E103: Deb Jones - "Train it before you need it"

Cooperative care. All too often dog owners don't work on it until they need it, and then it's too late. We brought Deb Jones on to talk about how to be proactive, instead of reactive when it comes to handling.


Melissa Breau: This is Melissa Breau and you're listening to the Fenzi Dog Sports Podcast brought to you by the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy, an online school dedicated to providing high-quality instruction for competitive dog sports using only the most current and progressive training methods.

Today we have Deb Jones back on the podcast.

For those who don't know Deb, she is a psychologist who specializes in learning theory and social behavior. An early innovator in the use of clicker training, she has owned and worked with a variety of breeds and earned top-level titles in agility, rally, and obedience over the last 25 years.

In 2004, Deb worked with agility trainer and World Team member Judy Keller to develop the FOCUS training system. FOCUS stands for Fun, Obedience & Consistency lead to Unbelievable Success. Deb has also worked with Denise Fenzi, co-authoring the Dog Sports Skills book series and authored several other books, including the one she's here to talk about today: Cooperative Care: Seven Steps to Stress-Free Husbandry.

Hi Deb! Welcome back to the podcast.

Deb Jones: Hi Melissa. Thanks for having me back on.

Melissa Breau: Of course! Congrats on the new book!

Deb Jones: Oh, thank you.

Melissa Breau: To start us out, can you just reacquaint listeners with the furry friends you share your household with?

Deb Jones: Sure. I'm always happy to talk about my animals. First of all, there's Zen. He is my oldest Border Collie. He's 11-and-a-half, now but don't tell him that. He thinks he's 2, and he acts like he's 2. Then there's Star. She is also a Border Collie and she's going to be 8, which seems impossible. Gosh. My roommate, Judy, has two dogs, Tigger and Pixel, and they are two very small Shelties, so they are always a ton of fun. And finally there's Tricky the cat. That's the household at the moment, trying to avoid a puppy.

Melissa Breau: Trying to avoid? We'll see.

Deb Jones: I am. I'm trying hard.

Melissa Breau: In preparing for this call, I looked back over some of the previous episodes where I've had you on, and I was surprised to discover we've never actually talked about the cooperative care class or any of your cooperative care stuff before. I think the name tells us a lot, but it's always worth making sure everyone's on the same page, so how do you define that term? How do you define cooperative care?

Deb Jones: Cooperative care, first of all, cooperative — when I think of that, it means, for me, that the animal I'm working with is being a very willing partner in the process. They want to be involved, and they want to be doing whatever we're doing together.

And then, of course, care can refer to anything physical that we are going to do to our animals in order to keep them healthy and happy. So that covers a lot of ground. It mostly covers grooming, which would be the regular grooming you do at home, as well as if you send them to groomers, and it covers all sorts of veterinary procedures as well. So it does cover quite a bit of ground.

Melissa Breau: I think a lot of the time people don't think about things like cooperative care until they actually need it. Maybe something has gone wrong or something has gone an unexpected way. So I'm curious what led you to this topic and to get interested in it.

Deb Jones: It was interesting, because I was just like most pet owners for most of my life. I've had a lot of different animals, and some of them were just naturally fine. You could do pretty much anything to them and they'd be fairly cooperative. And then we had some who would tolerate it and put up with it, but clearly didn't care for certain things. Usually you just pushed through anyway and you got done whatever needed done.

And then, of course, you run into those every so often who just actively hate something to the point where they will fight you to get this thing done. I think for most people it's when you get to that point, when you have the animal that says, "There is absolutely no way in the world that you are doing — whatever, fill in the blank — to me." I luckily never had an animal that got to that point, but I did see a lot of people who had them. I had a lot of animals who would tolerate and put up with.

We don't think much, any of us, about training for something you don't need right now. It's very hard for us to think ahead, especially in this area, because it's not something we've often talked a whole heck of a lot about as trainers, is preparing them for all of these things that might possibly happen in the future, as well as the things that are likely to possibly happen, like they're going to go to the vet, they're going to have to get shots. Things like that are going to occur.

Two things happened that led me down this path with cooperative care. I can't remember how many years ago it was — five or six years ago, so it seems fairly recent in my life, anyway. There was a summer when I went to a number of training seminars. I spent a summer deciding I would go train every animal I could that wasn't a dog. It was a good experience in many, many ways that's paid off for years after the fact.

The first thing that I did was I went to a seminar of somebody who has become a very good friend of mine. Her name is Laura Joseph, and she owns a facility called the Animal Behavior Center. She has large birds, she works with non-domestic animals, she works with a lot of exotic animals, so she works with a huge variety of species. Also that same summer one of the other things I did was I went to Shedd Aquarium to train with Ken Ramirez. Of course they work with a lot of marine mammals, in addition to a number of other species.

So those two things together, I started to see that in both places what they spend the majority of their time doing would be what we would call husbandry training. They are training for things that the animals are going to physically need done to them, and again often working with animals that you need to be extremely careful with, and you can't maybe even have some direct contact with them, because you could get hurt if things go wrong. So they do a lot of training now for things that they're going to need in the future. Things that we might go, "Oh, I'm just going to grab the dog and do this," you're not going to do that with a dolphin. You're not just going to grab him and do it, because it's going to be too stressful, too unpleasant, and you have to catch them. And if you say, "Oh, I'll just grab the cockatoo and do this," you will come out bloody and hurt, because that's just not going to go well with a lot of animals.

So it occurred to me, when I saw these situations and saw how much time and effort they were putting into their proactive husbandry training, that we are really lazy when it comes to the pets in our household. We get by with doing as little as possible, and we get by with pressure and force much of the time. I will say sometimes that it's not absolutely necessary, but mostly we could plan better. So that's what got me headed down this path.

Melissa Breau: Interesting, and it's cool that it was really working with other animals that taught you this … for lack of a better word, inspired you, I guess, to pursue this with dogs.

Deb Jones: It is, to me, very interesting that we get stuck in our own little world of how things are done with our species, and it's really, really eye-opening to take a look at a lot of other species.

Melissa Breau: I know you've offered a class on this stuff at FDSA for a while now, but what led you to then take it and write the book?

Deb Jones: I was trying to remember why I decided to write a book, because every book I write, I say, "This is it. This is the last one. I am never doing this again." So I'm pretty sure this must have been Denise Fenzi's idea, because she usually has ideas that cause me to do things I said I would never do. So I believe she may have suggested it at some point in time.

I thought about it, and I thought, OK, I do have the class on cooperative care, and then we've even expanded now to do the class specifically on nails, but even with all the class material — there's lots of lectures, demo videos — there's still more. I think there was another way to organize the information, and format it, and put it all in one place where I thought it would be pretty systematic.

I'm very much a step-by-step thinker, so I wanted to put it in an order that made sense for me and that would make sense for somebody who likes to go from Step 1 to Step 2 and so on, and I hadn't done that in my class materials. So a lot of it is similar material, but presented in a somewhat different way. I thought I wanted the book to be clear and concise. I didn't want it to be real long and real wordy. I wanted it to be "Here's what you need to know," and I feel like I really accomplished that with this book.

Melissa Breau: Who is it for? I mentioned that people often don't think about cooperative care until they need it. Can somebody with a dog who already has bad associations with husbandry or care behaviors use the book to teach their dog to tolerate or even enjoy those things? Or is it really for folks with young dogs to get them started off right?

Deb Jones: Typically we're going to have people who come to this because they have a need, and often they have a need right now. It's like, "My dog needs eye drops today." That's the opposite of being proactive. That's being reactive. So people come at first because they have something they find they need to do and they are not at all prepared for that. It never occurred to them that they needed to be. That's how we get most of the people. And yes, we can make a lot of progress, but we're starting in the hole. If it was a bank account, you would be way overdrawn. So we're starting from that place. We're not starting from neutral.

I am just thrilled when somebody comes to learn about cooperative care and they don't have any problems yet. It's the most exciting thing in the world to me, because you will make fast, quick progress. You don't have the bad experiences to overcome and then to build it up to become better. You already start at neutral, and that is the perfect position to be in. I wish people with puppies and young dogs would just do this kind of training. This would be more valuable for you in your first year with your dog than a lot of the things that people actually do train.

So getting this in early, and working on it often, and keeping it very reinforcing. It's just as any part of general training. To me, it's similar to a recall. It could be lifesaving. You're probably going to need it, and you're probably going to have to pay for it forever, but when you do need it that one time, it's worth everything that you've done.

For the book, as I said already, I've broken down the steps into what I think is very simple and straightforward, so that if somebody picks up the book, even if they haven't trained a dog before, they could follow what's going on here. And if they have trained, I've added in enough that you'll go, "Oh, OK. This all makes sense. This all is consistent, it goes along with positive reinforcement training very clearly." So I believe I've hit, hopefully, everybody that owns a pet and that is going to need to do hands-on work with them.

Melissa Breau: Can you share a little bit more on what the book's about? Is it a how-to guide? Shares the concept? What approach did you take?

Deb Jones: I definitely took the approach that I want it to be a how-to, and I want it to be simple, straightforward, follow, go through Step 1, then go to Step 2, and then move to Step 3. In fact, at the end of each step, I ask you some questions to be sure that you've done everything you need to do before you move on.

Our biggest problem in training — all of us — is that we try to move too fast. We're in a hurry to get it done and to get to the goal, and by hurrying through the early steps without them really being solid, everything is going to fall apart at some point. You're just building a house of cards and it's never going to hold up for the long haul. So I'm trying, with the steps, to get people to slow down. Take your time, do this part correctly, then move on to the next thing.

I have organized it very, very specifically. I put a lot of thought into what do you need to do first, what do you need to do next, what's the third thing. I always say to people, "If you have a problem …" Almost everybody has a problem with nails, for example. If you have a problem, you buy the book, you open up to the chapter on nails, I have right at the beginning of that chapter, "Stop. Go back. Go to Step 1." Because if you don't work through all the foundation steps, you're not going to have a good outcome if you try to jump in the middle. And we do that a lot. We just want to get things done as quickly as possible.

Melissa Breau: I know without a doubt there are two questions people almost always ask when they hear about topics like this, and you mentioned one of them there: "What do I do about their nails while I'm working on teaching them all this foundation stuff and to get them to tolerate it?" and then "How long is this going to take?" I'm sure you get both questions all the time, so I wanted to go ahead and put them out there. What are your answers?

Deb Jones: What is the biggest one? Of course it is nails, because nails need to be done regularly. Ideally they're done every week or two for most dogs. If you're a lucky human being, your dogs naturally wear down their nails, but most of us are not that lucky. There is just absolutely no way.

So we're going to have to do something about nails, and again, people go in without any preparation, grab the dog's foot, grab the nail clippers, the dog starts to fight, we start to hold with more pressure, the dog starts to panic, we're still holding, trying to cut, then inevitably you cut the quick and there's blood and everybody's traumatized. That's pretty typical. That's usually what brings people to think, Huh, maybe I should do something differently. And the answer is yes, you should. The blood is a scary thing. Luckily, even though there's a lot of blood if you quick a nail, it's usually not indicating that anything terrible has happened, and that can be dealt with. But people, I would say, with nails for sure.

So what would we do? It's going to take a while. Nothing is going to be quick and easy about this work. It's going to take time. The more unpleasant experiences you and your dog have had, the longer it's going to take, again, to get you back to zero, get you back to baseline, before we can even start to think about making things better.

During the training period you're going to have to do nails. Most people aren't going to have the nails done in a month, say, to the point where they can be done. You should be on the right track. But in my nails class that I just taught, one of the things that I did was make people go slow, make people go slow, make people go slow. By Week 4, if I was letting you cut one nail, that meant you were doing really well, because I wanted to make sure we had such a strong foundation that once we started actually doing nails, nothing's going to backslide. So taking time — time is not the enemy here. There's no rush to get this done.

But there will be that period of time then that your dog's nails continue to grow, so the question most people have then is, "What do I do about this?" We actually have some options that are helpful or can be useful. One of them is scratchboards. If you haven't heard of what a scratchboard is, it's a board — which makes sense — and you put sandpaper on it, you affix sandpaper to it, and you teach your dog to scratch at the board with his feet and nails. Some dogs get really, really good at scratching down their nails very, very quickly. We use scratchboards that are flat. We also use scratchboards that are curved, so that it gets the outer nails as well as the center nails. And we even have a process that we use to train dogs to do their back nails with a scratchboard.

Learning a scratchboard will take a little bit of time. If your dog is a dog who understands shaping, it's going to go really fast. If they don't understand shaping, it may go a little slower. But we've worked with a lot of dogs to teach them to do the scratchboard. That can be enough to help slow down the nail growth while you're training.

One other option might be that you're working so that you can do nails, and while you're in the process, somebody else does the nails, so taking them to the groomer or the vet. I don't care for taking them to the vet to do nails a whole lot unless you have to, because I want them to like the vet a lot, so that starts to work against it. But I'd rather it was somebody else who sort of pushed the issue than the owner, if that's at all possible, because if you force it, now your dog is starting to connect you with that pressure again, and I'd rather they didn't do that.

Of course there comes a time when you just have to. There are what we call non-optional procedures. That's going to happen for a number of things — medical procedures, definitely — but the dog's nails can get to the point where it's not optional anymore. It's so bad for them physically that the nails must be done. If an owner is going to go, "OK, we're doing this," I would want some things in place, and one of those is I use a cue that tells the dog, "We're doing this now." I'm not going to lie to them and pretend it's going to be fun and they get a choice. We're going to go, "This has to be done. I'm sorry, but it's got to be done."

I would do it in a different place than you're working on your training. I'm going to say a little bit more about that in a second. I don't want to connect the place that I'm working so hard to make positive with something unpleasant happening to them. And then you just do what you have to do as quickly and neutrally as possible, get it over with, and move on with life. But you know you've set yourself back. You can't avoid that consequence, so if you have to do it, you have to do it. That's life, it's not ideal, but then we have to get back to training, and you need to train twice as much as you were before so that you can make up for what you just did.

Melissa Breau: You mentioned in there, four weeks in, they're doing one nail. In that case, maybe they do one nail, and the next day they do another nail? Is that the idea there?

Deb Jones: Yeah, yeah, one nail at a time, and in my cooperative care Facebook group we had the one-nail challenge. The challenge is, if your dog is letting you do a nail, that's it. You do one, and that's the end of the session. You might do a couple of sessions a day, but you only do one nail at a time.

It's sort of amazing, when you cut it down to this little micro-mini tiny session, they're like, "Oh, that's it? That wasn't so bad." It's kind of like you go to the dentist and they say, "Open your mouth," and they look and, "OK, we're done." And you're like, "Oh, that wasn't so bad. I can take that." Sometimes it's the long duration that makes things hard. When you're trying to do nails for five minutes, that's too much, but if you're doing it for thirty seconds, that's something they can tolerate. So yes, cutting it down.

With the one-nail challenge, I was going through it with my own dogs again just because it never hurts. It's harder for the person to stop than it is for the dog to tolerate it. Especially if it went well, you go, "Oh, I want to do another one." Stopping yourself there is very, very hard because you're starting to see success, and I did it myself. I would go, "OK, I'm just going to do one. Oh, well, wait a minute. She's right here, I've got the clippers, it's all going so good, I could do one more." But then you can move up from the one nail to two to three, and eventually to a foot, but that's it. It really helps things move along quickly to break it down that way, rather than to try to do all the nails at once all the time.

Melissa Breau: In the book, you've broken it down into seven steps. While obviously we can't cover the entire book in a couple minutes in a podcast, can you just quickly run us through what those seven steps are?

Deb Jones: Sure. I had to look them up, actually, because once I write something down, I totally forget what it is. But the seven general steps, the first step is to condition a grooming place. That means we pick a location that we're going to do the majority of our work in, and we make our dogs think that being there is the best thing that could ever possibly happen to them.

I want a grooming location that my dog can get to and away from on their own. If I use an elevated grooming table, for example — which is what I use — I put it next to a chair so my dog can jump on the chair, jump on the table, and if they want to leave, they can jump off the table to the chair and then onto the floor. I never want them to feel trapped. That's one of the most important rules of the grooming place is that your dog is always allowed to leave whenever they want. And by leaving, they're giving you very, very important information: what you're doing is too much, so we have to back off.

But I'm going to spend a lot of time in the grooming place, with all sorts of special foods and special ways to get those foods, and I'm going to be very generous with them just for being there. I want them to want to be there. Most students will say after a few days they walk in the room and the dog is there looking at them expectantly, like, "OK, is it time? Do you want to do it now?" That's what I want. I want my dog to want to be there. That's step one.

Once we have that, step two introduces some impulse control exercises. When I talked to my vet about cooperative care — which I talk to her about all the time — and I asked her, "What's the one thing you wish dogs could do when they come into your clinic? What's the one thing that would be most helpful to you?" I was really surprised by her answer, because she said, "Hold still." I thought she was going to come up with something else, I don't know why, but "Hold still." If a dog can be still, then we've got something to work with. They can then do what they need to do more easily.

So I made step two about impulse control and stillness, and a variety of ways that we encourage our dogs to simply wait while we do something. Introducing that part and going through the Zen-type exercises is really going to be an important foundation. Those first two steps are vital. If you don't do those, you really won't get the kind of outcome that you want to see on down the line.

Third is general body handling. Yeah, we pet our dogs. We pet our dogs, most of us, all the time. That's what we like about dogs. And most dogs like to be touched. Not all, of course. But we're going to have to do certain things. We're going to have to touch. They're going to be poked at, they're going to be prodded and pinched and restrained eventually. So we want to work through all of these different types of handling and touch all over their bodies.

So we play a bunch of games where I pinch you — of course I'm not pinching hard — but I pinch you and then I give you a cookie, and they're like, "Hey, do that again," because that means cookie. We play around with some of the things you would do, like pull up the skin at the back of the neck, because that's where you're going to get an injection eventually. So do that and give them a cookie. We play a lot of body handling games — pushing, prodding, pinching, poking, and all that stuff — just in general. What we'll note there are that some parts of the dog's body is much more sensitive than other parts. Often, students will even find places where their dogs are having pain or have an injury when they do this, because the reaction to one place on the body is so different and extreme than it is to others. For example, we often find, when we're working nails, that one leg is stiff or sore, or one hip, because when you try to make them put weight on it, you can see the problems.

So the general body handling is a really good diagnostic. It's a way to tell you physically how is your dog doing, and then you can follow up if there's something that seems like the vet should look at. So that comes into play, we work through that, we note then not only where our dogs are sensitive on their bodies, but we also look for how do they tell us. What kind of physical signs do they give us that they're sensitive. I call them tells. My dog is telling me, of course not verbally.

Now, of course, if your dog runs away or bites you, either of those is a pretty clear tell, and it can happen, but most dogs are very subtle in their tells. It might be ear flicking, it might be glancing back when you touch a back leg, it might be just a general tension as opposed to relaxation. We're going to be looking at each dog very carefully, or we should be, to see what are they telling us when we touch them in different parts of their body. If we can pick up on those little tells early, those pre-cues, then we can change what we're doing, and again, we might catch an injury before it becomes a problem. That was step three is the general body handling.

From there we get a little more specific. We work on step four, which has to do with the dog's head. There's a lot you can do to the head or you might have to do. We've got the eyes, and the biggest issue there is that someday dogs may need eye drops, so I really like to prepare them for that before they have to have it happen.

And, of course, ears. Some breeds, and some types of dogs, constantly have ear issues, so you're going to have to be inspecting ears, you're going to have to be cleaning ears, putting in drops again, lots of things may happen there. And the ears hurt, so you've got the case where you've got pain and you're trying to do a procedure. Better to at least get used to the procedure first, without the pain, so that it will be easier to implement when the time comes. And it will be familiar to the dog. It won't be something brand new and scary. If the first time you try to do anything to their ears is when you put them in a headlock, drop something in there, and swish it around a little bit when they're in pain, then they're not going to look kindly on it the second time you try to do it.

Then we also, of course, have the mouth and working around the mouth, in particular the teeth. Brushing teeth, examining the mouth, opening it up, having your dog comfortable with hands in their mouth, because that will become something you have to do pretty regularly is to take a look at their teeth and make sure you're keeping them healthy. So the head has a lot going on.

Then we move to the feet because feet and nails are going to be the thing. That's going to be the biggest issue for a lot of people. Handling down the legs, handling the feet. What we look for here very much is which feet are more sensitive than others, because there will always be some that are easier, some that are harder. So we're working at different levels with each foot as we go through the process, and that, again, we just can't rush. We have to take our time with it.

Then we work on tools of all sorts. We usually have our own grooming stuff, we have our grooming tools here, and they have play sets that are either doctor kits or veterinarian kits that you can buy. I don't want to use a brand name, but a common child's-type toy. You can buy them on Amazon — where I buy everything I own — and they give you lots of different little tools that you can play around with with your dog. You can look in their eyes with things, the otoscope so you can look in their eyes, they have a stethoscope so that you can pretend that you're listening to heartbeat or the sounds in their abdomen. You can easily get a little doctor or veterinary kit and play around with the tools.

The same thing with all the grooming tools that you'll use. Introduce them to the tools, get them used to them. We want them to think that when the tools come out, it's going to be fun. Something interesting is going to happen. "I'm going to get lots of cookies for very little effort." And then, when the real thing happens, they are in a much better place emotionally. They're not so stressed when they see the tools, if they're familiar with them and familiar with being touched with tools in particular. So we do a lot of "play doctor"-type games or "play veterinarian"-type games with our dogs with the tools.

The very last step would involve introducing other people into your work, because there's likely to be a groomer, a vet, a vet tech. At one point they were taking blood from Star not long ago, and there were, like, four people had their hands on her at the same time. Our dogs need to get used to that, that there are going to be a number of people who might have to touch you at some point.

And also that this is going to happen in different places, so going to the groomer's, going to the vet's, and doing a lot of visiting before anything bad has happened … I wouldn't say bad … anything that could be unpleasant or painful has happened to them. If it's already happened, then those visits are even more important because we have to get ourselves back to baseline and get our dogs to the point where they're OK going back into those places. So we work with other people, we work moving into different places.

That was my short version — I don't think it was actually very short — of the different steps.

Melissa Breau: That was good. I think that it gave everybody a little idea what the pieces are that need to be put together to get the final picture of a cooperative dog who is cool with all of the handling and care that they're going to need probably over the course of their lifetime.

Deb Jones: What I always say is we want them to think it's another stupid game. We play a bunch of silly, ridiculous games with them, so anytime anybody does something weird to you where they're touching you, it's just another game, so it's no big deal. It's very different from the dog who's expecting a bad thing to happen when somebody touches them.

Melissa Breau: Right, right. For folks who want to get started — maybe while they wait for their book to arrive in the mail — can you share a few tips?

Deb Jones: I would be happy to. One of the secrets, though it's not really a secret to success at all, is that we need to be really aware of our dogs' emotional responses to what we're doing to them. We need to pay close attention back to the idea of those tells. How are they reacting to the things we're doing?

When we see discomfort, we need to take that as information or feedback from our dog that we're pushing too hard. If we see discomfort, we're going too hard at it. We need to back off. We need to go back to an easier level. So allowing your dog's emotional responses to determine what you do next is a big part of what we do, paying close attention to that.

Another thing that goes along the same lines: our dogs always have the option to end a session. They can opt out if they cannot take it for whatever reason. There doesn't have to be a reason. Some people think, Well, if I did that, my dog would never participate. But if you've done all of your steps properly, they will. They will insist. Mine are often trying to knock each other off the table to be the one who gets to be up there. Seriously. We have to make them get off.

But if they want to leave, again, what does that tell you? It tells you your dog can't handle this. They're not comfortable, they're not feeling confident, and if you keep pushing forward anyway, you're eroding the trust that we're trying to build up. I want my dogs to trust that I'm going to pay attention to what they want, and when I see that they don't feel comfortable in an environment or with a situation, I will help them. I will make it easier so that it's better for them. So I want to build up that trust. If they get to the point, for any reason, where they're just saying, "I can't do it," I need to respect that. Dogs should have the right to say, "No, I don't want to do this."

This is true back to the idea of working with exotic animals. This is true with a lot of non-domestic or exotic animals. You're not going to force them to stay and work with you, so you have to find ways to make it worth their while, to make it pay off, and realize that you cannot push them so hard. We tend to get lazy with dogs because we get away with being sloppy and putting on a little bit of pressure, but it's not a good approach. It will always end up backfiring on you in the big picture.

Melissa Breau: Last question here. It's something I've been asking everyone who comes on lately, and that is, what's something that you've learned or been reminded of recently when it comes to dog training?

Deb Jones: So many things. The one that keeps coming up for me lately, over and over again, is take your time. It is not a race. Training something fastest really doesn't gain you a lot, especially if you didn't do a good job in the process. So the thing that I'm constantly telling my students, but I'm also constantly telling myself because I'm just as bad as anybody: slow down. You don't have to hurry so much. Doing things right at each level is what's important, not getting to the end.

We often, I think, are just very goal-focused and we just want to get there. My saying for my students is "Be the turtle." If you've got a choice between the turtle and the hare, be the turtle when you're training. Take your time. Going slower will probably get you there better than trying to rush ahead. That's something I keep getting reminded of over and over again as I work with students and as I do my own training.

Melissa Breau: Awesome. Thank you so much, Deb, for coming back on the podcast!

Deb Jones: Oh, I'm always happy to be here, Melissa. Thanks.

Melissa Breau: And thank you to our listeners for tuning in!

We'll be back next week, this time with Laura Waudby to talk about her new class on competing in Novice Obedience, or preparing to compete in Novice Obedience, and her upcoming workshop on pivots.

If you haven't already, subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or the podcast app of your choice to have our next episode automatically downloaded to your phone as soon as it becomes available. 


 Today's show is brought to you by the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy. Special thanks to Denise Fenzi for supporting this podcast. Music provided royalty-free by BenSound.com; the track featured here is called "Buddy." Audio editing provided by Chris Lang.

Thanks again for tuning in -- and happy training!

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