E309: Crystal Wing - FUNctional Obedience

Crystal shares the story of how she ended up doing bitey sports and Search and Rescue, and then gives us a sneak-peek at what she plans to cover in her upcoming FDSA-hosted webinar!


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 Crystal Wing with me here to talk about her training journey in upcoming webinar FUNctional Obedience, where Rubber Meets the Road. Hi, Crystal, welcome to the podcast!

Crystal Wing: Hi. Thanks for having me. I'm super excited to chat today.

Melissa Breau: Do you wanna start us out, share a little bit about you, your current canine crew, what you're working on with them?

Crystal Wing: Yeah, thanks so much. I have three dogs with me and one that, well, he is not really present, but he's a powerhouse in my soul is I guess what I'll call him. And my youngest is Radish, and she is an oopsie lab, Dutch Shepherd. She is in training for search and rescue, and she's a cadaver dog. And I guess if I say it out loud, it's gonna make it so, so I'm gonna tell you my goal. I'm gonna have her operational and certified before I go back to school in August. So I've put it out in the air that makes it happen, right? Is that how it works? Absolutely. Just say it and it happens. Yep. And it's pretty cool too. I don't know, I think it'll be the Thursday, so it's gonna be this next Thursday, so I guess it'll be whatever timeframe when this airs. But she's doing an in-school field trip and it's for all of the forensics kids, the biomed kids. So she's gonna have over a hundred high school kids watching her do her cadaver thing. And I know she's gonna be in heaven. I'm just so stoked about it and so cool. Yeah, she just loves kids. She loves showing off. And then I have a middle child that's my five year old, and he is Checkmate. He is my bionic bity boy. He had a hip replacement a couple years ago, and we'd really hoped that he could be part of that 80% that only needed one, not so much his other hip was bothering him too much. And a couple weeks ago we had to replace the other one. So there was crazy drama, blah, blah, blah. If you wanna know, I'm on social media, CB Wing, go to Facebook, you can follow his drama. It was quite the fun story. And by fun, I mean ha..

Melissa Breau: Fair Enough.

Crystal Wing: But he's good. He's recovering, he made it through, and now I'm just trying to keep sanity and keep him kind of stoned and, oh, you know what? I should probably explain why I call him bionic bitey. That probably doesn't sound good. So bionic, that's pretty self-explanatory. He has two bionic hips, but I do protection sports and Checkmate's my go-to guy for that. So that's why I call him bionic bitey. And well, he's a boy. So unfortunately all of the sports require jumping, and that's something that he has never been able to do because of his limitations with his hips. So we are the entry level team. We basically went as far as we could in each of the sports until we had to jump. So it's a BH in IGP, which used to be called Schutzhund, and we have a vey and mondio ring. He did a 0.8 hurdle there, thanks to Leslie Ide, man, she was a rockstar helping us through that. And then he has his p c for a sport called psa, which is Protection Sports Association. Again, no jumping. So now we're ready to do jumping. So hopefully if his future life, that's what he wants to do with his new hip, then I'm all for it.

Yeah. And then finally my oldest dog, that's Yukon. And I originally got him to replace Nakota as a bite dog, and Nakota said, I wanna chase butterflies. And then Yukon said, I wanna chase butterflies. So my dog, my dog, my dad now has Nakota as a bro dog. And they are so cute. Oh my gosh. It is the cutest thing you've ever seen. He has, he bought my dog, my dog, his dog now a golf cart. They have 20 acres, and he bought the dog a golf cart. Like, come on, it's, it's adorable. So anyway, I was looking for my next bite work dog. Mm, yeah. Yukon said no.

And so we tried all the things. We tried backyard Frisbee, Up Dog Frisbee league, dock diving, bikejoring, agility, weight pull. I mean, we tried it and it was his nose. His nose always got the best of us. And fortunately, you know, who was really helpful for me was listening to Hannah Brannigan's podcast. And she had so many great tips and tricks, just, just her podcast alone. I've never even paid for a class. So Hannah, if you're out there hearing this, thank you. You made such a difference in my world. Aw. But yeah, we, we finally said, let's do some nose things. So I tried barn hunt and he was terrified of the rats, so that wasn't gonna work.

And then we got into search and rescue and what a game changer that's been in my life. And he didn't end up working out for it, he just isn't consistent enough. But we worked really hard and I think anybody that knows us would say we worked really, really hard. But you know, search and rescue is a very important job and you have to have a consistent dog.

And I just would never feel comfortable deploying him knowing that he's not as consistent as I need. He'd be great for forensic work, but again, that consistency, clandestine graves though. Ooh, he's very good at that. So that, that could be something that we could do. But yeah, so those are my dogs And all the many things you're doing with them.

Melissa Breau: That's so cool though.

Crystal Wing: Yeah, there's quite a variety in there. I'm just in love with them. If you couldn't tell.

Melissa Breau: So that's a lot of different dog things. So how did you get into the whole dog world? What kind of started you down that path? My mom is the founder of Furry Kids Refuge. It's a nonprofit animal refuge rescue in Kansas City, Missouri metropolitan area. And we did have dogs growing up, but we were terrible dog owners. Just the worst long toenails, didn't take care of them. We had a dog chained up in the backyard. Yes, that was us. And I think that's fine to admit because you learn and you do better when you learn. And when I was in early high school years, we got a dog named Nikki. Holy cow. She jumped every fence she took off. She was at the pound all the time, but there was something so special about her. And we were terrible dog owners in the beginning. I mean, again, when your dog is running away and almost getting run over every week, there's a problem. But she taught us a lot.

And she changed, she changed all of us. She absolutely did. She is the dog that started the animal rescue. As I say, she ran away, but, but she did. She inspired my mom. My dad basically is along for the ride, supporting his two nutty women. I always say the nut didn't fall far from the tree in that family, but I got my first four dogs through rescue, and Charles was the, the perfection. He was just Prince Charles, that's the name he came with, was Charles. But of course he's Sir Charles and Prince Charles to me. And he was the go-to dog, take him to parades events, do what you wanna do, you wanna hike, you wanna cuddle, you wanna swim, you wanna, okay. Yeah. I mean, how can you have such a perfect pet? And so, so blessed to have him in my life. But he loved agility. So he was kind of my gateway dog, if I wanna call him that. I think that's a good term for it. Yeah. So he taught me about agility in dog sports, and I had the opportunity to help out a working GSD that was rescued from the woods. My mom called me and said that the neighbor in Blue Springs, which is like suburbia, Kansas City, was shooting at a wolf. Yeah, there's wolves in suburbia. I, I haven't heard of those. So she's like, yeah, we gotta save this guy.

Of course, he ended up needing FHO bilateral, so both hips needed to get done. I know. Are you seeing a thing about hips here? Oh, I should probably also mention that Radish had hip surgery as a baby. So I've had three different hip exposures. I don't know why I called an exposure, but I did. So there, I think I meant to say experience, but you know, I think exposure might have been appropriate. That was like an autocorrect of my brain. But with my German Shepherd that I didn't even know was a German Shepherd, I learned that later. I was looking for something to do, and on the Google search it pulled up Schutzhund. And this was back in 2006.

And so here I am in the dog world. Oh my, I don't know, I don't think I've heard too many stories of people who just kind of fell into shit and via search, but Oh, you, you wouldn't believed it too. I showed up at this club and he had just had surgery on both hips at the same time. And so his hips are shaved, he's bleeding, like it's oozing out of his hips. It's just terrible. Sorry for the visuals for those that can't handle that. And I pull in and I'm like, I got this dog and I think I wanna do things with him. And, and they're like, well, bring him out. And I'm like, well, you like, I can't really, he can't walk right now. So they come up and they're like, oh my, what a mess. I'm like, yeah. I'm like, I think he might be a malinos. And I, I saw this dog called a Malinois, I think they're like a Malinois. I'm like, yeah, yeah, that. And then they proceeded to show me three different checklist, working line shepherds within the club. And I'm like, he looks just like him. And they're like, yes, that's what you have. Only a very broken one. But he was phenomenal. He was such a cool dog. Yeah. Yeah. And so that's, that's kinda how you got into the well agility, then inviting straight to baby sports, which is like a big jump there, but the gateway, you know, it's…

Melissa Breau: Yeah. Do you consider yourself a positive trainer?

Crystal Wing: I try to add creativity. I try to add personality sometimes. Peace, you know, isn't that what, what positive trainers are? They add, they bring something to it. Yeah. Yeah. So I enjoy giving. And so I think that makes me a positive trainer. No, I, I am so my positive reinforcement journey, if you wanna call it whatever, cuz of all the title craziness. But I was so lucky I didn't know anything besides shaping. And I still suck at luring. I don't know why I cannot figure it out. I just, it's getting rid of it.

So I don't know. There's so many talented trainers at it and it's, you know, I think that's where everybody specializes and, and has their thing. And you would also think that someone that is limiting their tools would have to be really good at all the tools. And I just really like shaping come at me. But the cool thing was, you know, that club that I showed up to that night is just 10 minutes from my house, which is also a strange thing in here in the United States to have a club so close. And I was driving by the introvert self that I am, and I just was like, and it was on like a third date and I'm like, pull over, pull over.

I know it gets worse, doesn't it? Like just, you think it can't get any worse. And so at the time, dating this like big polar bear of a guy, you know? And so he comes like rumbling down the hill when I'm talking to the people, you know, and, and I'm just like, dog people, yay. And he's like, I've never seen you so outgoing. I'm like, I know it's my people. But it was the only positive club. There's four other clubs that train on that field. And if I'd had gone any other night, I probably wouldn't have gone back just because it's things I had never seen or witnessed. And I would've been, you know, like I don't understand.

And so those things we don't understand. We typically, you know, ask questions or we move away. And so I just, it's always one of those kind of questions for me. But yeah, so I got into IPO and I went to and earned an IPO three a couple times with the Mighty Quinn. And he's the dog that's still in my, in my heart and soul every day. I feel like I still see him. I still talk to him every day. I mean, I know he is not here, but I think he's here. And you know, I, I just use shaping and capturing. That's all I knew. And we got to an IPO three and that's, well I should tell you the names in case people don't know Schutzhund is the sport then they called it IPO. And so now it's IGP. So whatever. Trying to be correct. But he was a force. He was just the coolest dog. And as a retirement sport, you know what we did? What mondio ring because isn't that what everybody does?

You know, you, you retire, Right? It's kinda like me, I got Lyme disease and so I could no longer coach because it was just too demanding and I couldn't play softball and I couldn't play volleyball anymore. And now I'm a decoy and a helper. So I, I don't know, I think, I think I do things backwards.

So as you probably know and, and hopefully other listeners know, Mondio is not for the faint of heart. I was so blessed to have Sarah Brueske as a training buddy. She showed up to club one day and I thought that chick knows what she's doing. She would come, she would have a Koolie doing IGP. And I'm like, that's cool.

That's pretty, you know, oh, I almost said a word. I stopped it. I'm just gonna say, that's badass. Yes, It's deserving. And I would just watch her train and go, wow. Like what is she doing? And so it ended up that I was driving an hour out to her house a couple times a week and then driving to club three times a week.

And I was just obsessed if you couldn't tell. And ended up we formed our own club and we called it Evolution Working Dog Club. And I was also driving up to Ohio with my training buddy Nancy. She has an amazing GSD named Ben. Oh my gosh. Oh, I'm so in love with him. But we learned from Fair Play Mano crew, we got the opportunity to work with amazing decoys like Keys and Jo Fanny got Thomas Stoke, like okay, I'm just having all kinds of like trainer crushes right now. But seriously with Chad and Sarah support up there, I'm just, I'm so thankful for all the connections and all the people that have helped me along the way. I mean, so many people just gave to me so freely,

I mean just all the time. So I, I try to do the same back, but oh and Sara man, she's a rocker. She's so good. She's now in Minnesota. Way to go. Sara left us alone though. Yeah. But seriously with her and Shade's encouragement. This was back at Fenzi camp, was that 2016 you guys came to St. Louis?

Melissa Breau: Oh my. I don't know that off the top of my head. I should.

Crystal Wing: I think, because it was 2012 we brought Shade out for a seminar and we hosted nationals that year. I don't know, it doesn't really matter the date. But anyway, y'all came to Purina and it was amazing. And I learned more about location specific marker words and I was just in love with everything, the whole process. And we have our own club now and they're my family and you know, we have a dream team of trainers all throughout the Midwest. And I'm just, dude, I'm so lucky. I'll quit rambling. Oh, whew.

Melissa Breau: No, You're good. That's, I mean, what a story, right? You've been everywhere and kind of worked with everybody and a so lucky what a cool, what a cool journey. Yeah. All right. Yeah, I mean it's just so many opportunities. So you mentioned shaping, capturing, maybe not luring, but what about like a training philosophy? Do you have like kind of a core principle or philosophy that you kind of try to keep in mind?

Crystal Wing: I like to shape. I mean it counts. Totally Counts. I capture some, I'm really enjoying mimicry. It's, oh really? Okay. Here's what, and I don't know how to do it. I haven't taken a class, but what I do is I watch my videos back and when I learn more, I do more. I have the opportunity with Robin Gral up at Canine Census in Iowa. She's with search and rescue and detection dogs and she's been teaching me a lot and I've been assistant instructor up there and instructing some courses there.

And she brought in Jens from Scandinavian Working Dog Institute. Okay. If y'all don't know about him, look up SWDI. You don't even have to like detection stuff. And you will just be so amazed by beautiful training. Cuz beautiful training is beautiful training and that's what I love about Fanny Got. And you know, I mean though just, yeah, it's just, it's so fun to watch and like all of a sudden like at all these like videos pop in my mind. I don't know. I know Melissa, you can see me cuz we can be a little video thing but each other. Yeah, I kind looked up like a daydream for a second. I just love them so much.

So I guess when you ask about training philosophy, I think I just think about techniques. What is your training philosophy? Help me out. I've never had somebody ask me that before. I mean, I guess it depends on which dog you're talking about a little bit. So with my lab, probably to have fun first and foremost and to lean into his strengths and try all the things with my English cocker who does not enjoy the sports world quite as much to do things that are fun for him and that keep his little brain busy so that he doesn't drive me up a wall.

Talent. Oh wait, Amanda, that's to that sister. So if we could high five through a screen, we can do like a fist bump on the camera. There you go. Okay. I see what you're saying about philosophy then I'm gonna go with, I mean everything that I do is about imagination and creativity and just have fun, man, I hope, I feel like that's a cop out in saying that. But every day like I make sure that we have fun every day. Like there's no reason not to play with my dogs every day. And I didn't think that was something that was strange, but apparently it is. A lot of people are like, you, you play every day like that.

I'm like, yeah. And I guess the, like that part I should, I should keep that in quotes like that because my play maybe is a little more physical than what some people do. Cuz if you've ever seen a decoy or a helper, it's pretty physical play and it's, you know, pointy ear dogs. Well and then my wannabe a pointy ear dog that's Radish cuz she has kind of floppyish ears, but there's a pointy dog living inside. That counts. So yeah, so the, it's very fun physical play.

Melissa Breau: Yeah. So yeah, play with your dog. That's a philosophy. That's absolutely a philosophy and I like it.

Okay, good. Okay. So I win points for that one. Okay, next question. Cause I'm sinking.

Melissa Breau: That's okay. So I was gonna ask you what led you to become interested in dog sports in Mondio specifically? I feel like you've kind of answered that. Is there anything you wanna kind of tack on or anything that you were planning to say there that, You know, my first club was mainly IPO. It was, I was always suit sport, curious though.

I just, I was really curious about what that looked like and, and how to do it. And when we created Evolution, it gave us all the chance to explore Mondio. And so we do IGP and Mondio in our club. And I think there's still only two, no, I, maybe there's three. I think Shade has a club now maybe, I don't know, I haven't, I haven't talked to recently about it, but for sure there's still two positive bitey clubs in the whole country. I would love to know more. So if anybody out there has a positive club, like please tell me. Yeah. Cause man, we'd really like to connect. I'm guessing if you're in the, if you're out there, you're probably already in the FDSA Bitey Club group, so you know, I'm, I'm guessing you're already there so we would know. But yeah, so IGP is just precision. It's the challenge of bringing the strong fight. It's the heart with kind this graceful movement and a lot of precision. I mean, just a quarter inch there, a quarter inch there and, and my ADHD brain really loves Mondio. I do both and people think I'm crazy for that. But again, my ADHD brain and that takes a special dog, you know, that can kind of hang out with me. But I love defense of handler and in that scenario you get to just go all kinds of crazy scenarios and, and strange and you're dancing and kaka and you know, it's just whatever comes to mind, you just do it. And I love imagination and creativity and that's where Mano I think really helps me thrive.

Melissa Breau: Yeah. So I think you've talked about creativity lots and lots and I think that totally ties into what I was gonna ask you next, which is, you know, how do you think the fact that you have a day job and that is a day job, you're an art teacher, kind of how being a teacher and being an artist have influenced all this training stuff? I mean, I'm a high school art teacher. I can survive anything. I, you know, I've been told my whole life that I see things differently from sunrises and sunsets to, you know, how I train dogs and it's, I just go like, well, it's just how my brain works. It was kind of funny, I had a Denise and Steve White just commented on a post last night that kind of cracked me up because I said something about, I was just talking about how people are having convert stations instead of conversations and they're, they're taking out the co and, and it, it's just,

it was something I was just musing on, like, like it was no one in particular. And you know, I was like, we've got two ears, we've got two eyes, we've got all these four different places to take in information in one mouth. But man, I wish we could keep that ratio up. And it was just cute because she commented on there about, yeah, that took me a minute. And I'm like, yeah, but that's how my brain works. So yeah, I do think maybe I see things a little differently sometimes. But here's the cool thing about being an art teacher and and loving art. I have looked at millions of artworks. I would like to say that's an exaggeration, but it, it's not, I mean, cuz of all the kids and, and this is 21 years of high school teaching, so millions of artworks, I've studied art throughout time, different cultures. I love investigating. I I love immersing myself those rabbit holes. I love it. And when you do that, you're viewing, you're analyzing art. And I do this, especially with my advanced kids. You learn how to look at art. But then, okay, here, here's what's happens. Like after some time you start to see it. So yeah, with art you make connections, you see, you see patterns and that's the cool thing that starts to happen. You see patterns in cultures and in artists and in, in periods of time. And then this relates to dog training. You it's, it's coming, it's coming, okay. Because the same happens, you know, you feel like you can generalize your eye faster. So when you have an observation skill, I coached high jump and I thought I was darn good at it because I could see the details, I could see the penultimate step, you know, and these are things that you train your eye and that's why I thought I'd be really good at investigations, you know, kinda stuff cuz that's, I wanted to get in criminal justice in the beginning, but that was more for juvenile delinquents anyway. But it's just cool because you get that eye and then I feel like I can start to kind of see the things happening with the dog and what's gonna happen next.

And you can predict it because it's just what you're trained to do. And you know, I adapt to 120 high school art kids every single day and I wish that I could say that art teacher is my main job, but it's not. I'm a mentor, a coach, a counselor, a shoulder support. I mean I'm an educator in there as well. I know how to write standards and curriculum, unit lesson plans, objectives, like these are all things as a dog trainer that's all helpful, you know, and you know, I look at it too as I'm a teacher that sees each individual and they change from the moment they go from the hall to my class and they change from like I have some kids twice in a day and they'll be a different kid the second time of the day because later in the day.

So it really helps me see individuals and it helps me adapt to my environments and experiences. Like nothing surprises me, I'm just not surprised anymore. But it does help me become more aware of my dog's needs. But here's the important part that I'm really working on right now is balancing my needs as well. And I think that's something that I'm gonna help bring in the webinar a little bit.

Oh and I'm the dork. Okay. We have professional development. Is that like common in other jobs too? Like you have like, I mean It's fairly common in other jobs too, like days and stuff that you have to go all together as a big team and, and kinda it depends on the industry, but Yeah. Okay. Cuz I only know mine, I'm very narrow in my brain, so I love them. I'm like the nerd that loves professional development days. So hopefully I'm like, no one from my school or my district listens cuz they'll be like, what? But I love them because I am constantly like, oh my gosh, I'm so gonna use that in dog training. I'm gonna so use that in my class.

Or oh, my clients are gonna love that. And, and I feel the same way when I'm training my dogs. Like, oh my gosh, I can totally use that, you know, when I get back to my classroom. So those are just different ways that I can use my teaching ability and it's just this vice versa back and forth kind of pool. Oh. But I don't use clickers on kids. I haven't gone that far. I totally shaped them though. Absolutely. And I also have identified which breed several of the kids are. I don't tell the kids that. Well some I do. I'm like, oh, you are such a husky.

Melissa Breau: I feel like that would be a very fun game to play in your own head in the middle of class.

Crystal Wing: Oh, oh, it's great fun. It's great fun. I love it so much. I'm like, oh hi there Cavalier. How are you doing today?

Melissa Breau: Yep. Oh Man. All right. So we talked a little bit about outside of dog training, but back to the dog training world. You also host co-host a podcast, right? Do you wanna just talk a little bit about it?

Crystal Wing: You probably wouldn't think that from my yeah. With Stacy Barnett. Hopefully everybody loves and adores her. And if you haven't loved and adored Robin yet, you will, I think she'll be joining the crew soon. She is, she is. She just got a webinar on the schedule. Yeah Buddy. Little plug out for Robin. Amazing trainers. Like again. Holy cow. How did I get to become friends with these heroes? I, I just, ugh.

Melissa Breau: But the name of the podcast that's probably important to say is Canine Detection Collaborative.

Crystal Wing: Thanks so much for asking about it cuz then maybe some people can check that out too, cuz if you're podcast listener, you know, might as well.

Melissa Breau: Yep, absolutely. You're doing your thing.

Crystal Wing: I didn't wanna do it. I did not wanna be on a podcast. I wanted to do my thing in little Missouri and train my dogs and nobody needs to know about me. I'm just gonna teach my kids and do my thing. But about a month later I had headphones and I had a microphone and I was sitting in my closet because that's the quietest place in my house.

And having these candid conversations about training and, and deploying for search and rescue missions and competing with our dogs. And we have guests from all over the world, like Jo Rosie was on from the school of, of Canine Science. We talked to scientists like Dr. Lauren Deri, the Okay nosework founder, Amy Harrow. I mean, oh my gosh. You know, canine officer Tabitha, like who gets to do all of that and, and who decides that, yeah, you know what, I'm gonna hang out with these crazy chicks for, you know, an hour or two. I just, so, I'm so thankful that they made me do it. And it's cool too because we're able to mix the professional and the sport camps and I didn't see that that was such a big deal or really needed.

And I'm really seeing the, even after a year of doing it, I'm seeing how we're making a difference. And that's when you said, you know, my positive trainer, that's where my brain goes. You know, it's, can you make a difference in the world by adding, by giving something to it. And I do think that our canine detection collaborative is giving, it's more than just detection dog stuff too. But I am glad that it's, it's the trio and not the duo that I originally had strived to to, to get or get out of I should say.

Melissa Breau: Fair enough, fair enough. So I know in your upcoming webinar you talked a little bit about picturing kids as dogs, but in the upcoming webinar you're picturing dogs as cars.

Crystal Wing: Okay. Yeah, I do. Okay. I mean it in a good way. I mean in a good way. Yeah. So do you wanna share what kind of cars your dogs are and or you.

Melissa Breau: Yeah, I don't, I feel compelled to say that I appreciate you for answering all of my questions that I've been asking about this webinar. I feel like I've been such a pain.

Crystal Wing: Not at all. You've been so kind and you set up the interview and you've been just running all the technical stuff. So I, I just appreciate you for all of those things. Well thank you. I'm really excited though, to get to share some of my brain. I'm really thankful for Denise too because it's so cool cuz you said that she provides this whole podcast and platform and everything.

So props to Denise and Stacy too for connecting us. So you asked about what you asked about cars. So rad, my little radish, she's a Jeep Wrangler. You know what those are, it's just perfect. Can you see it? So imagine a Jeep Wrangler, you got a short wheel base, you got dependable, you got all terrain, you got rough and tumble.

I mean that's Radish. She's my out in the woods fast when she needs to be. But you're not going to, you're not gonna shake her like she's good. You got Checkmate. He's my bionic boy. So he has to be a hybrid. Good. So he's gonna be a hybrid SUV cuz that matches his bionic status. And I see those kind of crossover SUVs a super versatile, you know, they're, they're super reliable too and it's really hard to believe. Did you know that check mate? You wouldn't know this. I'm gonna tell you something. He has given over 40 people their first suit bite. That's a lot of people.

Melissa Breau: That is a lot of people, Yeah.

Crystal Wing: That were suit curious and he is just that stable boy. Like I trust him. I know that he is just the nice stable, sporty boy maybe…Is there, is there like a sporty crossover? That's what he would be. I know. So wherever the sporty crossover, so I don't know enough about cars, so it's kind of funny that I have a webinar kind of loosely car-based and I don't know much about cars.

So Yukon is my challenge. I think I need a shirt that says that he is sometimes a race car because he is so incredibly fast. Other times he's a freight train for different reasons. But really that's why I enjoy him so much. I think we're just gonna keep it safe and I'm gonna be his Uber. So I think that's just, that's a better answer for him.

Melissa Breau: Fair Enough.

Crystal Wing: And I won't call a taxi like I am his Uber. Like I won't even, that's it's me.

Melissa Breau: Oh man. If you're his Uber, is that just your type of car? Is that what you wear as a car?

Crystal Wing: I, I have, I don't know if it's polite to say this, I have a murder van for a reason and and you can picture it, right? It's, when I say murder van, what did you picture? What, what do you see? White Foxy. What color?

Melissa Breau: Usually white or Black.

Crystal Wing: Yep, it's white. And does it have all of its paint? Because mine doesn't, and the, and the slider door handle it only works sometimes you have to like get in the vehicle to open it. Yeah, it's, it is, it's amazing. So yeah, it's a safe Uber.

Melissa Breau: So, so funny. Oh goodness.

Crystal Wing: Yeah. So those are my dogs. Those are, yeah. And I, I think at this stage of my life, I just need something that's gonna be comfortable that holds a lot of my stuff. Cuz I have a lot of stuff.

Melissa Breau: I mean as, as most dog people do, right?

Crystal Wing: Yeah. I mean I do…

Melissa Breau: So I think that's part of the dog sports world is you just have to have a lot of dog stuff.

Crystal Wing: Yeah. And when you get into Mondio it is quadrupled of stuff because Yeah, it's Mondio that's why. Yeah.

Melissa Breau: Yeah. So I mentioned the name at the very beginning of the podcast, but part of the name of the webinar includes the word rubber, which is an acronym. Do you wanna just talk us through what it means?

Crystal Wing: Yeah, so it's, it actually came from a conversation with my dad. I needed to get oil. My truck has 250,000 miles and it's a Honda Ridgeline and it's again a nice versatile vehicle. It's, I'm about versatility I guess, but it's leaking oil. It's old. And have you ever gone to an auto parts store and walked down the oil aisle? Okay. I hadn't in a very long time. I think I just stood there in disbelief. I'm like, dad, There's like five different names with 10 different numbers and different ws. And I was was like, nope. That was a whole bunch of nope right there. So he walked me through it. But just like everything else in life, it just seems like it, it's just so many choices. And also with everything else in life, everything turns into dogs. So the oil conversation turned into a dog conversation because I really started to think about, I was kind of going through a thought process of like, why do people go to different trainers and it's kind of like that oil choice, they're all oil, but there's one that's better for that car or that thing than another. And it's kind of like there's a different breed that's better for one person or a different sport. And, and I just started kinda seeing those connections and dad was telling a story about our, our first car as a, not a first car was our car growing up as a little yellow Pinto. And it had this really cute little yellow smiley face on the dash and he accidentally put the wrong oil in it once and that thing smoked all over the place and it still worked like it still oil, it did his job. But it was, it was just very, it was not happy. No, it was not a happy car. So it just made me kind of think about how there's different breeds, different sports that just, it makes our life run a little smoother when we find the right mix. And that's where it came from.

So Yukon taught me a lot about finding what it takes to make our world go smoother. Protection sport, sports, that's like putting the wrong oil in big smoke, big smoke, but nose games that just smoothed out our relationship. It was like we finally found our place. And so, you know, that's kind of where I went with it. My dad said if I helped him work on the, an old car we had, he got a 1980 TransAm when I was eight. And he said if you work on it till you're 16, I'll let you have it. And he held true to his word and he did. Well I love that car a lot. I still have it. Can you believe that? I'm 45 years old, I still have that car.

I mean it's in his garage. That's impressive. But yeah, but we went through a lot of tires. We went through a lot of motor mounts. That's what happens when you put a lot of rubber on the road. And I might be a super visual person. So that's where the rubber meets the road kinda started to come in and it's really just about figuring out what you actually need, not what other people need and, and kind of how to come up with the plan of where you're going. And so you wanna have the right parts, the right things to put it all and make it and go smooth. I loved getting there and hurrying my Trans Am. There was a lot of rubber on the road but you know, it doesn't always go that way.

And that's kind of my Yukon story so it makes sense. I got a Dutch Shepherd, I got a Dutch, you know, they're all fast, you know, fun kind of dogs. And they taught me about the importance of reinforcement, especially since that's my main tool and how the reinforcement builds a relationship. So that kind of became my expertise.

But a relationship is only as strong as the expectations and the boundaries that you set. You have to have those. And I think some people are scared to talk about those and boundaries. Dude, they're important. I don't know if I said dude, but there you go. They're important. And the first part of the rubber is the utilitarian behaviors. That's the basics. That's what helps our dogs be better dogs in our world. And it also points out how simple but complex dog sports are. Cuz if you really think about it, how many behaviors are there really? Like, like cues for dog sports. You got sit down, stand, okay, you got heel, you got come Send away. Stay. That's, that's implied. If I say sit, you're gonna sit. Okay, that's, I don't need stay. What else do you got? Maybe retrieve, there's seven, some sports have retreat, but what else do you have? That's it. So when you start thinking about that, I'm like, really? That's the same behaviors you have as a good pet owner.

That's the same behaviors you have as anything with dogs. It's just those simple behaviors. Now I say simple, we all know better. I'm not a fool. Simple. Yeah, Simple. But when you start really taking it down to the bare bones, there's about six behaviors. You nail those six behaviors and you've got everything you need. And so that's where I think utilitarian behaviors comes in and that's where functional obedience comes in. So I don't know, does that answer the question?

Melissa Breau: So relationship, utilitarian behaviors, boundaries, expectations, and reinforcement. That's a rubber, right?

Crystal Wing: Yeah. That's rubber. Not romantic. That's Fine. What kinda podcast is this? Oh Man. Now I'm gonna get lots of people from my webinar. Thank you Melissa.

Melissa Breau: You're very welcome. All right, so if we take that and we wanna think about it like in practical terms, right? Do you wanna just share some examples of kind of what that looks like in life, like with your dogs?

Crystal Wing: So relationship, oh man, I, oh, I forgot who's, oh, I forgot who created it. Oh, I wanna, I like to give kudos to people when I can remember who did it. I called it the backpack game, but it's the rucksack I think is what they called it. I love this so much. So Quinn and his old age became blind and he couldn't quite do all the stuff that we wanted to do. So I have a backpack that was dedicated just for Quinn and I would take it with me wherever I would go each day.

And I would find random things to bring home in this backpack and I would just take each thing out and this is our little game we'd play every day. So I would take each thing out and he would investigate it. Some things he was like, yeah, whatever. Next thing, what's the next thing? He'd stick his head in the bag and some things he'd pull out.

And it was one of my favorite things that we did together. And so it was me being more aware of my day-to-day life because he made me more observant of the things around me that maybe other people thought was garbage or didn't mean anything. And it also then brought me to, to really spend the extra one-on-one time with him to do something that was very valuable for him.

And since he passed, I've still kept the game game up, but not as, not as religiously. It's just not quite the same. So that's just one of those, it was just such a special thing for us. And I, I feel like that special thing to me is what relationships are. It's the special thing that you have with the other being, I give my dogs, I know this is terrible, but I dedicate 10 minutes of individual time to each dog. That sounds like so little, but when you say it's totally individual, the other dogs are outta play. Like it's just that dog in me. And that's why I probably won't be able to have more than three dogs again cuz it's just, I don't know, I figure if I can't give 10 to 15 minutes of just that intense attention to whatever it is they wanna do. So if they wanna play bitey games, 10 minutes of bitey games, and I, this is not training that's separate. So conditioning and training, that's separate from what this is. But it's just that dedicated time, utilitarian behaviors. So yeah, we kind of talked about that this: come, heel, sit, down, stand, away, and then some sports have retrieve in. I like to put retrieve in as the seventh one. It's like, yeah, it retrieve is so much fun to teach.

Melissa Breau: How can we leave that out? Come on.

Crystal Wing: But everything's based off of those and you just add in your, your Ds, which if you ever watch your listen to on that watch. But listen to our podcast, we had an episode about Ds that got kind of colorful. I say that there's four and they say that they're six. And so Stacy will like lose her mind when she hears this because again, she gets to hear that she's wrong. So I look at the Ds as being distance, distraction, duration and difficulty, and then they add on some other Ds. I'm like, get outta here. But when you add those Ds in, that's really all that you're changing with your behaviors and your boundaries. You know, things like being underfoot, if I'm cooking, that's a boundary that's not allowed, that's safety. When you think about, there's different amounts of anxiety.

If you are worried that your dog is gonna jump out of a crate and get run over, there's a lot of anxiety in that. So if you set up the boundary that you will not leave this crate until I, you know, put a leash on her until you step out and this is the, the the thing that we're gonna do together to make you safe.

So really boundaries are about that safety. When my dog is on leash, I don't want other people petting my dog. And I don't want my dog greeting other dogs when they're off leash. Okay, that's when you're allowed. But on leash, I don't wanna have to think about my dog wanting to go visit everybody. That's just annoying to me. But that's my boundary.

So everybody kinda has to set up what their boundary is. With Quinn who just passed back in Christmas time, one of his boundaries was I would let him choose if he wanted to say hi to people because he really was, he's pretty sharp. He didn't really care for people. He cared for certain people and loved them intensely. Like with all of his being, he kind of sounds like me, but, But our little, our agreement, and this is where I think a boundary comes in, is somebody would say, can I pet your dog? And I would look at him and I would say, do you wanna say hi? And if he wanted to see them, he would step over and he would lean on 'em and he'd get some SCRs and he'd, he'd walk away and if he didn't wanna see them, he would just look at me and I'm like, okay, no, he doesn't wanna say hi today. And so I let my dogs set some of those boundaries as well. So there's, there's a lot that we can do. I, I won't, I guess I'll, I'll quit rambling so much.

But expectations, those are the habits, those are the consistent habits we train daily. That's an expectation that my dogs have when we don't, yeah, They're like, mom, are you okay? Now I also have the expectation that if I'm sick or I cannot train, there is the expectation that I have taught them how to relax. And so it's not that they, they can't, but there is an expectation where they're like, what's up? You know, we need to do the thing. Like, come over here, this is where we do the thing. So even the placement that it happens, but it's the routines, the routine of getting out of a kennel, you know, there's, there's expectations the dogs have of me and there's expectations I have of them.

And it really comes down to our habits. If I'm gonna go to IGP and I'm gonna go tracking, I have different equipment and I say different things when I get them out of the box versus if we're gonna go into obedience or protection. So they know to expect from me that I'm gonna communicate to them and let them know what's about to happen. So there's no guessing.

So it just takes all of that guesswork out of it. And so I think those expectations are what really helps set us up for, for success and less conflict. And you know, the one I love the most, Reinforcement. Oh yeah, baby, reinforcement is everything. I mean, that's, that's what I do. Like, that's my, that's my jam.

I even have a hat that says reinforcer on it that I had made. And it's so amazing cuz like even when I go to trials and I'm there to support friends, it's so perfect because it says reinforcer, you know, I'm, I'm there to, to, to be a cheerleader and to it, it's like you put on a hat, you know that that kind of puts on a persona.

And I feel like that when I put on my reinforcer hat, I'm like, yeah baby, here we go. We're gonna have some fun. But you do have to find out what they love. Do you know the fur balls are, are you a fan of the fur balls? Please say yes. Just say yes. Do you know what it is?

Melissa Breau: I think I've seen them. Those are the really fuzzy like things…

Crystal Wing: What do, what do you mean? No, no, no. You said you think you've seen them…

Melissa Breau: So I think I know what you're talking about. But I think the one time I tried them, my dog destroyed it so it didn't go over well.

Crystal Wing: Well yeah, you can't let 'em have it. But yeah, The goDog Furballz. Oh my gosh, I'm such a fan. And mainly cuz my dogs are a fan and it's really how you play with them too. I get that. But here's the cool thing with that. So what I found out is that Radish, what I've done with her is she puts a little hole in it.

I put a little bag of, oh it's like a little soft and meaty treats and a little baggie and I put that inside the fur ball. So then when she does her search and yes I carry this big old fur ball whenever I'm going and searching, it's kind of funny but whatever. So I take that with me and then that little baggies in there.

So she gets it, then she starts dissecting it and she starts pulling all the stuffing out cuz she's not a dog that eats the stuffing, she just rips it out. She loves to do that. And I'm doing this with her. Okay, so it's not like she's by herself and then she gets that little bag out because they love this squeaker heart. Does your dogs love this squeaker heart?

Melissa Breau: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's just like this ingrained thing. So she loves the squeaker heart, so there's no squeaker heart, but there's a little baggy of goods. She pulls that out and she shakes that and treats go flying. I mean it's just, oh, it's joy. It's pure joy. It's the definition of a reinforcement event. Yes. Instead of just a reinforcer. Yeah, it is an experience.

Melissa Breau: That's awesome. I love that. All right, so tell me a little bit more about the webinar. What are you planning to cover? Who maybe should consider joining us for it? Well, anyone, anyone that can wanna, wanna listen to me for an hour of just fun and ADHD excitement.

So really I'm trying to get people some ideas on how to improve their day-to-day life. And this is for competition, non-competition. So it's anyone that has a dog that just wants to have a little bit smoother existence. If you wanna help kind of see some of your dog's needs and also your own, cuz that's something that I like to cover is I think so much energy is put on, you know, making sure your dogs are satisfied and that they've had exercise and, but we don't think about ourselves that much. And so I kind of throw some of that in there as well. I also like to help people establish a training plan. And I can't do a training plan for everything. I can't, you know, it's not gonna be a webinar that I'm gonna say, this is how you teach sit and this is how you teach down. There are so many talented trainers in this school that are doing a phenomenal job of doing that already. So I think my edge that I'm kind of showing here is helping you determine what utilitarian behaviors you actually want to develop and how they're gonna improve your future relationship. And it's hopefully gonna give you some skills to reflect on yourself and your dog differently.

I mean, people say I think about things a little differently, so come join me. Yeah. But yeah, my objective is to cover the five key components of functional obedience and that's the relationship, the utilitarian behaviors, the boundaries, the expectations and reinforcement. And really how you can apply those to just make a smoother, more enjoyable partnership. Cuz that's really what life is about, is just having an ease. I, I like, and I don't think that we should say it's about being happy because I think I, I don't wanna be happy when sad things happen and I, I, I don't wanna be sad all the time, like these are all things meant to come and go. But I think the word I like is ease. I want all of those things to happen with ease. And so that's, that's what, what I hope to do with some of the things that I share in this webinar.

Melissa Breau: Awesome. Any final thoughts, key points and something you wanna kind of leave listeners with?

Crystal Wing: Thanks so much for inviting me and listeners, if you're out there still, pleasure listening, you know, thank you for sharing your time. I would say my key points is go play with your dog. Go have so much fun. And when I say play, I, I also get a little bit, I have a really dear friend that has a dog that is special needs. And it always reminds me to be a little more cognizant and aware that, you know, not every dog enjoys all the things that my dogs do. And so I, I'm reaching out to those out there with those heart dogs and those dogs that struggle and the people that struggle and whatever it is that, that makes your world go round with that dog. That's what I want you to do with that dog. For me, I, I'm gonna get tugs and go crazy and, and Yukon, I'm gonna be throwing food and, and Radish is gonna be, you know, shaken bags and, and Checkmate. It's gonna be tra stoned for a while. So he's gonna get some social play and lots of cuddles for a while. But my, my key point is bring joy to your world and to your dog's world. Embrace that inner child that, that child that used to know how to play. If you lost that child, let's bring him back. I, it's, it's no fun growing up. So let, let's bring back the kids.

Melissa Breau: Yeah, I like that. What an excellent kind of point to end on. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast.

Crystal Wing: Oh, thank you so much. And thanks to all 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 dev. 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! 

E310: Kelly Daniel - Fitness for Performance
E308: Chrissi Schranz - From Free Roaming Dogs to ...

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