Dog Sports Skills, Book 1: Developing Engagement and Relationship

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Denise Fenzi
Deborah Jones
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Fenzi Dog Sports Academy
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This book is the first in a series of books designed for the dog sport enthusiast. This first book will focus on developing a competition foundation based in Engagement and relationship.

It doesn't matter what genetic package or temperament your dog is born with; you can bring out the best in your dog! To train your dog, you must develop a relationship that encourages a willing and happy attitude with natural focus while eliminating undue stress in both training and competition.

If your goal is to create a world-class performance dog, then this book is for you. We can help you refine your engagement and relationship skills to a higher level.

If you are an instructor who is struggling with your novice students or less focused dogs, then this book is for you. You will find advice on how to work with a range of canine temperaments.

If you have a dog who works well at home but you can't seem to maintain that connection in public, then this book is for you. You will learn the basics of recognizing stress, paying attention to your dog, and alleviating or minimizing problems so that you can focus on work rather than worry.

Finally, if you simply want to take the dog you have, your personal pet, and enjoy your training at a more fulfilling level, then this book is for you as well! By understanding and applying excellent engagement and relationship building techniques, both you and your canine companion will find more enjoyment in the training process, even if you choose never to step foot inside a competition ring.

The chapters will cover relationship (what it is and how to get it), Stress (recognizing it and techniques for lessening it's impact), Developing focus, Explaining and evaluating positive methods for getting behaviors, and the use of trick training to develop a handler's training skills and a dog's mental and physical flexibility.

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  • 4
    Dog Sports Skills, Book 1 Developing Engagement and Relationship

    Posted by Allyson Tohme on 7th Sep 2022

    There are tall ships and small ships and ships that sail the sea but there's no ship like friendship so here's to you and me. (Anon) The first chapter of this publication looks at both personal and working relationships. The authors discuss how both will increase the owner’s awareness of any health issues, build trust and self-assurance as well as leadership and friendship. Denise and Deborah explain that creating this rapport can be affected by genetics, the dog’s innate capacity for social interaction, and readers are reminded that if they own one of the less “handler dependent” breeds, they might need to work harder to make it happen! Inescapable parts of this equation are acceptance and mutual respect. Chapter Two looks at attitude and in what way a dog’s expression, posture and behaviour indicates how a dog is feeling. The safety factor is not overlooked. Ways of increasing confidence are explored and quite a substantial portion of this section investigates stress v drive and how the environment, animate and inanimate entities can impact on the dog; not to mention poor preparation and the importance of expectation management! Stress Reduction Techniques is the title of Chapter Three and commences with the idea of developing stress tolerance in dogs followed by examples of context specific stressors. These include those which may emerge in training, such as learning itself eg coping with a reduced reward schedule as well as those extant in locations and competition etc. The advice of exercising patience, developing observational skills, and providing planned exposure are not new but I think many of us might be guilty of failing to wait for maturity and experience in our desire to compete! The next chapter focuses on training techniques and methods and although this may be remarkably familiar territory to some there are one or two ideas that provide something to consider here. Both operant and classical conditioning as well as luring, targeting, and shaping are dealt with as are the concepts of acquisition, generalisation, and maintenance. “Focus involves not only teaching your dog to concentrate in spite of distractions but also how to determine where his focus should be at any given moment” This is one of the observations in this book that could be used to advantageous effect as a poster in every training facility! There are lots of illustrations on how to notice and nurture focus and the desirability of developing this prior to starting to shape any behaviour particularly with a new puppy. The penultimate chapter is all about tricks and the reasoning behind this is simple. Training a dog to say its prayers is unnecessary but fun and links nicely into the ideas introduced in the first chapter; that of developing both a personal and working relationship with the dog. Not only this but trick training can be used to enhance both physical and mental development, building the groundwork needed for competitive sports and this is briefly touched upon in the final part of the book. This paperback is the first in a series and the foundation for its successors; as such it is more useful to those new to the arena of competition and training although it does have a few nuggets of gold for the experienced. If your budget is limited and you are both experienced and successful in this area you might want to save your pennies for Books 2, 3 and 4, however in my opinion it would be a useful addition to anyone’s bookshelf to dust off each time a new puppy is on the horizon.

  • 5
    Beginning Dog Sports

    Posted by Samuel Power on 28th Aug 2018

    As a trainer looking into dog sports, I really enjoyed this book. A majority of the information is pretty basic, and I feel it would do the most good for a novice trainer or an owner considering getting into a sport (or even just looking to better connect with their dog). I enjoyed reading through this book, despite the fact that most all of the content was already concepts I was familiar with. Denise and Deborah have a great style together. I think I might just purchase the other two books in this series for another enjoyable weekends worth of reading. I especially enjoyed reading through the sections discussing "old school" punishment based training and why they choose to utilize force free, all positive training techniques. Their explanations and experiences were well worded and engaging!