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Control Unleashed: Creating a Focused and Confident Dog

4.4 of 5 stars 4.40  ·  rating details  ·  313 ratings  ·  31 reviews
From the back cover:

Leslie McDevitt's versatile Control Unleashed program is designed to help 'dogs with issues' learn how to relax, focus, and work off leash reliably in either stimulating or stressful situations."
226 pages
Published 2007 by Clean Run Productions
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I loved this book. The whole book is about reframing how you work with your dog, specifically in agility classes.

I have started using some of her techniques with my distracted, reactive dog and after a few days of me focusing on connecting with him and raising my rate of reinforcement there is a noticeable difference. He makes eye contact throughout the day and stays more tuned in. Training has become more fun and less of a "I need to get in a training session so I'll be ready for class next we
William Stavers

As a dog trainer in Los Angeles for 26 years, I've read many dog training books. Out of all the books about dog training that are published each year, few make an original contribution to the field.

Thus, it makes sense that this sensitive, discerning, moving book, comes from an author who holds a Master of Liberal Arts from the University of Pennsylvania where she combined studies in Creative Writing, Folklore, and Cultural Anthropology. Also, Leslie worked with children as a museum educator, e

Reading this now. I feel like a light bulb has just gone on.
Matthildur Magnusdottir
Through my previous mistakes with my first reactive companion, Bella, I vowed to learn from it. When my next puppy turned out to be reactive as well and after spending a while being heartbroken about my bad luck I set out to learn more and hopefully find someone who had 'cured' reactivity.

It is difficult not to obsess about something that involves a GSD lunging, barking and growling at every sound or movement. I had gained enough knowledge about the emotional aspect of reactivity to understand t
This is a pretty amazing book. Intense. I'm currently working with the author as well as reading the book, attending a weekly class that she is teaching. The class is going very slowly covering only the earliest lessons outlined in the book. I'm glad to have the book so that I'll be able to take these training methods further once the class is over.
Oct 29, 2007 Bianca rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Dog sports folks and the average dog owner who wants to enjoy her dog off leash
I wish I'd had this book when I first started agility with my dog Katie. McDevitt offers tons of exercises that are fun to try with your dog and that really work. And her "program" is really about teamwork--less you "controlling" your dog than helping your dog learn to work with you. This book is available at
The exercises in this book are absolutely invaluable for those of us living with reactive dogs. I only wish that were more of its focus, instead of appearing to be an agility book that *happens* to be useful for reactivity.
Oct 06, 2010 Maya rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: dogs
Great book! A must read for anyone interested in dog training or who has a reactive fearful dog. She has great ideas I'm using with my dos already.
Johanna Bouchard
A definite must-have for anyone with a reactive or high energy dog. This book primarily focuses on go-to-mat training, which I have found extremely useful for my aggressive rescue dog, however the rest of the exercises are designed for training classes with a group of several dogs, so is not very practical for owners without access to such a resource (hence the 4-Star rating). Still, for the mat work discussed in this book alone, I would highly recommend this book, especially when combined with ...more
I would give this book 3.5 stars if the option was available. I had very high expectations for this book based on other people's recommendations, but unfortunately it didn't live up to them for me.

I bought the book hoping to find some good advice for working with my very highly driven, motivated younger dog who has too much uncontrolled enthusiasm for agility. The description of the book makes it sound perfect for him. In fact, I found the book offered a lot more advice for my older dog whose st
Leanna Aker
This book gives a good academic background and case studies of how focus games and conditioning exercises can create a focused and confident dog. This would be an excellent book for dog trainers looking to start a Control Unleashed class. Control Unleashed is geared toward pet performance dogs and their owners. However, the principles in the book could be applied to family pets as well. A good rationale is given for each exercise, in terms of learning theory and practical understanding.

Having sa
Just as great the second time around!

First read: 24 July 2012

Of the 60 dog books I've read in the past year, this training manual has to be one of my favorites. Leslie McDevitt has gained much well-deserved respect and attention for this book, which aims to help reactive dogs focus in agility. But the training applications extend far beyond the agility course. McDevitt's sensible, clear training regimen is a godsend for any guardian of an easily distracted, shy, or stressed dog. What I particula
This is an excellent excellent book with many brilliant recommendations for training exercises in reactive dogs (or just dogs that need some extra help on focus and confidence). I rarely go a day without using some part of this book in my training.

The only reason I awarded this book 4 stars is because the formatting is really weird and makes the whole book a little difficult to follow at times. The content is good, but it's presentation is lacking.
Kizz Robinson
Really interesting book for dogs who seem too wound up to train. Though the lessons are geared toward handlers who want to work on agility it's easy to see how the basic lessons could be beneficial for every dog and, if implemented early, could head off behavioral issues rather than soothe them. I have questions about implementation and consequences still but I know what I need to look for.
This has extremely useful exercises and training advice. I already knew some of the stuff in it from working with another trainer to learn clicker training, but found it extremely useful to have everything laid out that way with examples and practical use, etc. I liked how she used her dog Snap as an anecdotal example throughout the book. Even the simplest exercise taught me some very interesting things about my respective relationships with my two dogs. I would have said the complete opposite o ...more
Sparrow Knight
Working w/many rescue dogs at our local shelter, many of whom have self-control issues, this book has been invaluable. I refer to it on a regular basis. I appreciate the non-force techniques, and the stories intermixed.
I've never successfully finished this book because I keep rushing out to try the exercises! The real strength of this method is that it takes emotional states into account, providing solutions for owners of struggling performance dogs as real as people like me, whose companion dogs have some emotional baggage.

I do believe that this book could have benefited from the rigor and precision of Jean Donaldson's writing, or the user-friendly simplicity of McConnell's (dog dork much?). Nonetheless, the
Interesting. Worth reading at the time.
I wish I had read this book a year ago. But better late than never. It gives great training tips and really goes against some theories that don't work for specific issues. I will definitely look into more of her books and recommendations. I would love to find a trainer that does a CU class or something like it.
I borrowed this book from my agility club, but may have to buy my own copy because it's worth to have for reference
This book has some unique and helpful techniques and training to help reactive dogs. It also incorporates this training into Agility and how to overcome issues that can effect your dog in the ring. I am going to try some of these training exercises on my dog and see if it helps her to focus better. I recommend reading this book if you have a dog who can't focus or has stress issues.

Nov 10, 2013 Lara rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: dogs, own, 2013
3.5 stars. Much is tough to apply if you don't have other dogs/handlers available to work with, but some great exercises and most of all, a way to shift your thinking to help the sensitive/reactive/fearful dog. The story of McDevitt's dog Snap at the end is worth the entire book.
Terrific, easy to follow exercises for dogs who need focus and confidence. I would have liked it more if it were better organized. I found myself flipping around some. Overall a terrific book and resource!
Allison Osting
The book is clearly bent toward teaching and learning agility. However there are many training techniques that can be applied universally.
Go Hunda, go! This is a must read for anyone with a vallhunda. Oh - and anyone else who has a hard to work with dog....
Good ideas for a dog owner interested in agility training, that I'm sure will work for some people/dogs.
I've had this book for a couple of years and have just picked it up to read - the timing is so right!!
Dec 19, 2008 Stacey added it
If you are a dog trainer, this is a must read! It changed my approach to training.
This has been a great read, I just wish I could give a copy to my ADHD dog!
Excellent book, changed my dog training methods significantly.
Oct 27, 2008 Nan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Nan by:
This book is a wonderful dog training resource.
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