E154: Stacy Barnett - The Evolution of a Dog Trainer

Stacy and I talk about how her thinking on training for nosework has evolved over time - from looking at just the emotional components to considering the cognitive skills dogs need to thrive in this sport.

Transcription

Melissa Breau: Hey guys — Melissa here, stopping in before your podcast to share a little about the FDSA Pet Professionals program.

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And now, back to our regularly scheduled programing.

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.

Our guest this week is Stacy Barnett.

Stacy is a successful nosework competitor, being one of only a handful of teams titled through the Summit Level (SMT) — and she has actually earned three times with the same dog, She's also an international presenter and AKC scent work judge.

With this and her degree in chemical engineering, Stacy has developed a solid understanding of scent theory, with many tools in her toolbox. She prides herself on being able to bring creative solutions to build odor obedience, confidence, drive, and motivation for the sport.

Stacy's first love may be nosework, but her second love is teaching. She is an enthusiastic and caring instructor who teaches all levels of nosework.

Hi Stacy! Welcome back to the podcast.

Stacy Barnett: Hey Melissa, how are you?

Melissa Breau: Good. To start us out, can you just remind listeners who your current dogs are and share a little bit about anything you're working on with them?

Stacy Barnett: Oh sure, sure. I have four dogs currently.

I did lose Judd, and that's the sad part. I don't want to get into that too much, obviously, because I don't want to start crying on the podcast. He was a fantastic dog.

I have four dogs that I'm working with. We'll start with my oldest, who is Joey. Joey is 12 years old. He's a standard poodle, and he's trialing at the NW3 level. He has an NW3 title. He is not the most motivated of dogs, so I work a lot on building motivation and building happy, happy experiences with the sport, and he really enjoys it. So I just go out and I have a lot of fun with him, trialing him.

Then I have my 8-year-old Miniature American Shepherd named Why. Why is historically a very unconfident dog. However, it's actually been amazing. I started him on probiotics for behavior and he's turned into a different dog. He's been a lot of fun to train lately, and I'll be trialing him in NW3 and I'm really, really excited about that.

I also have a 2-and-a-half-year-old Labrador Retriever, Brava. Brava has her NW3 Elite and right now we're training a lot for the Elite level, but I know she's going to be amazing, so I don't want to necessarily burn through my points at Elite right now. So I'm doing a lot of training and really trying to work on a lot of the fundamentals. We'll talk a little bit about that today, I think.

And then I have a puppy who's almost 10 months old, Powder. Powder's another Labrador Retriever. She's actually half-sister to Brava. Powder has her ORT's and she is turning out to be a really, really cool dog, I think, and she reminds me a lot of Judd, which is really fantastic. She really has a lot of his same search styles.

Those of you who might have heard this who may not know who Judd is, Judd was my big-time partner in the sport. He passed in November, due to cancer, but he's the one that earned the Summit titles. He earned three Summit titles and he has a whole lot of experience trialing all over, or he had a whole lot of experience trialing all over the U.S., and he was my heart and soul. But his spirit is still alive in what I teach and I think it's really still alive in all my dogs.

Melissa Breau: I know we've talked about some of this before on the podcast, but I want to take it back a little bit. How did you initially become interested in nosework?

Stacy Barnett: I did a lot of other sports, and a lot of this happened with Judd and everything. I tried it initially with a couple of my other dogs, but he showed me he loved to use his nose. So I started with tracking, he got his tracking dog title with ASCA, and I saw such a difference in him. He went from being this timid, super-super-sensitive, difficult-to-trial dog to whenever he used his nose, it was like Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It was like a totally different dog. I saw this drive come out, and I saw this intensity and this focus and this joy, and that joy is something that became very exciting for me.

I started nosework on a whim, and I saw the same joy come out of him with nosework. Once that got started, I just couldn't stop, and honestly, I don't really do other sports anymore. It just became such a big part of my life, I just love that joy, that I can't do anything else. I just love it so much because I saw such a transformation.

Now that I've gotten all my other dogs into it, I'm working with dogs, primarily Brava and Powder. Brava does dock diving and stuff like that for fun, but nosework is now everything for me and it's pretty incredible. I enjoy it, the dogs enjoy it, and I love the teamwork that has developed, and it's just amazing. It's just amazing. That's how I got interested. It just got started, and it took off, and now it's like a steam engine. 

Melissa Breau: Those who have taken classes with you are probably familiar with your pyramid concept, but for people who aren't, can you share what it is and then maybe talk us through a little bit of what led you to come up with it?

Stacy Barnett: Sure, sure. I came up with a lot because of my own journey with my own dogs. I mentioned briefly that Joey, motivation has never been his strong suit, and Why, confidence has never been his strong suit. When I started thinking about how all this stuff layers together, I came up with a pyramid, and I call it my Four Cornerstones of Trial Preparation. I came up with that name at some point and it just kind of stuck. It's not really descriptive. I wish I could change the name, but I can't now. Once you create something and you name it, that's it.

A pyramid has four levels, and the idea is that you start at the bottom, or the most important thing is at the bottom, and the least important thing is at the top, and it just builds on each other. So the first level is confidence and the second level is motivation.

What I try to do is I try to emphasize to people that skills doesn't come into play until the third level and stamina is at the very top, because I think so often people get so focused on the skills that they forget that you have to have a dog there and ready to work, and happy to work and wanting to work, before you can even start with the skills.

I've noticed that if you really focus on the confidence and motivation piece of it, the skills are easy, honestly, for the dogs to figure out. We'll talk a lot more about the skills part of it because I really enhanced that aspect more recently.

But the emotional side of it is such a critical part of a successful dog. If you can get a dog that is confident in their environment and confident in themselves — that's huge, confident in themselves — and even bigger is confident in the handler. If you can get a dog that's really confident, and then you build that motivation and that desire with really, really great experiences and everything, and wanting to work for odor, and wanting to search, and enjoying it, they get a lot of reinforcement just even from the activity.

If you have those two pieces, you can layer in the skills. So that's what that pyramid is about. It's a focus on the emotional side of training a dog, which which I think it's easy, especially coming into a brand new sport, it's easy to forget about that part of it and just focus on trying to find a hide. 

Melissa Breau: For those who have actually seen the graphic, Stacy has literally a triangle, it's a pyramid, sort of like the Food Pyramid, where you have the foundations of the thing, the concept. It's a pyramid split into four stacked pieces: Confidence, Motivation, Skills, Stamina. Trying to help people picture it in their own heads now that we're talking about it. 

Stacy Barnett: Right. It's simple to remember and to think about. You mentioned that my degree is in chemical engineering, but my background is I spent a lot of time in corporate, and I did a lot of management consulting in corporate. So, as you can imagine, slides and graphics — I did that for a living. So I was thinking of a graphic image, like, what would make sense, and the pyramid was just perfect. Your history comes back to haunt you. Or to help you.

Melissa Breau: Hopefully it's helping, not haunting, in this case.

Stacy Barnett: Exactly. I think it depends on your frame of mind at the moment. But yeah, to help. Definitely to help.

Melissa Breau: You were saying how that ties into the emotional piece of things. I know we've talked a little bit about that before on the podcast, how important having that emotional component in place, and have the dog in the right frame of mind and all those pieces, how that ties in. More recently it seems like you've been focused on the cognitive aspects of how dogs problem-solve. So, for those who maybe don't know what I'm talking about, maybe you could talk through that a little bit and then what led to that shift. 

Stacy Barnett: Sure, sure. The cognitive side, because the thing is that dogs are not just emotional animals. They're also cognitive animals, meaning that the way of their thinking and learning and understanding, and how they learn, the memory — they're complex animals. I think sometimes, even when we start training in nosework, we picture it in terms of the dog not being a cognitive animal. I'm going to explain that because you're probably thinking, What? I know dogs can think.

What I mean by that is a lot of times we think about nosework in terms of the hide and the dogs just finding a hide. So we almost have in our heads a picture of, like … do you remember Pepe Le Pew? He was in love with this cat that had the paint down her back. I actually found a graphic of this where he's gotten this perfume and he's trying to entice her, so he's got this perfume and the perfume goes out to the cat, or the little fake skunk, and draws her in, following this perfume. Because you know Pepe Le Pew, he's in love with the cat.

It might be a completely generational issue with some people listening, but that's the picture is that we picture a dog finding the scent cone, and then following the scent cone back to the hide. Yeah, they do that, but that's very simplistic, because basically you could replicate that with a machine easily. Put a little gas chromatograph on wheels and just wheel it around, and if you've read it quickly enough, you could probably find the hide.

But dogs aren't machines on legs. They're really not. So there's a whole lot of thinking that happens here, in that they're evaluating their environment, they're reacting to their environment, they're remembering their past experiences. They're using their past experiences to build upon their current skill capability.

They're thinking about … they've got contextual understanding. They know what a vehicle looks like. And even if you only did searches on passenger vehicles, or on cars, they're going to see a truck and they're going to realize it's a vehicle. They're going to see a semi, they're going to realize it's a vehicle. They have that contextual understanding.

They also have an understanding of their environment. So, for instance, if they're catching odor and they have to go around an object, they're going to figure out how to do that, even if it takes them out of odor.

It's all this type of understanding that I think we don't always give the dog a whole lot of credit for. And then, when you really think about what odor is, the molecules — they're bouncing around like crazy. It's not like a laser pointer. The dogs really have to assess and understand it in order to find the hide.

So the cognitive side of that, if you layer on, if we go back to our pyramid and we talk about the confidence and motivation, once you get into the skills, you start really tapping into … . If you really understand the dog and you understand how they're thinking, how they're solving the problem, you can set up situations that help the dog to learn to be more effective and efficient in the skills. So that's that aspect of the skills that I … does that make sense?

Melissa Breau: Yeah. I want to talk a little more about that, though. I guess what you're trying to say with the cognitive pieces that it's not just all instinct, right? It's not all just something that comes built in. The dog has to process and think. Is that … ?

Stacy Barnett: Yeah, yeah, because it is a learned skill. Granted, puppies come out of the womb, they know how to search for their food. All dogs have a natural aptitude for hunting. What we do through training is that we make them more efficient and effective.

Now, if you think about an animal in the wild, they have that training all the time because they have to go out and they have to hunt for their food. So they're getting that on-the-job training. Our dogs, honestly, their food — we give it to them in a bowl. So they do have to develop this, and you're going to find that over time your dogs become more effective and efficient.

The other thing is that we have criteria on our hides in terms of how close they have to get to source, depending upon the hide. We also have criteria in terms of time. Granted, if you take a dog that's driven enough and you give them a very difficult hide and you don't put a time limit on it, even if the dog is very green, but if they have enough drive and enough desire it, they'll find it. But they'll take a long time. And when we're talking about competitive nosework, this is a timed sport, so we need to be able to have that efficiency.

The other thing is that also when the dog works those patterns and we can start to evaluate and see what the dog is doing, it educates the handler, and then the handler can understand exactly what is the dog going through. What is the dog thinking about? How is the dog approaching this problem? Because we're also cognitive creatures. So we can evaluate that, understand the dog's patterns, and it helps us be a better handler, and it helps us to be able to evaluate our dogs and be able to support our dogs in a better way.

Melissa Breau: You touched on a lot of pieces there, so let's pull some of that apart. I happen to sit through some of the webinars, since I run them. I know you talked about cognitive approach in the webinars. You were talking about how you can figure out things strategically, I guess, about what you want the dog to remember when they're searching and intentionally build that memory and build that context. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Stacy Barnett: I've been trying to understand memory and how memory works and everything. Memory comes in … there's a huge aspect of that, because I think of it in terms of there's four different types of processing that I've noticed when a dog actually goes through their searching. It's how a dog searches. They use their memory a lot, and we'll talk about that in a minute, but they're also leveraging their memory in the three other aspects.

The other aspect, there's also sensory processing. When a dog searches — and this is where the cognitive aspect comes in — they're not just following their nose, which is the reason why I mentioned the whole Pepe Le Pew thing. They're using their nose and their eyes together because they're thinking, they're seeing their environment, they're reacting to that environment, and they're making deductions based upon what they see. In order to become more efficient, they're using their nose and their eyes together, and if your dog is out actually hunting for a squirrel or a rabbit, they're also using their ears. So they're using all their senses. They're not just using their nose.

To find the hide — the birch, anise, or clove — they're using their nose and eyes together. There's a whole sensory processing, and at the same time they're noticing what you're doing as a handler. All this information is coming together, so they have to be able to process all the sensory aspects.

And then you also get into the aspect of there's also contextual understanding. Once a dog sees something, this is why it ties into the sensory. Once they see something, they're also saying, oh, this is a container, this is what a container looks like, or this is what a vehicle looks like. I know, based on my experience as a dog, I know coming in and I see containers, well, you know what? The hides are likely to be in the containers. So there's that whole aspect where they can increase their likelihood of finding a hide based on their previous experience, which is a reason why it ties back to memory.

Then you have the spatial processing, and that's that last piece. The spatial processing has to do with evaluating the objects in the environment around them so that they can navigate the space in order to get to the hide. This could mean, if odor is blowing through a set of bleachers, for instance, going from front to back, how do they navigate that to get to the hide? Or if you have an object in the way, can they even move in an area which actually may take them out of a lower concentration of odor to get around to things? All of these things come together, and a lot of that has to do with memory, because it's the memory of their previous experiences. It's also the emotional tie to odor, how they actually source it, all of that comes into play.

So that's the crux of it. And that's the reason why it ties back into memory, because they have to be able to evaluate what they've done in the past and then build on that in the future.

Melissa Breau: So is it really different than reinforcement history?

Stacy Barnett: To some extent, I think, because it's more experience-based. Reinforcement history is kind of the end, so I consider more the reinforcement as thinking more about emotions. When the dog gets to the hide, they get reinforced and you have the emotions there, and they realize this was really, really fun. What the memory does is that it also envelops everything that they did to get to that point. They might be thinking, OK, if I can't get to the hide because I can't go underneath the vehicle, I need to know how to go around it. It's that aspect of understanding how to go around it, so that then they can apply that. It's more of an abstract concept, and it's being able to apply abstract concepts in the future. Where if I'm teaching a sit, it's a behavior, and that is more of a … there's also a memory component, but that's more of a motor behavior, like, motor memory versus the "How do I problem-solve to get to that point." Does that make sense?

Melissa Breau: Yeah. So, to take this to the next natural step, if all these components have to come together for a really good search or an efficient searching dog, then the obvious question is, how do we strategically use them in training to be setting up puzzles that teaches our dog the skills we want them to learn?

Stacy Barnett: Yeah. To me, it's more of an appreciation of the fact that the dogs go through this, because if you have an appreciation of that, then you can start to see … because every dog is different, and that's part of it. This isn't something that you can necessarily train as a recipe. This is also completely separate from how you imprint odor and how you get the dog to search for a basic hide. All of that, you know, there's many roads to Rome. A lot of people do that very differently.

This is more the now that the dog has the basic skill of finding a hide and they understand that that results in a reward, now this is building the dog's depth and breadth of their capability. That's where we can use this information to understand what is it about our dog's natural search style that says that they may be stronger in one aspect or another, and then how can I use that information to emphasize certain aspects of their education. 

Melissa Breau: Yeah. So if we wanted to take a dog, they've trained on basic odor, they understand the basic foundation skills, and we want to figure out what they're strong in and what they're not strong in so we can maybe build those weaknesses — that's what we're talking about here, right? It's like, how do we evaluate.

Stacy Barnett: Yeah. I'll give you an example, and I actually sketched this out earlier, because right now this is probably seeming very esoteric because it's very deep thought.

An example could be, and I just sketched this out, the emphasis that a dog may naturally have on their nose versus their eyes, and you see a lot of variation with that. If you have a dog that's very, very visual, what you're going to find is that dog's going to be very object oriented.

What that means is if you have discrete objects out in your search area, they're going to go to each of the objects and they're going to check the object and move on, and then check the next object and move on, because they have an assumption that the hide has to be on an object. So these are dogs that tend to be very visual, they tend to be very object-oriented.

Now, if you take these dogs and you put them into certain types of search areas, they're going to do very well because they're going to be able to search those objects very quickly, and they'll be able to use that visual part of it to be able to find those basic hides.

The problem that they're going to run into when they get to more complicated hides is the problem-solving that comes from a hide not being on a basic object, but perhaps in the search environment, and they're going to start to stumble. For instance, if you have a hide near an object, you may end up getting false alerts on that object. There's a lot of challenges that have to do with that. So that could be a more visually oriented dog.

If we look at the other end of the spectrum, you might have a dog that's extremely olfactory-oriented, which we might think is actually very good for nosework, but it can also be a challenge. Dogs that are very, very nose-oriented versus eye-oriented, they may get into an analysis paralysis type of thing, where they're working the odor and they're working the airflow and the air currents so heavily that they don't even think about what they're seeing. And if they don't think about what they're seeing, they're not able to make the deductions of between their eyes and their nose, so it may take them a lot longer to get to source. So then you have a very inefficient searcher. They ignore objects. They just go through the search area to find the hide.

Then you have a dog that's what I consider to be in balance. These are the dogs that are in balance between their eyes and their nose. With these dogs, what they're going to do is they're going to skim along the objects, checking the objects, but then they're going to work the air currents between the objects. So you get a dog that's able to deduce between the objects and the odor to be able to find a hide more effectively and more efficiently.

So when you're assessing your dog, you're able to assess your dog if they're more object-oriented or more olfactory-oriented, and then set up your searches so that you can make the dog more efficient over time.

For instance, if you have a dog that's very object-oriented, you may want to start some searches where you have very few objects and the odor is more in the environment. So the dog starts to break out of that paradigm of a hide always has to be on an object, and you start to emphasize the nose over the eyes. I call it a toggle, when the dog goes back and forth between the eyes and the nose.

Or if you have a dog that's very olfactory-oriented, maybe you want to start putting some more simple hides on objects to try to get them to drive to source more quickly.

So you can change how you set your hides, based upon how your dog searches. And that's one example.

Melissa Breau: I think that's helpful to put an example on it.

Stacy Barnett: Yeah, because otherwise it gets very esoteric and you're like, "Whoa." 

Melissa Breau: I want to go back a little bit, though, because we were talking about originally this emotional aspect and then we got into the cognitive stuff. Can you talk a little more about how those two things work together and how important it is to have to think about both ends of that?

Stacy Barnett: Yeah, because if you have a dog that's not emotionally committed to nosework and you work on all these skills, you could get a dog that says, "Well, this is really too hard." And then you might end up with a slower dog. You might end up with a dog that's just like, "This isn't worth it."

The emotional aspect is super-important. And actually I just put out a blog on my own website yesterday … I don't know, my days are running together … about training happy.

I was looking at a lot of the different studies that have happened, and they did a study with some MRI imaging and everything, where they were actually able to prove that dogs were more interested in praise from their owners than actually from food.

With Fenzi, with FDSA, we're very much a relationship-based school with the dog, and building that relationship and having that emotions, that we're not just handing out cookies. And this is, I think, it's regardless of whatever sport you're doing.

It's the same type of thing with nosework. When the dog finds a hide, it's got to be a reward event. I try to make it an event when my dog finds a hide, so that my dog's esteem, that amount of emotion, because they want that praise in addition to the cookie.

I have Labradors. They'll do anything for food. They really will, especially Brava. I've never seen food drive like this before. It's a little terrifying actually. And Labradors kind of make up what food is, to the disdain of their owners sometimes. We won't go there, but they really do.

So I'm training Labradors, but I have to tell you, Brava, when we're done, I give her a cookie, she's really excited. If I look down at her and I clap my hands very lightly and I tell her, "Oh, you're so amazing," her face lights up, because, yeah, she's really into the food that I'm giving her — which she could care less what I give her, but she's really into that — and in the moment she really wants the food rewards. But it's the experience with her going back to the crate or back to the car or wherever that is really, really rewarding. She just loves it when I do that light little clap and I tell her how amazing she is. That emotion then reinforces the entire event that we just had and that reinforces her desire to learn. So that also gives her more focus and more attention.

That's also part of the studies that they've done is that emotion actually helps to increase attention and focus, positive emotions. They've done a lot of studies with humans and everything. Having that positive emotion reinforces that attention, which means that she's going to learn better, which means she's going to remember better, and which means all of this cognitive aspect becomes strengthened.

So you start to bring the two together. This isn't sterile learning. It's all about emotion and reinforcing the desire to want to solve these problems. That's really why it's so important. And then going back to the pyramid, that's why that confidence and motivation is there, because if you have that, the world is your oyster. Then it's just setting up those puzzles to really help the dog. Especially if you have a dog that's low on motivation, you really have to bring that emotion in.

Joey, for instance, is not food motivated whatsoever. He takes a food when he gets to a hide, but that food is almost to some extent a marker. It just tells him, "You were correct." But when I trial, he doesn't search because he wants the cookies. He honestly couldn't care less about the cookies. I mean, he gets it and he'll eat it, but he usually looks at me and he goes, "Is it poison?" before I give it to him. He does, I swear. He looks at me and says, "Is it poison?" "No, honey, it's not poison. You can eat it." "OK, Mom." And then he takes the food. These are the high-value rewards for him, keep in mind, which is kind of scary. And so he takes the food and he eats it.

But on the way back to the car, I play with him, and it's that personal play, like a lot of stuff that Denise does, or that she's taught a lot about over time, and now a lot of our instructors teach as well. Amy Cook and Shade and everybody teaches play because it's so fundamental and it's so important.

So on the way back from the search, back to the car, I'm playing with him, I'm down on his end. He is so stinking happy that it then makes that next search more powerful. The next search he goes out because he wants to have that whole reward event at the end of it. So it reinforces the learning and it reinforces the whole experience.

That's where that emotion and that cognition comes together, and that's really where the power is. Finding a hide is the easiest part of nosework. That's the easiest part. Finding a hide effectively has to do with motivation and it has to do with emotion.

Melissa Breau: And then, of course, the skill, which is the cognitive piece, right?

Stacy Barnett: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. All that comes together. And when you start to put that together, you can also start to build … the stamina is that last piece, because when you get up to, especially at the Summit level, you're doing a two-day trial, and we're talking some really, really crazy searches. They're just amazing. And the dogs, and the stamina that the dogs have to have, especially for the fact that there's a lot less odor usually, and what I mean by fewer hides, by less odor, in larger search areas. The dogs are finding fewer hides in larger search areas, so they have to have that stamina to sustain the desire to search in the presence of no odor.

If you have built up this whole love of the activity through all of this training, they can get to that level where now they can search for a long period of time and not find anything and keep the focus and keep the motivation. That's how all this stuff comes together.

I really got into this, especially once Judd got up to that level and I started thinking, OK … and I love observing and just observing how they search. I think it's helped, and especially observing a lot of dogs, it's helped to figure out there's buckets in terms of the way dogs search and the way dogs think. But then you can take that and you can apply that to other … there's a lot of trends. A lot of it is fascinating. This is what I love about it. It's so fascinating. 

Melissa Breau: You've been talking throughout about how your training and how your teaching has evolved. Are there things that maybe you taught initially or that you believed about training when you were getting started that you no longer believe or would teach? Is there anything that you've done a 180 on or completely changed your mind on? 

Stacy Barnett: There's not a whole lot, honestly. There's some things that I do differently. I do emphasize different things than I used to. My emphasis is heavily on problem-solving once the dog gets to the point that they understand how to work to the hide, but problem-solving in such a way that it sustains the motivation, because you have to have a motivated dog before you go anywhere.

The only changes I've made are probably from the initial side of it. There's more of a de-emphasis of containers until later. I think both Julie and Melissa are also doing the same thing, where we de-emphasize containers a little bit because we want to really emphasize the dog's desire to find source, and I think you don't get that as much with containers.

But that's really probably the only thing that I've really changed. It's more the way I've changed the way I teach is more additive, I think. It's more additive and it's more personalized. What I mean by personalized is very dog-specific, and being able to try to take that specific dog and try to figure out what that specific dog needs versus changing what I do, I guess, if that makes sense.

Melissa Breau: It's a little more complex, but there's a little more depth to it.

Stacy Barnett: Yeah, yeah. It's more complex, it's got more depth, but what I try to do, especially with a lot of my classes, I do a lot of visuals, where I try to take concepts and I make a slide or a visual or something to try to understand, so that people understand how these concepts come together. Because what I want to do is I want to make thinking trainers. The handlers that are working with their dogs, I want them to be thinking handlers.

So it's more than following along and giving the dog a cookie when they find a hide, and it's more than even observing. It's thinking, so that they can understand what their dog is telling them, and then help them to be able to understand how to emphasize what's best in their dogs, and to really produce excellent handlers and trainers. 

Melissa Breau: All right. I've got one last question here and it's the question that I ask everyone these days. What's something that you've learned or you've been reminded of recently when it comes to training?

Stacy Barnett: What I've been reminded of recently … I really was thinking … gosh, there's so much, I'm always thinking about something. Honestly, I think it's the emotional side of it. It was just so obvious to me when I was working with Brava, actually. We were patterning, getting her to wrap the vehicles a little bit more, and some stuff that I'd been working on recently with her, because she has a tendency to search a little bit like a pinball. Her response to me just leaning over and clapping at her, like a really soft clap, and her response to that — it reinforced that whole emotional side of it, and how even a dog that is so, so into food and into the reward, that the real reward is me. I've been thinking about how that piece of it really reinforces the learning, and that's where my head is right now.

Melissa Breau: Awesome. Such an interesting concept. Thank you so much for coming on.

Stacy Barnett: Oh, thank you. This was fun.

Melissa Breau: And thank you to all of our listeners for tuning in! We'll be back next week. 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!

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