So, the other day I told you guys that Your End of the Lead is now being offered as an on-demand online class and that I’ve partnered up with the creator Janet Finlay, to offer you a great deal on the class through April 30th, 2014.
You can read all about that here, if you missed it.
I had some questions about the class and I figured you’d want to know the answers too, so I put together this interview with Janet for all y’all.
Wait a sec! Before you start reading, there’s a contest too. You can win a free spot in the class! Details are at the end of the interview. But check out the Q+A first (you might learn something):
Jessica: You’re a certified dog trainer, but Your End of the Lead isn’t a training course. Why did you choose to focus on addressing the human end of the leash?
Janet: In my work as a trainer, I was regularly meeting people who were stressed out by their dog’s behaviour. They could no longer even enjoy going for a walk with their dog and often things were also difficult at home so they had no break from it. Even the most committed owners, who were working really hard to help their dogs, were telling me they felt guilty because of what their dog couldn’t do and many felt that it was their fault. And of course well-meaning people – even trainers – often reinforce that feeling by saying things like “he’d be better if you could just relax…” – but of course you can’t just “switch off” all that stress. So it becomes a vicious circle that leaves people feeling useless and isolated.
While there is a lot of help out there for how to train your dog, I couldn’t find much specifically helping people with this problem. As a qualified coach for people, I know that reframing the way we think about a problem can fundamentally change how we respond to it. And as a TTouch practitioner, I have a whole toolbox of techniques for reducing tension and stress. So I put together a face-to-face “Your End of the Lead” workshop, which was very popular – and later this online course.
J: The new version of the course is “on demand.” Can you describe what that means and how that’s different than the full support version?
Janet: I’ve run Your End of the Lead Online twice now as a fixed session course, where all the students start at the same time and work through the lessons at the same time, as if they were in a class. This works really well but limits numbers and isn’t very flexible. Each time I have run it I have had people ask if it was it possible to do the course at a different time or to fit their particular schedule – and up to now this hasn’t been possible – partly because I feel strongly that online courses are next to useless if they just provide content without any support structures to help students actually complete the course. But I’ve now come up with a support package that will allow people to choose to do the course when they want but without being left to do it alone.
So with the On Demand version you get the whole course immediately and you can follow it at your own pace and in your own time. You’ll get prompts by email reminding about the course, there’s a Q&A page, and I’m running monthly webinars to answer questions live. And as a bonus I am also including 6 months’ membership of my private online community, so that people can discuss what they are doing on the course with other students, past and current. And I’m there daily too. So I am confident that the On Demand package has the flexibility people wanted, but without losing the support that is so important.
J: You’re a TTouch practitioner. Can you tell us a bit about TTouch and why it’s included in YEL?
Janet: TTouch is a very respectful and gentle training approach that recognizes the connection between physical state, emotional state, and behaviour. It uses a combination of observation, light body work, body wraps and leading exercises to increase an animal’s awareness of themselves, to reduce physical tension and to shift them out of habitual responses. It is well known as a way of calming dogs (and people – it works on any animal that has a nervous system), but it can also help change behaviour by improving the animal’s physical and emotional balance.
It’s included in Your End of the Lead because it offers a really valuable set of tools for owners of reactive dogs. It can really help with stress reduction for both dogs and people – it can reduce the overall level of stress, as well as providing tools to help owners calm themselves and their dogs before, during and after challenging incidents. It is also a great foundation for other forms of training as it reduces physical tension, pain and postural imbalance, all of which can make behavioural issues worse. And the leading and handling techniques we use in TTouch really enable people to keep a loose lead and avoid introducing the tension in the lead that can often trigger reactive behaviour.
J: What does it mean for a dog to be out of balance in their body – particularly for dogs that are fearful or aggressive? How does TTouch help?
Janet: A dog may be out of physical balance in many ways. They may have tightness in the muscles, which limits free movement and results in stiff posture. They may be weighted unevenly, so they are putting more stress on one or more limbs. They may have poor awareness of some parts of their body, so they may appear uncoordinated. They may have tension in the body that makes them uncomfortable about being handled or touched in that area. They may be out of balance for lots of reasons – such as old injuries, their physical conformation or life experiences – or we can inadvertently throw them out of balance by the way we lead them (pulling into a collar for instance or holding their head up and back).
These physical issues affect how a dog feels and how they behave. For example, if a dog is tight in the neck and head, so that their posture is stiff and their head carriage inflexible, they can be reactive when approached and their posture is also more challenging for other dogs. If we can reduce that tension then we not only make them more comfortable and less defensive, but we also change their posture to make them less threatening to other dogs. Fearful dogs often have tension in the hindquarters and tail – again we can release that tension and enable more relaxed posture.
TTouch helps because it gives us a set of tools to work on these physical and postural issues and ways of leading and handling dogs to encourage them to stay in balance.
J: I love the sections of the class that cover human psychology – from why people invade our dog’s space to how our own thinking can get in the way of positive changes.
One lesson covers the power of language and labels. With DINOS, I’ve tried to give people a more neutral or positive label for their dogs, but as you say in one of the YEL lessons, all labels (positive and negative) can affect our behavior and thinking about our dogs. I agree! Can you share a little more about that idea?
Janet: When we label our dogs it can make it more difficult for us to see them clearly. We tend to interpret their behaviour according to our labels. So if we call our dog “stubborn”, for instance, and they stop in a particular situation, we are likely to think it is because they are being stubborn and so may miss the fact that they are actually frightened.
The same happens with positive labels. How many people tell us their dogs are “friendly” when in that moment they are being rude and inappropriate? Positive labels can also be deceptive.
So I would rather ditch labels altogether and focus on learning to be more observant of actual behaviour. That way we don’t fall into a fixed mindset about our dogs. We can see them as they are in any given moment and can more easily notice when they change. And we can respond to how they are actually behaving rather than to what it is we think they are.
J: If there’s one thing you want DINOS families to know about the YEL class, what would it be?
Janet: Just one thing?
That it is possible to enjoy being out and about with your dog – even if he or she can be reactive.
The secret to being able to relax is to know you are able to manage any situation you find yourself in calmly and confidently. This is what Your End of the Lead aims to do for you. It will complement whatever training you are doing to work with your dog, by making you a more aware, calmer and more effective handler, enabling you and your dog to really make progress.
Thank you Janet!
Want to sign up for Janet’s class?
You can register for Your End of the Lead using the DINOS affiliate link. Through April 30th, the class is only $99! That’s a savings of 40% off the normal price of $165.
There’s more - you’ll also score a free 6 month membership to Janet’s ACE Owner’s Club which offers a ton of extra support, monthly training challenges, and a community forum. All for $99.
And here’s the CONTEST!
Leave me a comment answering the question below and one lucky person will be chosen to win registration to Your End of the Lead for free! And, because so many of you have registered already, we want to open it up to you too. If you’ve already paid for the class and you win the contest, Janet will refund your $99 so you can take the class for free. So everyone gets to play. Neat, right?
Leave a comment between now and Wednesday, April 23rd at Midnight EST. One comment will be chosen at random and the winner will be announced here and on the DINOS Facebook page on Thursday, April 24th. Please make sure your comment or gravatar includes your email contact info, so we can notify you directly as well!
Tell us your answer in the comments for your shot at the prize:
If your dog won a gold medal, what talent or skill would it be for?
(My dog Birdie would win a gold medal for staging an effective nonviolent pool resistance movement or maybe couch cushion management. Boogie would win for completing a successful Wubba water extraction mission.)