E278: Julie Daniels: Learning More About Control Unleashed

Have a dog with big feelings? Julie and I talk about the upcoming conference, and her journey to becoming a certified control unleashed instructor!  


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 I have Julie Daniels here with me. Julie will be one of our presenters at the Dogs with Big Feelings conference this weekend, and she has recently begun teaching Control Unleashed classes through FDSA, including her upcoming Control Unleashed in the Big Wide World class, which will be offered in the August session.

Hi Julie, and welcome to the podcast!

Julie Daniels: Hi there, Melissa. Thanks for having me.

Melissa Breau: Absolutely. To start us out, want to just remind listeners a little about you and your current pets, what you're working on with them?

Julie Daniels: Well, I've been working for FDSA since … I think I taught my first class in February of 2015. I found my peeps when I found FDSA. I will never leave. You'll have to kick me out.

I live with five dogs, all with very big feelings, and they range in age from 15 to 2-and-a-half. So we've got a big range and a variety of breeds and mixes here. And so the Dogs with Big Feelings is a perfect fit for me. I love them, I feel them, so I can't wait for this conference on Saturday. That's a little bit about me.

I don't really want to talk about it, but I had another emergency with my 14-year-old on Friday night. He was at the emergency vets at 2 a.m., and we're still recovering from an emergency situation with our 15-year-old mixed breed Beagle-Jack Russell cross, so the household has actually been reeling with that panic of, "Oh, please, don't let this be the end." So I'm just having, I think, come out of the woods from sports emergency. I'm just feeling so grateful that I have these dogs with me. And as we all feel like, it's never going to be long enough time with them, but I'm just appreciating every moment that they can smile and be themselves.

Melissa Breau: Is everybody home from the vet now?

Julie Daniels: Yes. Thank you for asking. We are at peace.

Melissa Breau: Good. All right. What got you initially interested in Leslie McDevitt's Control Unleashed program? How'd you get into all this stuff?

Julie Daniels: Oh, gosh, that's such a fun story, because my own work with Fenzi, I think I started teaching empowerment class and stuff like that back in 2015, and it's so compatible with Leslie's work.

I think the actual connection was made by me reaching out and writing to Leslie, like, "I'm really excited with what you did for this client that I sent you." I was working with a person who just made me think that we should bring Leslie McDevitt on board with this. Even though I didn't know her personally at that time, I just thought she could be of help regarding things like behavior issues and meds, issues that I didn't feel that I was on the right track with this dog without some guidance from a person who worked with that kind of thing all that time. And so I made the connection first by sending a student to her who was delighted and was sent on also to Dr. Karen Overall.

It wasn't too long after that that I actually wrote to Leslie to say, "I'm really excited with this new voluntary sharing thing that you're doing, because I do some very similar and very compatible things in my empowerment classes and with especially my Cookie Jar Games program. I just am excited to see what you're up to these days, because I'm so on that page." And so we just started chatting and talking, and then she recruited me for her group, and I made the decision immediately, like, I'm going to just work through this entire new certification program. I need to start at the beginning and do all the things along with everybody else, because even though I have background, and I know the background's compatible, and I'm excited with how our work fits together, I still haven't really embraced her stuff from the beginning all the way through, which is what the certification program is.

It's a lot of work and it's great fun, but I learned a ton, and it was incredibly useful for me with my dogs and my clients' dogs in every way. I just can't say enough good about it. It is a lot of work, and I will say my favorite thing about it is that it fit perfectly with me teaching classes in that same time frame and getting feedback on not only what I was doing with my own dogs and other dogs, but what I was teaching my students to do. It's fabulous.

The CCUI program, I would say … I have no right to speak for Leslie, but it's a teacher's program. It is great. You've got to have the chops to get through it — you know what I mean? You can get through it working with other people's dogs on your own and not teaching classes, possibly, although I would recommend that teaching others is the best way to really cement fluency with the different patterns and how to use them. However, it just was wonderful for me, as a teacher, to have Leslie's guidance as I was earning my certification, and I hope they never change that about the program.

It's going to become more popular, and it's moving to the Clean Run online learning classroom. I just feel strongly that they'll maintain, and I hope they maintain that hands-on component that you can't really be certified without having the chops. I just think that's so important. Having grown up with dogs, it's been dogs and me my whole life. Book learning is not going to cut it for me all by itself. You've got to put it into practice, and that's what the program is all about. So I love it. I just love it.

Melissa Breau: Awesome. Can you maybe just share a little more about what that process looked like? Obviously it was super-important to you to get certified, so can you talk a little more about what you learned and how it worked?

Julie Daniels: You mean the CCUI program itself?

Melissa Breau: Yeah.

Julie Daniels: We learn and teach, presumably, first to our own dogs and then to other dogs. All the patterns beginning with "take a breath" and just being honest. "Take a breath" is something that I had completely neglected, even though I had known about it and read about it. There's plenty of stuff out there on it and on the science behind it as well. But I had not taught my dogs that pattern, that skill, if you will, as a cued operant response until I started the certification program. It's just one of those things where if you begin at the beginning, you'll never regret that.

So often I'm always telling people, "When you're trying to get to step ten, you'll get there faster and better by starting at step one than you will by starting at step five." We all want to get a head start and leap in halfway because we "know it already." And then, of course, you will hit snags doing that every single time, no matter what kind of program or sport you're undertaking. So it's always better to start step one. That's what I would recommend is start with "take a breath," and start with "down and chill on a mat."

That's another thing that I had to teach my own dogs, because I always used my mat work protocol, which I again got very excited when I saw Leslie. She's the only other person I've ever seen advise a step one of mat work that is between the dog and the mat and not about working for a person directly. My step one of my mat work protocol for what I call "eager patience" work, which is dog sport work, how to wait politely and yet be ready to take your turn, quite different from CU mat work. However, our step ones are the same. The first thing I want is attraction for the mat. "Loves the mat" is what I call my step one, and I think that description fits Leslie's step one of mat work too. She puts cookies not given to the dog directly from the handler. It's not about the handler. The cookies come from the mat in her step one. It's the only other protocol I've seen that does it that way.

And again, I just had to send her a note, like, "You are so freaking awesome, thinking first of the relationship between the dog and the mat." If what you're going to want is long duration mat work, it can't just be about, "Oh, I have to stay here." It's got to begin with love for the mat, a good relationship between the dog and the mat. So I just can't say enough about the program or about begin at the beginning. So hard.

Melissa Breau: It is. For those who are totally uninitiated, and they're listening to all this and going, "Wait, what?" do you want to explain for us what it is that Control Unleashed actually is?

Julie Daniels: So now we're going to talk about what we're talking about. I'll just put it into my own words. Leslie talks about the program being a way to have a conversation, a way for the dog to report about the environment to the handler instead of reacting to the environment directly. Leslie's always referred to this as conversational training, which is a term I love.

She talks about it as a way to turn stress into confidence, a way to turn distraction into focus, using obviously a hundred percent positive methods, let's just say. But that's easy to do with the pattern structure that she's developed for her games. She saw the benefits of using predictable patterns of cookie delivery, you might say, and combining that with what we now call a start button, thanks to Eva and Emily.

But long before we had that terminology, we were inviting the dogs to look at us in order to say, "Let's do it again," or in order to say, "Let's do the next thing." So now we know that as a start button behavior, that's simply one start button, but it's probably the most common one that we use in Control Unleashed patterns is looking up at the handler's face. We don't talk about it so much as direct eye contact, they have to do this and they have to do that, but they've got to look up at your face. They've got to check in with you and orient to your face in order to ask for the next step of the thing.

And that very quickly turns into how to ask to increase the challenge. So can you do a little more? Can you move a little closer? Is it all right for the thing to come a little closer? It goes both ways — either the dog approaching a thing or a thing approaching the dog. We give the dog the agency to say when that may happen and, in fact, whether it may happen. So it's a series of patterns. Control Unleashed consists of many different predictable and comfortable patterns that the dog engages in as a calming mechanism, so that they can filter the stimuli in the surrounding environment and converse about that stimuli with their handlers. Does that help?

Melissa Breau: Yes, yes.

Julie Daniels: In other words, any dog with big feelings — just to refer to the conference that's coming up this Saturday; I'm so happy to be part of that conference — and it's a perfect application for dogs with big feelings. Control Unleashed just works perfectly.

Melissa Breau: Speaking of that, since you started to go there, that's my next question anyway. Not all dogs that will benefit from this stuff necessarily look the same. So who should consider learning more about the program?

Julie Daniels: Yeah, that's for sure. Dogs that can benefit from Control Unleashed include what I call dogs that are loud on the outside, the big blow-up and reactivity-type dogs, or just the same sort of internal mounting pressure, but dogs who are loud on the inside, but they might even look quiet and still on the outside, sometimes frozen. That's easy to see, but sometimes not. I talk about the blood pounding in your ears, that kind of sensation where internally pressure is rising and the dog is feeling more and more uncomfortable, and you don't even see it on the outside.

That kind of dog, I think, is helped even more by Control Unleashed because the internal state, beginning with "take a breath," and beginning with simple stationary predictable patterns such as "up and down" would be my first choice, encourage the dog to relax that limbic part of the brain and start operating from the prefrontal cortex. So you can imagine that's extremely beneficial for a dog who's loud on the outside, but it is every bit as beneficial for a dog who's loud on the inside and quiet on the outside.

Is that useful? So every dog with big feelings. I don't have any question about it. Every dog with big feelings can benefit and should be the beneficiary of a few Control Unleashed patterns at least.

Melissa Breau: I think maybe even those dogs who are loud on the inside, we have a harder time telling when something is going on. So it gives them a communication tool.

Julie Daniels: So true, yes. The conversational element is incredibly helpful if you have a dog who's loud on the inside. That's really true.

Melissa Breau: Julie, can you share just a little more about what you're going to cover in your conference presentation?

Julie Daniels: Oh, you want me to give that away? Okay.

Melissa Breau: Maybe just a snippet, a little bit. Give us a peek.

Julie Daniels: Like everybody else, I only have an hour, so boy, that is tough. And some things that I really wanted to include and I felt strongly about "This has to go in" ended up on the cutting room floor. That just happens to all of us. The subject is so big and you want to help everybody.

So instead of doing a deep dive into one particular type of problem, this is what I tried to do. I tried to show a few of the main patterns and how to personalize them. The patterns are very flexible. When you teach the base pattern, it's fairly specific. In order to be simple and predictable, it's fairly specific. Food delivery is a big part of it. The start button is a big part of it. That kind of thing is important. And then, as the dog and the handler both become very familiar and comfortable with that pattern, and in other words we've taught it in a state of calm, then we can start using the calmness evoked by that familiar pattern to help maintain calm feelings as we gradually increase the level of distraction, working all the way up to things that are triggering for that dog.

So I think it's important to remember that, and I make mention of this many times in my presentation, that the antecedents count so much in CU. Not that they don't count elsewhere, but boy, it's so easy to neglect the environmental conditions, and in Control Unleashed patterns you must not do that. You must always be working within a framework of what's going on in the environment around you when you want to employ this pattern or that pattern.

I don't need to say it, and yet I have to say it ten times a day to everybody that I work with: You can't be teaching the patterns when you need them. You can't be teaching the patterns in an environment that is challenging. The patterns have to already be well learned, familiar, and comfortable to both you and the dog. And then what you're doing is gradually increasing the distraction level, you might say, beginning with an attractive stimulus rather than a scary or triggering stimulus. You don't want to be teaching the patterns in that because you'll definitely attach the feelings of arousal or upset or worry or all those negative emotions that dogs have, just as people have, will become attached to a pattern that is learned in that state.

That would be true of anyone. It doesn't matter the species you want to teach the patterns. The whole value of the pattern is to be able to bring the calm out and about, and therefore the patterns have to be taught in a state of calm. And the more you can pay attention to the environment and set up the environment to facilitate calm, happy, confident feelings around the pattern, that's what's going to be the benefit as you begin to take the patterns out and about. I hope that answers your question.

I'll be talking about different ways to combine the patterns. I'll be talking about things that I have found useful as I tried to do. For example, I actually have one example where my dog and I are heading to the agility ring. Talk about your big feelings —there is no more happy triggering stimulus to her than agility equipment and the agility ring.

I actually was able to set up a little camera app when I was ready to go into the ring for the second or third time. This was at a seminar. And my dog —you can imagine the bullet. She may be little, but boy, that's a powerhouse dog, and when she wants to get to the agility ring, she can drag a person like me pretty well and make a convincing show of big feelings. So using a pattern like "one, two, three" to get from here to there without triggering is very tricky because she's already in the environment that's over-stimulating.

The first slide about that, I think I showed an intermediate step of teaching the pattern that I was going to want to use in public of adding the two to the three, and then adding the one to the two to the three, so that you build a dog who is prepared to, let's say, walk and chew gum at the same time. They've got to be able to eat and walk at the same time. And you've got to be able to feed and walk. That's usually a handler problem more than a dog problem. The handler has trouble feeding and walking at the same time.

So with "one, two, three," you want to get from here to there without causing a reaction, and needless to say, that was very challenging in that environment. I was able to show in my little video my dog's first impression of hearing "one, two, three" as she was about to drag me to the ring, and how she didn't buy in at first, which I knew she wouldn't.

I had an idea that I had been experimenting with. She's also familiar with Denise Fenzi's Circle Method of loose leash walking, and so I was able to incorporate that first. As soon as I could see that I might have said "two" or I might have said "three" — I certainly didn't start with "one," but whatever — I announce game on for "one, two, three," and my dog said, "I don't freaking think so." So I just started the circle, the loose leash walking circle.

Again, the handler is walking a concentric circle inside the dog's bigger outer circle, just to allow them to move to play a stationary game. People whose dogs are crazy about any sport — doesn't have to be agility; oh my God, I've seen the flyball dogs, I've seen the dock diving dogs, I mean, come on, you guys are just as crazy as we are — how can you incorporate a calming pattern like Control Unleashed in a context where the dog is already feeling the feelings and needs to move, flat-out needs to move? A stationary game is not going to cut it in that context. So I'm recommending to combine Denise Fenzi's loose leash walking Circle Method with the "one, two, three."

I was able to capture on my little video the transition between not caring about the "one, two, three" part and then gradually actually caring. I was able to show it in that video, even moving away from the ring as well as towards the ring. We ended up being able to go to the ring calmly with "one, two, three." And let's just say anybody with dogs with big feelings about any sport knows that what I'm about to say is true. If you can arrive at your destination, such as the ring or the pool or the wherever, in a state of relative calm, that bodes better for your performance in the ring. You know that's true.

Melissa Breau: Right. The dog is thinking. Their brain is engaged.

Julie Daniels: Yes, it's exactly that. The prefrontal cortex is engaged, whereas they don't need no stinkin' prefrontal cortex for those limbic reactions of dragging you and screaming. So anyway, that's one of the things that I was able to include in my presentation, just hopefully to be useful in real world-like to the people who are bound to say, "Well, those patterns are all well and good, but they're not going to do me any good in the context of agility." Oh, I hear that for sure.

And I could have let my dog drag me to the ring. As I mention in my presentation, it wouldn't be the first time. It's not the end of the world if that has to happen. But guess what? It really doesn't have to happen. If you do the homework, if you think about how you can help your dog in the moment, and you have the time and you have the inclination, and your own brain is in a good place, we need the patterns as much as they do.

You really can make a huge difference in the mental state of any dog with big feelings, and I hope to show that through quite a few different and varied examples in my presentation, beginning with mat work itself, because I was the queen of eager patience mat work, and I still use that and need that for all my dog sports work. But now I also have dogs who are expert in Leslie's Control Unleashed mat work, which is basically "down and chill."

I show the same dog, the same crazy little bullet, first using the active stationing that I'm talking about. This is a seven-yards-a-second agility dog and reporting to a station by choice, spitting out the toy by choice, announcing that she's ready for another rep, please, or can we do that backside thing again. That's just way better using the stationing, the active stationing, way better than you or me having to end the fun, get the freaking toy back, set up in a place, and now all of a sudden you're the bad guy just when you need to be the good guy.

So the stationing, the active stationing that I use, is incredibly helpful for that. It's pattern work, but it's super-active, but it has the dog self-regulating. Part of my title is it's not just CU patterns for active dogs. It's also to help the dog think clearly and self-regulate. That's the piece of the puzzle that we need for the dog sports people, the being able to go limbic with the toy, tear around the ring, and then announce when they're ready for another piece of the puzzle.

This is in a learning environment. We're not talking about trialing here. We're talking about you want to teach something new. You absolutely need a dog who's working from their prefrontal cortex, if you're going to teach new information, new skills, things like that. That's not the time for a limbic superpower. It's not going to come out well because they don't know what they're doing yet. So when you're in a teaching environment, if you're having a training session, you want something like active stationing, because the dog can tell you and bring themselves back down, the arousal back down, to a readiness level of ready to learn, ready to work, as opposed to "Yay-hoo, I got the toy." You'll see Koolaid jump on the station and spit out the toy, and you can just see that face get focused and calm as she's like, "I'm ready. Do the thing. Let's do that thing again."

I used the same dog because that's the way it's the most useful. I didn't use a different dog to show the other kind of Control Unleashed mat work. I used that same little bullet in a different context where it's CU mat work that I want. My point is — and I try to make this point early on in the presentation and use it throughout — your dog can learn to self-regulate, and mat work, I would suggest, is probably where to start. It's not obvious that that would work. I don't want to do this kind of mat work because I do that kind of mat work. Well, I started out with the crazy dog mat work, and it was incredibly helpful to me and I don't need to get rid of it, but I was able to add, by starting from the beginning, in case I haven't mentioned that before, from step one of Control Unleashed mat work, I was able to build that, obviously in a separate kind of environment, in a whole different kind of context. And I would say that this same little bullet who does the crazy stationing, who has crazy stationing skills, also has crazy "down and chill" mat work skills. And I prove that in the presentation.

Melissa Breau: That's awesome. I'm looking forward to seeing that, Julie. In addition to the presentation, you do have classes that you're offering through FDSA on this stuff. I think you've got your second one … is the second one coming up in August?

Julie Daniels: Oh, boy. Yeah.

Melissa Breau: Can you share a little bit about what the different classes are and a little about them?

Julie Daniels: Sure. This fits perfectly with what we were just talking about. The basic class that I'm teaching for the second time right now, it's just about to wrap up as we speak, is the basic patterns, and I really try to keep them basic.

It's very tempting to go on and show, "Here's what you can do with this and here's what you can do with that." And there is a little bit in this class because students do want the sexy stuff, but again, I just harp on the fact that you need to be thinking foundation patterns first, before the sexy stuff, because usually sexy stuff means adding challenges. It's not just variations on a theme. It's people want to take it out and about, which is understandable, but if you don't have a real fluency with the foundation patterns, and by this I mean the handler as well as the dog have to have these patterns at a level of comfort that is fluent before adding the challenges.

So this first class that I've now taught twice is geared toward the foundations and not geared toward the sexy stuff. And so I think I can fairly say that CU Part 2, which comes up in August, as you said, is sexy, but therefore you're going to want the foundation patterns in place and fluent, hopefully, before you pick up this class. We haven't talked yet about whether the CU Part 1 will be available as a prerequisite during registration. I would hope so. I actually thank you for reminding me. I need to approach …

Melissa Breau: Approach Teri about that.

Julie Daniels: … the boss about that, because you aren't really going to want to dive into part two without any background in part one. It just wouldn't be how I think about it, how I want it to work. Obviously we'll review, but I've written the syllabus about five different times and shifted things around and changed the wording and I still don't have it finalized yet. And knowing me, I won't finalize it until Teri says, "Hey, I so need that syllabus." And then I'll be like, "Oh my God, just put it out the way it is and it'll be fine."

The way I've worded it for the beginning of the class is that we'll start by reviewing and progressing the arrival skill set, for example. Anyone who has taken my foundation class, or the webinar I did on it, will be familiar with what the arrival skill set is designed to do for us and how we're planning to use it going forward. That's kind of the idea of part two is that yes, there will be some review, but I'm not going to reteach those things. We'll be going over them and then dive into how to progress them.

The goal of CU Part 2 is to get out into the world. I think that's what it's called: Control Unleashed in the Big Wide World. So that's my goal for the class is to get dogs out and about. And by the end, my hope is that anyone who is following along with the class will have a plan. It doesn't mean that you'll have it all taught, but it does mean that you'll know what kinds of things work for you, and how to take advantage of the flexibility of the patterns and use them in your own way to your own dog's advantage so the conversation will start to develop more intensely between the dog and the handler.

Some of the videos I have for this class I'm just so proud of, like individual dogs saying specifically in a straight line of targets, "I like this target. This is as close as I want to go to the thing," and I'm going to offer you the start button as I turn around and face the other direction away from the scary thing. That's a conversation. That's a dog who's fluent in the patterns and the power, the personal power that the dog has within the framework of that familiar pattern. So that's my goal for every student who takes CU Part 2 is that you and your dog work the patterns to fluency so that the two-way feedback system keeps you on the same page as you add challenges. I hope that's helpful as a description.

Melissa Breau: Absolutely. In the class description you called out a few specific games. I know you mentioned requested approach training and voluntary sharing and latte and decaf. You don't have to go through all of them by any means, but can you maybe pick one or two and share a little about what those look like and how you use them?

Julie Daniels: I am going to do a lot with those four. You mentioned voluntary sharing. That was the thing that first excited me to write to Leslie directly and say, "I just love this. It fits so perfectly with what I'm doing with Cookie Jar Games, and I just am thrilled to be able to read your stuff and practice your work."

Voluntary sharing allows the dog, let's call it the target dog, the one you're working with, to actually request that you give a cookie to someone else, and then that cookie to someone else predicts a cookie for that target dog. So would you kindly, as Leslie, I think, used two of her dogs to begin with, and please feed that dog and then feed me. That's what you're saying.

We also incorporate a start button into that, and most of us tend to use chin rest as that start button. As I said before, there are other start buttons you could use, but chin rest is a good one for voluntary sharing. In my example video, I have my dog put her chin on my left thigh, so that means antecedents. I have to set up the environment so that she's on that side of me, because although she might well be fine with putting her chin on the other side of me, I taught the pattern with my left leg, so I'm just going to stay with the left leg thing for now. And then we'll talk about how we can progress that and make it more fluent if we want.

But we don't assume fluency before we've actually trained a hundred different variables. We have a lot of variables to vary in the environment before we start making things more difficult. Does that help? So that's part of my job with CU Part 2 is before we start talking about … people think of adding difficulty like in a straight line: I'm going to go this far and then go this far and then we're going to go closer and closer and closer. Oh, such a mistake. A, in the first place, ping-pong difficulty. Go back and forth between harder reps and easier reps. That's just basic training, good training.

But it's also going to be important that the dog gets to say when. And we don't usually do that in our training. We're used to the handler saying, "I'm going to go a little closer." It's not how we do Control Unleashed. The dog says, "Let's go a little closer, shall we? May we go a little closer?" The dog's not just going to the next target, or the dog's not just keeping their chin on your leg the whole time, to say, "You can keep doing the thing. You can keep doing the thing."

There are some games where we do that. In other words, if the dog lifts their chin up from chin rest position, that's a stop button. That would be similar to what we learned from Chirag Patel in the bucket game. That is a fantastic use of a stop button or a pause button, and we'll go into that also in CU Part 2. Because my students are just dynamite, we've gotten into that in part one as well, the difference between a pause button and a stop button, as well as the start button, so the two-way feedback system is always open.

But in voluntary sharing, each rep is an individual. The dog puts her chin on my leg, that tells me to feed Sport, so I feed him and then feed her. The act of feeding your target dog takes their head away from the chin rest position. So you're using food delivery in a specific way to put the head in a certain place so that the dog now has a separate individual choice to come back, place the chin on your leg again when ready for you to feed the other dog.

I also take that further to that little dog of mine who does the stationary chin rest behavior for me to feed another dog is also capable of running from where we are working. Let's say I'm working with her. I have a video where another family member, a little Staffie mix, comes running in, butts into her perch work training session, and wants to play too. My dog knows perfectly well that I'm not going to feed him. He wasn't invited. She's the one getting paid. She can just keep doing what she's doing and I'm good for it. I'll gently move him out of the way so that she can continue doing what she's doing. I'm not going to give him her cookies. That's not going to happen. She can trust that. And I recommend that. Be fair to the working dog. Don't let other dogs bump in. Oh, he wants one, too. Well, yeah, duh. But that doesn't mean he gets it.

However, this happened, and I happened to be videotaping, so I got it on video: my little dog decided, "Wait, he can have my turn. I'll run over here to this station and I bet that'll pay off for me." And obviously I made it pay off for her. That's a different active example of voluntary sharing — the dog taking that concept and using it in an empowering way. "I can be nice to that dog and give him my turn and I bet that this'll pay off for me." And so it's your job to make sure it darn well does pay off for them, if you want your dog to be polite and not triggered by the approach of another dog. You can turn resource guarding … obviously this is not a beginning step, but the fact that my normally resource-guardy-type dog who has worked all the way to calm because she trusts me not to give away her cookies when she's working, so she's not resource guardy in that context. But this was a quantum leap above that thinking. This is empowered thinking, using the Control Unleashed mindset of voluntary sharing. I hope that's enough to entice people to take this class, because it's really going to be fun.

Melissa Breau: I know. It sounds awesome. You alluded to this earlier, but I'd love if you could talk a little bit more about how some of the components in Control Unleashed complement the classes you've previously taught at FDSA that people know you for, like your empowerment class and your Cookie Jar Games and all your other popular classes. How do they fit together?

Julie Daniels: They all fit together so well. The whole idea of … let's just stick with the example I just used, because I would happily go off on ten more tangents. Let's stay with that one. That example of voluntary sharing as a concept instead of a ritual — she had never been taught that as a pattern. She employed the concepts of that pattern that she did know and used it in a new way.

That's the idea of Cookie Jar Games is delayed gratification, delay of reinforcement as a dog's choice phenomenon and a very good deal for the dog. Cookie Jar Games is all about creating not only a fluency with delay of reinforcement, but a desire delay of reinforcement as a better deal. That's what excited me so much about the whole voluntary sharing thing is it's the dog's choice element and the fact that it's actually a better deal for you if reinforcement does not come immediately and you have the power. It's so personally empowering.

Which leads me to tie it in with empowerment. The CU pattern — I'm always saying yes, they're calming, the CU patterns are calming, but they are also empowering because of that start button element, the dog's choice element, being built into the patterns by Leslie's design from the beginning. There just couldn't be a more empowering way to use patterns other than employing a start button, like Leslie has always done from beginning. So anyway, love her, love her stuff. She really turned how to handle crazy dogs — and you define "crazy" any way you want — how to handle that combining structure with choice. Just brilliant. Wonderful. Just wonderful. It's a whole better way.

I don't know if people know this, but originally, when Leslie first started developing these games, these patterns, the purpose was to use it with sport dogs who were just that little bit … let me just phrase this … they were a little bit disruptive in their classes, and it was Leslie's job to take them out of that environment and help them get ready to come back into the class without that disruptive element. So nowadays we just expand that. We know its value now for dogs who are simply reactive to the environment, or to other dogs, or to any trigger stimulus. These games are a wonderful way to help calm the nervous system and keep the dog in the thinking brain.

Melissa Breau: All right, Julie. We covered a whole lot of ground, and I've got one last question here for you. If we were to take all the stuff we've been talking about and drill it down into either a key piece of information you really want people to understand or one summarizing final point, what would that be?

Julie Daniels: One thing. I can do it. I would say Control Unleashed patterns are calming and empowering. Teaching the patterns in a calm state helps you transfer into the real world without losing the element of dog's choice. That is so important to an empowerment mindset. That's the best I can do.

Melissa Breau: I think that's a pretty good summary. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast, Julie. This has been fantastic.

Julie Daniels: It was my pleasure. Thanks, Melissa.

Melissa Breau: And thank you to all of our listeners for tuning in! We'll be back next week. Don't miss it! If you haven't already, subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or the podcast app of your choice to have our next episode automatically downloaded to your phone as soon as it becomes available.


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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