How Movement Works - Overview

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How Movement Works: Training Skills for Building Confident & Balanced Learners


How Movement Works is about improving the skills of both the teacher and the learner through movement behaviors. The course uses precision movement behaviors to expand the teacherís knowledge of shaping and observation skills, timing, positioning, and reinforcement strategies as well as help our animals learn the subtleties and intricacies of movement work. Our animals will have an expanded skills repertoire which is useful for sports, fitness, and moving through life with more behaviors to apply in a variety of situations.

The weekly homework focuses on the entire movement loop or cycle rather than focusing on goal-behaviors. Intermediate and advanced trainers will learn to look at details in the learnerís responses, alignment, various subtle movements such as weight-shifts during shaping, and more. Self-observation and critique are complex and weíll practice setting up and refining the conditions for success. Both trainers and animals will develop better communication and connection through the joy created by teaching movement work.

While the skills in this class can be applied to any type of learner, the lectures will focus mostly on dogs. Video examples include dogs and other animal species.


  • Provide details on how and why trainers can be even better trainers using precise movement.
    • Demonstrate foundation movement-exercises and why we are doing them.
  • Show how our alignment and orientation affect our learner.
  • Demonstrate and provide details of the weight shifts that need to happen in order to shape movement.
    • Explain and demonstrate active-stillness and how to teach it.
    • Show what physical balance looks like and explain its importance.
  • Proprioception and why it's important.
  • Explain and demonstrate the many aspects of reinforcement that are at play in precision movement.
  • Provide various methods of adding duration in movement work.
  • Identify the many areas of observation involved in training.
  • Provide various ways of asking our learners if they are ready to work.
  • Provide videos of foundation movement exercises (weekly).
  • Show how to progress from foundation movement behaviors.


  • "Living and Learning With Animals" taught by Dr. Susan G. Friedman, or any foundational movement or fitness class taught by Lori Stevens.
  • A solid understanding of operant teaching and learning. It will benefit you to have experience and an understanding of how to teach specific behaviors to your learner, i.e. experience with marker-based training using positive reinforcement.

If you have any questions about this, please send me an email.

Supplies for Class

  • Poles and cones (cavalettis) will be useful. See note 1 below on how to make or buy.
  • Platforms: A platform or two that is 1-3" (2.5-7.5 cm) in height. You can wrap two 1-3" books in anti-slip material. You will need anti-slip material to wrap around books and/or platforms. See Note 2 below on how to make or buy.
  • Anti-slip (shelving) material for wrapping books or platforms.
  • You will need a non-slip flooring surface to work on, e.g. a yoga mat or rubber flooring.
  • If your dog is on the aging side of life, you'll probably want to get a Balance Pad or two. These are the same whether for people or dogs and an inexpensive option.

Note 1: If you don't want to purchase a set of cavalettis, you can make them with mop handles, PVC, or agility-jump-poles and painters-tape. Rest them on top of cans at various heights (tuna cans are the lowest height and big cans of tomato sauce are the highest). Tape them to the cans or the floor with painters tape.

Note 2: You can wrap a 2-3" high book in anti-slip material. Or you can use a human aerobics step (got mine via Amazon), a Klimb (4.5 inches high so best for medium and large dogs), or a platform you build (search online for ideas). Or you can purchase a platform via You'll likely want to add height to your platform, depending on the dog.

Note 3: You can purchase Balance Pads, intended for humans, via Amazon and other online retailers. Balance pads are great, especially for older dogs.

Physical Requirements for the Learner

If your dog is recovering from or has an injury you'll need to work with your canine rehabilitation professional or veterinarian before taking this class. I will assume your dog is healthy enough to work on these exercises and that your veterinarian/rehabilitation specialist has given you the okay to do exercises for strengthening.

We will not be physically placing dogs or other animals on equipment or in position.

© 2023 Susan G. Friedman, Ph.D.