Sarah Owings
Sarah Owings

Trust Code Pt. 1

“Go to people for opinions. Go to animals for answers.” -Alexandra Kurland

course has started
1 June 2022



Previous editions

November 2021

December 2020

And 1 more

Next editions


Trust is a construct.


However, the way we interpret and experience this construct is fundamental to our lives, our relationships, and our ability to learn. We all know the sting and disorientation when someone betrays our trust, when our expectations or needs are not met, when we feel unsafe or unsure of what is about to happen, when we feel judged, penalized, or a loss of control over outcomes.


Although the laws of learning never change, gone are the days when training an animal is merely about the narrow suppression or construction of behavior. At the core of this exciting teaching and learning revolution, modern trainers are asking questions about trust. “What does trust look like for the animal I am working with?” “What is the measure of that trust?” “Can trust be measured?” “Under what conditions do I see trust occur?” Above all, what every enlightened practitioner wants to know is: “How can I build a strong trust account with the animals in my care?” And, “How can I repair trust when I’m forced to take a withdrawal?”


In this course, we will take a deep dive into what it means to “operationalize” trust in our day to day lives with our dogs (or any species with whom we spend our time). We will be asking lots of questions, putting aside our human assumptions, and doing our best to listen to what the animals tell us trust means to them.



Premiums will be invited to pick topics that resonate most powerfully for them. In the interests of unhurried learning, I will also offer a Trust Code Pt. 2 for further study if there is enough interest.


Areas for Exploration:

  • Defining trust: what does it look like?
  • Taking a trust baseline
  • The ABCs of trust
  • Building trust with antecedents
  • Filling your dog’s emotional cup
  • Reinforcement patterns that invite YES
  • Portable safe spaces
  • Power of daily rituals
  • Happy husbandry stations
  • Working with extinction: “not now” and S-delta cues
  • From commands to cues to questions
  • Ask and answer communication for maximum trust
  • Expanding degrees of freedom in training
  • Play and possession
  • Stimulus control on toy cues for clarity and safety
  • Even in Australia: getting through the hard stuff and how to repair trust afterwards

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Reviews for this course

Anna Wong
Anna Wong
2021-12-05 19:00:51

Sarah is an amazing teacher who is knowledgable, kind, and provides detailed, customized feedback tailored to you and your dog. I have learned so much in this course, refining constructs and training procedures that I thought I knew, but was able to go much deeper during the course. I love her examples, information, and way of creating a safe space to learn. We had so much fun during this course and made progress on issues that we are working on. I can't wait for her to offer a 2nd level of this course! Thank you Sarah!