Brought to you by:

Training as a Balancing Act: Why Balance at Both Ends of the Leash is Critical for Performance and Behavior

May 7

4:00 pm PT

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


In horse training, if either horse or rider loses their balance, bad things happen! As such, balance is taken quite seriously in the equine world. In contrast, when we train our dogs, we don’t observe nearly as obviously unpleasant (or dangerous) results if either party gets a bit wobbly. As such, we don’t really pay much attention to this concept at all. Could we be ignoring balance at our peril? Spoiler alert: The answer is YES!

While negative outcomes might not be immediately obvious, a careful examination of the impact of balance on training reveals that ignoring balance — our own and that of our dog — may indeed lead to unexpected fallout. And I’m not just talking about injuries.

Training without paying careful attention to balance, at both ends of the leash, may contribute to arousal issues, poisoned cues, reduced confidence, accidental punishment, errors in performance, and more. Being unaware of the impact of balance during training may even contribute to behavior issues such as anxiety and being targeted by other dogs. Indeed, the more I dig into this topic, the more I discover that many of the problems we think are training issues may in fact be balance problems.

Curious to know more? Join me in this exploration of the impact of balance — our dogs’ and our own — on our training outcomes and on the overall physical and emotional wellbeing of our canine partners.

Presented By:

Hélène 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