E204: Julie Daniels - Starting Puppies Out Right

Pandemic puppies abound! Join Julie and I for a conversation about creating optimistic puppies, ready for anything the world is gonna bring.


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 Julie Daniels.

Julie Daniels has worked with dogs her whole life. In fact, she learned to walk by holding on to a German Shepherd. Today she is one of the foremost names in the sport of dog agility in the United States. She was one of the early champions of the sport and helped many clubs throughout the country get up and running.

She owns and operates Kool Kids Agility in Deerfield, New Hampshire.

Julie is well known as a premier teacher at all levels of play. She has competed, titled, and won with all sorts of dogs throughout the years, including two Rottweilers, a Springer Spaniel, a Cairn Terrier, two Corgis, and five Border Collies. She is the only person to make the USDAA National Grand Prix finals with a Rottie or a Springer, and she did it two times each. She is also a two-time national champion and a two-time international champion.

Hi Julie! Welcome back to the podcast.

Julie Daniels: Hi Melissa. Thanks for having me.

Melissa Breau: Absolutely. To start us out, do you want to remind everybody who the dogs are that you share your life with and what you're working on with them?

Julie Daniels: Thanks, because we've had a little bit of a change in this household. I lost my nearly 15-year-old, just short of her 15th birthday, my beloved Boss passed away. A short time after that, we inherited Karen's dog, who was living with her parents for the last five years and has now come here to be with us, and she is nearly 14. So it's different, and we're all getting used to each other all over again. But that's the dynamic here, a new and ever-changing set of interactions in play.

We have five dogs, Taffy being the oldest, and Karen has an Australian Kooli who is just 1, and so all the adolescent energy that goes with that. She also has our beloved Comet, who's now, believe it or not, 8 years old, and doing super well. And I have the two Border Collies. Boss's younger brother, who's Sport, and he's now … I say younger brother; he's 12. He'll be 13 in a minute. And my Kool Aid that all my Fenzi students know, who's grown up Fenzi, is 5 now, so hard to believe.

So don't even say the puppy word. Because, yeah, puppy lust is big. But five dogs, and we usually have one or two in for training also. We have a family that's big enough, so I think I have to wait a while for a puppy.

Melissa Breau: Fair enough. Despite that, puppies are what I wanted to talk about today. It does seem like everybody has gotten or is getting a puppy. I know that your approach to training in general is to build an optimistic dog. So how do you approach that with a baby puppy?

Julie Daniels: That's the perfect description. No matter what the age, actually, I want to build an optimistic dog. But when you start out with a baby, you can't really say blank slate, but you have so much influence and so much power when the baby's little. That's the time to create an optimistic outlook and to nurture the natural curiosity that the puppy was born with.

So what is that exactly, optimism? It just means that we expect good things, that this will be good. And as you can imagine, no matter what the species and no matter what the age, that's the perfect attitude to bring to any experience in life. So that is, in a nutshell, exactly what I'm trying to do with baby puppies.

So we find out who they are. That's the most beautiful thing about Baby Genius classes — you really get to know who these puppies are as individuals. They come with certain personalities, you will say, built in, and then we get to shape modify and expand their worlds, and that's just the best job we could possibly have. So don't talk about puppies anymore because I want one so badly.

We have, in this class that just started yesterday, we have ten different breeds and mixes, and every single video is killer-cute. So we can talk anybody into any breed in this class. Boy, those puppies are adorable.

Melissa Breau: In addition to the optimism piece, what other traits are you trying to encourage? You mentioned shaping the puppy and expanding their world. What are you looking to encourage in a new baby, and how do you go about it?

Julie Daniels: I like that you ask the question that way, because this is not a class where we're trying to steer toward a particular sport. If the handler or the trainer already knows exactly what sport they want to do, then there will be time for that later in the class. But that's not how we begin, because where we want to start is by building generalized confidence and the optimism that the next thing around the corner is going to be fun and be a good thing.

So it's a matter of nurturing and keeping the curiosity that the puppy was born with. All puppies are born curious, and we want to encourage that so that the puppy can show us more and more about who they are. Everybody's an individual. So we get to know them, and then, yes, we can steer them toward a certain sport. But this class isn't really about all the sports. It's about life skills and readiness for anything you might want to do, not just sports, but sports included.

So we cover a lot of ground. I think I'm trying to say we touch on a whole bunch of different things. In a six-week class there is room for you to expose this puppy to all sorts of foundation elements in any sport or activity or life skill you might be interested in.

Melissa Breau: I want to shift for a second from talking about some of these behavioral traits, for lack of a better phrase, to behaviors themselves. What behaviors do you consider to be those critical foundation skills or even just good things to work on while the puppy is still little?

Julie Daniels: Yeah, that aren't really specific to a sport, but are part of the core behaviors that every good little puppy should learn. That is a good way to look at it.

I think maybe the most important initial thing … and I'm not going to talk about potty training. Certainly that's a life skill, believe it or not. It's not just about learning to go to the bathroom, but learning to go to the bathroom on cue, on leash, away from home, when it's busy, when you'd rather run agility. All that stuff is actually important. But let's talk first, as you're saying, about the more generalized things that come up every day.

I'm going to mention as the first thing that I think it's really important to introduce your baby to your personal system of how you like to be playful with your dog. Because we're all different, and the puppies are all different, so that relationship is going to mesh in some certain way between you and your young puppy.

I think it's important to develop it, nurture it, and get a feel for what your natural play style is with this particular puppy. It might be different from dog to dog, no doubt about it, and it's very different person to person. So I think it's important to know who you are, get to know who the puppy is, and blend your styles together so that you can be playful together. So that's one important thing. There are so many other things. Let me just mention a couple, maybe.

This is a perfect time to develop both food and toys as reinforcers. There's no better time. We'll be doing a lot with that in the class. You want the puppy's name to be the best sound in the world, so now's the time. The younger, the better, for that, and I mean call name. So whatever it is, all the nicknames that you're going to use need attention from you and association with wonderful things.

The other couple things … let me think of a couple things that we teach every puppy right away. Here's one you wouldn't have thought of: control your feet. I think I actually included this one. I call it the Get Down game. I included it as a sample lecture because it's something anyone can do, the younger, the better. It's just an ideal first self-control game to play with the baby puppy.

The other thing I would say that I think is super-important to teach as young as you can: It's not about waiting, and it's not about leaving it, but it is about go on the cue. Develop a verbal cue, or a physical cue, if you'd rather, but develop a cue for "OK, go. It's time to go." Having a puppy that knows how to just sprint forward on the cue to go, in the first place it's flipping adorable because some of them trip over their own feet and everything. But they're spinning their wheels, they're trying to go as fast as possible right off the line, so to speak. And that joy, that delightful "Go" response, the younger, the better, for teaching that.

So you can see how, if you've really taught that while your puppy's young, teaching "Wait" is easy. Teaching "Leave it" is easy if you begin with "Get it." And then you go to when to get it. So first you teach "Go," and then you teach when to go. And so the wait part is easy. You can teach it almost errorlessly, which I try to do.

I think I've given you a list of these are good things to do as young as possible. Not that there aren't more. But rather than talk about going potty, let's talk about the general things that will help you and your puppy develop as a team, no matter what you want to do.

Melissa Breau: You mentioned a couple of things in there, and one of them was the name piece. I know you've got a specific way that you approach the Name Game. Can you talk me through how you do that and why you use the approach you use?

Julie Daniels: Oh boy, I'd love to, because nobody gets that right, frankly. Everybody thinks that's a recall. It sounds like, "Oh, you're just teaching a recall." You might think you should teach a recall immediately, as soon as possible, and I don't really feel that way. I feel like the first step toward a perfect recall is actually creating, I just am saying, value for name. You want the puppy's name to be met, the sound of his name can be met with joy and delight and eagerness and optimism, like we were talking about before, like, "This will be a good thing, this will be a good thing."

So when I teach Name Game … and by the way, yes, the younger, the better. No doubt about that. But here's the thing. I take dogs in for training at any age, and the first thing I do with any new dog that has come to my family temporarily is Name Game. And guess what? There are many, many adult dogs who — you might think it's crazy — don't know their name, but certainly don't associate good things with their name. When you have an adult dog who likes to pretend that he doesn't know his name, or that he didn't hear you, that's a dog who can benefit hugely, immensely from Name Game exactly the same way that we play it with the baby puppies.

Let me just tell you a little bit about how that goes, because we're actually doing that this week. Class just started, and for most people the first homework that they send me, or maybe the second homework that they send me, is Name Game. It happens all the time that people are interpreting it as a recall. And how do I know that? What does that look like that's different from what I want? It's tricky, because we all have preconceived notions about how to teach a recall, and I'm not even interested in that. I'm interested in classically conditioning, you might say, a value for name.

So I'm going to start with the puppy looking at my face. I don't care whether he's looking at my face, but I don't want to begin Name Game by interrupting the puppy when he's doing something else. What I want to make sure is the puppy already is interested in what I might do or say. What I offer the puppy is the sound of the call name, and the response, hopefully, is joy on the part of both of us. So it's a happy thing. I try to singsong the name.

I will say that this group of students, Gold students, who've submitted Name Game in their homework are just doing a great job of it. You hear the sound of the puppy's name and you can feel the joy coming from the person in their voice. And that's exactly what I want.

That is what we're trying to do is develop the response of delight, not just eagerness. Yes, we want that too. And yes, it's going to be a recall. But if you don't have the supremely high value for name, you'll never have the beautiful recall that you envision. And by starting out by interrupting the puppy and talking the puppy into doing what you want, coming to you instead of what the puppy is already happily engaged in, that's not what I want. That's not Name Game.

Name Game does not compete with what the puppy is already doing. So I don't need the puppy to turn away from what they are already engaged in and respond to name. That's the opposite of what I'm trying to do. I begin when the puppy is not doing anything better anyway, and so I'm going to look pretty good. In short, that's what I'm doing. I'm not competing with what the puppy's activity already is. I'm just including the sound of the puppy's name with their happy, happy consequence that's going to come immediately after. I will say the Gold students this term are just doing a fantastic job of it. It makes my heart sing. It's beautiful to see.

Melissa Breau: Awesome. I know that some of the folks in my circle at least who've gotten puppies recently, it's maybe been a little while since they've had a tiny puppy. So I wanted to ask generally if you have tips or suggestions or things that people should keep in mind when training a puppy that are maybe different than when they're training their older, more mature adult dog.

Julie Daniels: I think probably the best advice is, and we hear this advice all the time, don't be in a hurry to get into the sports. Work on the relationship first. And that's such good advice.

Here's where maybe what I was mentioning earlier comes in, the potty training and such. Potty training is a life skill that is unique to the relationship that you have with this dog. I need my sports dogs to go to the bathroom on cue, no matter what. It's a very, very high priority for me. So I have a protocol that I use to associate a certain place in the art, if you will, or a certain X-pen arrangement or something, with going to the bathroom. And then, after that, we come out of the pen and we run around the yard and play and are silly and happy and active. Rather than wherever the puppy happens to be, the puppy goes. But the beauty of potty training when the puppy is young is that they have to go to the bathroom so often. Yay. So we get so many opportunities in a day to condition the cue that we want.

You know, as soon as you have a behavior that you want, you can name that. So be thinking, before you even get the puppy, about how are you going to do that potty thing. And adding things like a leash and going on cue and going away from home and going in the snow and the grass and the dirt and all the different kinds of woods and leaves that the puppy's going to meet that you might need them to be able to take advantage of. Those are really important first life skills with any dog that you acquire of any age, but it's so much easier when they're young, because they just have to go to the bathroom all the time, so how convenient.

And I think relationship is so important, so let's talk about playfulness. I think the other thing that would be very important, especially for sports people to work on, but everybody needs this skill with their new dog. And it's easy to forget that puppies have to learn this. You kind of take it for granted when your dogs are older and can do it. Nowadays we would say to raise and lower their own arousal state, but what we really mean is can your puppy play with you in an active way and then come back and relax.

So right now we're talking about play and relax. Can the puppy follow your lead, so to speak, and be active when you cue activity, energized and having fun with you, and then settle down when you cue that and … you're laughing … and just relax with you and hang out and chill. Can the puppy go from playtime to chill time? That's not so easy, and we tend to take it for granted in our older dogs, but when you think about it, that's going to be the puppy's job if he's a sports dog as well.

So you substitute work for play and you've got the same thing. Can you work? Can you take your turn? Can you run the course or do whatever it is you need to do that your arousal level, your energy level, needs to be high for, and then come back and calm down because it's someone else's turn now. You can't have all the turns.

The foundation of you can't have all the turns is in play with your puppy, now let's chill for a little while. I think that's probably super, super important and often neglected when we get a new puppy. We're just so thrilled with whatever the puppy wants to do that we follow the puppy's lead about energy. And really, now's the time to just sneak in a little bit of when to incorporate a bit of self-control and when to raise the energy level and play because Mom wants to play or Mom wants to settle down.

Melissa Breau: I know all the stuff we've been talking about is stuff that you cover in Puppy Genius, the class that is on the schedule for February. But there were a couple additional things that I was going through your syllabus and I wanted to ask about. The first one is, in Week 2, your syllabus mentions Crate Dates Without Coercion and the Separation Game. I'm going to guess those are meant to help build quiet crating skills, but I wanted to just ask about them and give you a chance to share a little bit about what you're doing there and maybe how it works.

Julie Daniels: Wow, it's hard to say just a little bit about crate skills and separation skills, those are pretty big subjects. But first place, this is Baby Genius that I teach now. There are Fenzi students out there who took Puppy Genius with me, which was a broader range class. Puppy Genius is how I started at Fenzi, and little did I know that it was going to be such a big class, and I actually needed to split it into two. And that's what I did. I split it as Puppy Genius has a much broader range of material that we cover and doesn't go in-depth into any of those ranges, whereas now Baby Genius dives into the younger puppy. And I split out adolescent sport dogs and taught that as a class for the older puppies, the adolescent dogs.

We're talking about Baby Genius now, and that's the one that's running now. It's pretty much a deep dive into many, many areas of what we want to be able to teach our puppies while they are young, what benefits from teaching it while they're young.

So let's say Crate Dates Without Coercion is all about the antecedent arrangement. That's the simplest way to describe that. I'm not a person who plays active games with crates and X-pens. Those are always chill places for me, so I'm always trying to set them up to be relaxing and comfortable and chill spaces. You just look at the space that I create with a crate or an X-pen with a bed in it or that kind of thing.

By the way, if I set up an X-pen for a baby, which I certainly would do, there's a crate in there, and that is the only place where the super-comfy bed is. I don't have beds all strewn around. The bed is in the crate because that's what I want the chill place to feel like and to look like.

I do all kinds of active activities, as well as chill activities, on a mat because that's portable. That easily I can put a mat on top of any station that I want to use as my start line station, and it's a "when to go" place. So it is a chill place, but it's much more versatile. But the crate is always a chill place. That's how I set it up.

So when I say Crate Dates Without Coercion, I actually love that title and we have a lot of fun with that, like, what does our setup look like and what is it that we're trying to invite the puppy to do. The puppies end up going in, I say "without coercion," because we don't tell them what to do. We don't shut them in there against their will. The door is open. Whether it's an X-pen or any kind of enclosure, the door is open because we're not closing them in. They want to be there.

In fact, by the time I'm finished training this way, when I close the door, the puppy starts pawing at the door, like, "I need my bed. I want to go in my room." There are posters on the walls and stuff, and they really feel happy and peaceful to be in that space. That's what I'm doing with that, and it's all about how you set it up. So that's where antecedent arrangement rules the day.

You also mentioned the Separation Games, because we didn't have enough to talk about! I love the work that I do with separation, as the dogs are very young. Remember, we're talking about puppies who don't yet have this problem, hopefully, so we're in the lucky situation where we're just trying to make sure they don't develop a problem. Some puppies come with a hardwired fear of being separated from the pack, and so we do have some interesting cases that come up in Baby Genius. But, for the most part, it's pretty smooth sailing. Why would I say that out loud? But it often is very smooth sailing to play Separation.

I'll just tell you how I do it. I have two different categories of Separation that I work with, and the first one that we do … we do them sequentially, and the first one is called Separation Games: I'm right here. What that means is you can't get to me. There's a barrier. This is barrier training. There's a barrier initially. It's not a crate, it's not an X-pen, it's just a gate, so to speak. It's a barrier. The puppy can see you but can't get to you. So that's the first thing to accomplish.

Obviously what we're trying to do is make the puppy side of the gate a very good place to be. We actually start by classically conditioning good feelings to the gate, per se. So I'm actually starting by the gate is not blocking anything. The gate is just being held by the person, and the person is handing the puppy treats through the little openings in the gate. It can be an X-pen; that actually works very well. Most people use either the X-pen or those expandable white ring gates. All kinds of possibilities can be used for this separation barrier. But the holes need to be big enough that you can actually reach a treat through there.

Remember, we're not talking right now about the puppy being enclosed. We're talking about the puppy being barricaded away from you. So you just put the gate between you and hand treats through in all various locations all over around the gate. Can you picture that? That's classically conditioning good feelings for the gate itself so it doesn't become the enemy, because that can happen so very, very easily. So we make sure it's not going to be an enemy.

And then we start creating value gradually, as you can imagine, getting to the other side of a room, where the puppy is in one room and you're in another, but still you can stay connected through tossing treats over the top and things like that. So that's the first part, which is, "I'm right here, you can see me."

And then, after that goes well, we can go on to the next phase, which I call Separation Games: I'll be right back. I actually teach my puppies that phrase, "I'll be right back," and I have many students over the years who have written me to say, "I still use that, and they know exactly what I mean. They don't even get up." They're hanging out, you've put on your jacket, all the cues in there that you're going outside, but instead you say to the dog — it starts with a puppy — "I'll be right back." What that means is you're not going to drive away and come back three hours later. It really literally does mean you're only going to be gone a short time and coming right back.

Don't lie about that. Just saying it won't serve you well in the future if you don't tell the truth. Because your puppy can and your dog throughout their whole life can learn to just stay chill and keep the peace, even when you do something triggering like put on a jacket and pick up the car keys, heaven forbid. I don't think I would do that because that wouldn't be right back, would it? So that would be a lie. I have a feeling if I pick up the car keys, my dogs are going to jump up. It doesn't matter if I say, "I'll be right back." They won't believe me.

They learn pretty well what's going to happen, what predicts what, and so that's the second section of my Separation Game is "I'll be right back," and you literally do come right back. Just so you know, we don't start out by leaving the room at all. We start out by turning our back, which is, if you think about it, a huge trigger for many dogs who have separation anxiety, that bit about turning around 180 degrees and putting your back to the puppy — that is big. So with many of the puppies, we'll end up feeding them in that position, rather than feeding them facing them.

It's actually a fun protocol to go through and so much more relaxed when you're dealing with puppies from when you're dealing with older dogs. But the goal is the same. I know Nancy Tucker in her separation class is always saying if you do this right, you shouldn't have any harsh reaction from your dog because you're going to sail right past your threshold and raise it as you go, because not you're creating strength and resilience and you're not triggering the dog. So it's the same for puppies. It's just easier, frankly.

Melissa Breau: You mentioned this earlier, but you also do some lectures on toys. I was curious just how much toy work you cover in the class and what the skills are that you're working on there.

Julie Daniels: Oh, such a good question. That's a big category and another important one. As I said, I think toys and food are both important, and the younger, the better, for creating value for them.

By the same token, FDSA has entire classes on toys, and I try to every once in a while check in with Shade Whitesel's class because I want to make sure that I'm not straying too far from the usefulness, the useful protocols that she does. Our protocols are different, but I think they're compatible. You could go from Baby Genius toy skills and jump right into Shade's work, and you'd have a big head start, no matter how young your dog is. And so I just try to stay abreast of what other people are doing with their toy protocols so that I can make sure I stay compatible with them, and I think I do.

But let me just tell you that again when you're dealing with a very young dog, it's just so easy. I start out sitting on the floor with my legs in a V, and I have two toys with me, but I don't have to toss the second toy. The puppy is going to come back to me. But the puppy is either going to come back with a toy or without a toy, and that's good information for me. I can always toss a second one. And then that session can be over. I can go pick up the toys, and write down a few notes, and then pick up another training session another time.

But I want to begin creating value for active toy. That's just the simplest thing to do is to create a puppy who's interested in the movement of the toy. We start out side to side, and there are certain good ways to introduce toys, depending on the age of your puppy. I go through a different way if your puppy is very, very, very young. Here's how to move the toy initially so the puppy wants to grab it. Here's how to let the puppy win when they're teeny, teeny. And then, as they get older, of course more and more strength and more and more interest in tugging on the toy and stuff like that.

So the initial protocol is all about activity with you. The toy always … here's a big thing with the way I'm thinking. I'm trying to make sure that no matter where this puppy goes next, no matter what class they're going to take next, they have value for toy, but they also have value for playing with their person with the toy. It's not about "I love my toy, and if I get it, bye-bye, game over." We can fix that. We can prevent that problem in Baby Genius class, and I think we do a very, very good job of creating value for the toy as an interactive tool with the handler. I think that's the best thing we do for toys to get them ready for any other way that they'll be using toys in the future.

Melissa Breau: Is there anything else you want to talk about from the class? Who should consider the class? Is there a specific age range for the Baby Genius class, prerequisites, any of that?

Julie Daniels: Well, certainly no prerequisites, none whatsoever. This makes for an excellent first class, and I do get many people in this particular class where they've never taken a Fenzi product before. So we do a whole lot of intro to how we do things, for the people who need a little bit more guidance. That's fine with me. I have a lot of good preliminary materials in place so that before the class even starts, a new person can find their way around and experiment with the different areas of the platform that Fenzi uses, which is a pretty sophisticated thing. But it's not hard. It's very user-friendly. But people get, I think, daunted by the fact that there are so many things you can do and so many options. I try to get people involved with using some of those options because the platform is so cool and user-friendly.

Anyway, this is one of those classes that invites anybody. No prerequisite is necessary for dog or handler. And the age range is wide. If you're a Gold student in Baby Genius, I want the puppies to be at least 3 months old, and I am sticking more and more to that rule. It doesn't work out with a Gold student being a lot younger than that, because there are some games that a 2-month-old puppy is simply not ready to play, and they don't have the stamina and the strength to do a lot of the things that we'll be doing.

That doesn't mean they shouldn't take it at Silver or Bronze, certainly, but there are many things that they can do.

I used to not want to turn people away with puppies who were younger, because so many of the Bronze students will have young, young puppies. So instead I've settled on the range of 3 months to 10 months for the Gold students. Usually the Gold students are well under 10 months. They tend to be younger puppies and not older puppies. But certainly there's nothing there that you couldn't start for the first time with a 10-month-old puppy. So I try to keep that range, but that's just for Gold.

Anybody whose older dog has holes in their foundation … not that I would ever have holes in my foundation … let's just admit it: we all do. Everybody's got a hole somewhere. So anyone can benefit because this is exactly the kind of reintroduction, this is the way to fix a hole in your foundation. You want to go back to the Baby Genius level of play and build up from there. No matter how old your dog is, you could benefit from Baby Genius. And I hope that people will, if they have holes in their foundation, consider this class as a good way to rebuild anything that might need strengthening.

Melissa Breau: Excellent. All right, Julie, I've got one last question for you here, which is, what is something that you've learned or been reminded of recently when it comes to dog training?

Julie Daniels: I love this question. What I decided to do with that question this time, because I've answered it quite a few times before, I decided to run with this Baby Genius theme and remind everyone, as I always need to be reminded myself, every single dog that I raised, you have to remember and embrace the fact that everything that you've taught so carefully and lovingly and joyfully and developed so beautifully in babies, in your baby genius, will be tested and thrown away by the adolescent puppy as they grow up. You know, hormones just wreak havoc with everything you've done.

If I were to say that about a human child, you would say, "Well, of course. That's what adolescents do. That's what they're supposed to do. It's completely normal. Why would we think that just because you trained it when they were 5 years old that they will still do that for you when they're 13, ha ha ha."

So the same is true of puppies. Everything that you've taught will be tested. And here's the thing. This is the pattern that I think holds true. It certainly has for my dogs and for the dogs that I work with all the time, I see it over and over and over, that whatever was hard to teach in the first place is going to bite you later.

It's just a drift that as the puppy becomes an adolescent and gets older, and the world looks a little smaller, and you've done this beautiful job of nurturing curiosity and creating a puppy who's optimistic and expects the whole world to be a good thing — OK, that's great. But that just means they want to get out there and see it and interact with it and do all the things. And so as their independence kicks in, everything that you've taught that puppy will be tested.

All these things that look beautiful in a little baby — you can have those things back. They will all be tested, and you can just build them again. All you have to do is go back to the Baby Genius level and just go through the steps again. Karen Pryor used to call that going back to kindergarten and just rebuild it. And as she said, and it's still true today, it rebuilds more quickly the second time.

That doesn't mean you won't be tested again or tested harder than you wanted to be tested. What I found is the things that the adolescent tests the most stringently are the things which were, let's say, most counter to his natural tendency when he came to this world. You can just call it an instinctive drift, a natural drift back towards the way the puppy's foundation soul is built.

And don't worry about it. I think this is the advice. This is what I have to remind myself of. You beat your head against the wall, and you go back to the drawing board and you just say, "I know what to do about this. Of course this happened." Just because the recall was a thing of beauty at 4 months old does not mean it's a thing of beauty at 14 months old. It will be tested. So you know what to do. Go build it again.

Go back to Name Game. That's what I do with every dog that comes here for board and train. No matter what age they are, no matter what their background is, Name Game is the first game that we play. I need value for name. And then I start thinking about a recall, or let's put on a long line if we're going to go outside, and let's work in the big pen before we work loose in the yard.

This is the story of adolescence. That's the way it goes. But it's just good to remember that that's not a bad thing. It's a normal thing. So that all those behaviors that were so beautiful at the end of Baby Genius class, you're not done. That's all I want to say is I always am reminded, with every single dog I raise, you're not done. It's going to take a maintenance dose for life on all the behaviors, and some will need more maintenance than others. And that's just good to remember. That's what I'm reminded of recently.

Melissa Breau: I think that's a great note to stop on with everything we've been talking about. Thank you so much Julie!

Julie Daniels: It was a pleasure, thanks.

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! 


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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