E175: Sara Brueske - "Mondioring: Not Just for Bitey Dogs"

Sara comes on to talk about the new Mondioring Obedience title, which is open to all dogs — and what it takes to train for and compete in this exciting and unpredictable sport.


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 Sara Brueske.

Sara has been training dogs for over 15 years. She became a Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner in 2011 and jumped into the world of professional dog training.

Sara and her dogs work demonstrating the sports of disc, agility, and dock diving for the public at Purina Farms, as well as for other venues, and Sara travels worldwide giving seminars.

She and her dogs also compete nationwide. Currently she is active in the sports of disc dog, agility, mondioring and dock diving — plus she's a trick dog enthusiast.

Sara believes in positive reinforcement not only for dogs, but for their handlers as well. Her biggest joy in training is watching a handler and dog become partners and grow as a team.

Hi Sara, welcome back to the podcast!

Sara Brueske: Hi Melissa. Thank you so much for having me again.

Melissa Breau: Excited to chat. To start us out — I'm sure it's always your favorite question — can you share a little about your own dogs and what you're working on with them?

Sara Brueske: I have a lot of dogs. Right now, because of the pandemic, we haven't been as active as we normally are this time of year. Normally this time of year we're doing shows, we're doing a lot of disc, we're doing a lot of that sort of thing, and we're traveling all over the place with me teaching and everything else, but that's been put on hold. So I've gotten the chance to really focus on things like agility in my back yard, like the UKI at-home agility trials, and bike-joring and dock diving and those things I put on hold in the more competitive format versus just trying to survive the summer and doing shows.

The other thing that I'm getting to focus on right now is mondioring. My boy Creature is 3 years old and he has officially started his trialing career. We jumped in and trialed last-minute a few weekends ago up in Minnesota, and he passed his first Level 1 trials. He needs one more leg and he'll have his MR1 title. I'm really excited. He's finally grown up, matured, he's ready to work, and he's doing really awesome, so I'm excited to continue that with him.

I do have a lot of dogs, everything from my Malinois down to a Boston Terrier/Shi-Tzu mix, and a whole bunch of Australian Koolies, which I breed as well, so if you hear a little squeaking going on in my microphone, that's my young girl Wild, who's very upset we're not outside playing right now.

We're also doing our virtual Koolie Celebration right now. Our Koolie National went online this year, and so we're spending all week doing things like agility and disc dog and stuff like that to celebrate our Koolies worldwide. So that's really exciting.

Melissa Breau: That is exciting. It's neat that you get to go virtual.

Sara Brueske: Yeah, we're giving it a go. This is my first time hosting a competition online and I'm really liking it so far. It's really cool connecting with people all over the world. If we were doing it just local, we would have some people from Canada and then everybody else from America, and since this breed is heavily based in Australia, it's nice seeing some of those dogs compete as well.

Melissa Breau: Very cool. I wanted to have you on today to talk about mondioring, starting with the basics. I think some people listening vaguely have an idea of it as a bitey dog sport, and other people probably haven't heard of it at all before. So can you just generally start with telling us a little bit about it, starting with how it's pronounced. I've heard it pronounced all sorts of different ways, but I think it's pronounced mondio – ring, not mondior – ing or any of those, right?

Sara Brueske: Yeah, absolutely. It's mondio – ring, and it's just another form of ring sport. Ring sport generally is French ring or Belgian ring and mondioring are the three different ring sports out there.

You talk about protection sports, and each of those sports has an obedience element mixed in. They are very similar to IGP, also known as IPO or schutzhund, but the big difference is we don't have a tracking phase. We do have a scent discrimination exercise, but we don't have that tracking phase in our sport.

All of the bite-work sports, the protection sports, have different emphasis as far as what they want to see in the dog. Schutzhund/IGP/IPO, whichever one you want to call it, they focus on it as a breed ability test for German Shepherds. That's how it was created. And so they judge heavily on things like grip, on temperament stability, on precision, that sort of thing.

Versus mondioring, we like to see functionality, and that's really the basis of the sport. So you have your set exercises. We have an obedience portion, a jumps portion, and a protection portion. With those three phases, they're all done at the same time. You enter the field once, you do all three phases, and then you're done.

Versus IGP, you go do your tracking, you load your dog up, probably drive off to the obedience field, you do your obedience, you load your dog up, and then you do your protection on that same field afterward. So it's separated that way.

Mondioring is a little bit tough because you have to go through obedience, and then go straight into the jumps, and right then go straight into your protection work, and so your dogs are pretty tired by the end. A Mondioring 3 routine can take anywhere from a half-hour to 45 minutes, with your dog on the field, working the whole time. Generally a Mondioring 1 will take 15 minutes or so to get through. And then obviously the 2 is somewhere in-between those.

It's a pretty complex sport, but even though you know the exercises that you're going to be doing — you're always going to do these exercises — there's going to be a big difference as far as the order of those exercises. Those obedience exercises can be presented in any order. For instance, you can start with your food refusal and then go into a send away and then maybe the little wood exercise right after that in the same direction as your send away. Your dog just ran full blast down that field, and now they have to run that same line, but they have to find the tiny piece of wood that has your scent on it. So it can be really challenging that way.

The other thing that mondioring is known for is environmental challenges, and so you have no idea what that field is going to look like when you step onto that field. For club-level trials, you do get an open field day. Mostly you don't have to have that, but we try to let competitor dogs go on the field the day before, just to get exposed to it and see what challenges we've laid out. But that's not a necessary thing, and especially at National/Worlds level you don't get that opportunity.

When your dogs go out on that field, there's all sorts of different things. In Minnesota, our last trial we had, they had this giant blowup unicorn that had water spraying out of its horn. Our dogs had to do the little wood through that, or some sort of challenge that way. There's also food placed on the field for Level 2 and Level 3, so while your dog is hunting for the little wood, they might have to run past some really good-smelling fish that's on the ground, or something along those lines.

That environmental challenge is a hard aspect of this, and the judges get creative as far as those environmental challenges. While it's not judged as heavily on things like precision, so your dog doesn't have to have that beautiful heads-up heel that they might in schutzhund, you can have that and get full points, but it's not necessary.

Things are judged more on making sure your dog doesn't forge in heel or lag in heel, but they don't have to have that high-stepping precision heel for sure. So everything is based on functionality.

Melissa Breau: Interesting. I know there's this new OB titling program as part of this. Can you talk about that a little bit more and how that differs from the bitey-dog bits? A little more about what that part of the trial looks like.

Sara Brueske: Absolutely. We have this obedience or obedience-and-jumps title, it's two different tracks, and it was developed by Karen Shivers. She put this program together to try to promote mondioring as a sport for all dogs and not just our protection sport dogs — not just the Belgian Malinois, the Dutch Shepherds and the German Shepherds — to get more dogs out on the field competing.

Typically the way it works at a trial, is you do a dog in white, so Level 1 dogs would go, you'd watch a dog in white, and that dog would demonstrate all of the exercises in the routine of the trial. You watch that dog, and then the Level 1, Mondioring 1 dogs, would go and compete. After that would be the obedience dogs. They do the same exact routine as your Mondioring Level 1 dogs; they just don't do the protection portion. And if you're just doing the OB track, the obedience track, you wouldn't do the jumps.

It's really cool, because you're doing those same challenges as those protection sport dogs, just not the bitey part of it. So you get all the same stuff, all the same challenges, all the same functionality and everything else like that, just minus the protection.

Melissa Breau: What are the exercises?

Sara Brueske: There's a whole bunch of exercises. In Level 1 you have heeling. It's a general heeling pattern — there's a left turn, a right turn, and an about turn with two stops — and then you might be going over an obstacle, or through obstacles, or something along those lines. You don't really know as far as that goes. There's no pace changes or anything like that.

You're not allowed to talk to your dog, so anything that is considered a second cue would be a loss all of the points. You can't talk to your dog, you can't gesture to your dog, or anything like that, so that's part of the challenge.

Then you have absence of handler. It's a down stay for one minute. You put your dog in a down stay, you disappear, and there's some sort of distraction. That distraction again could be who knows what, and where you put your dog could be challenging. You might put your dog in a hide and then walk away, so your dog is actually the one hiding versus you.

Then you have your send away. For that, I believe it's 30 meters for Level 1. Your dog just runs straight out. Once they pass the line, you can call them back, and they just have to get within a meter of you and stabilize there.

And then position changes. It's three position changes — stand, sit, down — at a distance. I think it's ten meters or five meters; I'm not sure. I should have checked that. We just train for all sorts of distances. With the position changes, the handler can be in any position, so you might be partially hidden behind something, you might be sitting down, you might be standing.

Then you have food refusal. You put your dog in a down, somebody presents food to the dog, the dog obviously cannot eat the food, and then you come back. That food — who knows what it is. It could be a hot dog, one time it was a banana Moon Pie.

And then the retrieve. It could be any object, it could be over an obstacle, or it could be into an obstacle as well. Those are the obedience exercises for Level 1.

In Level 2 and Level 3 we just have the addition of little wood, which is also known as a search for an object. It's a dowel that has your scent on it. You get that at check-in, you put your scent on it, you put it in your pocket, and when you put that out there, it's along with four other little wood objects that don't have your scent on it. Again, it could be within an object, it could be partially disguised, or whatever, so you don't know that distraction. So that's your handler scent discrimination exercise.

Melissa Breau: Interesting. You talked a little bit through the titling and scoring. Can you talk a little more about how things are similar or different to what someone might expect from an AKC obedience trial or an agility trial?

Sara Brueske: The big difference is in an AKC obedience trial you have these in-between times. You do your exercise, exercise finish, and then you have this in-between time. That in-between time isn't typically that long because your ring isn't that big, and so to get from one point to another, it's only ten or fifteen steps.

The big difference in a mondioring trial is that in-between. Now your dog has to do all of these exercises, but they have to stay connected with you while you walk across this giant field to the next exercise. And then you have to perform another exercise, and then you have to walk all the way back across to do another exercise.

It's that in-between where your dog has to be with you, connected with you, and then able to work again, even if it's hot outside, or all these distractions, all these people walking around with you. That's really the big challenge is that it's not a predictable thing, and it gets challenging that way.

I think, as far as that goes, that's the big difference between an AKC obedience and even with IGP. IGP is generally set up pretty efficiently, where you end up where need to start again, so you don't have the giant walk across the giant field thing.

As far as judging goes, it's really based more on functionality, like I said. So you do get knocked points for things like your dog moving forward in positions, but generally, at the lower levels, the judges tend to be a little bit more lenient. At Level 1 you get more forgiveness versus at Level 3, where they're going to judge you a lot more harshly as far as that kind of stuff goes. So it's not so precision-based, and like I said, for all the recalls, the dog just has to stabilize within a meter of you. So you get a lot of choices as far as what behaviors can looks like.

For instance, in IGP, a recall, your dog ends up in front position, and that's judged as far as how good that front position is. For mondioring, I can have my dog end up in front position, I can have them finish at my left side, my right side, I can have them stand between my legs, how they get in-between my legs is completely up to me. So I can have a lot of wiggle room as far as what these behaviors look like.

The same with heeling. My dog doesn't have to be on my left side for heeling. I can have a right-side heel, and in fact I train four different versions of heeling for Creature. He has a left heel, a right heel — both of those are heads up and head targeted heels — and he has a left heel and a right heel where he's able to look around at the environment around him. And I use all four of those heeling in our routine at some point.

So you get a lot more leeway as far as what the behaviors actually look like, as long as they're functional.

Melissa Breau: Interesting. So do you have to tell the judge before you do an exercise what the behavior is going to look like?

Sara Brueske: No.

Melissa Breau: Just do it.

Sara Brueske: Yes. Stabilize within a meter of you and then they'll end the routine there. The other thing that's really different that a lot of people notice right away when they watch their first mondioring trial is that everything is dictated by a horn, like a bicycle horn. The judge has a horn and the horn rules all. You walk up to your prep line — this is where you tell your dog what exercise they're going to be doing.

For instance, if I was going to start a send away, I would put Creature to my left side at the prep line, I would give my cue for a send away, so I target him where he's going to be going, I wait for a horn, the judge honks their horn, I move up to the line of departure, I wait for another horn, and then I cue my dog to go, and then I recall my dog once they cross the line, they come back, I wait for a double horn, which ends the exercise.

The prep horn would be, "Are you ready for the exercise?" in AKC terms, and the "Go" horn would be "Start your heeling," or whatever, and when the dog comes back, their exercise finish is the double horn. That's the trademark for both French ring and mondioring is that horn.

Melissa Breau: I can't let it go by without asking: You said four different types of heeling used at four different points in the routines. I'm curious what the four types are and when you use what.

Sara Brueske: I have my right side heads-down heel, which is my A to B in behavior, so getting him from one exercise to another, because it's a very informal heel. He just has to stay by me, and he can scan the environment around him, which is really important, because Creature is one of those dogs who the more he works, the more he spins up. If he was constantly in a heads-up heel, by the end of the routine I would have a dog that was exhausted, not able to think anymore, and completely out of control. By letting him have this loose heel from A to B, he is able to calm himself between exercises and it works on his arousal mobility thing.

I have a right side heads-up heel, mostly because I was finding that when I was trying to trial him before he was ready, I was starting to run my left-side heads-up heel. And so I switched it to a right-side heads-up heel, so that if I was seeing him starting to get a little loose in a trial environment, or he was getting a little bit out of control, I could just go to my right-side heads-up heel so that I would protect my left-side heel.

Not only that, but on my right side, if I start him on the right side for an exercise, it's generally a calm exercise, so my absence behavior, my down stay, starts on the right side first, because my send away starts on my left side. Anything that starts on the left side is a very exciting thing, and so I can have that extra tool to control his arousal a little bit more. So left side would be the send away, it would be my retrieve, it would be my long bite attacks. All the things that are like "I love to do that" all happen on the left side.

I also have my defensive handler on my left side. So it's a heads-down on the left side, and then he can just watch the decoys. That's a protection sport exercise with the decoys, take you through a scenario and the dog can't bite until they hit you. That's done on my left side. And my formal heel is done on my left side as well. So lots of things.

Melissa Breau: It's cool, though. I especially like the part about one side means exciting, one side means not exciting, so to speak. It's very consistent with your marker cues.

Sara Brueske: Everybody hears that and they're like, "That sport is so complicated," but it's not the truth at all. I know tons of people that do everything on their left side, it's not a big deal, and their dogs totally get it. So it doesn't have to necessarily be this way. I know that it's going to work best for Creature this way in the long run, and that's why I chose to do it this way. Famous, my other Malinois, everything is pretty much done on the left because she was originally an IGP dog, and so everything is on the left side for her.

Melissa Breau: Interesting. We were talking about this a little bit before we turned on the recording, but are there any limits to what dogs can participate in the sport and what "kinds" of dogs excel with the exercises?

Sara Brueske: If you're thinking about doing mondioring in its entirety, you need a dog that's bred for the sport. That's not to say that other dogs can't do it; it's just whether or not they're going to enjoy the level of pressure that the decoys put on them. So you need a dog that's specifically bred to enjoy to fight.

That's not what dogs typically are bred for, so dogs that don't like a lot of pressure, they don't like that confrontation-type thing, they're not going to enjoy going up to a Level 3, for instance. You might be able to play at the lower levels and get the exercises done that way, but it really takes a special dog to do that kind of protection thing, and that's why we breed dogs specifically for it.

So your Malinois, your Dutch Shepherds, your German Shepherds, I know a few really cool other breeds that do it as well, like Rottweilers will do it, but again, they're bred for that sport. Black Russian Terriers, if they're bred for protection sports, can do it as well. So pay attention to that if you want to pursue the whole protection side of it.

But as far as obedience and obedience-and-jumps program goes, any dog can do it. There is a general rule in mondioring that the dog has to be FCI registered, so that means AKC registered, or a registry that is associated with FCI, but that doesn't go in effect for our protection dogs until … I think we have another couple of years before that goes into effect.

But for the obedience and the obedience-and-jumps track, any dog can participate. They don't have to be FCI registered or anything like that, because it is just a United States program, it's not a worldwide program, and so we don't have that limitation on them. You can go ahead, and as long as you are a USMRA — which is the United States Mondio Ring Association — member, and you register your dog with it, you're good to go.

Melissa Breau: Very exciting. Are you going to do it with any of the nontraditional breeds that you have?

Sara Brueske: It's so much work. It is a very involved sport, even just the obedience side of it, and so I don't know. They all could do it, but because we focus on so many other things, I don't know if we even have the time to focus on this as well.

Melissa Breau: To add one more sport into the mix.

Sara Brueske: Yes, one more sport. One more giant sport.

Melissa Breau: From just talking about the sport generally, to talk a little more about the training component, what special things need to be taken into consideration if you're training for this?

Sara Brueske: Environmental stability. One of my favorite things to do is create fun, easy games and patterns for my young dogs, like treat toss games, or recall games, or choose to heel, that sort of thing, where my dog is choosing to be engaged with me, and then bringing those games out into as many different environments as possible.

I don't really ask my young dogs, if I'm training for something like that, or even my dogs that I'm prepping for show work, I don't ask them to do hard stuff in new environments until they're older. Same with this kind of exercise, or this kind of sport, because it's so environmentally based. I want my dog going into a new environment knowing what they're going to be doing and being able to excel at that thing that they're going to be doing.

So really focusing on getting your dog out in as many different environments as possible, on strange objects, wobbly objects, loud noises, water accessories because that's definitely a thing, all sorts of different things, and just getting your dog desensitized to those things and these fun games, because if you can do fun games, then you'll be able to do your heeling or your position changes or whatever later on.

Melissa Breau: I guess environmental stability, some people would call it generalization and proofing, and that's a big part of being successful in the sport. Can you talk a little bit more about how you start that? I know you've got some specific stuff you do really early on to help dogs with some of that stuff. Could you dive into it a little deeper?

Sara Brueske: Everything I do for agility, as far as wobble boards and teeter work and moving up against things and that sort of thing, absolutely. And bringing them to stores, because who knows what goes on in stores. You can have an employee running by with a giant rolling cart. You go to Home Depot or Lowe's, if they allow dogs in the store, there's somebody driving by in a forklift. That sort of thing is really cool.

I tend to look for distractions and I tend to invite them. A lot of times I'll go to a park specifically if there is a soccer game or something like that and work my dog around that versus just going to new places. I specifically look for those environmental challenges and then work those really easy games and patterns around those things.

Melissa Breau: Interesting. I think a lot of handlers are used to hearing pretty early on they should break their training down into lots of pieces and gradually make things harder, and I'd imagine that certainly applies here.

Sara Brueske: Absolutely.

Melissa Breau: But it's definitely one of those things that's easier said than done! So I wanted to see if you have any tips or tricks you that you can share for handlers to help them avoid either over-pacing the dog, going too fast, or not being able to tell their dog is ready for a little bit more, or maybe going too slow. How do you help?

Sara Brueske: With environmental stuff— so we'll stay on that little tangent versus trained behaviors and accidentally pushing those a little too far. But with the environmental stuff, I always like to give my dogs that choice, but then I don't let them sit in that choice for too long. So there's this fine balance between letting your dog choose to engage with you versus letting them practice not engaging with you. That's a really big thing.

I tend to pick games that give my dog that choice naturally, so things like choose to heel, where I toss a treat away and then they choose to follow me back in that heeling program. That's a huge, huge foundation behavior for mondioring because that's essentially what the sport is — it's staying with you. So if you teach that right away, that's a really good thing to do.

What I can do is observe how quickly they come back to me. So I toss that treat out. Do they spend time scanning the environment? Do they sniff? What do they do after they eat that treat and before they connect with me? That's where I can really observe whether my dog is ready for more challenges or not.

If their normal is to eat the treat, sniff once or twice, and then come back into heel position, that's great. If they're performing that, that's great. That's their normal. But now that same dog eats that treat and then they sniff, sniff, sniff, sniff, sniff, sniff, sniff, sniff, sniff and then they reconnect, that's giant information right there, if they deviate from their normal.

That's why it's so important to have those pattern games and know what your dog normally does in an environment that they can excel in, because then you can start to see subtle little changes in those pattern games and catch it before your dog completely blows you off. So giving them that choice, but catching them choosing not to want to engage early, before they start practicing bad habits, is really the key.

It's the same with training behavior. I can put in little moments where I can observe my dog with my training. If I'm working on something like pivoting, for example, I can incorporate some reset toss treats. I'll throw a treat out, reset my dog, and again I can observe how long does it take for them to come back and what are they like when they come back. I can watch for those symptoms of early frustration there versus seeing it in the behavior itself, and I can end it before it happens and that behavior then becomes a bad habit.

Melissa Breau: You have a class on all this coming up in August. Do you want to share a little bit more about the class specifically, what the class will cover, and how you'll approach the sport?

Sara Brueske: I'm going to be doing a mondioring obedience class in August. It's very, very exciting. It's my first time teaching mondioring in this type of format.

We are going to be covering all of the obedience exercises, so the ones I listed before. But I'm going to try to do a "train at the point you're at," so if you need to work on foundation, like pivot work or to heel or that sort of thing, we're definitely going to have you work at that point. But if you're past that and you have a really nice heel, we're going to start introducing those environmental challenges to it. And same with position changes and all that stuff.

So it's going to be "train where you're at." I'm going to try to provide as much information about those exercises as possible so that everybody can get something out of the class as far as that goes. And then we're going to work a lot on environmental stuff and working around distractions for sure.

Melissa Breau: I'm curious to see, because I know you do all sorts of stuff around that for your own dogs. I know you said you could start where you're at, but are there any skills that dogs and handlers do need before signing up? Who is a good fit?

Sara Brueske: I think the more you have as far as a handle on the obedience exercises, and the more you have your heel developed and your position changes done and your retrieve done, the more you're going to get out of the class.

If you spend the whole time working on your retrieve, for example, because you don't have one, at that point it's probably better off to take a retrieve class itself versus taking the mondioring class just to focus on that, if that makes sense.

So it's better to go into it with some behaviors already intact so that you can focus on the mondioring aspect of it versus training those behaviors. But that being said, if you come into it and you're like, "I don't really have a heel," we can definitely focus on training that and then slowly introduce some mondioring stuff to it.

Melissa Breau: Good stuff. I couldn't let you go without asking what the craziest mondioring setup is that you've seen or trained with. I know you've done some fun stuff. Can you share some of the quirky setups?

Sara Brueske: I think I'm going to have to do — because my memory's not that great, unfortunately. Every trial has a theme, for one, and it's always cool…. I'll give you two examples.

Some clubs go all out with our themes. We really like the themes. We have a lot of fun with them. Our last trial was right at in beginning of the pandemic, right before the pandemic hit. We did an indoor trial, and we were like, "We can do an indoor trial. That means we can control things like lighting." So we did a laser tag theme. The decoys had guns, laser tag guns, we had lights up, my club went all out — Evolution Working Dog Club went all out — with the decorations. It was really cool. The judge let us, for the protection exercises, turn the lights half-off. The dogs could still see, it was still safe, but it gave it a cool laser tag feel. So that was really fun.

As far as training challenges go, this last trial I went to up in Minnesota, Lisa Geller was the judge and it was Level 3 on Sunday. Level 3's are usually when all the crazy stuff comes out. That is the top notch, like, "Oh my goodness, this is what we're training for." All the other levels are like easier versions of that Level 3 trial.

For the defensive handler, which is where the dog stays with the handler and then the decoys bring them through a scenario with different distractions and the dog can't bite until the decoy hits the handler. It was Jake Schneider and his dog Luda for their Level 3. They'd just done their Level 2 the day before. They go through this defensive handler scenario, and Lisa had a volunteer sitting with a spray nozzle on a hose full blast, and every time Luda and Jake walked by, she was supposed to spray this dog out of nowhere.

Luda at first was like, "What the heck? This is the weirdest thing," and then he was totally fine. It was 90 degrees, so he was getting cooled down at the same time, so it was a good thing for the safety of the dog to have that water aspect, but it was a really hard one because it wasn't like a sprinkler or anything like that. It was this random jet of streamed water coming out. He passed, he did great, he got, I think, full points on the defensive handler, and it was a great showing.

Melissa Breau: That's so crazy. That's not something I would think to train for, that's for sure.

Sara Brueske: I went home and I trained for that right after.

Melissa Breau: Last question. What's something that you've learned or been reminded of recently when it comes to dog training?

Sara Brueske: I was trying to come up with something for you for this. I think the biggest thing is we've recently had a good discussion on engagement and acclimation and that sort of thing, and I think the biggest thing I've been reminded of is yes, let your dog acclimate, but make sure it's in a patterned way and make sure that it's fixed into a certain spot.

And then after they're acclimated, getting them to work and making sure that they're practicing engagement rather than disconnection is a huge thing. I think we need to remember that while we give our dogs that ability to acclimate and get comfortable with their environment.

Practice makes perfect, and so I want my dogs practicing staying engaged with me, and so I have to make sure I set up as much as possible that they are able to that versus having them check out halfway between a session and that sort of thing. So putting more of that engagement on me and making sure I'm setting my dog up for success.

Melissa Breau: That is a great thing to remember as we all head off for today. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast Sara!

Sara Brueske: Thank you so much for having me. I hope everybody likes mondioring and joins us, because it's going to be a great class.

Melissa Breau: It sounds like it. And thank you to all of our listeners for tuning in! We'll be back next week with Julie Daniels to talk about teaching our dogs self-control.

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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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