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Control Unleashed Program

Control Unleashed created by Leslie McDevitt, started as a way to help struggling agility dogs learn how to cope with a highly stimulating and fast-paced sport in and out of the ring. Control Unleashed is a up lifting and fun curriculum taught using games and exercises that are designed to help you achieve your goal of transforming your dog into a focused and confident companion that can work around lots of other distractions, especially other dogs.


As she shared her methods with the dog world, trainers quickly realized that this wasn't just for sport dogs, it's for ALL dogs! Her first book changed how we approached helping reactive dogs everywhere and for any environment they find themselves in. This methodology evolved and became a philosophy for many trainers and owners around the world.


When her second book "The Puppy Program" came out we all learned that Control Unleashed was even better to prevent reactivity than to address it after it develops! Teaching our young dogs how to approach the world in a calm and relaxed manner, they are given the tools they need to approach new situations with confidence right from the beginning.


Then her third book came out, "Reactive to Relaxed", and we were given even more games and skill we could use to help our dogs further along their journey. We even learned how to advanced many of the skills we already learned before.


We are going to start to experience a paradigm shift

as we venture further into the concept of

conversational training. Let the dog tell you, don't

just tell him. Instead, ask him if he wants to talk

about it.


There is no problem behaviors; There are problem situations in which behavior is just one element - Susan Friedman


Conversational training encourages you to ask questions of your dog and of yourself, rather than just blindly reacting. You can ask if the conditions you are in will help or hinder the ability to learn and behave in the most functional way. Your dog is not wrong or bad, they are just providing information in the way they can currently process it, so that you are able to get them into the right place so they can process the information differently.

Image of Nyx the Beauceron playing Superbowls to pedestal in group class.

Although many owners have dogs who are reactive, easily aroused or easily distracted, you don't have a dog with issues to benefit from this program. Control Unleashed is a great foundational program for young dogs/puppies that will be doping performance events where they are expected to work off leash in highly distracting and exciting or over whelming environments.


As you learn the exercises in CU, they start to build on themselves with increasing criteria added onto those foundational skills. We teach our dogs how to move from passive attention to active attention and back again. We learn how to communicate and listen to our dogs needs and adjust our criteria based on that information.


CU allows us to individualize each dogs experience while still participating in the same exercise as others, every dog and handler is participating in CU for varying reasons. We are looking to find a balance point for each dog between over- and under- stimulation. Many over-stimulated dogs are reactive, environmentally vigilant, or are unable to think. Conversely many under-stimulated dogs tend to wander off, disengage, and sniff.


In CU our goals are:

  • Teach each handler how to find the right balance of stimulation for their dog.

  • Teach each handler how to break behaviors down into small steps to ensure understanding of what is required of the dog.

  • Build a deep connection between handler and dog.

  • Teach the handler and dog better communication tools.

  • Teach handlers how to apply the lessons of CU into real life.

Two dogs and their owners relaxing with a barrier between them to teach calm behaviors while close to each other.

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