Originally a student suggestion, today Deb is launching her new virtual titling certificate program for Cooperative Care! Check out the program at: cooperativecarecertificate.com!
Melissa Breau: This is Melissa Breau and you're listening to the Fenzi Dog Sports Podcast brought to you by the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy, an online school dedicated to providing high-quality instruction for competitive dog sports using only the most current and progressive training methods.
Today we have Deb Jones back on the podcast.
For those who don't know Deb, she is a psychologist who specializes in learning theory and social behavior. An early innovator in the use of clicker training, she has owned and worked with a variety of breeds and has earned top-level titles in agility, rally, and obedience over the last 25 years.
In 2004, Deb worked with agility trainer and World Team member Judy Keller to develop the FOCUS training system. FOCUS stands for Fun, Obedience & Consistency lead to Unbelievable Success. Deb has also worked with Denise Fenzi, co-authoring the "Dog Sports Skills" book series, and authored several other books, including Cooperative Care: Seven Steps to Stress-Free Husbandry.
And now she's partnered with the Fenzi TEAM titling program to launch the new Cooperative Care Certificate program, which is what we're here to talk about today.
Hi Deb! Welcome back to the podcast.
Deb Jones: Thanks, Melissa. I'm always happy to chat with you and to talk to our listeners
Melissa Breau: As I mentioned in the intro, we're going to talk about the new Cooperative Care Certificate program. So to start us out, what is it?
Deb Jones: I'm very excited about it. It is a virtual video titling program that was first suggested by a student who said, "It would be nice if there was a way that you could earn titles for the training that you've done and your cooperative care and husbandry work." Husbandry is everything that's connected to grooming and veterinary procedures.
At first I was pretty skeptical about the idea and really uncertain if it was something people would be very interested in, in terms of organizing it into some sort of a titling program. I wasn't sure how it would work.
But I asked my students, and I asked a lot of the FDSA students and the trainers and the other instructors, after this was suggested, what they thought of it, and I got a lot of positive feedback that this would be a good idea, it would be a valuable thing.
The skills are valuable for people to work on, and now virtual titling is becoming a much more common thing. This was before the pandemic when we started talking about it, but especially now, we're seeing more and more titling is going online and on video.
Of course FDSA has been doing this for a while, because we're always ahead of the curve at FDSA, but I thought that maybe this is the right time for this. Maybe this is the time when I could put together some sort of program with what I think are some of the most important life skills for dogs, and put it in a way that people would find it valuable and it would motivate them to work more towards mastery of some of those skills and behaviors.
Melissa Breau: As I mentioned, you've got the book, the class, and now the certificate program. You told us a little bit in your last answer, but why is this an important topic, especially to you?
Deb Jones: Once I get into a topic, I usually get into it really, really deeply. I tend to start to look at something and then peel back all the layers, and the further into it you go, the more there is to learn, and the more there is for me that's really interesting and important.
The first thing I'd say, the reason I got into this, is because all dogs need physical care. There is not a dog on the planet who isn't going to need grooming or veterinary care. Those things are going to happen.
Over and over again, what we see is that this is unpleasant for them, that there might be a lot of force and pressure and coercion involved, and then it becomes very traumatic, not only for the dog, but for the owner, because we typically don't like doing unpleasant things to our dogs, either. And then it starts to become a battle and things just go downhill. So I wanted to avoid that happening to start with.
There's a lot we can do to make this better, if we prepare our dogs ahead of time especially, rather than waiting until after the fact and then trying to do cleanup, although sometimes that's how it works. Sometimes we don't realize we have a problem until we have a big problem with our cooperative care training. But there's still a lot we can do. Always better to be proactive, and to get in early and to train the things that are likely to be behaviors that would be helpful, and procedures that would be helpful for cooperative care work.
But even after the fact, even after you've had some bad experiences with your dog, it is still possible to do a lot of things to make all this better for everybody. And so, to me, it's a quality of life issue. It just makes everybody, including your veterinarian and your groomer, much happier and less stressed in the big picture.
Melissa Breau: Can you talk a little bit about how the program is structured? How did you set things up within this specific program?
Deb Jones: I think the basic model is after the way that you earn a lot of titles in dog sports. We have different exercises, and then we have different levels of increasing difficulty and challenge.
I started out with ten essential exercises, thinking about the ten most common, most basic foundation skills that dogs need. I'll try to remember them, I might even remember them in order, because we've been working with them for so long!
We have the chin rest, lying on your side, being restrained, wearing a muzzle, having your nails done — we'll be talking about that one, I think, having your mouth and teeth examined and your teeth brushed, taking medications — both liquid medications, orally, and with injections, along with blood draws, and examining the eyes and examining the ears. Those, to me, were the ten big things that are commonly going to be done either at home or at the vet's office or at the groomer.
Then I wanted to divide those up and progress each exercise at three different levels of challenge. We start out with the very basics at Level 1, we go into adding more difficulty and complexity at Level 2, and then the same thing again at Level 3, wit more complexity and difficulty, getting to the point where you could do a full exam with any of these things, or you could do a procedure without your dog feeling stressed or nervous and with them actually cooperating.
That's one of the big aspects of this program is it's not just that you can do the thing to your dog, but that your dog is comfortable and cooperates throughout the process of this. So at every level, people will submit a video of their ten exercises. Those get evaluated, and we look at them as "passing" or "not quite yet." Usually there's only small things sometimes that make it a "not yet" that most people can fix pretty easily.
We're looking at the main parts of each exercise, make sure those are completed, and also looking at the fact that the dog is relatively comfortable while this is all going on.
Now in some cases there are things that our dogs are never going to love, and we understand that too. I don't expect your dog to be thrilled with every single thing that you do to them. But if you think about it, sometimes tolerance is enough. If my dog tolerates this without excessive upset and without emotional upset, then I'd be happy.
I always think back to the dentist. Do I love going to my dentist? No. Do I tolerate going to my dentist? Yeah. Do I bite my dentist? Not anymore. I believe I did when I was a child. I was told a story about that, which now I know why the dentist didn't seem to like me a whole lot. So will you put up with this thing without biting, and if you do, that means you're comfortable enough. So tolerance is what we're looking for.
When we look at passing in the bigger picture of you pass this level with these exercises, we're looking at 70 percent, or seven out of ten exercises, are passing. That leaves some room for the fact that nobody's perfect, things go wrong in little ways, and also that sometimes we're just not ready for one thing, but the majority of the things are trained up to a certain level, or there's something that for some reason isn't appropriate for you and your dog to do together. And so you just leave that one. You don't have to do that one, or you do it, but you don't do it in the way that passes. So the 70 percent mark is a good passing point, I think. It makes you not worry so much about perfection. And that's the basic structure of what we're looking at here.
Melissa Breau: Since I helped you put together the site, I had the chance to go through some of the materials a little bit. One thing I do want to point out that I know is true that you didn't bring up specifically: the Certificate program differs from the Fenzi TEAM titles in that you don't have to do the whole video as one take. You're doing clips. Do you want to talk about that at all?
Deb Jones: That's a good point, yes. There are ten exercises, and you can video each exercise individually and then put them together. Or you can do two or three together and then string them along any way you want. Each exercise begins and ends and doesn't need to flow into the next.
In the Fenzi TEAM titles, what happens between exercises also matters a lot, but that doesn't matter so much here. What I ask here is that I see the beginning, the actual exercise, and the end of it. And then you can cut that.
Most of the exercises are only going to take you about 30 seconds or so, at the most, to do. So it's not going to be real long. We're talking about three to five minutes total for most of the submissions that we'll see. And yes, they can all be edited so that we just see the main parts of each exercise. Good point, Melissa.
Melissa Breau: Excellent. As I mentioned, this is in conjunction with the Fenzi TEAM Titling program. Why the partnership?
Deb Jones: It seemed like a very natural fit, a good way to pool resources. I am responsible for the content and the basic development of it. That's my lane, and I need to stay in that lane. I know what I'm doing there and I'm comfortable develop material. I'm really comfortable looking at the big picture, and also looking at the small pieces and putting all that together. That's my strength in what I think I bring to the project, and the vision for what this could be.
FDSA already has the TEAM titling program in place, and I was involved in a small way in helping develop some of the content there. I think it's been about four years or so now since we did that. Time is so off … Anyway, check out the TEAM title program. I think it's FenziTeamTitles.com. Check that out, because that's a really interesting and good approach to general training.
We knew that was already established and has been running for a while, and works pretty smoothly, so there wasn't any reason for me to try to reinvent the wheel and do everything from scratch when I wanted to start this cooperative care certificate type of program.
Technology is not my strength. You know this, Melissa, from working together for a while now. But I know what I'm not good at. I know what I don't know and what I should let other people do. And since other people already at FDSA had all this under control, it just makes a lot of sense to partner with them.
Denise and I have worked together for over seven years now. We've written four books together and we've done a lot of good work at FDSA together. We have the same philosophy in training, the same basic approach to it, so I knew that this would be a very smooth kind of a partnership to have. And it has turned out to work very, very well. I do my part, and then somebody else does all the things that I don't understand, and then somehow magic happens and we're going to have this program that comes together. So it works to the benefit of everybody that we're working together this way.
Melissa Breau: I'd love to switch gears for a minute here and talk about the tools of the trade for a moment. I know there are specific tools you recommend. Can you talk a bit about what you recommend and why? For example, I know folks ask all the time on Facebook for muzzle and nail grinder recommendations.
Deb Jones: Oh yeah, people are always asking for specific recommendations for tools, and I feel very strongly about my tools. Once you find something that really works well, you want to share that with everybody, because cheap tools do a poor job. There's no question in my mind that you can make it hard or easier.
I understand that people like to save money, which is usually the first concern: How expensive are these things going to be? But I think in the bigger picture you end up saving money because you're going to end up upgrading anyway. You're going to buy the cheaper tools, find out why and how they don't work like you thought they would, and then you're going to end up going out and buying more expensive ones. So start with the good stuff, if you can. I understand sometimes you just can't. You have to take what you can get. But if you can.
We did put together a page — you put together a page — on the website that we're going to talk about that have my recommendations for a lot of tools and the links to finding those. But I think that the two you mentioned for nails — nail clippers and nail grinders — there's a world of difference between cheap stuff and really good quality stuff, so that's where I say don't be cheap.
Though the clippers I like, they are cheap, they don't cost a lot, but I replace them regularly because they need to be sharp all the time. If you use dull clippers, you're just crushing your dog's nails and they're not going to like that. So keeping them sharp, and getting good quality grinders so that you get the job done faster. The faster you get it done, the more pleasant it is for everybody.
In terms of muzzles, the other thing that you mentioned, those are so individual to the dog and to the purpose. It's hard to give recommendations, other than I can talk about general brands, which I do, and say these brands are relatively reasonably priced and they seem to work relatively well. There are always new things coming out on the market, and I can't know every brand and every type, but I usually say a good quality basket muzzle is going to be something that's going to pay off over and over.
And yes, you can get very, very expensive ones. There are custom-made muzzles, and sometimes people use those. If you're going to be using them a lot, and you're dog is going to be wearing them a lot, I'd say go for the custom-made. Otherwise there are probably things that you can find off the rack that will work well for the majority of what you want to do with your cooperative care work and training.
Melissa Breau: To dive into the muzzle piece a little bit more, when you're fitting a muzzle, what are you looking for?
Deb Jones: The muzzle training is one of our exercises and I think it's a really important one. I don't care who your dog is, or how big or small your dog is; I think your dog should learn to comfortably wear a muzzle. Everybody needs that.
What I always look for is that it's going to be comfortable, it's going to be large enough so that the dog can open their mouth and pant naturally and easily while wearing it, and that you can give treats in it. I like to be able to give treats while my dog is wearing the muzzle, so I like it to have large enough openings and holes that you can do that. Some people actually cut a little extra opening in the front so that they can more easily give treats. When I think about getting and fitting a muzzle, I think a lot about buying a bra. Talking to the women, which I know is the majority of our audience, if I say I want a comfortable bra, that sort of sounds like an oxymoron. But at the same time, we know that the bra that's comfortable for me may not be the bra that's comfortable for you. We know that size matters, style matters, fit matters, your structure matters, and so it's really individual. But we also know that if it's not comfortable, it's endlessly unpleasant, and we will never forget that we're wearing it for a second.
The same thing is true for muzzles. We want to get to the point where the dog doesn't even realize they're wearing it anymore, because it's comfortable enough. I can't tell you exactly what that is for your dog, because again, every dog is different, especially in muzzle shape and size, and so you're probably going to have to do some experimenting.
But again, my big rule is the dog has to be able to open their mouth so that they can pant. When dogs are stressed, they pant even more, and there's a huge danger of overheating if they can't pant to cool down. So that's one of the things we have to make sure happens.
Also what I want to make sure happens is my dog wants to put that muzzle on, that we've done so much training and we've made it such a valuable thing that if I hold the muzzle out, my dog is ramming their face into it because it always pays off well.
And I want to have hundreds and hundreds of good experiences with the muzzle for every time they actually need the muzzle at the vet or groomer. Even if they don't actually need it, I still use it for practice because you never know when they might actually need it.
So I like to think of muzzle wearing like bra wearing — a non-issue. It's just another one of those weird things that we do, so it's not a big deal at some point in time. But yeah, the right fit is everything for that.
Melissa Breau: Thinking about the exercises in the program, what exercise do you anticipate students having the most trouble with and why?
Deb Jones: I can tell you that. I don't think there's any question, and I think most people can answer this question. It's going to be nails — by far. Doing nails seems to be the exercise where all of our lack of preparation and training, and all of our past inappropriate or incorrect handling, comes out clearly and fully.
Nails need to be done. Dogs have nails. Very few dogs can get by without having their nails done and grind them down naturally. So it's got to be done, and by the time most people realize it, then it's becoming an emergency and they're getting very stressed about it. At that point, rather than trying to train for it, they just try to do it, "Let's just get this done," and so typically using restraint that the dog may not be used to — and that's another one of our exercises. I want my dogs to think restraint is, again, "just another one of those weird things people do to me sometimes."
But if restraint is threatening or scary, and then I'm grabbing my dog's foot and trying to cut nails on top of that, it's just a really, really perfect storm of bad things happening that my dog is not going to forget for a long, long, long time, if ever.
If I'm retraining, I haven't prepared them for it, I feel stressed and pressured to get it done, and then my dogs fight me on it, now we've got this huge conflict that's developed, and this is where a lot of people end up.
I think that people want to start at the end with nails. They want to cut the nails, and I get that. That's the goal, though. That's not where we start. And if we try to start there, we are doomed to failure. There are lots and lots of steps that will get us to that point.
But we need to go back. And my rule in training — in all training; not just in cutting nails, but in all training — is you have to go back to the point where your dog is comfortable and successful. That's your starting point. And then you start working on adding challenge and making it more difficult from there. But if I don't go back far enough, my dog is always going to be uncomfortable with what I'm doing, and they're always going to feel defensive about what I'm doing with their legs and feet.
It's easy to get into that, so we go back in the class that I teach at FDSA, All About Nails, we go back to handling legs. We start with legs and handling legs, and then handling feet, and then we move to holding feet, putting some pressure when we're holding, the way that we restrain the foot, we practice that, isolating nails, tapping on nails.
And then, completely separately from all of that work, we're introducing them to the clipper or the grinder or both, and getting them used to having those tools being moved towards them and touching them, and tapping on their foot with the clippers. We move through hundreds of small steps, literally hundreds of small steps.
Now this might all seem like a lot of work, but it is what it is. That's what needs to be done. Every time you try to push ahead too quickly because you want to get something done, you end up with regression and you end up further back in the process, and with a dog that doesn't trust you because they're not comfortable with what you're doing. Every time we have to use force, we lose trust. Our goal is to build enough trust that we don't need to use force, and that's going to take some doing.
So that idea that "I'm just going to get this done, I just have to get this done" — there will be consequences to that. Sometimes you do. Sometimes there really is no choice and you have to get something done, but you have to then live with the consequence and go back and fix it.
I often think, with nails in particular, "I've just got to get these nails done; I'm going to have the dog restrained and I'm going to do them." So you won that battle, but now you've got a war that you are going to lose. You're never going to win the war if you approach it that way. We need to approach it that we are working together with the dog to get this process done, rather than I'm fighting with the dog to get this process done.
I think we just see all of that come up very clearly with nails more than any of the other exercises, so that's why I say it's definitely the hardest one to do.
Melissa Breau: I was going to ask to talk us through how you might teach that, but I think you've given us the outline about breaking it down and the pieces and whatever else, right?
Deb Jones: Right. I sort of jumped right into what do you do in this process and how do you break it down. A couple of things I would say about it, though. As I said, there's many, many, many small steps that gets us there. Every time we get to a place where our dogs become resistant, my question is, How far back do I need to go to find the place where my dog is cooperating? And then we move forward from there.
We move backwards a lot. Going backwards doesn't mean we've failed. It means we're in the midst of a training program and it's going to take time. There is no way to speed it up.
The training saying that my students probably re sick to death of hearing from me is, "Be the turtle." Think of it as the turtle. This is not a race. You do not have to be the first one to get there. You do not have a timeline that you have to win. By moving slowly and steadily, you'll actually get there sooner than if you try to rush separate parts. And then you end up having to go back even further because you have some loss of trust and some regression.
I just finished a six-week All About Nails class, and by Week 6, some students are shortening nails. Not all students, but some students. It's a slow process, but there's no other way that I know of. If there was a magic bullet for doing nails, believe me, I would share it, but there isn't. This is the way it needs to be done.
This type of training is slow and steady, but it leads to success, and it builds. Once you start to get some success, you build more and more success. It's one of those things that's frustrating to people who really want to accomplish this, but taking a longer view of it, you really can be very successful with it.
Melissa Breau: On that vein, when working on cooperative care in general, are there any more general tips to keep in mind? Anything folks tend to get wrong or any common mistakes or misconceptions?
Deb Jones: I think there are a couple things that I see regularly that I'm constantly preaching about and talking about that's not quite the purpose of what we're doing here.
The first of those is in our approach, in our training approach to cooperative care work. My main goal is for the dogs to be still and to accept whatever we do to them. I don't want them to do anything. I don't want the dog to do anything. I want the dog to relax and hold still. That's all I want from them.
This is very different from normally when we think of training, we think of teaching our dogs to do things, to perform behaviors, to offer behaviors. That's not what we want at all here. That's the very opposite of what I want. I just want you to chill. Stay there and let me do this weird stuff to you. My dogs by now are pretty used to me doing weird stuff to them and it's just another thing in the day. But when you first start, your dog might be very puzzled about what the heck it is that you're doing.
First of all, lots of dogs never learn how to hold still. They don't understand stillness and they don't understand calmness, especially in a training session. We have, I think, sometimes gone too far in the "let dogs offer lots of behaviors" kind of thing, so that every time we start to train, they think it's a shaping session. This is different with cooperative care.
I start with a lot of foundation Zen-type exercises that are teaching dogs to be still and that that pays off for them, and that if you're calm and you just wait, good things are coming to you. So we work on those as a foundation first, before I ever get to any of the actual procedures.
Let me give you an example of the difference here. I want to do my dog's nails. Lots of people, when they show me what they've done so far, what they've done is taught their dog to give them their foot. So the dog offers the foot. That's operant training. That's operant conditioning. My dog is actively doing something, and that's fine, but that's not enough for what we're doing here with cooperative care.
What I want is for my dog to let me take his foot and be very calm and relaxed about it, and passive about it, and let me do whatever I want to his foot. That's a very different approach. That's a respondent behavior, and that comes out of classical conditioning. So we're working on a different type of learning for a lot of our cooperative care work. People aren't as comfortable or familiar with classical conditioning, so that takes some getting used to. It's a different mindset of how we're approaching it.
The second thing that I see and that I think about a lot in this kind of work is the focus on being able to do something — getting the procedure done or getting the job done — without paying enough attention to how the dog feels about the process. The fact that you say to me, "I can cut my dog's nails" doesn't tell me anything about how the dog feels about getting his nails done, and that's a huge thing. That's a massive thing, because that predicts what this experience is going to be like the next time.
If the dog isn't comfortable with it, you're going to have more of a fight the next time, and more of a fight the time after that, until the point where you can't do it at all. So just because you can do something, that doesn't mean you have successfully conditioned your dog to cooperate with you in the process. Those are two very different things. We're thinking about the internal state of the dog and the emotional picture, as well as the behaviors, as well as what we can actually do and get done.
We also spend a lot of time here talking about our dog's body language and trying to read each individual dog's body language. We call them tells, as in gambling — I can tell what you're thinking. Some dogs are really subtle about it. It's extremely hard to tell what they're thinking or how they're feeling. They're kind of stone-faced about it. Other dogs are very obvious and they're very clear.
For one dog, biting you, trying to bite you — that's a clear obvious cue they're not comfortable. I can work with that. Another dog, it might be flicking an ear slightly or the eyes going off to the side. We have to learn to read every dog as an individual and know what that tell is. The tell tells us we need to back off. We're pushing too hard. We're pushing our dogs into emotional territory that's going to be dangerous and it's not going to help with the process. So being sensitive to that kind of very subtle communication is something that I think is important and much overlooked in a lot of training.
But communication goes both ways. It's not just me communicating with my dog what I want. I also then need to take my dog's feedback. I need to look at what my dog is telling me with their body language, and I need to then adjust my approach as we go on forward. I think that's a whole skill set that's pretty sophisticated for trainers. It takes a little time to develop, and it's different with every dog because every dog is different.
Melissa Breau: Can you give listeners a sneak behind the scenes on what went into creating the program and how things came together?
Deb Jones: I can. I can do that, except can I tell you exactly why I thought this would be a good idea in the beginning? I always think things are a really good idea when all the work is way out in the future in some hypothetical way.
But I will say that once the idea was formed and it sat in my brain for a little while, and even though I am the main developer of the content, I didn't do it by myself. A lot of people are involved in developing a program like this.
First of all, it would be my students, because I can see what they need, and where people in general have weaknesses and challenges with this kind of training. So I always have that going on in the back of my head that that's something I might be able to help people with by offering them more information, what are the weak parts where they're stuck.
And then I asked people directly, "If I was going to do something like this, what would you want to be involved? What would you want to see?" I have a Facebook group called Cooperative Care With Deb Jones. We're going on to 4000 people in that group now, it's getting a pretty good size, so I asked people, "What kinds of exercises would you think are the most important ones?" They were basically what I thought they would be, but it was good to know. It's good to ask, in case I was forgetting something.
Once I had those ten exercises in mind, then there's a long process of writing out the details for each exercises at each level, being able to visualize and to say it in words so that people all understand exactly what you are thinking — that's a lot. I have to make sure there's so much clarity in it, and sometimes there is and sometimes there isn't. You find out, when you ask people to read over your stuff, whether or not it says what you think it says. So there's this big writing process, but that's the part I like to do, too, because I'm a writer, so I enjoy the writing part of it a lot.
And then I was also thinking not only of the ten exercises, but of the three levels of each exercise. How do I move to the next level of challenge in a reasonable way that makes the skill better, that's leading towards being able to do this thing in the real world without it being too hard or too easy. I spent a lot of time trying to get that down and get those progressions for each exercise written out at each level so it's not too big of a leap, but there's still challenge being added all the time.
In that early stage of putting these things together, I worked with Denise Fenzi and Terri Martin a lot, throwing ideas back and forth and talking abut what made sense to put in and where it didn't make sense. They helped me to develop things there.
And then, as you know, there's lots that goes on in terms of pictures to obtain, graphics to develop, putting together the website — which is you, not me — and the copy for the website, which was me, mostly; some was you too. That takes a lot of time and effort to put all that together and to organize that. So we had our back and forth on putting together the website.
I would say, for me, the big part was once I had conceptualized what the exercises were, once I was clear on what the levels were going to be, that was the easiest part. After that, things started to get a little bit fuzzier for me because it got into the technical aspects. So there was you and other staff at FDSA and other people involved who brought in their specialties in terms of things like graphics.
Again, I know what I don't know, and I know what I'm not good at doing, and I know when to let other people who understand do their part. So I was happy to have people come in with their expertise and put it into the project.
Then — this is long-term — trainers who are in my cooperative care Facebook group, I asked if people would be willing to help by making videos of each exercise as I describe it at each level. I wanted to get demos for the website. I wanted to get very clear visual demonstrations as well as the written descriptions, so that when somebody looks at this and tries to decide what to do, it will be clear to them: This is what this exercise is. It says it in words here, and here's a couple of videos that show different people and dogs doing it.
I asked people from the cooperative care Facebook group who are interested in this to help me do it, and I got a lot of great help on that. For each exercise at each level I got two or three demo videos, and then I got passing, full-level videos for the three levels.
That took a while. That took me actually a couple of months to pull together and organize. Everything seems like it's going to be simple when you start doing it, and then the process becomes very complex. There was a lot of downloading, uploading, and shifting things around to get just those videos on, but I think they'll add a ton of clear information to the website.
I think they were important, and people were wonderful about doing them and then redoing them when I said, "This is great, but your arm is in the way here," or "I need you to turn slightly to the left," or "I can't see your dog's ear," or whatever the case was. So people were really helpful with that. They don't know it yet, but they're going to be helping us soon to do the final site testing and make sure that everything works the way it should for actually submitting your videos to be judged.
When I was trying to think back about how long this project has been going on, I can't remember. There may be a little bit of amnesia involved in this whole process, but I'm thinking it's maybe been about a year, I don't know, more or less, I think. I don't even know, because things drag out now and again, and you work on it really intensely for a few weeks, and then you don't do it at all for a few weeks, so it comes back and forth.
But it's definitely been a labor of love. Every step takes a lot of time and effort, and now we wait. Once we get it out there in the world, we wait and see if people actually use it after all that.
Melissa Breau: I know you mentioned the testing piece, but we are recording this for listeners' purposes early, so the program will be tested and launched when you guys are listening to this, just to clarify a little bit. But Deb and I are recording it a few weeks before the launch date.
Deb Jones: I guess I'm still thinking in the present when we need to be thinking in the future.
Melissa Breau: I know I mentioned the book at the beginning, in the intro, but what options are there that are available for folks who are interested in doing the program but maybe don't know how to train for the exercises?
Deb Jones: I think that I have a lot that can be helpful for people. I really try to give away lots of free training information, and I'll talk about all the free stuff first, because I do try to offer plenty of help to people.
My free options are my Facebook group that I mentioned before, Cooperative Care With Deb Jones. All you have to do is answer the screening questions and I'm happy to put you in that group. It's really helpful. There are lots of good trainers there, it's very supportive, we have lots of veterinary professionals in that group, and it's growing pretty rapidly. So that's a great place to come to get ideas and to do some brainstorming and do some troubleshooting.
I also have a YouTube channel of the same name, Cooperative Care With Deb Jones, that I'm putting videos on all the time. You can search that channel for topics that are important to you. Like you might be looking for teeth — you can search for that.
Also I write blog posts every week for my website, which is K9infocus. Lots of my blog posts address cooperative-care-type issues and they often have videos in them as well. So there's usually plenty, if you go searching through there that you can find.
Those are the free things: the Facebook page, the blog posts, and the YouTube channel.
The book that you mentioned, Cooperative Care: Seven Steps to Stress-Free Husbandry, is available on Amazon. It's both as a soft-cover and as an e-book. I think it's just a good, general, overall organizational view of how do I even approach this topic, and then break it down so you can just do this, then do this, then do that. I'm a very linear thinker, and a lot of people seem to appreciate that approach: Just tell me what to do next, just give me a list in the order. And so that's what the book is about.
I teach two classes at Fenzi Dog Sports Academy specific to cooperative care. The general Cooperative Care class — that is a little bit of everything. It's a survey of all of the different topics, and we touch on all of them a bit, but not really deeply because you can't do that. If you're going for breadth, you can't get depth. I also teach an All About Nails class every so often that is very intense about getting to the point where we can get those nails done.
In addition to those at FDSA, I also do occasional workshops and webinars on cooperative-care-type topics, like, I did one not too long ago about consent at the vet's office, I've done one on teeth, so whenever a topic comes up. I have one in mind now in the back of my head for my next webinar workshop that I'm thinking about. So whenever a topic comes up. I try to do two or three of those a year.
The last thing I think to mention here is the video series that I just finished on Vimeo. It has ten short, about 15- to 20-minute videos each on the ten exercises in the program. It works through the exercises in order, gives you the basics for what's expected, and the test itself is well past how to start working to train those behaviors. So there's ten of those.
And there's also a free Zen work foundation video. I mentioned Zen work earlier, and I think it's so important that I'm giving that one away for free, because do that first, whether you do anything else or not. You won't be sorry if you do some Zen work to start out. That video series just came out and is available as well.
So I think there's plenty of things for people to use to help them get started on this process.
Melissa Breau: Do you want to mention the price point of those videos, since you were ridiculously reasonable?
Deb Jones: I try to be. I do try to be reasonable on things because I do want to share information. I know you thought I was probably a little cheap, but $5.99 each, or you can get the whole set of ten for $49.99, along with the free video that comes with it. It ended up to be just over three hours altogether. So for just over three hours of video instruction, I think $49.99 is a pretty decent price point for that, and I hope people take advantage of it, because again, I think if you can get somebody who can help structure your steps for you and get you started down the right path, and that's what I try to do with these videos is get you going in the right direction. Hopefully that is going to be helpful to people.
Melissa Breau: Big question time: Where should people go to find out more about all this and look at the program and look at the rules?
Deb Jones: The exciting part — now hopefully I've remembered this correctly, because we talked about a lot of different names for the website — but I believe it's www.CooperativeCareCertificate.com. That's where you go, that's where the website is, everything should be up and running. There's lots of information on lots of things. You can poke around, there's resources, there's videos, there's all kinds of stuff you can look at on there. There's lots of text that describes what we're doing and gives you further information. So go there, take a look at it, poke around a little bit, see what we've got for you.
Melissa Breau: Alright, last question for you, the same one I always end things with. What's something that you, Deb, have learned or been reminded of recently when it comes to training?
Deb Jones: I didn't have to think about this very long, actually, because the most recent thing, or the thing that I keep thinking about and coming back to, is that training is a two-way street. I'm communicating with my dog, yes, and I'm trying to get my dog to do things I want them to do, or allow me to do things to them, but I also am getting feedback from them all the time. They're telling me, by their responses, how good of a trainer I am. They're telling me whether or not I'm being very successful. And I need to listen very closely to what my dogs are telling me, because if I do that, we'll do well together, and I'll become an even better trainer. If I ignore what they're telling me and try to keep going anyway, I've done that and it never ends well.
Melissa Breau: Thank you so much for coming on the podcast Deb! This was great.
Deb Jones: Thanks, Melissa. Thanks for having me. I've enjoyed it.
Melissa Breau: Absolutely, and congrats on the new program.
Deb Jones: Thank you. Thank you for your help with it, too.
Melissa Breau: And thank you to our listeners for tuning in! We'll be back next week. Don't miss it!
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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!