E110: Helene Lawler - Arousal, Impulse Control, and Pressure

Helene and I chat about her upcoming webinar on intact dogs, and talk about arousal, pressure in training, and the difference between static and dynamic impulse control.


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'll be talking to Helene Lawler.

Hélène has been working with animals her whole life — she started by training her cat to use the toilet when she was 12! Since then she's spent years heavily invested in both training and the rescue world. She's dabbled in nosework, tracking, and Search and Rescue, and then began training agility in 2004, followed by herding in 2005. It didn't take long before she was hooked.

She won the Ontario novice herding championship in 2008, after just two years of training with her dog Hannah, and together they went on to become an Open level team while simultaneously competing in agility to the Masters level and qualifying for the AAC Canadian Nationals. Today she runs a working mixed livestock farm, with sheep, goats, horses, and poultry … and she's got a bunch of new things coming up at FDSA, which we'll get into in today's episode!

Hi Helene, welcome to the podcast!

Helene Lawler: Hi Melissa. It's great to be back.

Melissa Breau: So, to start us out, can you remind listeners how many dogs you have, who they are, and what you're working on with them?

Helene Lawler: Sure. I have ten dogs these days. I have two livestock guardian dogs, Mikey and Juno, who are the protectors of the farm. I don't do a lot of formal training with them. I mostly just let them do their job. They're pretty genetically programmed to do what they need to do, like last night they broke down the door of my chicken coop and caught a raccoon and eliminated the threat. I was pretty impressed, so they got a big breakfast this morning. Not the raccoon! Just an extra helping from the fridge.

And then I have my house dogs. I have seven Border Collies and a Kelpie. I'll start with the youngest dogs first. I have Aoife and Jest, who are puppies. Jest is 14 months old and Aoife is just turning 2. They're both going to be working stock dogs, sheep-herding dogs. I like to do a second sport with all my dogs, but I'm not quite sure what it's going to be with them, because they're still doing foundations and I'm still figuring out what they're going to be good at.

And then I have Raven and Griffin, who are 3 years old. They're also both training up to work on sheep. Raven is doing a really great job of running my farm already; she has been for a while now. She's a really good little farm dog, so that's her main thing. We might do some hobby agility, but I don't know if she'll do anything else because she really has a full-time job.

Griffin, her brother, is taking his time growing up, as boys often do. So at 3, he's showing me some glimpses of wonderful talent, and then I have days when I think he might be happier being a house pet, so we'll see. We're doing rally, and I might try formal obedience with him, which I have never done formal obedience, but we've done some rally before, and he's really good at it, so that's going to be our thing. I'll let him grow up a little bit more and see whether the sheepdog stuff comes with time.

And then I have Desiree and Clayton, who are also littermates, brother and sister. Desi is my agility dog. She does herding, but agility is her first sport. And Clayton is my second worker dog on the farm after Raven, so he's mostly a farm dog as well.

And then I have Holly, my Kelpie, and we do a bunch of things. We dabble in nosework, she's got some foundations in herding. She's the one who put me on the R+ herding path. She's been having some health problems this year, so we're taking it easy and trying to figure that out.

And then I have Hannah, who is 13-and-a-half. She is my wonderful girl who is fully retired and just enjoying hikes. She gets to herd the poultry, and we're actually exploring canine fitness to keep her in good shape.

So that's my group.

Melissa Breau: Doing all the things, man.

Helene Lawler: Yeah, I know. I love it. I wish I had 48 hours a day. I'd do even more things.

Melissa Breau: I know you've got a webinar coming up on living with intact dogs. To get us into that, how many of yours are currently intact? What led you to that decision?

Helene Lawler: Well, all of mine are currently intact. I manage ten intact dogs. I have six bitches and four dogs. They do require a little bit of management, but really, for the most part, I've got a good system in place and it's going pretty well, so I have no real urge to have to do any surgical alterations to that setup. I was a little bit intimidated at first, but now that I understand the routine and know how to manage hormone cycles and understand their personalities, it's going pretty smoothly. So it's going well.

What led me to that decision — it's a bit of a long story, but the short of it is that I wanted to get into breeding, so I kept Hannah intact because I thought that I would like to breed her someday, if she turned out to be the dog that I thought she was going to be, and she did. She was my second dog that I kept intact, but the first one … that's a long story. She ended up being rehomed. That was a few years before. That was my first venture into having an intact dog, and it had nothing to do with her being intact, why she was rehomed. We just weren't the best fit together.

But Hannah … I got Hannah and I decided to try breeding, and that got me started on the path and teaching me some things that I needed to know. Once I started to become used to the concept, there were a lot of things about it that I really liked, so I kept moving forward in that direction.

Melissa Breau: I mentioned in the beginning that you've got a bit of a rescue background, and I know a lot of that world, that culture, heavily pushes spaying and neutering. First of all, was that your experience? Was that what was pushed when you were in that world? How did you make that mental mindshift yourself? Was it the dog you mentioned that was your first dog you kept intact? Was it Hannah? Can you get into that a little bit?

Helene Lawler: Sure. Yes, I was very active in the rescue world for a long time. The standard procedure was absolutely as soon as they come in, like, you immediately, as quickly as possible, book them in for spay and neuter and any vaccines they need, and so on and so forth. I was totally onboard with that. It was part of the process.

But something I started to observe over time was that a lot of the dogs were developing a lot of behavior problems that were settling in a number of weeks after they came into rescue. I started to feel like maybe there was some pressure we were putting on their bodies with all of that surgery and everything happening when they were under a state of stress. So I started to do some research into the health impacts of spay/neuter, among other things, and I decided, Let's see what would happen if we don't do that.

I was fostering dogs and not immediately having them altered, and I started to notice that they were settling in better. I felt like — and this is just my anecdotal evidence, and I have no scientific background at all to support this; this is just what I observed — but I did feel like the dogs were more resilient, we were seeing fewer behavior issues popping up, and so on.

So I started to get into the practice of saying, Let's just let them come in and work them through whatever they've dealt with, get them rehomed, have them stabilized, and then consider going for surgeries, if that made sense for the adoptive home to do so. I just felt like what I was observing that it was a little bit less of an impact on their overall wellbeing in a negative way. They ended up doing better is the bottom line, at least in my observation in the small number of dogs at that point that I was working with.

That really got me thinking and researching. And then I also had one of my own dogs come in, and he had just been neutered, and again I saw that same pattern. I'm not saying that spay/neuter changes the behavior, but I don't know that … the timing, with all the stress when they're under the pressure and the upheaval and everything, I don't think that's the best time to do that type of a major surgery, because it really does have a significant impact overall on how their bodies function.

That's what got me into the door of looking down this road. And then the more research I did, and the more work I did with dogs, the more I just decided to keep going in this direction, and now I'm quite happy with the results with my dogs today.

Melissa Breau: You mentioned there is some management involved with having ten intact dogs in the house. I'd like to talk about that a little bit. Are there things that are more difficult because you've got that many intact dogs? Are there downsides?

Helene Lawler: Yes, absolutely, there is management involved. I'm quite diligent. I'm very cautious with making sure that I don't have unwanted litters. It does happen. I've been very lucky that I have not had any problems, and part of that is because I have a good system in place. I've studied their cycles, I understand the fertility windows, and so on and so forth.

I have a few policies in my house. For example, if I have a bitch in heat, there are always two barriers between the girl and the boy, so if one barrier fails, there's a second barrier. For example, they would both be in crates, or a crate and a door, mostly those two things. Or one will be outside and one will be inside and in a crate, so that if somebody opens a door, I don't have to worry about the one outside running in and then wham, bam, thank you, ma'am. I know people it's happened to.

So there are some simple things you can do in your management, like that policy, and I just always keep that policy in place: always two barriers. Sometimes a barrier has failed, but I've never actually had both barriers fail.

Things like that can go a long way to making the process easy, but it is a matter of awareness. It is a matter of programming yourself and educating yourself. I think the more knowledge you have, the easier it is to manage the dogs.

The downsides: I would say you do have to put some time and energy into management. Sometimes you'll have some behavior changes. My dogs, the young males, usually their first couple of years, when the girls go through their cycles, they can get a little bit worked up, so I've sometimes been kept up at night with some singing and some wailing and gnashing of teeth.

I feel very lucky that my boys are easygoing. They get along. I don't even have to separate them when I have a girl in season. I know some people do, because the boys can get a little testy, but they've grown up together and they've been fine, and once they've been through a couple of cycles of living with girls that come into season, they stop being all wound up.

My boys don't even pay attention to the girls except when they're in standing heat, which is a small window of three to five days, depending on the girl, twice a year. So I feel like it's really not that big a deal to manage them.

Now, that said, my guardian dog outside gets a lot more worked up with the girls. So I do observe … again, this is a small scale; I have ten dogs and three different breeds, so I can't say this is a widespread generalization, but I'm definitely seeing a difference in my guardian dogs than my Border Collies and my Kelpie in terms of their whole patterns and cycles.

So I'm going to talk about that sort of thing as well in the webinar.

Melissa Breau: Awesome. That was actually going to be my next question. What else do you plan to dive into in the webinar? Can you give a picture of who should join, who should sign up and watch?

Helene Lawler: In the webinar what I want to do is share my insights and my management systems to help people and give people some tips and tricks to make this an easier process, things to look for. I'll help with some education around understanding reproductive cycles, the care of your bitch and your dog, if there's anything that needs to be done specifically with an intact dog. I'm not going to get into medical stuff. That's not my area, and I think we've already had a wonderful webinar on that. But I'll mention a few things that people get worried about, like pyometra and so on, and how I deal with my concerns about that.

The other thing that I want to do is address people's fears and concerns. I have a list of those, and I invite people to contact me, or I'll probably put up a poll on the website for people to let me know if they have questions that I can address. I want to find out what the people are really concerned about, because I know there are a lot of fears, and a lot of that is myth. A lot of things that people worry about, like excessive aggression or the possibility of unwanted puppies and how easily or more difficult that is to have that happen, and so on. When I had my very first dog who was in season the very first time, I was petrified. I really was. I was expecting male dogs to break down my door. I was terrified to take her outside to pee in a fenced yard on a leash, and I've come a long way since then. So I know that it can be a bit intimidating and scary for people who are first going in this direction with their dog, and so I want to just give some information and insight and share some stories to help make it an easier process.

Melissa Breau: In addition to the upcoming webinar, you've got … I mentioned … you've got a lot of things coming down the line here. You've got your herding class back on the schedule for June and then a workshop coming up on downs specifically for herding. I want to talk about those. I'd imagine getting a solid down for herding is pretty difficult! It seems like everything is stacked against you. You're dealing with probably a high arousal level, because you've got sheep or stock or whatever nearby, high distraction level, sometimes a ridiculous amount of distance. The competition herding that I've seen is often a lot of distance. So break it down for me. What goes into teaching that?

Helene Lawler: The down can be very difficult or it can actually be really easy. A lot of that has to do … some of it is the dog and the genetics and how naturally they will down or stop and how calm-headed they are, if they're more of a forward, intense, hothead, pushy dog versus a calmer, thoughtful dog. So it's going to vary across the dogs, depending on the genetics and the breed and how they were selected.

That aside, in the training process, the down can actually be very reinforcing for the dog, if we do it correctly. If we ask for the down when the dog is in a place where it would naturally want to stop and down, so when it's on balance, when everything is under control, there's some things we want to look for and learn how to read in the sheep and the situation. If we are careful when we first start teaching the down to only ask the dog to down when it's in a situation where it would naturally be downing anyway, then it's reinforcing to them. So we can use positive reinforcement to our benefit.

The other thing is we have this incredible reinforcer in the livestock, so when you ask for the down, you can then let the dog get back up and move on to the sheep as its reinforcement, which is, like I said, hugely reinforcing for a dog that has been genetically selected to want to do this.

So if you're strategic and thoughtful about teaching the down, you can actually do it very effectively and relatively easily. So it seems counterintuitive, but it actually can be a very straightforward behavior to teach, if you think it through and know what to look for.

The other thing is I like to teach the behavior off stock as well, so that my dog has it on a verbal cue, and then I have both aspects going. I like to go to livestock with a young dog already knowing how to lie down. You can teach them on stock from scratch, if you want, but if you want to follow — as I do, as we all do here — a positive reinforcement approach to training our dogs, I think we can go a lot further if we have the behavior split off away from the distraction and taught and really establish fluency before we take it to stock. And so I teach it in two components that way.

Melissa Breau: Awesome. So pull it apart and teach it off the stock, and then when you're adding it, you're really using the tools and the situation that make it reinforcing to help you along. Is that …

Helene Lawler: Exactly. I've taught a nice down, off stock, under a variety of different situations and contexts so that the dog is pretty fluent in the behavior. And then when I take them to the stock, I'm very careful about only asking for the down in situations where it will be reinforcing.

Now eventually when the dog is trained to a higher degree, you're going to have to ask for downs when it's not reinforcing. The sheep might be running away, the dog might be off balance, there are lots and lots of situations where you're just going to need that dog to stop, regardless of what's going on. But that's a dog who's got a lot of training and you've got a lot of reinforcement already in the bank accounts, as we say, for downs, and so you just make a couple of withdrawals. And then if you're careful most of the time, you can really maintain your down just by being thoughtful and aware of when you're asking for it.

Melissa Breau: I imagine that you used, coming at it from an R+ approach, and I imagine it was NOT an easy thing to learn to teach this concept using positive training methods, especially in a sport where, we've talked before, that's not traditionally where the sport often comes from. Can you share a little bit about how you learned to split those things apart to build a down strong enough for your sport?

Helene Lawler: Sure. I was doing a lot of agility training as my second sport while I was getting into herding, while I was first doing herding. I learned a lot of skills through agility and that's what got me thinking differently. I'm such a bit fan of multi-disciplinary training because I think the cross-pollination is fantastic. I am looking forward to learning about gun dog training because I think you can learn so much from how different sports train dogs, and then you bring it across into your sport and you can come at things with new ideas and new angles.

There was a lot of stuff that was going on in agility that I was just like, Wow, that would translate really well to teaching the dog on stock. That's how I got started. And then the more I've learned about training in general, the more ideas I've come up with, so using a platform for teaching your down at a distance, and using errorless learning for building this up in a really positive way so you have a strong positive conditional response to the cue of down.

It's been a long evolution and it's probably an ongoing one. I'm sure there's still more for me to learn. But I'm having a lot of fun with it, so it's all good.

Melissa Breau: You mentioned the idea of multiple disciplinary stuff carrying over. So I'd imagine that strong down would be really beneficial well beyond herding — you mentioned agility in there. Would the methods you'll cover in the workshop carry over for those other sports?

Helene Lawler: I would say yes. I think absolutely. Teaching the down off stock will be good for anybody who needs a down at a distance. So that's what I'm going to be focusing on, because it's one thing to teach your dog to lie down, and we often see dogs who do a lovely lie down at our feet beside us. But when they're at a distance and we ask them for down, they either don't or they run over to us and they lie down.

To my understanding, it's because … the way it's been explained to me, or the way I've interpreted what's going on here, is that dogs see in pictures, and when we train the dog to lie down, let's say because they're standing next to us or beside us and they can down, for them the cue "down" takes on this picture of where they are in relation to us. And so we have to figure out a way to translate to them to uncouple the cue, the behavior, of going into a down, of belly on the ground. That belly on the ground behavior needs to be uncoupled from proximity to us and other contexts that might be included in what the dog is thinking of for what down means.

I go through a step-by-step process. Like I said, I'll use a platform, and I will use a variety of other steps, where I'm first teaching the dog the down and I'm separating out the behavior of belly on ground from all these other factors that might be initially lumped in to our dog's understanding of the behavior. That's what we go through to teach the down at a distance in preparation for stock work, and that will translate to any discipline that needs a down at a distance. I think it will, anyway.

Melissa Breau: I love that description of generalization, the idea that dogs train in pictures. That's a really nice way to phrase it, and it creates a good metaphor for it. It explains it well in your own mind.

Helene Lawler: Yeah, I find that really helpful for me to take a picture in my mind of what the whole context is and what does that mean for the dog, and then we need to keep changing that up so that we can separate that out for them. Because we don't think in pictures. We think in words, and dogs don't think in words.

Melissa Breau: Beyond just the down, what other skills do you consider to be important foundation behaviors for herding?

Helene Lawler: I have a very simple list of key skills I want my dog to have when I take them to livestock, and that is a down at a distance and a recall. That said, I like to have a much broader foundation that is not necessarily stock-related in terms of my relationship with my dog. I'm one to take my time getting my dog started on stock work, like, Jest is 14 months, and he's been on stock maybe five or six times in his life for five minutes each time, just so I could see what he was doing. I have my own sheep and I don't take my dog out to them. I really want them to grow up.

In the meantime, I'm focusing on building my relationship with him through play, we go on hikes together, I do all the foundation training that I would do for any sport, so I do all my targeting behavior and basic manners and, as I said, toy play and so on and so forth. I don't raise them any differently than I would if I were going to be teaching him agility or rally, etcetera. I have a set of foundation skills that are really about building my communication with my dog so my dog starts to understand. I guess I can summarize it by saying I build a communication system with my dog through play and through these games we play with toys and through simple behaviors that I teach them.

So by the time we go to stock, we have a strong relationship and we have an ability to communicate. I've learned my dog, I understand when they're happy and when they're not, they show me signs of stress, they show me signs of joy, and I feel like I can read my dog pretty well and that gives me a lot of feedback when we go to stock. I want all of that in place before I start doing formal herding training. But in terms of actual hard skills, the down and the recall is all that I particularly want in that sense.

Melissa Breau: In the class, I know there are a couple of other concepts you dive into. Can you talk a little bit about the concept of pressure — both in terms of how herding dogs use it to move stock and how it's used in training?

Helene Lawler: Sure. This is a little bit of a controversial subject and I'm just going to explain how I understand it. I'm not the authority, I'm sure other people have different understandings, but this is how I understand it.

Pressure can be used as a guide or it can be used as an aversive. We can use pressure to kind of threaten our dogs into doing things. That is a common way of using pressure on dogs, in particular in herding, where you're adding pressure, and then when the dog does what you want, you take the pressure off, and then that's how you get the behavior that you want. They are trying to avoid something.

If you're using pressure as a guide, they are also trying to avoid something, but they're not necessarily to my mind — and it's up to the dog, and my ability to read the dog — but I don't want the dog to feel like it's an aversive.

What this would look like would be I'm sending the dog around the sheep and the dog is coming in a little bit tight. I might step into the dog's path, and the pressure of my body moving into the dog's path is going to bend the dog out a little bit. I would call that guiding pressure as opposed to aversive pressure. Now if I came at my dog angrily with a stick or a flag, and I'm flapping and making a lot of noise and I'm scaring them out of the path, then that would be aversive pressure, and that's what I'm trying to avoid.

If we look at, say, agility, guiding pressure would if your dog is going toward a jump and you step into their path to get them to go around and take the back side. Your dog's probably not going to see that as aversive. Some dogs will, so we have to really let the dog tell us. But generally speaking we'll say that that just gives them some information — Oh, you want the back side, not the front side — and I think we can very effectively use pressure that way in herding. Where we cross the line is when we're actually evoking a negative emotion in the dog to achieve our end, and that's the line I don't want to cross. So that's how I would differentiate the two.

Melissa Breau: You also mention this concept of "dynamic vs. static impulse control," which I thought was an interesting line when I caught it in the syllabus. Can you explain that a bit? What they are and how they're different?

Helene Lawler: Sure. Again, this is like my version of the world, how I understand behaviors, and one of the things that I really noticed a lot, and this is something that I learned through doing both agility and herding, but I saw it in people who brought me sport dogs to work on stock. They have these dogs who are beautifully trained to hold still, and then you release them to work and they explode into action and lose their minds.

My understanding of what was going on there was these dogs didn't know how to stay thoughtful in motion. I call static impulse control — and we do so much of this in sport training, where the dog has to hold still and then we want them to explode after a toy or explode into an agility run or whatever we're wanting them to do. We do tons and tons and tons of work on having our dog stay perfectly still while we throw toys and whoop and holler and run around and so on and so forth so the dog can hold a stay. I call that static impulse control. I know the term "impulse control" is becoming questionable, but that's a whole other podcast, so we won't go there. I'll just stick with these terms because that's what people are using mostly. The static impulse control, to me, is when the dog is holding its stationary position around distraction.

Dynamic impulse control is when the dog is maintaining its behavior criteria while in motion, and that is what you need in herding. I'm going to say that's what you need in agility and that's what you need in pretty much any sport where the dog is moving, which is all of them. So it's pretty important, and I argue it's a different skill set. Just because your dog can sit still around things that might get it into a high state of arousal doesn't translate to the dog's ability to respond to your cues in motion around those same stimuli.

So that's what I want to work on with dynamic impulse control. I want to teach the dog how to stay levelheaded and thoughtful, and be able to respond to me and stay focused on the job while in motion and not just explode and go nuts. And that is a skill that has to be developed in a lot of dogs.

Melissa Breau: I'd imagine. I'd imagine it's a very hard thing for a lot of dogs to understand.

Helene Lawler: It is, it is, because they're so responsive to motion. So we have to just build it in layers and be thoughtful about it, just like with everything else.

Melissa Breau: Not to open up a third can of worms here at the end, but I was also hoping we could talk for a moment about arousal. You mentioned it in there, and I think we hear that term thrown around so much lately. I'm sure it's a VERY big deal when it comes to herding. What are you looking for in terms of arousal levels when it comes to herding? What does that look like? How do you actually achieve it?

Helene Lawler: OK, yes, can of worms. I think that's becoming my specialty these days. Arousal — that's another thing that I have become so aware of because of my cross-disciplinary work with sport dogs and herding dogs. Again, the other thing that I really noticed when I work with dogs who have a lot of sport foundation training and I bring them into a herding context is that they really struggle with their arousal levels.

In herding, we want a dog who can stay calm, cool, and collected. We do not want dogs to get crazy and wild, because when they go into high states of arousal, they go what we call "over threshold." I don't know exactly how to define threshold, but when they cross that point from being able to go from calm thinking into not being able to think, bad things happen. In agility they go off course, they knock down bars, they run around, they might do some unwanted behaviors like nip a judge. But in herding, deaths can come from it, so you have to be really, really careful with this.

So I want to do a lot of work with keeping my dogs in a state of calm thinking at all times, and that has led me to move away from a lot of the high-arousal work I do with my dogs across the board. I actually just don't do it anymore, no matter what I'm training for.

In my research into arousal I've been discovering some interesting things. For example, in human athletes, we never push them into high states of arousal and ask them to perform. There's actually an enormous amount of work done on mindset in human athletes to stay calm and thoughtful. Even if they're moving fast, even if they're doing intense stuff, even if they're in a high-intensity, high-arousal environment, they have to keep their heads calm and cool, or they don't perform optimally.

And so that's what we want to see in herding dogs, and really in any dog sport. So that's what I've been putting a lot of emphasis on lately in my training is just working on keeping my dogs thoughtful and in a calm mental state. No matter how much intensity is happening around them and how fast I need them to move, I still need them to think.

Melissa Breau: I think it would be fascinating to have you back and talk more about that human athlete bit. We could do a whole podcast on arousal, I'm sure.

Helene Lawler: Absolutely. I'd love that, and I'm going to do some more research, so I'll have more to say on it in a little while, so we can talk more.

Melissa Breau: Awesome. You have to let me know when you're good and prepped.

Helene Lawler: OK.

Melissa Breau: Alright, very last question — what's something you've learned recently or been reminded of when it comes to dog training?

Helene Lawler: Always a few things, but just recently … I'm going to say a couple of things. One of them is, trust your gut with your dog. When your intuition tells you what the right thing is to do with your dog, trust that. Listen to your dog rather than the voices around you that maybe don't know your dog as well as you do. That's a really important lesson that I keep learning over and over again, so I'll put it out there, because when I don't, then I'm reminded that I should.

The other thing is that when you train your dog, good things happen. I feel sometimes that I get worked up in my head about how long it's going to take me to do something, and how much work it's going to be, and how difficult it's going to be to achieve that thing. I get myself into analysis paralysis, especially with all the R+ 2.0 stuff with loopy training and this and that and the other thing, which I love, and it's so fun and interesting, and I could just immerse myself in that and never train my dogs, which is the danger. And when I actually get out the clicker and get out the treats and work with my dogs, I'm continually blown away by how fast we progress, and something that I think is going to take me months to train I can sometimes do in two sessions.

Especially with clean, careful, thoughtful planning and good training, you can achieve so much so quickly that all of that workup in my head around how long something is going to take me is just in my head. So I have to constantly remind myself that if I actually train my dog, they will get trained, and it will happen so much faster than I ever expect. I just have to train them. They're not going to train themselves, but if I put the work in, it's going to come back to me tenfold very quickly.

Melissa Breau: I love that, the idea that sometimes you do have to remember that the biggest part in order to get a trained dog is actually doing the training.

Helene Lawler: Exactly, I know. I know I really struggle with that, and I don't think I'm alone, either.

Melissa Breau: I don't think you're alone at all. Well, thank you so much for coming back on the podcast. This has been great!

Helene Lawler: Thank you. It's really great being here again.

Melissa Breau: And thanks to all of our listeners for tuning in!

We'll be back next week with Petra Ford to talk about competitive obedience and getting ready for the ring.

Don't miss it. 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. 


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Thanks again for tuning in -- and happy training! 

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