E280: Sarah Stremming - "Helping Our Dogs to be Their Best Selves"

In this episode Sarah and I talk about the common thread that seems to run through everything she teaches — the idea of loving the dog you have, while also trying to help them become the best version of themselves. 


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 Sarah Stremming here with me to talk about her upcoming classes: Hidden Potential and Teenage Tyrants in August, and then Worked Up in October.

Hi Sarah. Welcome back to the podcast!

Sarah Stremming: Thanks, Melissa. Thanks for having me back.

Melissa Breau: Excited to talk about all this stuff today. To start us out, do you want to just share a little bit about you and your current pups, for anybody who doesn't know you?

Sarah Stremming: Sure. I'm Sarah. I am a behavior consultant primarily. I also have a podcast called Cog Dog Radio, and I have three dogs. Idgie is 13-and-a-half. She is a Border Collie. She's retired from being amazing at everything. Felix is also a Border Collie. He is 7, and he's competing in agility and obedience right now. Raya is a year-and-a-half, and she's an Icelandic Sheepdog, so she's my first non-Border Collie in over twenty years. She's training for agility and competing in conformation, which is also new for me. Super fun.

Melissa Breau: Very exciting. She did awesome. You shared some of your results on Facebook. She's been awesome.

Sarah Stremming: Yeah, they like her. She's doing very, very well. And I didn't know that I would like it, but it turns out that winning is fun and it doesn't matter what it is.

Melissa Breau: I hear that. Prepping for this, I was looking through your courses to come up with questions, and they're pretty different classes, but it seemed to me there's a little bit of a common thread there that I thought I would get your take on. It seems like all three classes, in one way or another, are about loving the dog that you have right now while also trying to help them become the best version of themselves. Would you agree with that?

Sarah Stremming: Yes. In fact, I think that's my life's work that you just summed up: loving the dog that you have, while also helping them to be the best version of themselves, and then maybe with a little sprinkling of you learning to be the best version of yourself as well with them. So I think that all of the classes that we're going to talk about today have that common thread, because probably most of my work does.

Melissa Breau: It's a nice summary of what you do. Let's start with Hidden Potential. I was watching the little video that you include, and I was like, "This video illustrates so well what it is we're talking about." And of course now we're going to try and put it into words. What are the behaviors or the symptoms somebody might see if they have a hidden potential dog?

Sarah Stremming: I hate to slap a label on anybody, but the people who tend to sign up for Hidden Potential have dogs who are reluctant to work or maybe check out from work. Maybe they'll get started, but then they leave. So commonly, these are dogs that get sniffy during an obedience or agility routine or anything like that. They might be dogs that during training they seem to quit. Maybe you are in a rep of whatever it is that you're doing, and they decide they'd rather go sniff again or lie down somewhere else.

They're just the dogs that didn't come out of the womb latched to a tug and are maybe a little bit harder to convince are the best dogs for this class. We're going to get into it, but it can look a lot of different ways. And essentially the folks that tend to sign up are frustrated with maybe they want to do the thing and maybe the dog seems like they want to do the thing a lot of the time, but then doesn't seem like they want to do the thing other times, and we need to improve that communication system so that the dog and the person are less frustrated.

Melissa Breau: Are all of the dogs who fit into this bucket, or who fit as hidden potential dogs, I guess, can they all be helped, or is there always room for improvement? Is this something that we can fix or work with, or are there some dogs that, well, that dog really just wants to be a couch potato and we should work on accepting that instead?

Sarah Stremming: Full disclosure, and this might not sell me any more spots, Melissa, but this is the hardest class that I teach for me to teach and also for people to participate in. And the reason is we really dig deep in this class. We do a major deep dive with every single Gold spot to figure out what the source of the problems are. Sometimes the answer is that your dog doesn't want to do the sport that you want to do, and that's a really hard truth for a lot of people to accept.

So I don't approach this class trying to fix anything. I approach this class trying to explain and trying to improve communication. Some people take this class and they go on to have success in their chosen sport because of the class. Some people take this class and go on to try a different sport with their dog who doesn't want to do the thing that they maybe intended for the dog to do.

And then there's always a chunk of dogs in this class in Gold spots who actually wind up having health concerns. I'm certainly not a veterinarian, but I guide people in this class towards conversations with their veterinary team to try to figure it out. Through Hidden Potential, people have had their veterinarians diagnose hypothyroidism, cancer, hip dysplasia, lots of things that could be the problem. And it's never like, "Oh, well, I never thought of that." It's typically it's been missed, it's been looked for, it's been missed. And I sometimes help guide the conversation to get where we need to go.

So it can be a really tough class because sometimes we don't fix anything. Sometimes you decide that you and this dog are not going to do, say, agility, but maybe you find that you and this dog really love, say, barn hunt. Or maybe you find out that for this dog, agility is just too physically hard, and so then you go on to do something else. Or I've had dogs actually get on the right medication for what their condition is, and then go forward and have success. So it's a really varied, interesting, it's never short of hard brainwork for me to figure out what's going on and dig into what's going on.

I don't describe myself as blunt in my teaching style at all, but I do describe myself as honest. And so if I see something going on, I will not gloss over what's going on for the team, and I'll keep pushing you in the direction I think you need to go. It's hard, but it's really worth it.

You could even go search, if you're on the alumni page, for the name of the class, and you will find people sharing their stories from the class, and maybe they are having huge results, or maybe their veterinary team diagnosed something, etc. So it's an interesting class. We don't really go about fixing stuff, but we do go about doing that deep dive.

Melissa Breau: Again, looking over that syllabus, it seems like there are a few really big concepts that you look at in the class — consent, things like fear of being wrong. Can you talk about those big concepts a little bit? Why are they such a big deal, especially for these hidden-potential-type dogs?

Sarah Stremming: Consent is another one of those common threads that you're going to find in everything that I do. Defining that, it's basically I want the dog to be opting in to everything that I'm going to do. And I don't assume with the opt-in. I'm watching for it.

With a lot of the dogs that sign up for this class, their opt-in has never been present, and therefore the person has no idea what it looks like. So we train the person to see what the opt-in looks like. And then in some cases where the dog has been typically … not in a nasty way, but lightly coerced to do the thing, and you can think of the dogs that are kind of cheer-led through the agility course or the rally course. The person's clapping a lot and making kissy noises, and really, really cheerleading the dog through — I would call that a light form of coercion.

A lot of these dogs have been lightly coerced into doing whatever the thing is, and so those dogs don't think they have a choice, so they're not going to show you an opt-in, and they're probably showing you a lot of really subtle opt-outs. And so sometimes, for those dogs, we actually train them a hard and fast opt-out signal. We train them, "You can do this, and I will always stop and just feed you for doing that, and then we're going to stop." So that's one concept we might go into, but in general it's teaching people to watch for that opt-out and allow that opt-out to happen, which again, tough road to walk if you've literally never seen it before.

And then fear of being wrong— I would say that it's more like a lack of trust in the training process itself. If I look at training like a game, maybe even a game on my phone, if I download a game on my phone and I start playing it and it's easy and I like it, I'm going to keep playing it. The people who make games are very clever people who get paid a lot of money, if they're good at it, to increase the difficulty at such increments that you barely notice it's happening. You just keep enjoying it. Because if it stays at the same level of difficulty, you do get bored with it. But if it shoots up in difficulty too fast, you don't like it. You stop playing that game.

Our dogs in training— it is exactly the same thing. What we do kind of routinely, I think, in dog sports, unfortunately, is we just increase that difficulty level way, way too fast, or we don't even start at an accessible level.

I'm going to tell you, Melissa, there isn't an accessible starter level that I've ever seen for me with Sudoku. That does not exist. I look at it, it's numbers, I'm already upset, and I can't look at it anymore. I'm working out math class trauma that's coming up because there happen to be numbers. If somebody wanted to make a Sudoku that had an accessible level for me, first of all they'd call me a hidden potential Sudoku player. They would not appreciate it. And they'd be like, "She's just a quitter. She doesn't want to do this game." If somebody wanted to start me at an accessible level, they'd need to find some way to make it winnable for me.

And so that's what I try to do in Hidden Potential is find the place that this feels winnable to your dog and keep it winnable, because my dogs show up to training and this is intentional. This is not what they show up with, because dogs don't show up with any training background. My dogs look at training like, "I know this will be great for me. I don't have a question in my head about whether this is going to be great for me or not." What that means is that if I'm not my best that day and it gets a little harder, a little frustrating, they're going to keep trying, but that is hard earned. That is through making sure that they believe this is something they can win.

And I have to tell you, my Icelandic Sheepdog, that's harder for me to do than with my Border Collies. My Border Collies — we'll talk about the class that's more for them a little bit later. Due to their temperament, if they're frustrated, they're going to throw bigger behaviors. They're usually not behaviors that are any more workable than sniffing. They're just bigger and different than my Icelandic. The first thing that'll happen if I've frustrated her, she will look me dead in the face and bark at me. She is like, "How dare you? You need to fix this for me." But you know what? She trusts that I'm going to fix it for her because that's what I've done.

So with hidden potential dogs and the course, it's all about teaching them that training is a game they can always win, and it's a game that they can trust, and they can also trust that this person is not going to force them. It's a big, hard concept, but it's the cornerstone of the course, I think.

Melissa Breau: Going from that to the Teenage Tyrants course, I know one of the topics you cover that I see people ask about all the time, related to exactly what we were just talking about, is this idea about no choice moments if we want consent, and we want our dogs to opt in, and all those bits and pieces. Can you talk about the difference there between the consent work that you do and how you approach those no choice moments?

Sarah Stremming: Yes. If gamifying training for the hidden potential dogs, if that's the cornerstone of Hidden Potential, the cornerstone of Teen Tyrants is this concept of choice versus no choice, and it's very hard for people to wrap their heads around. But actually a clearly defined no-choice scenario is a requirement for you to also be able to have choice-based scenarios. If you are not clear about when choice is not present, you don't ever have actual choice moments if you do not define, "This, my dog, is a choice moment. You have a choice. I will not make you," and also, "This is not a choice. I am going to make you."

Because I have news for you. They live in our houses. We have to make them do stuff sometimes. I'm going to argue that we never have to make them do dog sports, and we shouldn't. But sometimes we have to make them get in the car. Sometimes we have to make them put a leash on. Sometimes we have to make them let us pull a thorn out of their foot. There are no-choice moments inherent in husbandry of dogs. And if you don't clearly define those moments for them, you will allow no choice to creep into your choice moment.

A really good example of this is that if I want my dog to get in the car, but he doesn't have to, I could leave him home if he said no. Then I might say, "Okay, come on, kennel up," and I've trained "kennel up" with positive reinforcement. And then if he puts the brake on and looks at me and is like, "I don't think I feel like it today," that's the pivotal moment, because what everybody wants to do is ask them again, cajole them, lure them, maybe get them by the collar and force them. And now I've said to my dog, "When I give you a choice, it's a lie. When I give you a choice, it's not really a choice." And now you have no consent anywhere, because it has to be a promise. It has to be, "When I ask you and it is clearly a choice for you, I will honor your no."

So let's flip it around and say I need the dog to get in the car today. If there's a shadow of a doubt in my mind that he's going to say no, if I think maybe there's a chance he's going to say no, there's plenty of dogs who are like, "Open the door, I'm in it before you even say." So if it's one of those dogs, I'm just going to open the door and they're in it. But if it's a dog that's like, "I don't think I want to today," and that can happen, then I'm going to go to them, I'm going to put a leash on, I'm going to guide them to the car, I'm going to help them get in the car. I'm not going to ask them to. I'm not going to make it a positive reinforcement contingency. I'm going to put them in.

I would say in Teenage Tyrants, there's a lot of really interesting topics in Teenage Tyrants, but this is one that is really hard for people, and so we have a lot of conversations about it. But I hope that there's a few things that come through, which one is that if I am not clear with my dog when they don't have a choice, then there is no way that they can understand when they do have a choice. I need them to understand that the majority of the time in our relationship they have a choice, and so therefore I need to define these no-choice moments and make them very clear. And so we do a lot of that in Teenage Tyrants, because again that consent piece is so important to me.

Melissa Breau: Just a follow-on question there, just to clarify a little bit. In the scenario where the dog does not have a choice about getting in the car, can you still involve food in that scenario or does that automatically get into a gray area?

Sarah Stremming: Really good question. You certainly could give that dog an apology cookie after you put them in the car. The difference is, and if I really want to get very specific and geeky about this, choice scenarios are positive reinforcement contingencies and no-choice scenarios are negative reinforcement contingencies, which means that your bonus cookie, your apology cookie, isn't the actual consequence that drove anything. It's just like, "Sorry, here's a cookie." But you didn't get in the car because you knew a cookie was going to happen. You got in the car because you knew the other option was for you to stand there on your leash next to the car.

There's so much nuance here, because this implies, too, that you have taught this dog that leash pressure is safe, or that if you're going to lift the dog into the car, that you have taught the dog that being picked up is safe. Yes. All of that really, really matters. The difference is that I'm not saying to you "Get in," and I've taught you to get in means have a cookie, because in the same sense that if I say "Sit," my dog knows there's an opportunity for reinforcement. There's an opportunity for a classic positive reinforcer. And therefore he will sit.

When I guide my dog to the car by the collar, he knows this is not about an opportunity for a classic reinforcer. He knows that there's just not another choice in the matter. He's going to get in the car, and then I might give him an apology cookie because I love him. But it wasn't why he got in the car. And at risk of getting muddier and muddier and more confusing for people, if it helps you to keep your lines really clear, then no, don't give food after you do it.

Melissa Breau: Which makes it clear for the human learner.

Sarah Stremming: Clear for the human, as well as I think people are really not good at being clean in these scenarios. They might have that piece of food in their hand and show it to the dog, or the dog knows it's there and now the dog is saying, "Which one is it? Is it you're going to let go of my collar when I get in? Or is it that you're going to give me that piece of hot dog when I get it?" And when you mix those two, you actually poison all the cues in the scenario. So it should come after the whole thing is done or not at all. And not at all is often clearer for the human learner.

Melissa Breau: That makes sense. I think, in addition to that, the common thread of the thing that people think of when they think about teenage tyrant stuff is just how frustrating adolescence can be, especially for the human, but also sometimes for the dog, because it feels like their perfect puppy has just gone totally rogue. Looking at naughty teenage behavior, what is normal naughty versus what kinds of behaviors when they pop up make you worry, "Oh, there might be something bigger here that we're going to have to address as this dog grows up."

Sarah Stremming: It's interesting that we just talked about no-choice moments, because what happens with these teenage puppies is that things that you thought weren't going to be a problem for them to just comply with easily, like getting in the car, it's a perfect example, especially at the end of a hike, like coming inside from the backyard, like going into our crate at bedtime or some other kind of rest time.

We take those things for granted in our puppies, and then they start to learn what other contingencies exist in the world. And then they start to say, "Mmm, okay. Going in the crate equals frozen Kong, and you've taught me that, and that's fine. But I now know about other contingencies, like bouncing up and off the couch, and running around outside, and chasing the cat, and so I think I choose those other contingencies." Sorry. I don't think so.

That's what starts to happen is they become really aware of all the contingencies, and they really start to become aware of agency and their potential control over a situation. And they start to exert that control over the situation. Not in a malicious way. In a normal, natural way that animals that grow into adults of all species go through this, where they're saying, "I am not as dependent on you anymore. I now am aware of all the contingencies in the world, and I am now going to work the system to my advantage." And then you find out that you thought you had a beautifully trained crate up behavior, or come in from outside behavior, or put your leash on behavior, and the puppy goes, "Well, you're cute that that's what you thought, but you're wrong."

And when do I worry if things are a bit …no, that's all very normal. We talk a lot about that stuff in the class, and that's where no choice comes in. If it isn't a choice to go into the crate, then is your contingency going to be "Go in for this Kong," or is your contingency going to be "Go in because it's just you're going in, and I'll bring you your Kong in a second"? We piece that on and really talk about that. It might be "If you can't come in from outside when I call you, you're dragging a long line so that I don't need to call you." I make this a no-choice scenario.

As far as behaviors that would make me worried, anything that is something we would label fearful/anxious/reactive needs bigger intervention. Don't wait. Do it early, early often. Even if you're a little concerned, early and often. Definitely an upsurge in barking about our feelings and potentially lunging on leash about our feelings, etc. is kind of normal in teenage puppies. But if you are going, "Could this be a bigger problem?" just err on the side of it is probably a bigger problem. Certainly if you wind up in the class and if you're at Gold or Silver, I can advise on whether I think you should seek bigger help than the class can give you. But there are also lectures in there about that normal range of just increased reactiveness to the environment, which is very normal.

Melissa Breau: If you were to think about the age range for this class, at what age are dogs typically hitting maturity? What's the youngest age it makes sense to take the class? What are we looking at in terms of who's a good fit?

Sarah Stremming: I love it when people come in early. I love it when people take this class when their puppy is 3-and-a-half, 4 months of age, because then I get in before any problems happen.

The problems start to pop up around 5, 6 months of age. So if you get in right before then, I've had people come in with 3-and-a-half, 4-month-old puppies, take the class, they lay all the groundwork, they see all the problems that I predicted for them, show up at 5 or 6 months and they a hundred percent have the tools to work through them. That's ideal. Well, but here we are. That might not be you. Five or 6 months of age, these things tend to show up, and then, depending on the breed, it can last into 2 years of age, over 2 years of age, depends on the breed.

It really is an early intervention course. If the dog is 2 years old and it's been displaying all of these problems for the last year-and-a-half, yes, you're going to have a lot of tools that will help you work through it. But your job is going to be harder than if you jumped on it early. So early is best, but anything under 3 qualifies.

Melissa Breau: Any words of advice out there for people who are currently coping with that teenage phase?

Sarah Stremming: Well, there's one thing about time, which is that it passes. So I would say, especially if you're a sport person, do not write off a dog in this age group and do not push them too hard. Know that a dog under 2 does not have emotional maturity. Know that most dogs under 3 don't have what I would call emotional maturity.

I've often heard of people who started competing their dogs at the age that it's legal. Say, in agility, maybe this dog is 15 or 18 months of age and things really start to go poorly. Problems develop. They write the dog off. I'm saying you didn't even wait for that dog to be emotionally mature enough to cope with that environment. So maybe put them up for a minute, let them grow up, and think about that again.

Felix, my 7-year-old dog, was not emotionally mature enough to cope with an agility trial environment until he was over 3 years of age. That is really frustrating for people, but people who have seen him compete, who have been around him, would not think that he is not coping with that environment, because he is coping with it, and he couldn't when he was 18 months old. Some of it is training, but some of it is that his brain matured.

And so just calm down, enjoy that puppy, laugh about them. Know that if you feel like something's a behavioral emergency, reach out for help sooner than later. But most things aren't. Most things just need some good training and some good intervention just on the positive reinforcement front, and you will be all right.

Melissa Breau: Even though it's not until October, I did just want to touch on your Worked Up class, too. Can you talk a little bit about the type of dog that's a fit for Worked Up, and maybe how that's little bit different than what you cover in your Hidden Potential class?

Sarah Stremming: The dogs in Hidden Potential are responding to confusion or frustration or sometimes fear and stress in a certain way. They're sniffy. They might check out. They don't want to work. They don't want to keep going.

The dogs in Worked Up are also responding to stress, confusion, and frustration. They're just responding in bigger, louder ways that sometimes our interventions might look a little bit different.

Dogs in Worked Up just spiral upward. They might get barky. They might bite you. They might jump at you. I've definitely had dogs come through Worked Up who, the second there was a moment of frustration, they left the agility course to go trifle through everybody's bags and finally find a toy, because they are owed a toy. You lapsed in their reinforcement, as far as they're concerned, and they left.

I would say that just getting really, really clean in your communication and your reinforcers is what Worked Up is all about. That would be what Hidden Potential was all about, only if I didn't have so many dogs who were sick or potentially temperamentally not suited to the game.

In Worked Up, I tend not to have those problems. Sometimes, but I tend not to have those things happen. And so we can just focus on clean communication, really, really cleaning up those reinforcers, because Worked Up dogs just care a lot about their reinforcers. Hidden Potential dogs care less about the reinforcers. If you really want to pare it down, that's what's going on. In Worked Up we help you to be a clear communicator and especially to be clear about those reinforcers for your dog. That way, we help reduce those problematic behaviors and increase the behaviors that you'd like to be seeing.

Melissa Breau: I know it's super-common, especially in the dog sports world, to conflate this idea of high arousal and this idea of high drive. Can you talk a little bit about what you see as the differences and why that's important?

Sarah Stremming: Some words that I would love to have universal definitions that don't have universal definitions. I like to think of drive as the really classic definition of drive, which is an innate desire to fulfill a need. And so that drive tends to be about the reinforcers for most of the dogs in the Worked Up class, whereas in the Hidden Potential class, that drive tends to be about seeking safety, or they're all always seeking their cleanest, clearest path to reinforcement. That's true in both versions of these dogs.

Thinking of the dog that his pupils are dilated, his tongue is enormous, his commissures, the corners of his mouth, are pulled way, way back into this grimace, and you can see the smoke coming out of his ears like he. He cannot hear you. He probably can't eat food. You give him a treat, it sits on his tongue. Or he chipmunks it, if he's really smart. Those dogs, in my opinion, are in such an emotional state that is not only not conducive to learning, but not conducive to long-term health. I don't want you in that emotional state. I am not one of these agility people that wants the dog barking and screaming and spinning out of control.

I love it if they are really hot for the game, and really intense, and really intense about their reinforcers. But I need them to be able to hear me, to respond to cues, and to trust that the reinforcement is coming and to trust that the information is coming. What I usually find is dogs whose desire has been exploited to the point that they do not trust that you're going to give them the right information, and so they're a mess before they begin. They have a response to the entire training or learning scenario that they are no longer hearing you. They want to just fly around and take obstacles. Or if we're talking about other sports, dogs that can't stop barking or body slamming or biting at their handler in obedience are a really big example of this as well.

I would consider both of my Border Collies to be certainly very high-drive dogs for whom I would say one of them, her arousal — actually, when she was young, I would probably describe her as high arousal as well. But it was easy enough for me to get a handle on it with the brain I had 13-and-a-half years ago, so I don't think it was that bad.

Versus Felix, I would say he came with some really big feelings and really high arousal, and the course is really written for him. He's 7 years old. I wrote it when he was a puppy, as I was helping him, as I was standing outside of dog parks while people were throwing chuck-its for their dogs, teaching him that he could watch me and listen to me, even if dogs were running after a tennis ball nearby. I wrote that course because I was like, "I think this is going to help other people. I hope it's going to help Felix, and I think it's going to help other people." It helped him, and I think it has helped other people. It's the reason that I think it's the course that I'm best known for at FDSA, and it's my favorite. So come take it.

Melissa Breau: It being your favorite matters quite a bit. Anything else you'd want to add about any of the classes, or who should take them, or anything important we maybe didn't cover?

Sarah Stremming: I think that just know that if you're going to take any of them, and I think this is true for all of FDSA, if you're taking it at Bronze or even Silver, if you don't read and follow the Gold threads, you're missing more than half of the class. I know that's true for most of the courses I've taken at FDSA, which have all been at Bronze. I've yet to rip that Band-Aid off and take the Gold.

So at least read the intros and decide on a couple of dogs that maybe feel like they pertain to your situation, and subscribe to those threads and follow them, because you are missing more than half of it if you don't read the Golds. I'm really generous with my conversations with my Gold students.

All of my classes are really, really conceptual. My classes don't look like this. It's not like, "Okay, do X, Y, Z," and you come back and you did X, Y, Z, and I say, "Great, do X, Y, Z again, but change this, this, this." And then you come back and it doesn't look like that. It's more like, "She sniffed at .23 in the video, immediately following your cue to sit, which previously had involved the hand signal and this time did not involve a hand signal. So let's talk about is a hand signal usually what's going on for you. It's very conceptual, deep dive, geeky stuff, and if you don't follow those Gold threads, you are missing more than half of it.

Melissa Breau: You're missing all the examples.

Sarah Stremming: You are, and you're missing my individualized feedback within it. I give you the baseline assignments, but then those deep dives are happening over in the Gold threads.

I know that's really, really true of Amy Cook's classes, for instance. If you don't follow the Gold threads and you're missing the magic that Amy is handing people, you're missing her class. And I do feel that way about mine. I feel like if you don't read those Gold threads, you probably missing it. So if you're signing on at Bronze, fine, great, we love you. Please come in, join the Facebook groups, whatever. But peek in on the Gold threads sometimes.

Melissa Breau: All right. One final question. Since I am asking you to sum up our conversation today into a final piece of advice or one takeaway that you want people to walk away from this with, what have you got?

Sarah Stremming: Oh, so hard. I would say it all comes back to that opt-in from the dong. Watch for that opt-in. If you don't know what the opt-in looks like for your maybe hidden-potential-style dog, it's time to do a deep dive and figure out what that looks like and figure out maybe why. And because you will see what the opt-in looks like, you will know what situations you need to remove choice from for your tyrant. For your worked-up dogs, they probably come out of the crate opting in. So what you want to be watching for from them is more the subtle "I can't," not the "I don't want to," because that's not going to happen, but the subtle "I can't." And those are all things that we definitely dive into in my classes.

Melissa Breau: Awesome. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast, Sarah. This has been excellent.

Sarah Stremming: Thanks, Melissa.

Melissa Breau: And thank you to all of our listeners for tuning in! We'll be back next week with Andrea Harrison to talk about human resilience and recovering on the human side of the leash when things go wrong.

If you haven't already, subscribe to the 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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