Saturday Morning Session Descriptions

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

9:00AM – 10:40AM

Obedience Handler’s Choice

Nancy Gagliardi Little
Experience Level: Intermediate/Advanced

Having a problem with Heeling or an Open or Utility exercise? Do you need help with handling for your obedience skill?

In this session, Nancy will help you one-on-one with any heeling or obedience exercise.

Pocket Hand Heeling Lab

Denise Fenzi
Experience Level: All

Pocket hand is a way of teaching heeling that allows your dog to use the angle and position of your hand to develop and maintain an exceptionally precise heel position.

You’ve heard people talking about “pocket hand” for heeling, and now you get to see it in action! This technique will work just as well for retraining a 10-year-old dog as starting an eight-week-old puppy.

If you’d like to learn more about using pocket hand, join Denise in this lecture and lab and have your dog heeling with finesse in no time!

Working spots: Should be just starting out with this technique – if you already have advanced pocket hand heeling skills, and need some troubleshooting, sign up for the heeling problem-solving lab!

Agility Transitions Lab

Loretta Mueller
Experience Level: Novice & Above

Do you struggle with getting your dog to turn? In this session we will work on how to go from extension to collection.

What exactly IS the perfect turn? And how to teach your dog that turning is FUN!

Handler’s Choice

Sara Brueske
Experience Level: All

Disc dog freestyle, Tricks, Distractions, Obedience and secondary obedience for protection sports or whatever you would like!

Join Sara for some one-on-one time to work on whichever skill you need.

Spot on! Training with Targets!

Julie Flanery
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.

How does your training feel to your dog?

Amy Cook, PhD
Experience Level: Lecture Only

Every consequence we choose in training is there to motivate behavior change, but did you know it also inspires emotion at the same time? In fact, that’s why they work! Emotion underlies all of your training, and that’s not optional – Pavlov is always sitting on your shoulder!

In this lecture, I’ll go over Conditioned Emotional Responses (CERs), what the quadrants feel like, why that matters, and how to keep your dog in the “happy bucket” and out of the “yucky bucket.” You have heard me say “every time you teach your dog what to do, you’re teaching them how to feel,” right? What emotional responses are you conditioning?

11:00AM – 12:40PM

Verbal Cues in Agility: Obstacle Discrimination

Megan Foster
Experience Level: Intermediate/Advanced

As the sport of dog agility evolves, more and more handlers are turning to reliance on verbal cues to guide their dog on the course. While they are a very useful part of any communication system, verbal cues are the hardest handling element for dogs to understand and are even harder to learn when paired with our natural physical cues.

During this working session, students will work through different generalization tasks that build fluency with any task and learn how to introduce discrimination to two known behaviors.

Working teams will plan sessions based on equipment available, but the skills can also be practiced with marker cues, and other behaviors that are primarily on verbal cue.

Magic Tricks! A Secret to Improving Training for You and Your Learner

Michele Pouliot
Experience Level: Lecture Only

Trainers don’t always take “trick” behaviors seriously, but trick behaviors are a powerful method of motivating handlers and learners of all levels.

Ask anyone what a “trick behavior” is and the response will likely be similar to:

  • “Behaviors that are fun to train!” 

  • “Behaviors that are fun for the learner.” 

  • “Something entertaining to watch.” 

  • “An unusual behavior put on cue.” 

  • “Behaviors not taken seriously by the trainer.”

Successful trick training requires the same effective skills that more commonly trained behaviors require. In many cases, training a trick behavior can require handlers to use tools they have never (or rarely) used before. This often increases the handlers’ overall skills.

Michele Pouliot began training trick behaviors when she first discovered clicker training in 1999. Although her career prompted Michele to develop a very serious use of clicker training for guide dogs for the blind, she believes that her deep experiences with training tricks are most responsible for her personal development as a positive reinforcement trainer. Why? Trick training provides variety for both the trainer and the learner. Variety prompts more creativity in training decisions and keeps training sessions more interesting.

Trick training is not “assembly-line training.” It continues to bring something new and stimulating to a learner’s repertoire and expands the training skills of the teacher. The intrinsic results are eagerness from the learner and continued enthusiasm for training in general for the trainer.

Join Michele for this enjoyable presentation to learn how trick training can help motivate trainers and learners and result in more joyful training sessions for everyone involved.

Cognitive Challenges for Developing Resilience & Grit in Your Dog

Barbara Lloyd
Experience Level: See Description

A creative hands on workshop developed by Barbara Lloyd the creator of “The Nimue Box Challenge” to test your dog’s ability to problem solve!

This workshop will consist of a series of Cognitive Challenges that range from easy to varying degrees of complexity. The main goal of the lab will be helping your understand how your dog reasons through how to solve a challenge and access a reward.

We will also discuss your dog’s learning style in contrast to your learning style and how that impacts your training sessions with your dog, as well as how to improve your training sessions with your dog via a better understanding of how your dog processes information and problems solves.

Decoding what your dog is telling you as they work through the challenges will be discussed in depth in order to give you a better understanding of how to harness your dog’s skills to train more efficiently.

This workshop is suitable for puppies and dogs all the way up to adulthood.

For young dogs and sensitive dogs this workshop help build resiliency, grit, and confidence. Adult dogs will gain more sustained focus and thoughtfulness.

Participants will be instructed on how to set up the challenges and then allow their dog time to solve the challenge.

Each participant can choose how much assistance to give their dog, and part of the class will be outlining and discussing why or why not you choose to simplify the task for your dog.

As the instructor I will give you feedback on what I see your dog doing, how to play to your dog’s strengths, how to improve a particular problem solving skill and how to make this relevant in other areas of training.

Stays in all their Glory!

Shade Whitesel
Experience Level: All

Ha ha, got a dog who won’t stay still?

Shade loves stays! In her own words “I am the eye contact and down stay queen. I think knowledge of stillness and stays are so important for our dog’s mental health, even if our sports don’t require it. “

Leave your dogs in the crating area for the short lecture where we’ll go over techniques, different kinds of stays, different emotions, etc… Then we’ll get the dogs out, and practice!

Come equipped with a towel, or blanket if you want, to make it easier for your training.

Painting the Picture: What is your dog’s behavior revealing about odor?

Sarah Owings
Experience Level: Intermediate/Advanced

When dogs respond to odor, they are following dovetailing pathways through the air that humans cannot see. Becoming more attuned to this secret world requires close observation of body language. Can you tell what type of hide your dog is working long before he actually tells you where it is? How soon in a search can you recognize the telltale signs of a ground hide, an inaccessible hide, converging hides, or a high hide?

In this session we are going to test different types of hide placements and let the dogs teach us about what the odor is doing. Dogs should already be on odor, and familiar with multi-hide searches in novel environments.

Assessing and Influencing Our Dog’s Readiness to Work

Sharon Carroll
Experience Level: All

Before we commence a training session, start the next exercise, or enter a competition space, we want to know that our dog feels ready to undertake the task ahead.

In order to be ready to give their full focus to us and the task, our dog needs to feel safe in that space, they need to have previously built the skills needed to ignore the distractions in that space, and they need to have a desire to participate with us and engage in the task. When these requirements have not been fulfilled, we will find ourselves having to compete for our dog’s attention.

Having to compete for a dog’s attention is not fun, and ultimately leads to frustration for both the dog and the handler. Continuing to ask for “work” from a dog that is disengaged, distracted, and/or frustrated may result in:

  • Missed cues
  • Anticipated cues
  • Slow responses
  • Incorrectly performed behaviors/exercises
  • Looking away from us and the task
  • Stalling / hesitating
  • Zoomies
  • Leaving us to “visit” other people / dogs
  • Leaving us to investigate objects / pieces of equipment
  • Attempts to escape the training/competition space
  • Performing displacement behaviors (e.g. scratching, self-grooming, sniffing the ground, etc.)

Ensuring we only ask our dog to work when they feel ready requires accurate assessment, not only at the start of the work but on an ongoing basis throughout the session.

But what do we do if we assess our dog’s readiness to work at some point and they indicate they are not ready? These are the times we need a systematic protocol for influencing our dog’s readiness to work. The steps in this system help our dog to dissipate excess arousal, calm their emotions, and re-focus their thoughts. At this point we can then accurately reassess the best course of action in each instance.

In this session we will cover:

  • Strategies that allow us to accurately assess our dog’s readiness to work, both initially and on an ongoing basis throughout a session
  • Methods for assessing what caused a deterioration in focus/work during a session or whilst at a competition
  • Strategies for influencing readiness to work, both prior to starting work and at any point where we notice a deterioration in focus/work

Working spots: To gain the most out of this session participants need to have at least a few simple skills/behaviors that are reliable in a “boring” environment (i.e. they do not have to be reliable in the camp environment). Dogs with high level competition skills are also welcome. If your dog is almost 100% reliable performing all behaviors in a “big” environment, then it is unlikely you will gain enough value from a working spot in this session, but may still find the information to be a useful addition to your existing toolbox.