E294: Dealing with Cabin Fever

Heather Lawson, Julie Symons, and Ashley Escobar join me to talk about how they handle it when their dogs are stuck indoors for an extended time... and what they train when limited to a small(er) training space. 


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 Heather Lawson, Julie Symons, and Ashley Escobar here with me to talk about small space skills for dog sports in honor of FDSA's upcoming one-day conference, Cabin Fever: Small Space Skills for Dog Sports!

Melissa Breau: Hi all. Welcome back to the podcast. We're here. I'm so glad you're here. So, to start us out, I wanna just have you each kinda introduce yourself, share a little bit about your background and maybe your crews. That way folks can kinda match names to voices. Heather, you wanna start us off?

Heather Lawson: Okay. Obviously, you've said my name Heather Lawson. My background pre-dog was corporate HR and business management, retail management. And then I jumped into dogs and have been teaching for, oh, I guess 25 years now. And my dog breed of choice is German Shepherd, currently down to one lovely little girl called Piper, who if anybody's taking any of my classes, you'll see Piper quite often in all my videos. She's my chief demo dog and gets me into a lot of trouble. But she's a good girl. She participates nicely. And in addition to that, I own my own business training business and I am an instructor for Fenzi Dog Sport Academy.

Melissa Breau: Awesome. Julie.

Julie Symons: Hi. It's interesting looking at the new year and it's 2023 reminds me that is like 30 years for me of being in dog sports cuz my first dog as an adult was in, I got in 1992 and by the time, you know, a year later we probably were doing like fly ball. So that was my first dog sport and trying to do some of the, I forget the organization name, but the obedience for, for mixed breeds. And so yeah, so almost three years in, in dog sports, probably didn't start teaching. So probably five years later, during most of that time I did work at Xerox for 30 years. Some people don't realize that or remember that I was a software engineer and left the corporate world about four years ago.

And I own my own business: Savvy Dog Sports and I'm also a full-time faculty member right at FDSA. And I have three dogs right now. I have Moxie who's four years old, she's a Belgian Tervuren. I have Drac who is seven, he's a Belgian Malinois and I have Savvy, who's the dog that most people know me from at the beginning of FDSA.

She's gonna be turning 15 next month.

Melissa Breau: Oh my.

Julie Symons: Which she's just doing fantastic, but she's a dog that went through a lot of those early FDSA classes when I started with the Academy. So they, the three keep me really busy and just great to be here and share, you know, what I, what I have to share with you guys.

Melissa Breau: Awesome. Ashley?

Ashley Escobar: I am Ashley Escobar and I've been participating in dog sports since I was a junior in four H and AKC Juniors, conformation and agility mostly. And I have had my own business since 2000 when I graduated college and was a college math professor for a short bit before having children. And then I retired from that and started my own business, full-time dog training, mostly focusing on rehab with the canine conditioning and fitness. That's my passion with the animal sports. I've been doing some guest presenter for Fenzi dog sports and super excited.

Melissa Breau: Awesome. So I mentioned in the intro, the conference coming up is about cabin fever, so it kind of only seemed fair that we kind of start out our conversation by talking about maybe what that kinda looks like in your dogs. So what are some signs that you guys see when your dogs are starting to, you know, suffer kinda signs that they're telling you that maybe it's been too many days in a row kind of inside? Julie, you wanna start us off?

Julie Symons: Yeah, you know, my dogs get along really, really well. But when they have been cooped up, they tend to have a lot less patience and they get a lot of grouchier with each other and they'll resource guard their bones that I'm giving them to like enrich them and supplement their, their activity. But that's basically it. They, they're generally pretty good, you know, I have off switches, but that's what I noticed. They, they're, they're more grouchy and gonna bark at each other or growl or something like that, but it's tough.

Melissa Breau: Yeah. Yeah. Ashley.

Ashley Escobar: My, so my Aussies are they just start to wrestle and get very restless and just roughhousing, I guess you would call it in the house, which they normally don't do cause it's not allowed. The Border Collie goes shopping, she gets into bags, purses, she'll take them off the hooks, she wants to get toys and leashes and she's certain that we've just lost all of the things that, you know, are her keys to outdoors. So she, she goes shopping and the others just start roughhousing.

Heather Lawson: Yeah, I, I know with, with mine now that I'm down to one, she's kind of like at a loss for what to do. So it, it's basically it's all eyes on mom and dad, what's happening next. And normally with, you know, herding breed there and German Shepherd especially, they're like, you move, I move too. And it's even that much more emphasized because it, and it's like instead of just like, oh okay, we're going, it's just like yippee and it's four off the floor and it's around, you know, and running to the garage door and then running back and running to the garage door and running back as you're trying to make your way to the garage door. So it's just a little bit more excitement and keeping an eye on mom and dad cuz something interesting might end up happening. So that's how I know that she's just like, yeah, okay, too many too long days inside–need to get out.

Julie Symons: I would say I've noticed that too. Like they're more uber aware of our movements or if I just have to go outside, I put my coat on and think we're going somewhere and then they're like, no, we're not going anywhere. And yeah, they're very aware of what we're doing at that point.

Heather Lawson: Yeah, it's like just a minor trip out to the food recycling bin, you know, becomes a whole like, ooh, we're going on an escapade. And then you get there and you turn around and come back. It's like you can literally see her kind of go, huh. Okay. Not happening.

Melissa Breau: You can tell I'm talking to dog trainers though. Cause I can tell you in my house when things start to get too cooped up, everybody starts shredding everything.

Suddenly I have paper on the house, I have counters surfing, I have rolls of toilet paper that are no longer on the roll.

Heather Lawson: That was, that was puppy-dom that would, that would happen with puppy do, but it, not so much now with the, you know, with the, the adult dogs, you know, if they have a different way of, they're a bit more controlled if you will, if you don't wanna call that.

Melissa Breau: Yeah, fair enough.

Heather Lawson: You know, it's, it, it's just like you gotta find something to do. So yeah.

Melissa Breau: Joys of a 13 month old dog.

So folks listening to this almost certainly, like they hear "cabin fever" and they think like enrichment, right? So we're totally gonna talk about training as a form of enrichment in just a moment, but kind of before we do, I wanted to just ask if any of you have like fun games or things you do that maybe aren't training but that you like to, you know, play or things that you like to do to kinda help keep your dogs from feeling it when you're stuck indoors for a while. Ashley?

Ashley: So I do, I do a lot of fitness obviously, so that's my one go-to. But that is kind of training-ish. But I do play musical platforms with my dogs. So I have a ridiculous amount of climbs in my house and we will set them on different levels and the kids get involved because they get cooped up too and we play releasing them to their name and then they get to the auto treat or a toy or something and then they have to return back to their platform so the dogs fully know the game and they know once they get off and get their thing, they rush back because then they get whoever gets back to it fastest if they let two off the first one gets the cookie. So that's, that's a fun game that kind of my kids have sort of invented because it gives them something to do and it wears out the dogs too. So that's been fun. We've done that since the raining season started and when we just had this really cold weather, like we, we've been doing that too.

Heather Lawson: I classify, that's what I call it. My couch training is I'll just sit on the couch and, and if Piper moves or does something, I'll, I'll just click and then she goes, Ooh, game on, what do you want? And then it's like, it becomes a game of this, not that or that, not this. And so that's how some of our little minor tricks came about. And then if I wanna get sort of trainee-ish in the whole thing, then I'll go down and, and I'll play some of my, my concept games and things like that with her and just let her focus on that type of thing. Cuz I don't do it as training particularly. And if I'm gonna do anything, I'm gonna probably focus on things that aren't going to require a lot of precision maybe, but just fun things that I can enroll into my regular everyday training, if that makes any sense to anybody.

Melissa Breau: Yeah, yeah, I think it does. Yeah.

Julie Symons: For my dogs, you know, they just really just like the social interaction and attention. It's like Heather mentioned earlier, they just, all of our dogs, they want, they love, you know, they're social animals. And I might even just do some of my cooperative care or grooming that are way overdue. So I'm, sometimes I might just brush them, which they don't like and just get some of them, maybe their nail clipping. But I also will play with my dogs on the ground, which get the dogs also playing with each other cause they really, like my two young dogs would love to play together. I have a picture I took when we were opening presents on Christmas, they were in the background like playing with each other while we were opening presents.

And I also like to hide and seek around the house. And my, our son is home from college, he's 18 and he's always done that while he runs and hides and we would have the dogs to hunt for him. So that's a really fun game. Cause I think that's such a nice like a recall game, you know, just to find us and it makes it crazy barking and everything. So those are some of the stuff I do. I also would, when they were younger, would give them my junk mail and give them my paper towel rolls, but they don't as much chew them, shred them now. Cause they're, they're older. But…

Heather Lawson: Yeah, actually that reminds me of the recall game too. It's one that my husband and I started doing is that he'd distract the dogs with cookies. He'd just walk over the cookie jar and then of course they're gonna follow. And then I would go and hide and then he'd, he'd turn around and he'd, he'd say, where did she go? And then it was like, she left, where'd she go? We gotta find her. And they go traipes all over the house and, and it's quite, it's quite hilarious.

Julie Symons: A fun game.

Heather Lawson: We missed out. We missed out. Right. So it's a really good game to play and it's a, it, like you said, Julie, it gives you a really good sort of recall in a way, right? Because then I, if, if you're not sure if they're coming, you could just do this little like whistle, like…

Julie Symons: You do a little noise and then they'll find you.

Heather Lawson: Their heads whip back and they're tilting their heads and they're trying to figure out where it came from and then they end up eventually coming to you and obviously I got cookies for them when they get there. But yeah, recall games in the house is good.

Melissa Breau: Awesome. Lots of fun stuff. So to dive a little more into kinda that training thing, right? Like I'm pretty sure we've all all been there. I know Ashley mentioned kind of the cold front that just kind of went through, I think lots of listeners probably dealt with that here in the states where we get kind of stuck indoors for whatever crappy weather or like just life does not lead to lots of outdoor dog time for a couple of days. And the dog gets to that point where they're like, okay, do something now please. So let's talk about fun training games. So what are your favorite games to pull out to do with them? Heather, I'll let you start us off.

Heather Lawson: Okay, for me again, I'll have to refer back to sort of my brain games and, and my brain–I call 'em my brain brain bender. If I get that out, spit it out. It's a tongue bender too.

Melissa Breau: Yeah, exactly.

Heather Lawson: And it's, I'm just starting to do that concept training "Do As I Do" from Claudia Fugaza. So I'm pulling that out and I do another one that's called the Shell game. So basically the dog has to know, they, they watch you put the cookie under, under one cup. So you got three cups and you just kind of move 'em around and first off I start with two and then I add, add more and then they have to guess which one it it's in and if they make the wrong guess, you show them the right guess, but you take the cookie away so then they start to pay more attention.

So that's kind of fun. And again, I'm increasing the match to sample class. I think we're up to, with Piper, I am up to five different items that she'll pick out if I hold one up and she can go out to the bin. I'm trying now just to switch them into a pile so that she has to go and pick out the individual one that I've got that I'm showing her that I want.

And at the same time I'm starting to name those objects so that she has a little bit more of a repertoire on object names. So just basic sort of concept games that doesn't necessarily require a lot of room, but it still makes her brain work. And if I can tire her brain out, then her body usually follows suit. And then of course Julie will like this one cuz you do nosework. I'll do nosework in and around the house as well.

Melissa Breau: So just to–because the match to sample you have like a bunch of things out and you hold up one and they have to find the one that matches it. Is that?

Heather Lawson: Yep, so basically when I'm teaching it in a class format, like at Fenzi, we do it like on a workstation. So I start out with the workstation and then I've got, I teach her, I go through all the process of teaching the match. And so right now she's up to up to five ones that she knows and then I'm now introducing a new unknown object she's never dealt with before. So say a water bottle, right? So she's, oh so water bottle, can you pick out that water bottle from which one matches the one that I've got in my hand and then she goes as long as she picks it out. So that's what your Match To Sample is and basically sort of match the sample. That's the visual match to sample–your olfactory match sample is your utility articles, right? Or your nosework or your tracking that you teach the dog to match the sample of what you're looking for and that's how they go and find it. Right? So they know that that sample pays off and sort of the same thing you do when you're doing, you know, like cancer cells and that that's a match to sample.

Melissa Breau: Very cool. Julie, what about you? What do you play?

Julie Symons: Well, so separate from my presentation, I like to work on cue discrimination, you know, rotate my dogs through this. They're well known behaviors, sit down, spin, understand. And it's a great time to work on those location and reward specific markers. Cause I really want those on to discriminate them well, you know, so that it makes sense to them when I'm using them.

If it is a nosework game, I love my go to source, which is gonna be in my presentation. It's just a simple example would be, you know, get over from work or when you're tired you don't have a lot of time you're gonna do something and you don't wanna set up stuff as you just put a hide in one place on an object that can be moved and you just have 'em find it and you move, you rotate the object, you have 'em go back and find it again and they have to actually go to source and you know, not remember where it was before. And it's just a really simple game. But I have many variations of a go to source game. So if I wanna do nosework, that's kind of some of the stuff I would work on.

Melissa Breau: That sounds cool.

Julie Symons: Yeah, cuz you don't have to like keep moving the hide or adjust the heights someone is playing. So then you'll just move the object or I've used a shoe cubby hole where I'll put it in one of the cubby holes in the shoebox and then I'll just rotate it and then they just have to find which cubby hole it's in. So things like that.

Melissa Breau: Very cool.

Julie Symons: Yeah.

Melissa Breau: What about you Ashley?

Ashley Escobar: My go-to for this last month and a half has been just maybe three set ups and I have the platforms on one side of the room with the dogs and then they take turns wrapping a cone left or right and then going through the cavaletti poles and then returning to their platform. So it really wears them out though because they're having to patiently wait their turn and then they get to go through some physical motion and it doesn't require a ton of space.

So I can easily just pull out two or three poles and put up a little cone or a trashcan or a chair or something to have them wrap around. And it, I think that I've figured it out that with the combination of musical platforms really seems to be the sweet spot where they just, their brains can just be like, oh, okay, I can, I can just, I'm good, I can settle again. It's great. I have three working Aussies and the Border Collie, so we're in high drive mode all the time. It's so fun.

Melissa Breau: I'm sure.

Ashley Escobar: Yes. And two kids, it's fun.

Melissa Breau: Yeah.

Ashley Escobar: You know, it's true when you have like a younger dog or a puppy, I have a million things to work on. I find when they're a little bit older, I mean, definitely it could be the maintenance stuff, but you kind of are like, you know, in a small space maybe you can't, you know, you know, what can you do? But definitely if you have a young dog, there's unlimited stuff to work on in a small space.

Melissa Breau: Yep.

Ashley Escobar: And they're so willing to just do any little thing. And my dogs are so happy. Just even if they're doing stands, they're just, you know, it, it doesn't have to be anything fancy.

Melissa Breau: Yeah. Yeah. Good stuff. All right, so all three of you are presenting for the Cabin Fever Conference. That's the reason that we had everybody on today. So I wanted to just have you each kind of talk a little bit about your presentation, kind of what you plan to cover. You know, just give people a little sample so that they can decide to show up for your talk. So Julie, do you wanna go first?

Julie Symons: Yeah, I start off by going over why sniffing is so valuable for dogs and, and their overwhelm, wellbeing and competence. Every time I present something on this topic, I learn more about the seeking system, which is a, you know, part of the, a function of the brain. And then so once I go over that and then, you know, talk about how we can use that function to help lower arousal when you're doing some other sports, just I wanted to touch on that a little bit cuz those are easy fun things to do, like with stuff and things like that. And then of course I have, you know, about I, I dunno, five or six nosework games that I go over and, and then what I, what I, my presentation ends with is how to teach handler scent because I find that tends to be a kind of a hard, you know, behavior skill to start for someone who's never done that. So I just kind of introduced how you might teach handler scent, whether it's scent articles or the AKC handler Scent nosework category where you're searching for a scent of cotton glove or sock. So I thought that was a really nice variety so it would apply to many people who, if you don't do nosework you can play rounds of handler scent but then also have some things that are just about some food sniffing and sourcing and not just nose. So I'm really excited, you know, for the presentation.

Melissa Breau: Sounds like fun. So lots of good stuff in there. Ashley, you wanna go next?

Ashley Escobar: Yes, so my presentation is about conditioning and fitness and just gonna talk a little bit about why it's important, especially during their off winter months or summer months depending on where you live. But all things that you can do inside in a small space. So I've put together six exercises that you can do and inside your home somewhere and just kind of going over the benefits and then how to build a conditioning plan for your dog depending on your sport of choice and what you want to work on with your dog. And it wraps up with some do-it-yourself conditioning equipment hacks to make it easy so you don't feel like you have to go out and buy name brand conditioning equipment.

Melissa Breau: You mean buying the conditioning equipment is not part of the fun?

Ashley Escobar: Oh, It is, it's definitely for me, if you saw my other wall, it's certainly not required. And so unfortunately most of the things that I use are things that I've just kind of built myself to make it, you know, so I try, I try to keep it like that, that way people don't feel like they have to spend.

Melissa Breau: Yeah, super accessible. Yeah.

Ashley Escobar: Yeah, it's nice when you go, I never, I never go into a Home Depot or a Lowe's looking for the thing that is actually meant to be used for. It's always gonna be like how can I change this into something that I need for dog training? It's just, it's like my husband just goes, he goes, okay, I'll see you in about half an hour, just go and do your thing and I'll see you. So yeah.

Melissa Breau: Heather, what about you? What's your presentation on?

Heather Lawson: My presentation is a little bit, it's concept training. So it's a very, very, very brief introduction to concept training and what makes the particular type of training,

whether it be match sample modifiers, aduction, the copy, the like the mimicry, what makes it an actual concept and why it's different than just the strict behaviors that we're teaching. And then I zero in on one particular concept and that's modifiers. And within modifiers we're just taking, because there's two different types of modifiers. There's an internal modifier and an external, and by that what I mean is internal is the dogs left and right. That will never change. Right. So that's internal to you, same as up and down for the dog doing an up or down, it will never change. It's relative to the dog. The external, which is really a fun one, is when the dogs can modify and take a look at something and determine whether it's big or small based on the number of objects that are in front of them.

And that changes relative to the small one. So if I have a lineup of four or five objects say, so say you've got an orange cone in, in five different sizes from small to large, if I ask for the small one, Piper will pick out small. But if I take the smallest one out and I take the largest one out and I ask her for small, she'll look at what's left or what's there relative to what she's looking at, and she will pick then the next smallest one or the next largest one, whichever I'm doing. So, but I'm focusing strictly on internal modifiers left and right. And what I've done is just broken it down to all the stages of pre-planning and there's a lot of pre-planning and, and then we've got the workstation, how to set it up, the training and then finally the testing and the troubleshooting and you know, showing people the benefits of it. Because within the modifier training, what I've got is a default station and the dog, when they don't know what to do, they have the choice to default to that station. And I've got a really great example from one of my students, Sarah and and Ripley, and it was, it's a fabulous example as to as to why this default station works because he started out really barky and really rangy and you see his transition, his transformation basically to how he is then very controlled and focused and makes no mistakes at all. And he, because he's listening and he's had that opportunity to go back to that start station whenever he didn't know what to do, he went back to that and he did it. And then we also show how, how to interrupt a behavior error loop and re restart. So rather than saying no, no, no and trying to get the dog to do it correctly, we get him to go back to their station, ask them to do a couple of known behaviors and then ask for that modifier again and then they're able to do it. So it's quite interesting and just sort of little things that I've found out as I'm going through and yeah, that's what it's all about.

Melissa Breau: Very cool. They are awesome. Like absolutely fascinating topics and you know, super interesting stuff to listen in on and be able to work on over the next couple months while we're all kind of dealing with short days and, you know, yucky weather.

Heather Lawson: No kidding. It's pouring rain at my end today, so.

Melissa Breau: Oh man.

Julie Symons: So wanna watch that one, Heather. It sounds so fascinating. It's one area I haven't gotten into with training yet, so.

Heather Lawson: Well, I was introduced, I think I've been going to, you know, Clicker Expo for probably however long it's been going like 20 years or something like that. I went to the, you know, the very first one and then I went one year and Ken Ramirez was there and he introduced concept training. I'm like, ah-ha, this is cool. And so I've been on it for, for quite some years ever since the first time he introduced it at, at Clicker Expo. And it's, it's really a lot of fun because you have to really let the dog do their thing because you can't be their eyes really. It's their eyes and it's their, you know, their nose, it's their internal response and you definitely have to know you're left and right versus the dogs. So if the dog's facing you and you say left and you wanted them to go to their right, but you said the wrong, you really screw the dogs up. But, so it takes a lot of concentration on the trainer as well as the dog, but it's a really great way to increase your timing and your mechanical skills and everything cuz you gotta try everything out before you start, before you add the dog. That's all the pre-planning stage that I'll visit in the lecture when I go through and as I said, it's a very, very brief, brief, brief look at modifiers because it's, it's a little bit, it's a little bit more complicated but it's, it's so much fun.

Melissa Breau: But that's how people are gonna get interested in it when they are just introduced to a topic. So yeah.

Heather Lawson: Yeah.

Melissa Breau: So three kind of very different angles at dealing with "cabin fever," but I think they all totally kind of make sense for the topic. I did wanna just kind of have you each kind of address what we're talking about when we say small space for like the types of exercises you're including in your presentation. So what size space do you need for kind of the pieces that you'll be looking at in the conference? Ashley, you wanna take this one first?

Ashley Escobar: I also, I did six exercises in my presentation and all six of them can easily be done in a 10 x 10 area–like a small space. Most of them could potentially be done in a 6 x 10 cuz I had some mats that I rolled out to measure cuz I did it in my studio, but I wanted to shrink it down and really like, just use–if I only had a hallway or something to do it in. So really small space for sure. And I gave examples of how to condense if they felt like they didn't have as much space as what they were seeing in the presentation, but not, not a ton of room for sure.

Melissa Breau: Awesome. Heather?

Heather Lawson: For me, again, it's very small space. 10 x 10. You'll see in one of my videos somebody's doing it in their, I guess their living room and they push the coffee table out of the way and you're good to go, you know, you can do it, I do show some jumps and you know, kennels and things like that, but those are just some ideas for how, you know what to add a left and a right to, but you could do, had one student that did just a simple paws up or table and you know, she could do, she did it in a small, small, I think it was her bedroom that she did it in. So it was a very small area. So it, it does, you don't require a lot of space, sort of, kind of dependent on your dog too. If your dog's a big, huge, Great Dane and you're gonna use more space, but…

Melissa Breau: Fair enough.

Heather Lawson: The smaller dogs, you know, you can get away with it. You know, it's not like they have to do a full jump or anything like that. They just have to pop over to that bar or go into that kennel, right. Or put their paws up on that perch, you know, or sit there and, you know, wave their left paw, wave their right paw. It can be as simple as that.

Melissa Breau: Right.

Julie Symons: So small space. Yeah, I mean the same thing, you know, most of my drills are just right in your living room, you know, easily. We're just doing, like you mentioned the shell game. I do a lot of, you know, just shuffling boxes, containers around, sitting on the ground with my dog and working. There is one on air scenting that I wanted to address for indoor work, which, you know, if you have the bigger room in your house would be great to use. And I did kinda sneak one example that was in my training building. It wasn't a large space, but it's just where I happened to have set up this training with a fan. So there's some, some areas where you're using a thing, want a little bit more safe to have your dog and you'll be forever away from store.

But other than that, it's very, you know, things you should have around your house you can get creative with. Very, very, yeah, very, very small things.

Melissa Breau: Awesome. All right, so I wanna kind of round things out with one last question, which is just kind of giving each a chance to kind of give us a last thought or something you really want kind of be able to walk away from this conversation with. So if I was to ask you for one key piece of information you really want folks to understand or kind of leave this thinking about, what would that be? Heather?

Heather Lawson: Just have fun with your dog. Geek out and have some fun, you know, cabin fever's hard enough. You know, we get ourselves, we get tired of the dull, dreary days and so just sitting there and having fun and saying, okay, let's see what we can do together is, for me, what it's all about. I'll save all of the other more, you know, advanced or more intricate work or maybe even more precise work for those times when, you know, you're maybe feeling a little bit better with the sunshine out and you can, you know, put the effort in and you get out with fresh air and, and work outside, but you know, just have fun really.

Julie Symons: Well that's a hard one to follow. But besides thinking that everybody should try nosework, I do want people to start to really observe their dogs, you know, they're scenting dogs. It's how we view the world and in just everyday life. And just like, I remember being on a walk with my dogs and we were just out on a walk on a trail and they all turned in unison so they had passed some scent and they all, I wish I had it on video, they all just turned and went to this one spot to sniff. And it was just so fascinating. And that's something that's been circulating on social media right now is that picture of a, like a snowy or dirt grass trail or something and they color code all the different tracks, whether it's a human, fox, rabbit, whatever, and they color code it, you could see what the dog's world is. It's just a ton of scents that's out there that they're always processing and you can just learn a lot about your dog and how they're using their nose, whether it's gonna be involved in a sense or not. It's just, it's how they explore their world and it's just such a fascinating thing.

Melissa Breau: Awesome. Ashley?

Ashley Escobar: I would like for everyone to take away to set some goals. Like it's a great downtime where we're not as pressed usually because we are kind of stuck indoors a little more. So it's such a good time to just kind of reevaluate where you are and what you want and just simple goals, just something, just put something on paper so that you can manage it and it's just a great starting point. I think it's a good time of year.

Heather Lawson: Really good points. Yeah, it's just, you know, reevaluate your, the dog, your dog's fitness, are they where they need to be in order to do the dog sport that I want to do this summer? You know, or like Julie says, it's like, you know, paying attention to what your dogs are actually sort of, I guess for a different word is they're viewing in their world like, you know, it's fun to watch them definitely go along and all of a sudden then you get that head snap and they're, they're gone.

You know, and I'm wondering, you know, I let Piper out to go, you know, do her potty at night and she goes down and all of a sudden she's like, she catches something and she's gone and she takes her little tour around the backyard and then it's like, oh yeah, right. I was out here for a purpose,gotta go potty. And then she, you know, comes back in and, and it's kind of fun to, you know, to be able to pay attention to our dogs on that more minute microscopic level and this is when we're stuck inside. It's the perfect time to do that. Right. And to, and to reassess where you are with your training and like Ashley said, set your goals as to where you wanna be and then the steps you're gonna have to take to get there.

Melissa Breau: Yeah.

Julie Symons: You know, what I've also noticed is how my dogs observe the other dogs. So like if one of 'em is sniffing something they note, they're like, oh they found something over there. I gotta go see what's over there so that they can read the body language of them, you know, sourcing something or at something and it's, it's like something that they weren't even paying attention to but they see the body language of that dog so they join in on that. It's just, it's just really fascinating if we can slow down everything that we're doing and just observe our dog in their natural way of being.

Melissa Breau: Awesome.

Ashley Escobar: That that's exactly what chickens do, right? One chicken starts pecking and the whole flock of hens run over cuz they are certain that one hen has found something.

Heather Lawson: Oh I didn't know.

Melissa Breau: That's Pretty cool. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. Awesome. Well, thank you all for coming on the podcast. This was excellent.

Heather Lawson Yeah, You're more than welcome. Happy to do it.

Julie Symons: This was a great time. I love doing this.

Melissa Breau: Awesome. All right. And thank you to all of our listeners for tuning in. We will be back next week for a conversation on working with a dog sports coach. If you haven't already subscribed to our podcast in iTunes, the podcast app of your choice to 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 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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