E315: Sara Brueske - Making the Most of the Summer

Traveling with your pup this summer? Looking for other fun activities to capitalize on the awesome summer weather? Sara and I talk about preparing to travel, the benefits of road tripping with a young dog, and more!


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 Brueske here with me to talk about making the most of your summer with your canine companion. Hi Sarah, welcome to the podcast!

Sara Brueske: Hi Melissa. Thank you so much for having me.

Sara Brueske: Very excited to chat. Have you back. So to start us out, do you wanna just share a little bit about you, a little about your current canine crew, the newest edition? Yeah, absolutely. So I always say I have a lot of dogs. I have a bunch that are retired. So when I used to perform at Purina Farms, a bunch of my dogs would perform every day there, which is why I have a lot of dogs. But most of them are retired now. So I'll talk mostly about my current dogs that I am out enjoying the summer with every single day. Right now I have two Koolies that are in training and running around all crazy with me every single day. That's Vibrant. She is two and a half years old and then Cake who is just turning a year old here in June.

Melissa Breau: How's a year already? How's she older?

Sara Brueske: I have no idea, but to be fair, I've been saying she is at least two years old since she was six months old because she is just one of those dogs that has fit so seamlessly into our household. It's impossible to imagine her not being here because it feels like she's always been here. And so, and she's just like one of those dogs that gets things so fast. I teach her something one time and then pretty soon she's doing it with fluency like the next day and it's just amazing. And anyways, I could talk about her all day. She's on her dog's grandbaby,she's perfect. My first, second generation Australian Koolie that our program has bred. So I'm pretty much just smitten with her. And then I have my little seventh month old Papillon puppy Pop Rock and she's out there enjoying summer with us as well. And then my other dog that's still in training is Kreature, my six-year-old Malinois. And so they're the ones out with me every single day as we're traveling and adventuring around. And the older dogs, they still go out and swim a couple times a week. They still go out and hike a couple of times a week. But I've got a menagerie of other dogs at home. So all in all, I have 11 dogs right now, which is too many.

Melissa Breau: Fair enough. Before we kind of dive into anything in particular today, I just wanted to say I started to prep for this and I was like, let me just look and see what Sara has coming up. You've got kind of a lot on the schedule right now.

Sara Brueske: I did jam pack it, which is silly because Summer is like my favorite time in the world. I live in Minnesota and some are so brief and so for some reason I jam-packed June with a lot of things.

Melissa Breau: You really did.

Sara Brueske: So we've got all sorts of things that dogs and people wanna do in the summer, right. Playing disc, dock diving, paddle boarding and traveling.

Melissa Breau: So is that kind of the list of what you and your dogs get up to this 10th of year?

Sara Brueske: Yeah, I was just looking at that without finishing reading the paragraph and it, yep, that's literally my days every single day we might actually get to a dock every day, but I we, we were swimming earlier today. We played agility, we had our class for agility and then we went out and swam dogs. We'll probably play disc later tonight when it cools down a little bit.

Melissa Breau: Paddle boarding.

Sara Brueske: Yep. Packing up the paddle board cause we're going up north this weekend and so we'll be out there paddle boarding and traveling up north. And so yeah, in a nutshell that has happened all today and then tomorrow…

Melissa Breau: Those things sound like a heck of a way to spend the summer.

Sara Brueske: Yeah, it's so funny because you know, up here in Minnesota we have like maybe three months, no joking, we have a little longer that of of good weather so much and so it's hard to like stay task-orientated in our other sports that we could be doing in the wintertime.

Melissa Breau: Right.

Sara Brueske: So I have agility, nosework and obedience that I do as well. And scent hurdle racing, we just started a club here in Minnesota and it's so hard to be motivated to do those things cuz I'm like, but I could just be swimming dogs or I could just be throwing Frisbee to my dogs and doing all those things that are just so much fun for us. And so yeah it's, it's hard to stay task orientated. I mean I think we all struggle with that and you know, just a little harder in the summer, that's all.

Melissa Breau: Yeah, Absolutely. Yeah. So I think weather because of summer vacation right or trialing our audience is probably more likely to bring their dog along when they travel than like the average pet owner. Since I know you have a young dog who kind of inspired the topic of the webinar you have coming up, what do you think traveling with a young dog can help teach them and what skills do you kind of like to have on board?

Sara Brueske: Oh my god, there's so many things that our young dogs learn from traveling and I try really, really hard to schedule a road trip even if it's just like a couple hours here, there whatever with my young dogs when I have them, if I get a puppy and I don't have a road trip on the schedule, I will volunteer to transport for a rescue or do something where I have to drive, go visit a friend out of state, something like that just so that I can get those road trips in. Cause I think they're so important for our dogs in socialization and building up confidence and even still when I have puppy campers, so I do board and trains for performance dogs under six months old if I have a trip scheduled, that's always a selling point for that because you know, people want their dogs exposed to road trips exposed to those long traveling times and having to potty in new places and all that stuff. And it's so cool to be able to take your puppy and teach those things right away be so it becomes a bit of a normal thing for them.

So the big things that I think puppies learn going on those adventures, road trips, extended stays and stuff like that, one is the big one is pottying in a new place. Like it can be so overwhelming to potty on the side of the road when there's cars driving by if your puppy suddenly has an emergency potty. But it's such an important skill as well or going to you know, a fast food place and having the potty there when it smells like cooking burgers outside and kids are running around crazy like what a great skill to have and being able to put that potty cue or potty on cue and be able to, you know, ask your dog to the potty that way when you are trialing in the future and you're like, you know,

I know you haven't pooped today so I need you to go potty. They already have that skillset and they understand that, that when you ask them to go potty, that they should go potty then rather than in the agility ring or somewhere where you don't want them to. The other thing is they just learn to settle and relax in the car. So a lot of times with our dogs and our young dogs, especially the only times they go in the car are to go to fun things, right? So we load up to go to obedience class, we load up to go to the park, we load up to go hiking or paddle boarding, whatever it is or go see their friends or whatever and they just start to learn that car means fun things. And so you get very vocal, very excited dogs in the car and that can be really difficult. And so if you take the time to kind of teach them, hey, you know, the car could mean nothing, we are just going in the car and it's gonna be hours before you get out. I'm sorry it sucks, but that's gonna be life right now. The road trip is a really good way to kind of teach that lesson.

And of course I do a little bit of that or a lot of that beforehand, but it's a really good skill for them to have. And then just the confidence of moving into new environments, not being a big deal and not asking them to work constantly. So I know a lot of working dog people take their dogs out of the car, work, work, work, work, work, put 'em right back in the car. Well when you're traveling with your dog they get a lot more opportunities just to walk around, stretch their legs, take in the environment and kinda slow down and process things that I think a lot of times talking more like the protection sports that we tend to lack on with our dogs is really giving them that opportunity rather than focusing on drive building and and all that stuff all the time.

Other than that, you know, sleeping in new places, that's a huge thing. So even if you don't travel very often with your dogs and you don't foresee them sleeping in a new place, you never know if they're gonna have to have an overnight emergency vet stay or something along those lines. And so if they're more comfortable sleeping in new places, that's gonna make that whole experience a lot easier for them as well. Or if you have to go out of town and they have to stay at a friend's house or a boarding facility, it's gonna be easier for them to do that as well. So lots of skills that they can learn from going on a road trip, even a boring one.

Melissa Breau: Anything you kinda want them to know before you go? Yeah, if I can,

so I have a whole list in the webinar about pre-travel training and things that you really want to focus on teaching. So the big ones are potting in new places. So if I know I'll be taking a puppy on a road trip and I maybe don't have a lot of time to go different places and have 'em learn to potty in new places, I'll just pick different places around the house like outside.

So the front left side of the yard, the front right side of the yard, this really awkward spot right by the sidewalk, you know that sort of thing. And have them learn to potty in different spots around my yard so they can learn that it's okay to potty in general, not just in their usual spot. And then I have a huge list but one of my favorite things to do with dogs on road trips is I know don't, don't come after me but to use a flexi lead like flexi on road trips are everything I'm telling you like they are the best thing in the world but they come with a little bit of a warning disclaimer cuz me, if you're like me, I drop things a lot and so often I'll drop the flexi itself and it comes like clattering after your dog and can really, really freak them out. So if I know I'm be bringing a, a young dog or a dog on a road trip, they learn to be desensitized to that flexi dragging behind them because a hundred percent I will drop it at some point and I want them to know that that means to come to me and I will save them from the scary flexi coming after them. So that's just a little bit of a unique skill that I definitely teach my dogs but most people probably wouldn't think of that.

Melissa Breau: Right, right. And I'm, you know, I'm sure people kind of understand the usefulness even if they don't love them.

Sara Brueske: Yeah, I know, I know there's a whole lot of things to say about flexis, but trust me, if you like to travel with your dogs a lot you like you will understand the love of flexis, they're amazing.

Melissa Breau: So anything surprising or that folks like don't consider that you would include on your packing list when your dogs are coming along?

Sara Brueske: Yeah, there was, I did come up with a cool pdf, PDF packing list, so things to bring with you and your dog. I'm trying to think if there's anything really cool or unique on there. I talk a bit about the emergency tube. So one of the things you'll see nowadays is a PVC tube with a kind of screw on end and it says emergency contact information or whatever on the tube. And inside of that you can put all sorts of different things like your vet info and emergency contact information, any medications that your dog might need, any special behavior type things that they should be watching out for. That way if you do get in an accident, all of that information is right there, you put it right on the front of your crate and it's easy access for anybody that's there to assist you. And so that's a really big one for me is making sure that you have all that information, easy access.

Melissa Breau: Let's see, because I know kind of personally that it's such a big topic, how do you handle things like ensuring your, your car or your vehicle actually stays cool enough and what do you kind of do with your dog if you wanna, you know, go sit down indoors at an actual restaurant to feed yourself?

Sara Brueske: Yeah, Absolutely. So that is one of the big things is like you have to eat when you're on the road and you have a van full of dogs like I do and you really wanna make sure your dogs are safe and you don't wanna just hope that it'll stay cool enough.

That's one of the things is yeah it looks overcast, you know, but the sun can come out quick. There's all sorts of different things. And so over the years I've tried a few different things. The Marcel, I've tried the waggle back when it was the Nimble so I don't know much about it now and honestly I keep coming back to just using a baby monitor with my dogs and there's a couple reasons why I like it and I know it's not a super popular thing but the reason why I like it is it gives me that video feedback and it, if you have one that connects to wifi as well as to just regular antenna, the wifi sends alert to your phones for temperature or for noise. So if my dogs are certainly barking, they're full heads off and I don't want them barking their full heads off, I can go out there and make sure everything is okay and obviously I can see that temperature right there on the baby monitor itself.

And so that's my favorite one and I use it every single day with my dogs. So the only issue with it is you need to have a wifi hotspot for it. So often you can get that from your cell phone provider and then have that running and then you have to have some sort of power outlet. So like in my minivan I have an adapter for the car, the 12 volt car to an actual plugin and I just plug mine into that and it works out very well. I like that solution.

Melissa Breau: That's not what I've heard of before.

Sara Brueske: No. Yeah, probably not.

Melissa Breau: You've mentioned a couple of times the multi dog piece, so since you often travel with not just a dog but lots of dogs, any tips or tricks for kind of managing multiples while you're on a road trip?

Yeah, don't take them all outta potty at one time. You'll a hundred percent regret your life choices at that moment. So break it down into pairs. Pairs is always easier. Leashes if they get tangled then you come right there and they always insist on tangling when you're picking up poop or trying to tie the poop bag. And so just, you know, just take them out two at a time. If you have four, two groups of two is fantastic. If you have three, you know two and then one, unless you're feeling very, very gutsy and you know, your frustration tolerance is very high at that moment. But yeah, take your time, make sure everybody walks. It's really good for you to get out and stretch your legs anyway if you're traveling and yeah, that way it's a little bit calming for the dogs. You're not frustrated and you're not trying to make sure everybody potties and you can keep your eyes on them and make sure that they go and they're not getting into the weird discarded french fries on the side of the road or anything like that as well. The random food that they find.

Melissa Breau: Yeah, yeah. Right. Do you wanna just share a little more about kind of what you'll cover in the webinar that's coming up next week?

Sara Brueske: Yeah, the pre-training stuff is, is a big chunk of that webinar so making sure that you are writing your dog for the road trip and everything's kind of covered for that. Like I said, the packing list is pretty cool. I do have that so it's a printout thing that you can take with you. Other than that there'll be, you know, I'll share which kind of baby monitor I use in my setups and stuff like that too. And other ways of keeping your car, your vehicle cool in the summer as well.

Melissa Breau: Awesome. So as I mentioned earlier, that is not the only thing on the schedule. So you also have your disc class and Bombproof Behaviors as classes and then two workshops, one on dock diving and one on paddle boarding all kind of coming up. Do you wanna just kind of quickly talk a little bit about each?

Sara Breuske: Yeah, absolutely. So the disc class, it's a, technically it's a handler's choice class but there is a foundation curriculum that goes along with it. So if you're like, I'm brand new to disk, I have no idea what I'm doing, I don't even know what to ask to work on the, that foundation curriculum is really nice to follow along. So I know the gold spots are all sold out in that one, but even for bronze, if you don't know what you're doing, there should be plenty for you to follow along and still be able to be successful.

As far as that goes, I think we have a pretty good range of students that have signed up for it. Everything from brand new baby disc people all the way up to people who are working on building their free style routines with their second dogs. So pretty wide range on that. Bombproof Behaviors is definitely one of my favorite classes. It still has gold spots available so I don't know what's going on this year.

Everybody wants to be out playing, they don't wanna work on the distractions, whatever it might be. I have no idea but it is definitely one of my favorite classes. I know it says, you know, it kind of talks about distractions but I also talk about arousal management in that class. So a lot of people always wanna know like how do they teach their dogs to go from being super crazy high excited all the way down to being calm And we talk about that arousal mobility in that class because to me arousal is a distraction and being able to apply the techniques we use in that class to like excitedness when they're working is a really good way to go about it. And then dock diving, it's definitely one of my favorites as well. Obviously typically in that one we have a huge range of people just jumping their dogs in for the first time, introducing 'em to go off the dock as well as people that are just trying to get a couple more inches on their big jumps. We talk a lot about toy targeting in that class as well. So a lot of times people are trying to get their dogs to target that toy and get those bigger jumps and we talk about that in that workshop there. And then paddle boarding, that one's fun. I'm like, I just wanna be out paddle boarding right now. It is like 95 degrees outside, it's perfect. My paddle board's right there in that one we talk about introducing them to the paddle board, kind of some things to think about, you know, life jackets and different ways to go about that. And then safe places etiquette around the, the public waterways and, and kind of a broad range of different things that we talk about all in relation to paddle boarding slash kayak kayaking with your dogs.

Melissa Breau: Awesome. So other than just kind of having a ton of different dogs that you can take along for different activities, you kinda mentioned earlier that you know, you wanna do a little bit of this and a little bit of that. How do you kinda think about balancing training all the different things with your dogs without burning them out or overdoing it? You know, especially when we're talking about like summer heat.

Sara Brueske: Yeah, absolutely. So Pop Rock is a good one to talk about with us right now because her heat tolerance is pretty low. She's only seven months old and she has a thick coat and I'm trying really hard to pay attention to her enthusiasm and her energy during training sessions cuz I'm building her drive for toys right now.

And so for her everything's very particular about what I do and when, so if we're gonna do something like disk where her drive for it is pretty medium and we're still working on on building it, it's going to be either early in the morning when it's still cool outside or later in the afternoon or it's gonna be when she is still wet from doing a swimming activity. So that's the other thing we're working on is teaching her to swim and kind of love the water. And so she went to the river with us today and she was still nice and wet when we got home so I went out and threw a couple Frisbees for her cuz she was nice and cool still from, from her swimming. And so that's a good way to go about is like thinking about really hard, how hot is my dog? And knowing how much that's gonna affect their training. At the same time we do wanna build endurance in the heat and that's a whole other topic that would take an hour or two hours.

Melissa Breau: Talk about a good topic though.

Sara Brueske: Yeah, it is. So when I'm trying to do stuff like that I just, you know, focus more on let's go for a walk outside an off leash walk or a hike or something like that where the dog can regulate how much effort they're putting in when versus me asking for that effort. And so that way I'm really protecting their enthusiasm for training and kind of building along that way. So I try to mix as much water activities in as possible.

I always make sure that there's a kiddie pool nearby that I can dunk my dog in or have them go stand in if they need to. If I'm doing outdoor stuff or if I'm doing something like, hey I really need to work on start line stays for agility, I can do that while I'm swimming my dogs. So a stay is a stay, especially when that's super exciting. And so I can do a stay for a thrown toy into the water for example, and that way I'm killing two birds with one stone.

Melissa Breau: Yeah. As long as you have dogs that love water, that works.

Sara Brueske: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Quite well.

Melissa Breau: So any kind of final thoughts or key points you wanna leave listeners with?

Sara Brueske: You know, just kind of take advantage of the nice weather and get out there with your dogs because anytime you are interacting with them in whatever it might be, they, you're still building that relationship in a good way and that way training's still gonna be fun for them, they're gonna have a lot of fun for them, for everything and all of that other stuff can wait until wintertime when you know we're all stuck inside When the weather isn't quite so tempting.

Melissa Breau: Yeah, Exactly. Having just gotten off a week of like non stop rain here in North Carolina, I'm very excited. The sun's coming back out, so I'm sure…

Sara Brueske: We definitely need the rain up here. We've been watering pretty constantly right now.

Melissa Breau: Yeah. Well thank you so much for coming on the podcast, Sara. It's been fun.

Sara Brueske: It always is. Thank you so much again for having me.

Melissa Breau: Absolutely. And thanks to all our listeners for tuning in. We'll be back next week with Michael Shikashio to talk about inter household dog-dog aggression. If you haven't already subscribed to the podcast in iTunes or 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 here is called Buddy. Audio Editing provided by Chris Lang. Thanks again for tuning in. 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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