Human-Directed Reactivity

Human-Directed Reactivity Attendees: Limited to 4 dogs Length: 6 weekly sessions Time: 1 hour per class Tuition: $250 Prereqs: Consultation with Dr. Valli Having a dog that barks and lunges at people is a stressful thing. It can also be difficult to treat because helpers can be difficult to find. That is why we developed this class. This supportive group class gives structured and safe opportunities for clients to practice behavior modification to reduce their dogs’ reactive behavior towards unfamiliar people. It is one of Synergy’s Behavior Therapy options for Dr. Valli’s clients. Please note that, because of the nature of this class and safety considerations, attendees are required to have a Behavior Health Assessment with Dr Valli prior to class. Note that the cost of the assessment is not included in the class fee mentioned here. For more information about general class policies please visit our Class Policy page. For other commonly-asked questions, please visit our Class FAQs page. Sign-Up for an Upcoming...

Reactive Rover 3a: Open Air

RR3: Open Air Attendees: Limited to 6 dogs Length: 4 weekly sessions Time: 1 hour per class Tuition: $180 Prereqs: RR: Skill Building or by Invitation You’ve practiced your training skills in the Foundations and Skill Building classes, now it’s time for a challenge! Our one-of-a-kind Reactive Rover: Open Air class will give you a chance to practice your dog’s training in an outdoor group class setting. We help provide safe opportunities for you and your dog to explore different neighborhoods and parks around Portland, with a supportive group of like-minded students. Your dog may also practice closer-distance skills, potentially on-leash greetings, depending on your dog’s skill levels and readiness. Our professional trainers lead the walks, run training exercises, give you feedback on your training, while also keeping an eye out for dogs in the environment. The locations change each of the four weeks to keep things interesting and fun for you and your...

Reactive Rover 2: Skill Building

RR2: Skill Building Attendees: Limited to 5 dogs Length: 6 weekly sessions Time: 1 hour per class Tuition: $225 Prereqs: RR: Foundations or by Invitation Ready to take your dog to the next level? This class builds on the skills that you learn in Foundations class, and adds in good manners training as well as more challenging reactivity activities. This class is a prerequisite for our advanced classes (Open Air, Agility and Scent Games), and is repeatable until you and your dog are ready. For full information about our pre-screening process and class policies please visit our Class Policy page. For commonly-asked questions visit our Class FAQs page.   Sign-Up for an Upcoming...
The Misunderstood Muzzle

The Misunderstood Muzzle

Muzzles are some of the most misunderstood, but most important, tools in dog training. It is a way to keep your dog and others around her safe while providing opportunities for training. A muzzled dog is not a bad dog, and may not even be a dog that bites.  However it is a dog whose people are being proactive and safe. Why Use a Muzzle? Muzzles are useful for many different reasons, including: Situations that you just want to be extra-safe. For example, someone who has a very friendly dog who has not been around many children, may choose to use a muzzle just to be safe when introducing the dog to a new child. That way, they can focus on maximizing their dog’s comfort without worrying about an accident Increasing safety during a training or social situation for a dog that has a history of  being aggressive or reactive. See below for more details on this. Preventing people from approaching a dog that needs space. Many of our clients with very cute but shy dogs are thrilled that they don’t need to keep telling people to give their dogs room to feel comfortable. The muzzle does that for them. Using in emergency situations, such as when the dog has had an accident or injury.   Many dogs will bite when in pain and scared, when they wouldn’t bite otherwise. As a recent personal example, I took my dog Jazz to a new veterinary clinic (yes, I am a veterinarian but like many other veterinarians I prefer to have another doctor also evaluate my pets for their wellness visits or...
Say What?  Whale Eye

Say What? Whale Eye

Whale eye occurs when a dog’s head is pointed one way but their eyes are looking at something in a different direction. The whites of the eyes can be seen as an arc. It can be thought of as looking out of the corner of the eye. Dogs who show this behavior are typically concerned about something that is going on around them. We often think of this behavior as an early warning sign that a dog is anxious as a situation, and that something needs to change so that the dog’s anxiety is reduced. In the example photo to the right, the sitting dog is concerned about the dog sniffing her hind end. Notice how her nose is pointed towards the camera, but her eyes are focused on the dog behind her.  This is typical of the dog who wants to keep an eye on what is happening, but is not comfortable enough to look directly at it. In addition to the whale eye, the sitting dog’s ears are back and her body is tense, also signifying anxiety about the...