E150: Jennifer Summerfield - Behavior Meds: What every dog owner should know

Dr. Jennfier Summerfield is back on the podcast to talk about normal behavior vs. abnormal behavior, when it's time to talk meds, and what meds might be on the table.

Transcription

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 Dr. Jennifer Summerfield.

Dr. Jen is a veterinarian and Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA), with a focus on treating behavior problems including aggression to humans and other animals, separation anxiety, and compulsive behavior disorders. She also teaches group classes and private lessons in basic obedience for pet dogs and coaches students getting started in dog sports such as agility and competitive obedience.

Jennifer is proud to be a member of the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) and the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT). She is a passionate advocate for positive, science-based methods of training and behavior modification, and loves helping pet owners learn to communicate more clearly with their dogs.

Hi Jen, welcome to the podcast!

Jennifer Summerfield: Thanks for having me. I'm excited to be here.

Melissa Breau: Me too. I'm excited to chat. So, to start us out, can you share a little bit, or remind us a little bit, about your own dogs and anything you're working on with them?

Jennifer Summerfield: Sure. I have three Shelties at the moment. My oldest is Remy. He will be 12, coming up in April, and he's had a very successful career in lots of different things. He's done competitive obedience and rally and he finished his PACH last year in agility, which was very exciting for us.

He is mostly retired now in the sense that we don't really have anything that we're actively working towards with him, but I do still run him at trials a preferred, if I'm taking my other dogs, and he does still get to do some training stuff for fun, so still very active and very much in the thick of things.

My middle dog, Gatsby, is 6 years old, and he is working mainly on agility. He has his Excellent Standard in Jumpers titles and is competing at the Masters level currently. I have him entered in a trial coming up next month, actually. Fingers crossed, we'll see how that goes.

My youngest dog, Clint, is 5 years old, and he had a little bit of a different path in life than my other two. He started out as a conformation dog, and I didn't get him until he was pretty much grown up. He was about a year old when I got him. We continued with conformation for a while. He is an AKC Grand Champion, so he's very fancy and pretty.

And then we switched gears, and we've been working on some agility with him, which he really likes, but we haven't shown much yet. Most recently we have been dabbling in herding a little bit with him, which he absolutely loves, interestingly enough, so we're interested in trying to get maybe some basic titles in herding over the next couple of years, if we can do that.

Melissa Breau: How exciting!

Jennifer Summerfield: Very. Never a dull moment.

Melissa Breau: New sport for you and new sport for him.

Jennifer Summerfield: Yes.

Melissa Breau: You're kind of in a unique role, as somebody who is a practicing vet, specializing in behavior, and a dog trainer — in addition, of course, to training and competing with your guys. What led to that interest in behavior as a specialty?

Jennifer Summerfield: I would say it's definitely a bit of a different perspective coming from the veterinary side of things.

As far as the terminology goes in our field, which is interesting and something that a lot of your listeners may not know, when we say that a particular veterinarian is a specialist in something, that has a real specific definition. That means that they have completed a separate residency program after vet school in their area of specialty, which is usually about two to three years long, and then they've passed a board exam in that specialized area. That's what makes a true "behavior specialist," or what we call a veterinary behaviorist.

What I am is a veterinarian in general practice, so I'm not a boarded specialist, but I have a strong interest in behavior and always have, and I spend a lot of my time working with behavior cases, so I get to enjoy the best of both worlds, I guess, in a lot of ways, because I do enjoy the general practice side of things as well.

For me, I knew from the time I was very young that I was very interested in figuring out why animals do things, I guess. I started in dog sports as a teenager with our family dog at the time, who was a Sheltie named Duncan. In college, when I was trying to figure out all this career stuff, I considered going to graduate school for a Ph.D. and becoming an applied animal behaviorist to come at it from that angle, but then at the last minute decided to go to vet school instead, because I felt like that would give me a broader range of options when it came to getting a job and what kinds of things I would be qualified to do.

So that's what I did, and it's been a pretty good decision so far, I would say. But I layered the veterinary degree onto my pre-existing obsession with dog training, rather than the other way around.

Melissa Breau: Which is probably, even for other people who are both a vet and interested in behavior, most people come at it from the opposite angle, where they're a vet first and then they get into behavior.

Jennifer Summerfield: Right. I suspect that's true in a lot of cases, which is also a good way to go about it. But, for me, I knew I wanted to do something with behavior, and it was just a matter of figuring out what sort of career path might let me do that but also give me a lot of options, and make sure that I … I was concerned about "I don't know how easy it is to get a job initially as an applied animal behaviorist," especially in a small town, so I thought maybe the vet thing would be a little safer.

And it's been good because I do enjoy the stuff I get to do as a general practice vet as well. So a highly recommended career path, if anybody's out there interested in going that route.

Melissa Breau: You mentioned small town. Where are you located again?

Jennifer Summerfield: Our practice is just outside Huntington, West Virginia, so not a big, bustling metropolis.

Melissa Breau: Fair enough. To look at your current dogs, would you consider those three to be behaviorally pretty normal?

Jennifer Summerfield: That's kind of a loaded question, isn't it? For the most part, I would say yes. I would say Remy and Clint are both pretty darn normal, well-adjusted dogs. They're friendly, they're easygoing, stuff doesn't really bother them a whole lot.

Gatsby is, I like to say, my problem child, affectionately, and he does have some issues that we've spent a lot of time working on over the years. He used to be very leash-reactive, to other dogs in particular. That was a big problem for us for a long time, so that was a big project that we spent a lot of time working on.

He also does not have great dog-dog social skills, even with his housemates, which is interesting. He gets really worked up and frustrated about things really easily. So he is definitely on the far end of the bell curve, I would say, as far as that goes.

Some of that stuff, like the leash reactivity, we've been able to work through really effectively so that it's not much of a problem anymore. Some of the other things we just have to accept that that's how he is, and we work around it. So he does have to be managed pretty carefully at home, at least in certain situations, to make sure that we don't have problems between him and the other dogs.

And for sure that's hard sometimes, so I can very much relate to clients who have problem dogs who may not always be easy to live with.

Melissa Breau: You mentioned that that was kind of a can of worms.

Jennifer Summerfield: Yes.

Melissa Breau: I want to dig into it a little more. How do you draw that line between figuring out what is "normal," what's extreme but maybe it doesn't require behavior meds — it's, like you said, on the far ends of the bell curve, what can probably be worked on with training, and what falls into that "It's time to talk behavior meds," or meds might be able to help?

Jennifer Summerfield: That's a great question. It is a little bit of a sticky area, and I suspect that you might get slightly different answers, depending on who you ask. I don't think it's super-clearly defined in every case, but there are definitely some things that we can say about that.

In general, I would say that normal behavior is stuff that is typical healthy behavior for the species that we're dealing with. So when we're talking about a dog who is coming to see me for a consultation, I'm also going to look at what's typical for this dog's breed and age, because we know that normal behavior for a 16-week-old Belgian Malinois puppy might look very different from normal behavior in a 12-year-old Greyhound.

And it's really important for us to remember, when we're looking at behavior, that just because we don't like a particular thing that our dog is doing, that does not mean it's abnormal.

If we think about things like jumping up on people to say hi, or pulling on the leash, or rummaging through the trash can to find scraps, or running off into the woods after a deer instead of coming back when you call, those are all totally normal dog behaviors. So I would classify all of those things as training issues, meaning normal stuff that dogs do that we find annoying. Now that doesn't mean that we shouldn't do anything about them. There are lots of behaviors that are normal for dogs, but they might be unsafe in human society, or they might just make the dog hard to live with, so it's perfectly fine for us to want to change some of those behaviors. But there's nothing inherently wrong with the dog, and that's the big important point there.

And so, for the most part, we're not going to use medication as part of the plan for those issues, unless there's something that's really extreme or unusual about them, because there's really not anything there to medicate. The dog just needs to be taught some new skills.

When we do tend to think about medication as an option is when we have an actual pathological behavior issue, meaning something that is not normal, like maybe aggressive behavior that is over the top and out of proportion to what's triggering it, or anxiety that's really extreme about something that's not dangerous, like a thunderstorm or being left home alone while the owner goes to work, or something like a compulsive behavior disorder, like a dog who chases its tail constantly or gets fixated on lights or shadows to the point that they can't function anymore in their environment. Those are the types of issues where we're probably going to want to talk about meds as part of our overall treatment plan.

Melissa Breau: That makes sense. I want to highlight first of all that you mentioned what's normal for a breed and age, because I think that gets overlooked a lot, just the fact that, exactly like you said: a Belgian Mal is not going to have the exact same behaviors or definition of normal as even a Lab puppy.

Jennifer Summerfield: Exactly. That's true.

Melissa Breau: And I want to ask, because I know you've shared previously that a lot of the time people see behavior meds as this "last resort" thing. They don't want to try them, they don't want to try them, and you've shared, I think last time you ran your behavior meds webinar, that you wish people would at least consider them a little bit earlier in the process. Can you talk to that? Why is that? How does that correlate with what you were talking about before?

Jennifer Summerfield: That is definitely true, and that is something that I talk a little bit about in the webinar for sure, and I know I did so last time as well.

I do find that it's a really common way for people to think about medication, like, "Well, I guess we might consider trying it if the problem is really bad and nothing else is working, but not until then."

I feel pretty strongly that when we think about behavior meds that way, we are doing a real disservice to the dog. It's kind of like saying, "I know my dog has an infection, but I don't want to put him on an antibiotic until it gets really bad," or "I know my dog has hypothyroidism, but I don't want to put him on a thyroid supplement until he's lost all of his hair and gained so much weight that he can't walk." When we put it in physical terms like that, we see that it doesn't make a lot of sense, but for some reason we tend to think about it a little bit differently with behavior issues.

For me, with a behavior problem, I would much rather get meds onboard from the very beginning, if we can, because they can really help the rest of our plan work better, which is important, and they can also make a big difference in the dog's quality of life in the meantime, which is also really important. So the sooner we can get that process started, the better that is for everyone.

I suspect that a lot of this probably ties in to how we think about mental illness in general as a society, which is obviously a whole other issue that we can get into. But I think there's just a tendency to feel like mental health issues aren't real in the same way that a physical illness is, and that they don't deserve the same level of care, and that's just not true for humans or for dogs.

Melissa Breau: To think about those two things, you talked a little bit about what's normal and what's extreme, and what might require behavior meds and what really shouldn't, and I'm assuming there's also some gray area there.

Jennifer Summerfield: There is.

Melissa Breau: ​In that gray area, is it sometimes, "Let's try behavior meds and see if they work"?

Jennifer Summerfield: Yeah, there can be. One of the things that's nice about our behavior meds by and large is there is normally very little downside to trying them. These meds are overwhelmingly safe. None of the meds that we use regularly have any hugely significant health risks to them, and they tend to not have a lot in the way of side effects either, which is nice. But with side effects, even if you do get something you don't like, you always have the option of stopping the medication. So it's not anything permanent; it's like, "This wasn't a good choice for her, so we'll stop that and try something different."

So even for some of those gray area cases, a lot of times if I have a client that has a dog that's in that gray area about meds, then we talk about the pros and cons, and we talk about what we think might be useful about starting medication in this dog, and sometimes we decide to give it a try. And if it helps, then great, we continue it, and if we say, "We don't think that did much, other than make her a little sleepy," then in that case we say, "Let's stop the meds and go in a different direction."

Melissa Breau: I would assume that for a lot of people, part of their concern is simply having this conversation with their vet. A lot of listeners don't have the advantage of having somebody with your knowledge or your interest in the area in their immediate vicinity — at their local vet clinic, for example. So what is the best way to open up a conversation with their vet about that possibility, and what options are out there for those listeners to use?

Jennifer Summerfield: That's a good question because there are certainly not that many veterinary behaviorists in the country. There are lots of states that don't even have one. Even when we look at people like me, veterinarians who maybe are in general practice, but we're pretty knowledgeable about behavior and interested in it, and willing to see behavior cases and treat them, even vets like that can be few and far between, depending on where you live.

As far as how to approach that discussion with your vet, or open the topic to think about, the first thing I would say is do your vet a favor and schedule a dedicated visit to talk about the behavior issue that you're concerned about. One thing that is very hard — it's even hard for me, and I know a lot about behavior, I'm interested in it, and I like to talk about it — very hard for me when people come for an annual visit, and then right at the end, as we're wrapping up and I'm getting ready to walk out the door, they go, "Oh, by the way, she's doing this thing where she's breaking out of her crate and hurting herself every time I go to work. What can I do about that?"

Of course there's a lot we can do about that, but it's not a 30-second question. And I find that a lot of times that's how people approach it — they tack it on with something else that they're there for, and that makes it really hard to do a good job of addressing the problem.

That's going to be especially true for a veterinarian who maybe is going to have to do a little research first. Maybe they don't know off the top of their head what the best medication options are for something like separation anxiety.

I promise your vet will be very appreciative if you say, "My dog has some separation anxiety issues. Let me schedule an appointment to talk about that." So schedule it ahead of time, that's what you're there for, and make sure you let the office staff know, when you schedule the appointment, what it is you're coming in to talk about, because then your vet has a heads up, and if they need to do a little bit of research, refreshing their memory on what the options are and what they might want to talk about with you, then they have a chance to do that.

I know I really appreciate that. If I have something complicated and unusual coming in, I appreciate seeing it on the schedule and knowing, "That looks like something I might want to investigate a little bit before that appointment." Little things, but that can make a big difference as to how well the appointment is going to go and how much your vet is able to help you.

The other things I would say are do let your vet know what other things you're doing to address the problem. I know for a lot of veterinarians it can be frustrating for people to come in and basically want medication to just fix it, like, "My dog's doing this thing. Is there a pill we can put him on for that?" A lot of times, yes, there certainly may be medication that we can use for that, but that is not going to fix the problem by itself.

It puts us in a difficult position, I guess I would say, when owners come in and they are approaching medication from that angle, like they just want drugs to fix it.

So even if your vet is not going to be the one who is working with you in detail on your behavior modification plan, even if you have a trainer or a non-veterinary behavior consultant who is working with you on that side of things, I would definitely let your vet know, "We're working on …" or "We're doing x, y, and z, and we've made these changes, and we're still having a lot of trouble with this. We thought that if we could get some medication onboard, it might help with this particular part of the plan that we're still having trouble with." They're much more likely to be receptive to talking to you about meds if they can tell that you're also doing your part at home as well.

And there's nothing wrong with doing a little bit of research on your own, especially if your veterinarian isn't super-into behavior and doesn't necessarily do a lot of behavior cases. They may be very receptive if you come in and say, "I've been doing some reading about this, and it sounds like these two medications are really common to use for this problem. What do you think about those?" There's nothing wrong with doing something like that to get the conversation started as well.

One option that I wish more people knew about, because I don't think people take advantage of it nearly as much as they could, is if you have a general practice vet who is a great vet, they want to help you, they're in, they would like to, but they just don't know, they may not be super-well-versed in all the various behavior medications that there are, and how to use them, pros and cons, and all that — which is totally reasonable because it's a little specialized area of interest that not everybody has, and that's fine —then it is an option to have a veterinary behaviorist — I've done this a few times for people when they've asked me to — to do a remote consultation with your vet.

The specialist is not allowed to work directly with you remotely if they've never met you before. That has to do with what the laws are about establishing a veterinarian/client relationship, and that requires an in-person exam to start out. If you haven't done that, that's why you can't just call up a specialist in California and have them work with you directly.

But the specialist in California can talk to your vet, so your vet can give them the rundown on what's been going on with the dog and what the case is, and they can say, "For a case like that, I would probably think about this medication would be a good choice, and here is where I would start the dosage range for it, here's what I would do, here's maybe a medication you could add if you're not seeing improvement in a couple of weeks." They can walk them through the whole "Here's what I would do," which is really handy.

That's a really good way to get a specialist or an expert's input on what kinds of medication might be good for your dog, if you're not able to make the trip and see one in person. There are quite a few veterinary behaviorists who offer that service, and you can find information on it through their websites.

That's something we talk a little bit about in the webinar as well. I have some examples of how those arrangements can work to talk about. But that, I think, is a really, really good option for a lot of people who may not have somebody in their area.

Melissa Breau: If I remember right, when we're looking at behavior meds, they sort of fall into two categories — there are those that are given occasionally, in preparation for specific scary events, and those that are given more regularly, like on a daily basis. Can you talk to that a little bit? What might lead you to lean toward one type of medication or the other?

Jennifer Summerfield: That's right: basically there are two categories of medications that we talk about when it comes to behavior issues. We have our daily meds, which are meds that you're going to give every day around the same time, regardless of what else is going on. They're part of a long-term plan.

And then we also have situational meds, or some people call those event medications, which you're going to give just when you need them. That could be frequently, could be occasionally, it just depends, but you're going to give it when the problem is about to happen.

As far as choosing which of those options might be the best, at least to start with, for a particular dog, we tend to think about daily medications for things that are coming up pretty much every day in the dog's life, or things that at minimum are happening a few times a week that it's probably worth having the dog on some kind of daily medication.

That could be something like separation anxiety, where the owner has to go to work every day, so that comes up a lot, or something like a dog that has leash reactivity issues, where this dog has to go outside the house and be walked somewhere to some extent pretty much every day.

We also use them sometimes for cases where we have triggers that are not predictable. Maybe they don't happen that often, but we don't have a good way of anticipating them and dosing medication ahead of time, because they come unexpectedly. In cases like that we might also like to have a daily medication onboard so that at least there's something onboard when those things happen.

And then for severe, even situational, problems, if they're pretty severe problems where we want to get all the help we can get, then sometimes we use a daily medication for those dogs as well.

Our situational meds are a great choice for things that only come up occasionally. If you have a dog who is really nervous about vet visits, let's say, or long car rides, where maybe those are things that are only happening a few times a year, that dog could be a great candidate for some type of medication that the owner gives about an hour before they leave the house, and there we go.

Also good for triggers that are predictable. Again, if we circle back around to our separation anxiety dog example, for that dog, even though it's not a rare thing that people have to leave the house, it is predictable. You know that you're going to have to go to work every morning, so that allows you to dose the medication an hour before you leave, or something like that, so that it has time to get onboard when you're leaving.

And there are definitely cases when we might use both. A lot of severe cases that we see, we definitely might use both, just because we want to have as much help as we can onboard.

Certain things, we might use both for part of the year, for example, if you had a really severe thunderstorm phobia dog, let's say, you might use a daily medication for this dog during the part of the year that we tend to get thunderstorms, and then use a situational medication on top of that when there's actually a storm expected, and then maybe the rest of the year the dog doesn't need anything.

So lots of different options there, but those are some examples of how we might use those meds or how we might combine them.

Melissa Breau: That's super-helpful. If a listener wants to go in and have that conversation with their vet, are there questions they should be asking to help figure out the right options for their dog? What kind of information should they be considering? I know you mentioned coming in with "This is what we're doing outside of medication."

Jennifer Summerfield:​ A lot is going to depend on how comfortable your vet is with behavior meds, as far as how well they're going to be able to answer some of your questions. If they're not that comfortable, then again, considering a remote consult vet-to-vet with someone who is could really be helpful there.

But, in general, some of the things you're probably going to want to ask about with any medication that you might be starting with your dog would be things like what kinds of side effects might you expect to see, if any, are there any medication interactions that you need to be worried about, so do make sure they know anything else that your dog is already on as far as medication.

And also ask what to look for. How are you going to know if the medication is helping, which is a good question that I think sometimes we don't talk about enough, because frequently the answer is not going to be, "The problem goes away." Although that would really be nice, but often that's not what we get, so it is nice to know what specifically you should be looking for that will help you know, "Oh, we think this is helping."

Also nice to ask about how long does it take to start working, and any recommended monitoring for the medication. Most of the meds that we use, as far as that goes, like I said, are not particularly risky as far as liver or kidney issues or anything like that. I usually recommend just basic annual blood work for my patients that are on meds, but your vet may recommend something different, so that's a good question to ask as well, especially if it's going to be more of a long-term medication

Melissa Breau: We've alluded a couple of times to the fact that you've got a webinar coming up on this stuff. It's a repeat of your Intro to Behavior Meds webinar that you did … it was a while ago now. It's coming back around on January 30. For those listening and trying to decide if they should tune in, can you talk a little about what you'll cover in the webinar, and maybe some information on who would be a good fit? You can certainly mention Part 2, which I think is the following week, right?

Jennifer Summerfield: Yes. Yes, definitely. I am really looking forward to getting to do this set of webinars again. This is a topic I really like, and I think it's super-interesting, and I think there's not enough good information out there about it, so I'm super-pumped about that.

As you said, it will be a two-part series, so we'll have Part 1 on January 30, which is going to be a basic introduction, an overview of how we use behavior meds in dogs, and then Part 2 on … I think it's February 6 …

Melissa Breau: I will double-check. It's a week later.

Jennifer Summerfield: We'll be expanding on that information to talk about some more advanced stuff.

Melissa Breau: Yes, it's February 6. I just double-checked.

Jennifer Summerfield: Perfect. In Part 1, we're going to cover things like how we decide if a particular dog is going to be a good candidate for medication, like, meds or no meds. We're going to talk about what our goals are in cases where we do use meds, so what are we trying to accomplish here, because, like I said, frequently the problem going away completely is not a realistic goal, so what are our goals with meds.

We talk about daily versus situational meds, including we do go through and talk about most of the common specific drugs that you might see for behavior issues in dogs, and what the pros and cons of them are, and how they work, and all that kind of stuff. And then we touch just a bit on non-prescription options as well.

In Part 2, we take that information and talk about how we drill down and apply it in the real world, so how do we decide which specific drug is going to be best for a variety of different cases that we might see.

We talk a little bit about combination therapy, so how we might combine meds and what kinds of things we need to be careful about there, and the pros and cons of that.

We have some case studies and examples that we're going to talk about in Part 2, and then we also are going to talk some about special considerations for performance dogs and behavior meds, because I know obviously that's what FDSA's student population does, so something that probably a lot of you guys may be interested in.

As far as who might benefit from it, I would say that for sure anybody with a dog that has some type of behavior problem that they think is perhaps not just a training problem but more of an actual behavior issue. For sure I think it would be something that they would find interesting and hopefully helpful to get some information about what options there might be to consider for their dog.

And even if you don't have a dog currently with behavior issues, if you just think this stuff is interesting and you want to be prepared in case you do in the future, we'd be happy to have you as well.

Melissa Breau: I know that, for example, I messaged you not that long ago because I'm going to be flying a dog internationally, and with that type of thing it's good to know what some of the options are out there.

Jennifer Summerfield: Exactly. Even if you're like, "My dogs are pretty fine right now," there still might be situations that come up occasionally that you're like, "I wonder would medication be helpful for this, and what might our options be." So we'll get into all that good stuff.

Melissa Breau: Awesome. One last note and then one last question. I did want to note that they are both at 3 p.m. Pacific time, so that's on the East Coast 6:00, but on the West Coast that's 3 p.m., which is when most of the webinars are set to West Coast time. Alright, last question. What's something that you've learned or been reminded of recently when it comes to dog training?

Jennifer Summerfield: That's a good question. I was actually thinking a lot about this and talking to my students about it not that long ago.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the podcast today, I have been doing some herding lessons recently with my dog Clint, which has been really fun; we've enjoyed it. But it's also really hard. I don't know if anybody out there has done any herding, but holy cow!

It is very different from any of the other dog sport stuff I've done in the past, and it is not intuitive; at least it has not been for me. The sheep are just a whole other factor there.

It's interesting, because I've been doing agility and competitive obedience for almost twenty years now, and I've been teaching basic skills to pet dogs for the past ten years or so. I may not be the best handler, the best trainer in the world, but I feel competent with those things. They feel smooth and easy and natural, and they're not hard for me. And I think that when we're working with clients and we're trying to teach them those skills, it's easy to forget that it probably doesn't feel easy or natural for them.

So Clint and I are out in the sheep pen, on Sunday mornings right now, with our instructor, and I'm trying to learn to tell where the sheep are going, and keep my feet moving in the right direction, and communicate with my dog early enough to give him a chance to adjust, and it is just a total fiasco. I get run over by the sheep multiple times in every lesson, like, down on the ground, flat on my back, being trampled by sheep. We're getting better, so that happens less often now, but still it is an occurrence that happens at least once every lesson.

So it's been a very humbling experience for me, and one of my big takeaways from it has really been, it has reminded me to have empathy for my students when they seem to be struggling with something that feels really simple to me, because when you're new at something, it's not simple. It's awkward and it's hard and you feel like you can't do anything right, and that's a normal part of the process.

I heard a great piece of advice once from someone, and I wish I could remember who, because it was great. It was basically that if you're some kind of instructor, if you are tasked with teaching people how to do something, whether it's yoga or salsa dancing or dog training, that you should make a point of taking a class yourself in something you have never done before at least once a year, so that you don't forget how it feels to be brand new at something and struggling to figure it out. So the sheep herding has been serving that purpose this year for me.

Melissa Breau: I love that. What a great takeaway. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast Jen.

Jennifer Summerfield: No problem. It's been fun, and I appreciate you having me.

Melissa Breau: I appreciate you joining me. And thank you to all of our listeners for tuning in!

We'll be back next week with Leslie McDevitt to talk about her counter-conditioning reactivity, focus, and fun. 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. 

Credits

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!

Simplophile or Complexophile: How you say things m...
Planning Ahead: Getting Reinforcers Off Your Body