all, the entire team will be aroused on the day of the competition!

The process is simple:

  1. Write down everything you need your dog to do in the ring and the conditions you need them to be successful in.
  2. Split those behaviors into replicable pieces.
  3. Turn the dials on those pieces up to recognizable but unlikely situations.

I said simple, not easy. The process does take commitment and creativity on the part of the trainer. Not sure how that should look? Join this working session to see the process in action! Attendance at the Ring Prep Without the Ring lecture is encouraged!

Working participants should have one well-known skill that can be completed on cue without a reward present. Equipment available: jump, tunnel. (contacts/weaves TBD) Other behaviors we can work on: leash removal, start-line stay, and leashing up at the end of a run.

The Business End of the Dog: Marketing 101

Melissa Breau
Experience Level: Lecture Only

Do you run your own pet-related business? If you’re a dog trainer, groomer, or another pet professional with your own business and you struggle with marketing, this session is for you.

Whether you’re new and trying to figure out where to start, have been marketing your business for a while and just aren’t seeing results, or have enjoyed a ton of success but need to figure out what’s working and what’s not, in this lecture/lab we’ll cover where most people go wrong, evaluate what’s working for you now (and what’s not), and discuss new ideas for improving the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.

You’ll walk away with a better understanding of how marketing works and new ideas for bringing in new clients.