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Getting to Yes: Encouraging Your Dog to Cooperate in His Own Care

May 7

2:00 pm PT

This talk is eligible for CEUs from: CCPDT, IAABC, KPA


Cooperative care has become a hot buzz phrase in the dog training world. And that’s a really good thing! Many owners and trainers are coming to recognize the value of training our dogs to be active partners in their physical care processes. Throughout their lifetimes, our dogs will need to have grooming and veterinary care. If you’re very, very lucky your dog will be naturally cooperative without any effort on your part. For many dogs though, these procedures can cause unnecessary anxiety and stress. Our goal in training a cooperative approach is to give our dogs the emotional tools to handle necessary but possibly unpleasant procedures.

It’s very important for us to always remember, first and foremost, that when our dogs are resistant to procedures we are dealing with their automatic emotional responses. We need to address and decrease their feelings of fear and anxiety before we can expect to make progress. How can we do this? There are a variety of approaches that can be helpful. In particular, the use of consent signals is a good way to open up two way communication with your dog.

We can teach our dogs behaviors that can be used to indicate consent to continue or that withdraw consent. This approach requires us to put in some initial training effort, but then gives our dogs clear ways to tell us when they are feeling uncomfortable and need us to move back to an easier level of handling. By honoring their removal of consent we will build trust and increase the likelihood of future cooperation.

In this presentation Deb will present three consent signals (chin rest, lie on side with head down, and zen bowl) and demonstrate how to teach and use them in a variety of cooperative care applications. In addition, she will talk about what to do when care is not optional, but absolutely necessary with or without consent. How are these situations different and what should you do to avoid ruining all your consent based work? Finally, Deb will discuss her 10 essential cooperative care exercises and how they work together to develop a strong foundation that will help your dog cope well with a variety of possible future events.

Presented By:

Deborah Jones, PhD

Deb Jones (she/her) is a psychologist who has been training dogs for 25 years. Her academic background in behavioral and social psychology has provided a strong foundation for her understanding of learning and behavior. In addition, her experience with numerous breeds throughout many dog sports and activities has given her comprehensive hands-on experience. Deb has successfully shown her own retrievers, papillons, shelties, and border collies in obedience, agility, and rally. She has also worked in person and online with thousands of students with a wide variety of breeds, issues, and goals.

Over the years Deb has written 12 training books. In the late ’90s she wrote and helped to produce a series of videotapes for Canine Training Systems called “Clicker Fun” and more recently a series of In Focus DVDs for Clean Run Productions. Her books include Clicker Fun, In Focus, The Focused Puppy, and the Dog Sport Skills series of four books co-written with Denise Fenzi. The first three books in the Dog Sports Skills series won the Maxwell Award, given by the Dog Writer’s Association of America, for best training book of the year. She recently published a book titled Cooperative Care: Seven Steps to Stress Free Husbandry. This book won a special award from Fear Free Pets for promoting fear free veterinary techniques. Her current project is the development of a Cooperative Care Certificate program in partnership with Fenzi Dog Sports Academy and the TEAM titling program.

Deb retired as an associate professor of psychology after teaching a variety of psychology classes at Kent State University for 20 years. Since 2013 she has taught many courses, webinars, and workshops online at Fenzi Dog Sports Academy. Her special interests include focus training (an approach she developed with Judy Keller in the early 2000s), zen impulse control training, and cooperative care for husbandry work.