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Lunch Panel: How We Deal with Errors in an R+ World (via Facebook Live)

May 7

1:00 pm PT


Panelists include: Catja Pedersen, Héléne Lawler, and Sarah Stremming; the panel will be hosted by Amy Cook.

This lunchtime discussion will be streamed via Facebook Live on the event’s Facebook page, free and publicly available, even to those not paying to attend the conference. Our panelists will discuss how trainers can handle errors in training in a positive way.

CatJa Pederson

Catja (she/her) is living with a retired older cocker spaniel who still loves to work and a younger Australian koolie who is starting to compete.

Since 2009, when she finished her instructors’ course via Canis academy, Catja has been working full-time teaching training online, at in-person workshops, and conferences.

She has competed in the highest level of working trials, including obedience, tracking, and search and rescue and has also been working with drug detection and rally obedience over the past years. But no matter the topic, her focus is on developing the basic skills through clean training sessions and fluency in a trainer’s skills.

She is passionate about clean training, fluency, shaping, back chaining, and giving the learner choice in the training.

For Catja, practicing the basics and having great mechanical skills is one of the things that will elevate your training to the next level. She believes that every dog handler can and should work with their dog and planning your session to be as clean and efficient as possible will create more reinforcement opportunities for both learner and teacher. Her first focus is to teach 80 different basic skills that make it possible to teach just about anything “advanced” later. Dividing all training into the smallest behaviors possible, before even thinking of adding the cue and setting the stage for clean training loops, is a high priority. She uses shaping wherever it is possible and always tries to have a clean, smooth session, with clear information for the dog while removing all background distractions.

Meeting the learner where they are and getting to be a part of the process where team grows together, is the most rewarding thing for her. Catja works with learners on all levels and believes in continued education for everyone.

Héléne Lawler

Hélène (she/her) got her first dog, a border collie named Jake, in 1989 and has been training dogs ever since. Over the years, she has explored obedience, search and rescue, protection sports, rally, tricks, and freestyle, among others. She discovered agility in 2004, and herding in 2005. Herding quickly became her passion; she was so excited about it that she took lessons for a whole year without a dog!

In 2006, Hélène bought her first herding dog — a border collie named Hannah. Hannah was an amazing partner and teacher, and together they had a very successful career in agility and herding. They won the Ontario novice herding championship in their first year of competition. They proceeded to go all the way to Open in USBCHA herding while simultaneously competing at the Masters level in agility.

Hélène has also been very active in rescue over the years, giving her the opportunity to work with a variety of dogs and challenges. It was through working with rescue dogs that she discovered and became committed to using positive reinforcement based training methods.

Her passion today is finding practical, hands-on ways of applying the science of learning to training working and sport dogs. Specifically, she specializes in establishing optimal arousal for optimal performance in sport and work, bringing out the best in sensitive dogs, training herding dogs using positive reinforcement-based methods, and all things border collie.

Hélène is also deeply committed to natural rearing and health as a critical component of dog training, believing that a clear, sound mind and a strong, healthy body are integral to a calm, confident, eager-to-learn animal partner.

Today, Hélène lives on a mixed livestock farm in rural eastern Ontario with her team of border collies, two Maremma guardian dogs, and an Australian kelpie. She teaches online at the Fenzi Dog Sport Academy, as well as private virtual coaching on handler mindset for success, herding, and dog sport foundations.

You can find a complete list of Hélène’s classes and workshops on her website:; she can be reached at

Sarah Stremming

Sarah (she/her) has spent the last 15 years helping dogs and their people to better understand each other in the sports of agility and obedience, as well as in life. Her wellness-centered approach to behavior solutions has gained her recognition across the globe, and her podcast Cog Dog Radio helps bring her ideas to the earbuds of dog people worldwide. She is a graduate of Colorado State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology, an agility and obedience competitor, and an avid student of behavioral science, neuroscience, and training practices. In her spare time she can be found wandering the woods of the Pacific Northwest behind several border collies.

Panel Hosted By:

Amy Cook, PhD, CDBC, CPDT-KA

Amy Cook, PhD (she/her) has been training dogs for over 30 years, and through Full Circle Dog Training and Play Way Dogs in Oakland, California, has been specializing in the rehabilitation of shy and fearful dogs for 20 years. She is a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC) through the IAABC and was one of the first trainers nationally to become a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CDPT) through independent evaluation. She is a graduate of the SFSPCA academy for dog trainers and has attended all four “chicken camps” in Hot Springs, Arizona, taught by Bob Bailey.

Amy has worked for the Berkeley-East Bay Humane Society, the San Francisco Animal Care and Control, and has provided behavioral evaluations for shelters and rescues throughout the Bay Area of California. She has worked with the anti-cruelty team at the ASPCA doing behavioral evaluations and psychological enrichment of dogs seized in dog fighting, puppy mill, and hoarding cases.

Amy returned to school in 2006 to get her PhD in psychology from UC Berkeley. Her research focused on the dog-human relationship and its effect on the problem solving strategies dogs employ. She has also studied causal inference in dogs and toddlers and olfactory navigation. She has extensive experience as a graduate student instructor, having taught sections of Introductory Psychology (both in person and online), Human Emotion, Developmental Psychology, Social Psychology, Stigma and Prejudice, Statistics, Animal Cognition, and has taught Fundamentals of Psychology and Developmental Psychology as a full instructor.