“Walks are a nightmare”

Living with a dog is supposed to be relaxing and fun.  But what if your dog finds the world a challenge? What if walks are spent trying desperately to avoid other dogs – or people – because your dog barks and lunges on sight? When you live with a reactive dog, simple walks can be a nightmare and many of the things you’d like to share with your dog – days out, doggy sports, relaxing holidays – are filled with stress or out of the question altogether.  And to make things worse, other owners let their dogs run up to yours, then give you a mouthful when your dog reacts. Soon you find yourself tensing up when you see a dog or a person coming – you know it isn’t helping but it is hard to be relaxed when you know how your dog is going to behave.

“I know it is my fault but I just can’t help it”

You are embarrassed and feel a failure, especially when everyone tells you “there are no bad dogs, just bad owners”! People tell you you have to relax, that your tension makes your dog worse, and you know it is true, but you just can’t stop those feelings rising up when you see a dog approaching. it is one thing to know that you need to relax but quite another to actually do it.

Help for reactive owners

There are many great courses and techniques available to help you learn how to change your dog’s reactive behaviour – and this is of course vital. But if you yourself are tense and stressed, your training will be much less effective. And even with the best rehabilitation programme, this change will not happen overnight and you need to learn to enjoy your dog again – now!  This online course is designed to help you – the owner and handler – to become less reactive! It combines practical coaching techniques with effective methods from TTouch, within a safe, supportive online environment, to help you to help yourself so that you can help your dog. On this course you will:

  • Learn how to recognise the early signs of stress in yourself and your dog and stay below threshold.
  • Tackle the negative thinking and language that stops both you and your dog moving forward.
  • Learn to use TTouch to calm yourself and build your confidence in handling.
  • Use goals and rewards to change your own emotional response to challenging situations.
  • Learn practical ways to manage yourself, your dog, the environment and other people so that you can set yourself up to succeed in your training.
  • Think differently about the problem and gain a deeper awareness of yourself, your dog and the people you meet.
  • Develop a closer relationship with your dog as you learn how you can best help him or her.
  • Play training games and learn how to make the most of training opportunities on walks.
  • Learn what to look for in training techniques and trainers.

Who should take this course?

  • Owners of challenging dogs who want to learn how to keep calm and build their own confidence
  • Dog trainers and behaviourists working with owners of challenging dogs who want to learn more about how to build their client’s confidence
  • Dog rescue workers and volunteers who want to support adopters of challenging dogs to handle them with confidence
  • Dog walkers and pet professionals who care for challenging dogs

What people have said about Your End of the Lead:

“Sophie is uncomfortable around unfamiliar dogs and I was certainly feeling very uncomfortable at my end of the lead managing reactive encounters often ineffectively. I was very aware that I was at least half of the problem and here at last was a course that seemed to offer support and solutions. I signed up and was not disappointed! … The course is very well thought out and structured, and the weekly course material is highly informative, thought provoking, practical, stimulating and relevant. The mixed delivery of video and reading works well and caters for different learning styles. The daily activities are clear, achievable and time realistic, and give opportunities to try out the techniques covered. …  Janet Finlay’s course has been one of the most valuable and enjoyable learning experiences I have had in my quest to progress positively with Sophie.  We are now a calmer and more confident partnership, with better understanding and a shedload of strategies to employ. My end of the lead definitely now feels a far more comfortable place!” — Ros Kinloch and Sophie


“I’m not sure what I expected when I signed up for this course but I had hoped it would strengthen my relationship with my dogs and maybe help me develop a better understanding of my own reactions to their reactivity. I didn’t expect it to affect me the way it has, nor did I foresee that I would change so much about the way I think about, train and communicate with my dogs. I am now much calmer when out on walks and feel better able to deal with any situation which arise. Both my dogs have benefited too.

I volunteer for a dog rescue center and had hoped that doing this course would help me improve my skills with the dogs. I’ve not been disappointed! I’ve found that by keeping myself calm I can build a better rapport with new dogs and I’ve felt more confident with them as a result. I am also putting the skills I’ve learnt into practice with these dogs, with great results….I absolutely recommend it to anyone who wants to deepen their understanding of dogs.” — Lindsey Maggs, Volunteer at K9Focus Rescue

How does the course work?

There is an African proverb: “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” This online course is about going far, together. Over 15 weeks, we will work together on daily exercises (5 days a week) designed to help practice new behaviours. There will be resources to inform and inspire, daily mini-exercises to focus your practice, regular feedback and coaching to ensure you learn from your practice, and support from me and the group to motivate and encourage. You will work through the lesson, do the exercises (often practicing with your dog on your walks) then come back and share what you observe, learn from everyone else and get feedback. This is not an online course where you are given a few Powerpoints and expected to work alone: this is over three months of guided, supported daily practice and coaching.  Numbers will be limited to ensure that everyone gets the individual attention they need.

What will I need to take part?


  • An internet connection and web browser
  • A willingness to login to a special forum once a day – the course includes orientation to the forum so no previous experience needed.
  • A commitment to work on the exercises and practice – daily as far as possible.
Ideal but not essential:
  • A means to take video or record audio and upload it (help can be given but you will need the camera – most phone cameras would be just fine)
  • A dog to work with.

When does it start? 

The next course will start summer 2016.

Daily exercises sound time-consuming. How much time will it take?

The weekly lesson is designed to take you 30-60 minutes to complete – including optional suggested reading. The mini-exercises vary but most can be done during your normal walks or activities. You will be asked to report back on your experience and you will want to read how other people in your group have done. So altogether  you will need  around 15-20 minutes each week-day for the mini-exercises.

What happens if I am away for part of the course?

If you are only away a few days it won’t be a problem – many of the activities can be done even if you are away from home and without your dog. If you can’t post to the forum every day then no problem – just summarise when you get back. If you are away for a substantial part of the course you may want to wait until next time.

Are there live classes? What if I am not in the UK?

The course is designed to be taken from any time zone. There are no live classes – interaction is through an online forum/discussion board so you contribute at a time to suit yourself. I am based in the UK so I will be posting within working hours in GMT but you can pick these up whenever you are ready.

I’ve done the one day Your End of the Lead. Is there any benefit in doing this course?

This course covers the same material as the one day course but includes a lot of additional material as well as the opportunity for you to go away and try things then come back and discuss your experience. This helps you to really develop the skills you need and find out how to apply the techniques in your particular situation.

Will this course teach me how to rehabilitate my dog?

The focus of this course is to teach you how to be a more effective handler and helper for your dog: to manage your own emotions, to know how to keep your dog safe and under threshold, to set both of you up to succeed. It will make you more aware of your dog’s needs and what you need to do to meet them. It will teach you how to choose between the training approaches available, but you may still need to consider one to one training with an appropriate local trainer, who can give advice based on seeing your dog face to face, particularly if your dog’s reactive behaviour is severe. No online course can substitute for one-to-one face to face support. For that reason, although we will look at principles for selecting between methods, we will not cover specific rehabilitation methods in detail.

To sum up – five reasons to do this course:

  1. It is the only course of its kind – most courses on reactivity issues focus on rehabilitating the dog – this one focuses on rehabilitating the owner!
  2. You will learn new techniques for raising your awareness, calming yourself and enabling success for yourself and your dog.
  3. You will practice these daily and get daily feedback and coaching support.
  4. You will work closely with a small group of like-minded people who all have similar experiences and learn that you are not alone.
  5. The course is designed, taught and coached by Janet Finlay, previously a university professor, with over 10 years experience of online teaching, who is also a TTouch companion animal practitioner (level 2), accredited dog trainer (MAPDT UK 01046) and qualified coach. You are in safe hands!

What’s included on the course?

  • 15 x weekly online lessons designed by an experienced teacher, TTouch practitioner, trainer and coach to help you learn and make progress
  • 3 x Practice weeks with light-touch activities to allow you consolidate what you are learning, catch up on material missed, or simply take a break.
  • Videos, audio, articles, exercises, challenges including much exclusive material
  • A structured programme of daily mini-exercises – practice the techniques yourself and with your dog
  • Individual feedback and coaching on all your work
  • Group activities and support from people who have had similar experiences to you
  • Your individual questions answered
  • Daily exercises for more than 3 months – practice enough to develop habits

Can you show me a sample of the course?

Of course. Why not check out Lesson 8 for free here: TTouch bodywork: ear, mouth and slides. And if you’d like to see some more video clips check out the Canine Confidence Advent Calendar, which introduces just a few of the topics and includes some video clips from Your End of the Lead. Note: these topics are covered in much more detail on the course.

Can I do the course with a family member?

You are encouraged to involve family members in your training activities and, with that in mind, materials can be shared within your immediate family. However, each place on the course is for one person only, so if more than one person wants to participate on the forum or receive feedback on activities, each needs to book a place. Please do not share materials on any website or reproduce in any form.

How do I book? 

The next course starts Summer 2016 and runs for 18 weeks. Bookings will open in June 2016. If you want a reminder, please make sure you are subscribed to our mailing list – you can do that here.