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Leash Aggression Classroom Review

Leash Aggression Classroom Review

I was recently given the opportunity to check out an online “classroom” that focuses on leash reactivity/aggression in exchange for a review on my blog.  I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to check out what could be a great resource for people who are in areas without much of a positive training community.  The classroomwas created by The Crossover Trainer, Ines Gaschot and is clearly a labor of love for her.

I have spent hours reading content, watching videos, and browsing around The Leash Aggression Classroom and have evaluated all the content. So let’s talk about The Classroom.

Screen Shot 2013-08-29 at 9.38.07 AMVitals

www.leashaggressionclassroom.com

Cost:  $150 for a 3 month subscription

The website is visually appealing and is easy to navigate featuring simple drop-down menus.  I didn’t see any problems with background/text color making things hard to read or see.

It is designed as a curriculum to follow with your own dog when working through leash reactivity/aggression (dogs who bark/lunge on leash at people/other dogs).  It is broken down into three sequential sessions that each have a handful of lessons within.  Each lesson has written lesson plan and either a graphic or a video example for students to study before practicing the skill with their own dog (the more technical skills all have video).  There is a dictionary, a growing links/help page, a community forum, and support from the website’s trainer if you are having trouble with the process or you just need some support.

After a student signs up for either a 3-month or lifetime membership, they have access to all of the lesson plans within their current session to work at their own pace.  Once a student has completed all the lessons in a specific session, they submit video of all the covered lessons to be checked over and given feedback by the trainer.  If the skills are demonstrated well, they will get access to the next session’s set of lessons.  This step is important because if initial lessons aren’t taught or taught well, advanced lessons will be problematic.  It does, however, mean that users need to have access to camera/phone that can take video and having someone else on hand to film for some of the skills would be helpful (along with a computer and internet connection good enough to handle uploading videos to youtube for review).

 

Pros and Cons of the classroom

I like the structure of the sessions

When looking at the sessions and the lessons within, I really like the way the lessons are put together and grouped. It’s very similar to the building skills in most reactive dog classes and private lessons that I teach.  Each session builds on the prior’s knowledge and skills and there is a really nice flow of step by step instruction that makes it pretty simple to follow.

The meat of the information is really good

The written explanations and information are absolutely sound regarding reactivity, learning theory, and the science of behavior.  The information clearly written and easily accessible for readers who aren’t dog professionals.

Force-Free and effect methods are used 

All of the training advice is force-free and based in positive training.  Students learn how to change reactivity without the use of pain, fear, or intimidation and that piece is really important to me.  The skills taught are some of the very same skills that I use with my own students.

All the skills and lessons are explained thoroughly 

Each lesson has detailed instructions and a video to go along with the written instructions.  There are some troubleshooting tips and extra practice ideas listed as well which are helpful.  Having both the written and video instructions makes it easier for students to follow the instructions properly–not following the instructions carefully will slow down or maybe even prevent progress.  There are multiple skills taught to help manage and rehabilitate reactive dogs that should be applicable in most situations regardless of fear-based or frustration-based reactivity.

 

Limited troubleshooting and different exercises

There are many different exercises that I do with my reactive clients, the classroom covers some, but only a small fraction of all the possible skills that a particular dog/situation may benefit from.  There is just so much more out there that can be used to help address reactivity and the exercises covered may not be the right mix for  EVERYONE in every situation.  There are also many more skills that I modify for my students that the classroom isn’t necessarily capable of doing.  It’s just a natural limitation of any prefabricated program.

There are some small details that I don’t suggest

There are a few small pieces of instructions that I personally don’t suggest and don’t particularly like–these are very minor and are just a difference of opinion–not an issue of the use of force or anything like that.

I’d like to see a more extensive glossary/dictionary/links/resources section

I’d love to see a more extensive glossary to help students learn the language of reactivity–this language makes it easier for them to communicate with others in similar situations, talk to their vets about the work they are doing, and help them in understanding the work and asking clear questions.  A links section to direct to other helpful web groups or places to get more information on specific things mentioned in the classroom would be great–so they read about clicker training, where can they learn more about it in detail.  I’d also love a resource page that has, in one place, links to books, equipment, DVDs, and other external resources for the students who are looking for more.

 

What’s the verdict

It is a great option for some people but not necessarily the right fit for everyone.

Over the years I have been contacted by people who live in places that don’t have many or any positive trainers within a few hour drive so they have virtually no access to skilled or qualified positive trainers to address leash reactivity .  The Leash Aggression Classroom would be an absolutely FANTASTIC resource for these folks.  It’s curriculum is well designed, the video review of a students work can help the student troubleshoot the problems they are encountering, and the forum (once it gets really going) could be a great tool for them to work through reactivity with their dog.  All of the exercises are simple (in terms of mechanics) and all of them have some wiggle room for mistakes of new handlers and new clicker trainers without causing issues to the improvement of the dog (especially if the students are videoing themselves for feedback).  It is a really, really great tool for people who otherwise don’t have access to a trainer to help give them direction.

It could also be a fantastic option for people who are lower income or who can’t afford a private trainer to work with them in their home but are very committed to working on their dog’s leash reactivity.  I know when I got Shayne, there was no way I could afford a trainer charging my own fees to help me work with her.  I would have, however, been able to afford the $150 for 3 months worth access to get started and potentially another $150 for an additional 3 months as we progressed.  It is still a bit of an investment for really low-income families but it will give them the most bang for their buck because of all the features, videos, and the access to a trainer for help and advice.  If we break the cost down, it’s under $2/day–so a skipped cup of coffee could be the difference between improving a dog’s reactivity or not.  It is important to remember that a video camera or phone capable of taking video is a required piece of equipment of the program to document progress.  It’s also important to note that while 3 months sounds like a lot of time, you need to have the time  to teach the skills and video tape them to progress through the program.  If a student doesn’t have the time to do the work or video the lessons, the three months could go by quickly and the cost of additional 3 month sessions could start to add up.

Although the classroom has a great curriculum, it does not replace the value of hiring a private trainer.  There is so much more a private trainer can offer that the classroom couldn’t possibly begin to address, for a variety of reasons.  Many of the skills I work on with my private training students are a bit more intricate than what you’ll find in the classroom and without one on one guidance to assure accuracy, could be detrimental to progress if done incorrectly.  A private trainer can also think, problem solve, and draw on all of their past experiences and all of their education to custom create a curriculum for your specific situation and your specific dog.  Private trainers can also be with a student every step of the way coaching them in real time through all of their work.  These are just things the classroom can’t do.  If private trainers are an option (both in cost and location), they would be my preference because they simply offer more–more solutions, more one on one work, more skills outside of specific reactivity work that may help reduce the anxiety that is part of the cause of reactivity, etc.

So, my end verdict is that the Lash Aggression Classroom is an absolutely excellent resource for people who do not have access to skilled private trainers, who cannot afford skilled private trainers, or who aren’t necessarily sold on the idea of a private trainer.  It doesn’t provide all of what a private trainer can provide, but at the cost, it s a fantastic resource and will fill a big need in the positive training world–ACCESS to good information and good curriculum to a much wider group of people who would otherwise lack access to this type of information!

 

**I was not paid for my review but I was given free access to the site for limited amount of time to explore and really dig into the content.  The review is an honest assessment of the pros and cons of the classroom.

1 Comment
  1. I live in a high rise apartment downtown in a large city. My apartment has roughly 30% dog owners. Many of them are aggressive when on leash, particularly small dogs and older dogs. My dog is 6 and has been exhibiting some signs of aggression lately. I wasn’t sure what was causing it or where it could be coming from. I appreciate the help and insight.

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