E319: The Truth About High Drive Dogs

Join me, Crystal Wing, Denise Fenzi, Hélène Lawler and Jane Ardern — all presenters in the upcoming High Drive Dog Conference — for a honest conversation about the best and worst parts of living with and training high drive dogs.


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, Denise Fenzi, Hélène Lawler, and Jane Ardern here with me to talk about high drive dogs. Hi all. Welcome to the podcast!

All: Hi.

Melissa Breau: Hi everybody. To start us out, I wanna have you each kinda introduce yourselves, share a little bit about your dogs and maybe what you do with them. Crystal, you wanna start us off?

Crystal Wing: Sure. I'm a high school art teacher, so I finished my 21st year and my passion is protection sports. I'm the training director and training helper in Decoy for Evolution Working Dog Club. Also a GSDCA trial helper for IGP. So it just means that I wear a suit or I wear a sleeve and I let dogs bite me and I teach them to bite really hard. So we need some driven dogs for that activity. And Checkmate is my hip hip hooray boy. He just had his second total hip replacement and he is released to be a free dog. So I'm really super excited to have him be able to do all the things that we can finally wanna do after all these years. I also have a cadaver dog in training for search and rescue. Her name is Radish and she is a malinois mixed with a lab. Oh, and Checkmate is also a Malinois. And my other dog that I currently have is a Dutch Shepherd and his name is Yukon. And I'm sure that I'll tell lots of stories about him because he's my, I don't know what to call him. He's just a fun boy. He's a terrible pet if I'm real honest. But that's, that's my story.

Melissa Breau: Awesome. All right, Denise.

Denise Fenzi: I have two dogs. I have a high drive dog named Xen and he is very close to competing in Flyball. Probably will be on a team in the fall and is being trained for Mondio ring sport and Crystal's helping me out there, get my helper, work up to speed. So he's, I call him the Easy dog because I'm super comfortable in the realm of high drive dogs.

And then I have my terrier mix who causes me to drink a lot. He is not a high drive dog, he's the cutest, most adorable little fluff on the planet today. I put up a video of our training session, which included stopping to roll on the grass after he retrieved the ball, bringing the ball to the camera person. Well there were all sorts of shenanigans, but it's great because it makes me really appreciate high drive dogs and it sort of forces me to recognize the difference between dogs that bring the package to the table, what I call a high drive dog, the dog that stays in the game versus a dog where you spend a lot of time and energy thinking about how to make that dog successful. So that's what I've got right now, which is, which is fantastic actually.

Melissa: Awesome Hélène?

Hélène Lawler: Well my main focus these days is herding well has, when I say these days, has been for a very long time. Now we're coming up on close to 20 years. I also have done competitive agility and right now I'm just all in on the herding cuz I really wanna up my game across the board in that respect.

And I have working Border Collies, I also have an Australian Kelpie and two working Maremma sheep or livestock guardian dogs. But I train the Border Collies for herding and I have 14 of them. So I have a fair bit of experience with the day-to-day life with high drive dogs. They, a hundred percent of them are a hundred percent working bred. And I also breed working Border Collies. So I spent a lot of time with these very high drive dogs. That's me.

Melissa Breau: Awesome Jane?

Jane Ardern: Hi. So I have cocker spaniels, working cocker spaniels. I have got seven adults, currently got six puppies in the house as well. And my main interest at the moment is gun dog training.

So I use my spaniels for what's called beating in the uk and that is really that we do the hunting and the flushing of game to put the birds up over the guns. So I have a range of spaniels of cockers that are kind of, they're all very different. So I've got some cockers that I would class as high drive and then I've got some cockers that, that are not high drive. And for me it's, you know, I think people get scared of high drive dogs, but I kinda like them cause I think that they're act, I actually think that they're easier to train when the dogs got that, you know, that level of focus and intensity. So for me it's, it's kind of all about understanding them. So I'm keeping a puppy back and I am hoping to trial with this puppy.

Melissa Breau: Awesome. Exciting. New puppies are always the best.

Denise Fenzi: Jane, I was also very afraid of my first high drive dog. I went to France and bought a dog from a working litter and I remember really thinking I had to keep my thumb on her and people sort of implied that too, you know, that if she yeah, you know, got control of the household by five months she'd be running for you know, president. And it was a really important thing for me to realize as time went on that it was actually quite the opposite. She was probably more sensitive and much easier than my other dogs. She was hard and tough and protection bred, but my god, I so misunderstood her. And I think those misconceptions are fairly common.

Jane Ardern: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Hélène Lawler: That's something I run into all the time with the Border Collie all the time.

Melissa Breau: So since you guys are definitely raring to go with this conversation, let's start by talking about what drive is and maybe what it isn't. What do you think of when you're talking about drive and how can listeners maybe know if they have a dog who kind of qualifies. Denise?

Denise Fenzi: So I have a really generic overview statement that I say to people. I say high drive dogs, stay in the game under adversity. And it doesn't matter what the adversity is, it could be everything from really piss poor training all the way to terrible weather to physical or mental pain, to long training sessions, to low rates of reinforcement. They stick it out and they stick it out when any sane dog would opt out when things are just not working out anymore.

That's my high drive definition because it crosses sports and it's, I think it's easy for people to kind of say, they look at their dog and they look at what's going on around them and they can place themselves on a relative scale, which is really important cuz drive is relative. It's not, it's not like this is high drive, this is not, it has to be compared, it's a relative term. But I think the more interesting question for this group, for this webinar or this presentation at the conference is the root of the drive. And so for me the root of the drive is really how pronounced does the dog's interest in the predatory sequence. So how much chase does the dog have? How much bite, how much kill, how much shake? All these things that we sort of associate with the predatory sequence. Now whether or not that's actually what's happening, cuz I also say there's an element of the dog has to suspend belief. My dog knows perfectly well that a tug toy is not a rabbit, but the willingness to suspend relief to play the game of the predatory sequence is where I think that stays in the game under adversity quality is coming from.

Melissa Breau: Interesting. Hélène?

Hélène Lawler: I love Denise's definition of it. I'm gonna work with that because when listening to, to you, you described that Denise. What comes to mind is this video I saw recently of a working Border Collie being sent to gather sheep in Ireland up the side of a mountain. And the dog had to cross a river to get there and it was spring flood time and the dog went into the river and got washed down the river over rocks,

over boulders under heads underwater. He scrambles back out, he scrambles out back on the side, he started on and gets right back in and scrambles across the water and then has to drag himself out on slippery rocks. And he gets up to the other side, he shakes once and he's off like a shot to get to get the sheep and then he goes up like out like 800 yards to go up the side of a mountain to get the sheep.

And so that is most definitely a high drive dog. And one of the things in the working Border collie world that we, we, we really place a lot of emphasis on is the importance of desire, the desire to work. And so for me, drive is the desire to do the job. Now, and I'm gonna talk a lot about Border Collies cuz that's the breed that I know best.

I have had a couple of Marrema and the kelpie and stuff, but, but I wouldn't speak with any authority about any other breed. But with the Border Collie you can have that intense incredible passion and desire, but you can extinguish it through pressure, through poor handling and so on. Even the strongest desire can be extinguished. So that's where with the dogs that I work with, when I, when we say they'll work through adversity, one of the things with the Border Collie in particular is that they are selected to be very handler sensitive. And so that dog would work through the adversity of being like half drowned and then having to run up the side of a mountain to get his sheep. And, and so he has that incredible desire, but that same dog could actually be put off working through handler pressure. And so that's something that we have to kind of keep in mind that we can have these dogs with a lot of desire, but they don't. But there's different aspects of that, what was the word you used Denise? That just, that willingness to work through adversity, work through the pressure, work through the challenge it in, in this breed, in my breed we select for different things. So we want high, high intensity and, and desire for the work, but the way it's controlled is through having this very sort of handler soft side. And maybe that's what you encountered as well, Denise with your dog that you got that you said your first dog that you mentioned that you said she was actually very sensitive, super strong desire to do the work, but if we wanna maintain some control over these dogs, they need to wanna work with us. And so finding that balance is, is part of the package that we look for and when we have, so yeah, so I'm not sure where I'm going with this.

Denise Fenzi: I love, I love your additions because I think Border Collies are generally more handler soft than Belgians, but Belgians are way more handler soft than people recognize. They think that they're all hard ass dogs. My dog is, I'm gonna say he's medium hard. He's not, he's not handler soft, but he's not handler hard. He actually wants to cooperate with me. I think we're on the same page. I agree that Border Collies are a little further on that scale just because Belgians have been bred to contest humans so they have to fight humans. So I don't think you can completely eliminate some degree of general hardness towards humans even though they have the softness towards their handler. Again, it's one of those areas where I think there's so much misunderstanding about what it means to be a driven dog or hard. Cuz when someone says your dog is hard, I say, what, can you tell me more about that? Hard how, you know, what have you done? What, what does that mean to you?

Hélène Lawler: Yeah, exactly. So for me, drive is the desire to do the work. And in that, you know, in the case of the Border Collie, it's the work on sheep. I can take an incredibly driven dog and, and take that drive and, and extinguish it in a heartbeat in agility for instance. Whereas that dog might be willing to work through an awful lot more poor handling, poor training and, and pressure and, and environmental adversity on sheep. So it also isn't a black and white thing. And that was a lesson I've also hard learned where I had an incredibly driven dog on sheep. She was my second agility dog and I completely shut her down cuz I didn't understand. That took me a long time to figure out.

Melissa Breau: Jane, what about you? Do you have a definition?

Jane Ardern: So yeah, kind of going along with the others, I think for me it is a dog that from a genetics point of view has got the drive to work, to wanna do the job that they're actually bred, that they've, that they've been bred to do. And I think it's, you know, sometimes I see dogs that have got like the motor patterns, so you can see the physical behavior patterns can kind of kick in with arousal.

But that's actually kind of like the purpose and the focus that they actually have on doing the job. My first cocker, Pickles, I remember the first day that I introduced her to game and literally she kind of that exposure, she went up about like 18 gears and I remember that she flushed a bird, I blew the stop whistle and she was not stopping and she ran, she ran, crashed through a load of really thick brambles after this bird she dived into a river, she swam across to the other side, she went straight through the other brambles, she ran through an electric fence out onto the field, picked the bird that had been shot, she ran back through the electric fence back into the river and brought the bird back to me.

And I remember that day everyone else was like, oh my god, like wow. And I'm like, she didn't stop on the whistle, but I just, I just always remember that like that level of intensity, like that instinct being awakened. And she was what I would class as a hard dog. She was very independent as well, so she wasn't soft. Where some of my other spaniels are soft with it like, like the Border Collie is. And then some of them are hard as well where, and I think the hardness is where the dog kind of looks at us as though they're like, you're slowing me down, I've got this. And they're quite driven to do it on their own.

Melissa Breau: Crystal, you wanna round us out?

Crystal Wing: I'm gonna go a little different angle. That's kind of what I do. I think sometimes I'm gonna say river dancing squirrels. Can you imagine that? Can you picture that? Because in my world that's what drive is and I'm seeing it as this, there's that Laurie Haine art, she has a thing that says I don't have ducks or a row, I have squirrels and they're at a rave. And so that's how I kinda imagine drive if we have, you know, imagine this like bunch of squirrels and they're at a rave. It's kind of fun to think about in my brain, but it's not an easy place to live day after day. You know, it's really hard to choreograph squirrels or dancers, especially when they're at a rave. I mean, can you, I don't think you're supposed to. Like, that's the opposite. And so if we keep this kind of dancing squirrel thought, I look at it as when you have high drive, those squirrels are at a country line dance. And when they get even higher drive, well now you've got the intensity of the river dancers.

And I think that goes back to Helene's where it's like literally river dancers, you know, I mean it's like they are all lined up, they're doing their thing and it doesn't matter what happens, you know, the, the whole place can burn down and they're like, nope, we're still doing the thing. So maybe instead of dog trainers we're just really excellent squirrel choreographers, maybe that's what, you know, high drive is and what we are as high drive dog trainers.

Denise Fenzi: My brain is very busy thinking about a line dancing squirrel, but I got a picture in my head of line dancing squirrels. So we're doing good.

Crystal Wing: And I apologize to those that can't picture things in your mind. So maybe if you like use some AI or something, you can like type in line dancing squirrels or river dance squirrels, you can see what I'm imagining.

Melissa Breau: Fair enough. I think you started to hint at something there though that I wanna explore a little more. So I definitely think there's a tie in there between drive and arousal, right? Like there's a, there's a piece there and I'd love to just have you guys talk a little more about kinda what that relationship looks like. What is the link between drive and arousal, maybe what isn't it? Hélène, do you wanna start us off for this one?

Hélène Lawler: Sure. So yeah, arousal is, if I know Denise, you had posted, you saw the difference, I'm sorry, I don't mean if you're gonna talk about this to, to steal your thunder here, but you described it as, you know, arousal as the gasoline and drive as the kindling when you're building a fire. I see, I I love that. And when I thought about it I was like, I pictured a little bit differently. I see drive as the engine and arousal as the gasoline. And so if you think about you're like, you know, driving a sports car and you've got this big engine under the hood, so the drive is the engine and you give it gas, that is the arousal and we need arousal or right. That's what has us awake and has us moving and so on. But if you, if you step on the gas too much, you you're, you quickly start to lose the ability to turn to avoid things on the road to right. Like you can, you can spin outta control really if you picture going way too fast in a, in a car with a big engine, it's really easy to totally lose control. And so when we work with our dogs and we have these high drive dogs, we add arousal to the picture or they add it themselves, right? They, they will probably have this natural propensity to go quickly into over into higher arousal.

And if we then allow that to go into over arousal, we can get outta control really fast. And we see a lot of that. One of the things that I see a lot of is people using arousal to get speed and thinking that that's how they're getting more drive out of their dog and that it's really, really important to separate those two.

I'm gonna argue that we can't add more drive to a dog. We bring the drive out, the dog is born with how much drive it's gonna have. And as I said earlier, like you can, you can squash that drive or you can nurture it and bring it out. What arousal does, it's like, it's the gasoline that revs the engine, but when we add too much things get outta control. And so we don't want to actually use arousal as a way of bringing out drive. We want to have the arousal to, to get the performance we want without losing control. So we separate those two. Like I said, for me in my mind it's the engine and the gasoline.

Jane Ardern: How much gas do you actually need to be able to still stay in complete control and that's what you're seeking.

Hélène Lawler: I like that Jane.

Jane Ardern: Yeah, so I think arousal is arousal for me genetically. The dogs have drive, arousal is something that you can use to your advantage and it's something that can also create you lots of problems. So I think for me it's really about understanding arousal in the dogs. I know with my cockers to be able to crash through the brambles, they've gotta be on an adrenaline rush because if they're not on the adrenaline rush they'll they, they just won't get in the cover and they won't hunt hard and they won't put themselves under pressure. So we kind of need that, that kind of level of arousal there. With the dogs I've been through, I've, I've trained dogs and I've trained them like overcome as such I've trained them to manage themselves too well and then they don't, they just don't do the job because their job requires this, this level of arousal. And I do think that most, most time people have, when people have problems with high drive dogs, it's actually the arousal that is usually where they're having a problem. Interesting.

Melissa Breau: Crystal, you wanna kinda take it from there?

Crystal Wing: Yeah, I'm thinking about kinda what I'm talking about in my little part of the day and if we think about it every, and this is dogs, people, whatever, but every response that a dog shows it's is triggered by something. So some dogs are gonna react easier than others to different stimuli. And so we call this the stimulus threshold. So we're looking at the lowest level of stimulation that will trigger response, right? So when we're talking about drive and arousal, I think we're seeing and talking about the stimulus threshold of the dog.

And some dogs do not react quickly or easily when something happens. But this doesn't say anything about their ability to handle that situation. So once they perceive it, some dogs will react faster to the movement, some won't react hardly at all. And I really wanted in protection sports to have my dog almost look sleepy so that, you know, he just looks like he's like there things are good.

But then the moment the stimulus control comes in and I say bite, he is on fire and that's the drive part coming out. And I think I was talking to Jans Frank from Scandinavian working Dog Institute just recently. We were doing a podcast with him and he was really talking about how it seems like a lot of the handlers and trainers United States, they want the high arousal and the high drive and he said he kind of made a joke, I dunno if I should share this or not, it was off the recording that, go ahead take 'em. We don't want them, we don't want the high arousal, high drive, we want lower arousal and we want higher drive because we don't want the dog barking their fool head off. You know if they're doing military type ops, you don't want a dog that they start getting excited and they start barking like crazy.

That's not what you want. You want a very kind of clear head that will react when it's when it's time and not just because, so you know, some dogs react to every movement I've seen trainers label them as high prey drive is that high prey drive. You know, we can't stop there. We have to assess different areas to talk about the drives and the arousal, not just the threshold. So maybe they react quickly to the movement but you know, that doesn't tell me are they able to fulfill the rest of the task. Yukon, okay, I'll bring up Yukon, my dutchie, I got 'em for the purpose of protection sports and I remember it was so clear I can see it like I wish I could have a picture from my mind cause it was so great.

I'm thinking we're having crazy fun. He's, you know, into this play and we're about less than a minute into it and he sees a butterfly over my shoulder and he totally lets go of this tug that I think I'm highly aroused, he's highly aroused. I'm thinking we're in this and he's chasing a butterfly really. So it brought the question of inconsistent drives to mind and that's when I really started to question arousal versus drive and how they work together.

I thought he was driven to play and tug with me but his arousal tricked him into, into biting the toy and then his attention shifted. So I think the arousal can be the facilitator for the drive, but I also have to share, I think he's a neurodivergent dog and I need a steady state of drive and I'm an ADHD human so I think my creativity comes from my distractibility.

So if we say okay, let's say that we all live in a box and we all have our like little package and I see that both, you know, Yukon and me, we both kind of live in this box with holes and those holes are all of our distractions. But I think it's where, because we're both kind of chasing butterflies, I'm still gonna say we're both driven, we're both driven to do the things we want to do but that drive changes. And so I think we have to recognize too that sometimes you can have a highly driven dog that's also kind of neurodivergent. Like their drives may change. And so I don't know, I think that's just something to kind of play with or kind of throw out there, maybe see what you guys think about it too. I don't know.

Denise Fenzi: Nice. I will change my analogy going forward. I like Elaine's way better than mine. Engine and fuel makes more sense than kindling and the idea, it's basically 100% agreement with the way she laid that out. I want a dog with an enormous engine and exactly enough arousal to get the job done. Now how much that is gonna vary.

So like I don't know about Border Collies, I won't speak on Border Collies but I will say that if I'm watching a Border Collie stare at sheep for an hour, only a fool would think that dog was not a drive because it's not moving. Doesn't mean it's not a drive, it's just that the amount of arousal required that's externally showing at that time is zero cuz the sheep aren't doing anything.

But when the sheep do something, that dog will turn to 100 because at that moment a high level of arousal is necessary to get the job done. I often use that analogy when I'm talking to people who think that arousal means movement. I say, well are you telling me then that a Border Collie staring at sheep is not in drive? It's about what's appropriate with my own dogs, much as Crystal said, I want my dogs practically dulled and it doesn't mean that they cannot show arousal or will not show arousal, but I do nothing to bring out arousal because my experience is if you let them mature it will come up just fine. If the drive is there, the dog will bring the amount of arousal to the table that is required at that time without losing control.

And what I see so much is that people work so much in arousal getting the dog so high, so excited about the job that it's no longer a thinking occupation anymore. It's running and it's moving and is, well this is so fun. And what I tell people is most eight week old puppies of any breed you can bring out arousal through movement. You can bring out a toy and get them to chase and then the dog is a year old and people are like, it doesn't really do it anymore. And that's cuz it grew up and when it grows up, arousal goes down, drive goes up, the head gets clear. I work so hard to minimize excess arousal because it's just much easier to put it in than it is to get it back out. And that's why I use so much control with my young dogs and I hate to say that cuz it implies that I smash them down but I really don't.

It's just the way I work with them, how much do you need? And then I compare that to my other dog, my low drive dog breed, it's all about arousal, it's all about forming and shaping behaviors around arousal because I don't have the drive to work with. So I'm working with what I can access and because I'm working on fly ball where the exact amount of time he needs to do something is roughly six seconds if I'm lucky.

And then he's gonna get the thing, I can whip him up with the toys and the play and the ball and the environment is super high arousal. So everything I do is get him as high as I can channel it into the work. That's the last thing I wanna do with my Belgian because my Belgian needs to work for 30 minutes, not six seconds.

And the vast majority of that is in control. So if he's on the field for 30 minutes, about two minutes of that might be active biting exercises at the far end of the realm. And that's including some like barking phase, which shows a lot of arousal. So I, you know, Hélène, you get it from this day forward I will now pick up your very fine analogy and hope that people get it cuz I know this is a struggle and I agree that in this country we struggle terribly to recognize the difference between drive and arousal and it's harming our breeding programs, it's harming our training and frankly it's bringing an unnecessary amount of force to dog training because we cause a problem. And then we say we have to fix the problem with compulsion because look, this dog is so in drive. No, no this dog is not in drive. This dog is so high in arousal that you caused by your training that now you have to, that's what you have to fix.

Crystal Wing: Well I'll add to that too. I know with radish she's my future cadaver dog and with her I have to think about the activity that I wanna do there. I'm most familiar with like Doberman's, Mals, German Shepherds, Labs, like that's, that's what I work with with search and rescue and protection sports. So those are the breeds I'm most familiar with.

So that's what I speak to with Radish. She's a mix of a lab and a mal. And for her job I have to have her go out and search very large areas and when I want those types of searches I need a more active search. But a lot of times we're doing cold case stuff and we'll be doing, you know, forensic type stuff and I don't want a dog that's gonna go out there and burn their energy out really fast.

I need her to have a high sniffing frequency and I need to have her in that right arousal, right drive for me. It's been interesting cuz she's a lower arousal than I would I've ever had and she looks sleepy sometimes and it, it really has taken a shift for me to say I need a dog that can work longer, they can have a better heat tolerance and I need a Jeep, you know, I need like an off-roading jeep, I need this really reliable, can get the job done. Not flashy, not flying through the woods, but that, that's what I need. So kind of to tie what you guys were saying together, that's what I, I'm looking for now and I think it's important when we look for the dog that we need, we need to look at the activity we want to do and then hedger, I bet's the best by getting the best breedings that we can. So I mean that's, oh my gosh, I thought my mom was gonna disown me. She has an animal rescue and so when I got into protection sports, I'm like yeah, so I'm gonna go to a breeder.

I thought she's gonna lose her mind. But that was such a huge point of it too, was that I know what I'm looking for and the best that I can do is to try to find the right genetics and the right kind of arousal and all of that throughout the whole pedigree to get what I need. So I'm gonna set her up for success and myself the best that I can.

I think It's extra interesting to kind of add that component in cuz both Hélène and Jane breed, right? So you guys and Denise, you're not actively breeding but you've been down that path for sure. So just like as this whole other component to the conversation, Go ahead. But I say that but also radish is a mutt. So she's, she was a total accident, but I know the pedigree on both sides and it's funny that her grandpa is like super stellar, you know Dutch KNPV lines. So when you look at her embark, it's hilarious to see all of these other dogs with pointy ears and they're like, you know, the Dutch police and, and then on the lab side it's a lot of field, you know, field line labs and I thought this is perfect for what I wanna do.

Hélène Lawler: Can I add a little, I was just gonna say with, with training working Border Collie, we never want over arousal ever. And understanding that difference is really, really critical. The difference between having the, the correct amount of arousal to do the job and over arousal and over arousal it we get is, is when the dogs will tip into the fight flight response. And when that happens they're, they actually lose control of their thinking to a degree. And so what we see is we see a slide a default into, into old habits. We see performance decline. So we'll see in a Border call you'll see a dog that will like grip or chase or split or bus bust up the sheep and so on.

In the sport world, what I've seen, and I just, just what Denise mentioned earlier about how it, it has caused a lot of problems to be both using arousal in training and selecting for arousal. We now have a lot of dogs who, people meet my Border Collies and they're just like, is that a Border Collie? Cuz it's like, looks like a couch potato.

And I'm like, yeah, that's what they're supposed to be like. But we have for, you know, probably at least the last 20 years been selecting for dogs that have that quick to arousal and quick to go into over arousal because that was mistaken for drive and we got a lot of speed. And then one of the other fallouts of over arousal is injury.

And I think we have an epidemic of injury and I'm just gonna throw this little nugget out there that I learned recently that just blew my mind. Cuz we see so many dogs that have psoas injuries and one of the, the first, at least in humans, and I'm assuming this is probably also true for dogs, the first muscle to respond when you go into a fight or flight state is the psoas muscle.

It contracts. And so when we think about how we are doing all this over arousal, getting our dogs super worked up because we want speed and then throwing them into sports where they may be, you know, dock diving, doing these huge extensions, agility, jumping things, even fly ball, you know, running an extension with a muscle that is prone to contracting when they're in a state of over arousal.

And then we have an epidemic of psoas injuries. So these are some of the fallouts that we see of, you know, and, and I'm not a medical professional at all, that's just my own putting two and two together, but it kind of blew my mind when I learned that little piece of information. So it, it's really has it's, this is a really important distinction to understand and then learn how to work with anybody else have anything they wanna add before we can I just start to.

Jane Ardern: Yeah. So yeah, with the, when we're working the spaniels, we kind of, we want them in a state of arousal, the way I look at it is I always say, you've got a calm dog and then you've got a dog in arousal, but it's like controlled arousal. So the dog's still able, it's still cognitive, it can function, it can follow instructions. So for me it's about, it's about helping the dog learn to be functional when they're in, when they're in the state of arousal.

Denise Fenzi: That does remind me I'm working on a, some things with my dog and I'm intentionally inducing arousal because, and then helping him get back to where I want him because in a trial situation, there's no way I'm gonna keep him out of arousal when he starts to make the pattern and understand what's going to happen. So it's not avoiding arousal at all. And I think some people think it's the goal to avoid arousal. I don't want to avoid arousal, I want to teach the dog to stay clear headed is the word we use in the protection word.

Helene Lawler: I want my dog to be able to function and think and not go into a fight flight hysterical place. And I intentionally bring the dog up, but then I need to be able to manage it so it's not avoiding, it's not a dog who can't go into arousal because it has a place, it's just functional arousal. Yeah, I think lower arousal is also more comfortable for people.

So they wanna stay there longer because they don't have the air quotes "control" when they let their dog have a little more arousal. And that's where it is totally fine to have messy training. I think so many people that I work with, I'm like, they, they have messy training and they freak out. It's like, no, that's, that's part of it.

If you're not having some messy training, you're not pushing yourself. So you have to get out of that. I have to stay comfortable with it, push your arousal, be smart about it. You're gonna make mistakes, they're gonna make mistakes, have some fun and go with it. In the herding world, we always say desire over discipline. We want that desire first.

So we encourage the messiness as long as everybody is safe and then, and then dial it in and the dogs learn. And if you think about the predatory sequence herding is, is like stalking and hunting. They, if you think about like say a young fox pup, for instance, hunting something and they get, they run and chase it, they're gonna lose it and they learn to dial in their arousal and get it under control. In order to be able to stock and hunt, they have to be able and, and so they learn through the work and if we completely try and control everything, they never learn that. And then we end up having to try and manage them all the time. And that's exhausting too.

Melissa Breau: We have a question on that coming up. All right. In, in the meantime though, I did wanna ask you guys, you know, we've kind of talked a around it a little bit. I think you've, a couple of you have even mentioned it kind of, you know, there's some things that just are easier with a high drive dog, right? It's easier to do or achieve and then there's some things that are maybe a little bit harder. So when you are getting a high drive dog, what types of behaviors or skills do you kind of anticipate being on that easy side of the spectrum and what do you anticipate kind of falling on that, you know, more difficult end of the spectrum and how does that kind of shape some of your training decisions? Jane, you wanna start us off on this one?

Jane Ardern: Yeah, so I think usually the things that are easy are the the genetics. So with my spaniels it's generally that kind of drive to get their nose down and hunt with those patterns, cover the ground, use their nose. The challenges can come with, some dogs will do the patterns and I would say possibly they don't have the drive so they kind of, they're just mindlessly moving, so they're doing the pattern, but there's no like focus and structure in there. They're literally just, they have one of those a kinda slave to their, to their genetic motor patterns. So for me it's what's great with a drivey dog is you'll see that purpose when you get them down, you'll see them work with purpose. The challenge will be to get the dog to work with you, to get the dog to work where you want them to work and and to potentially stay, stay within that vicinity with, with you as well. So lots of the work that I do at first is, is working on focusing on keeping them close because, because they will range, same with the retrieve. You know, most dogs have a desired dog with a strong retrieve drive, it's gonna have a drive to run out there and pick things up. That's not usually difficult. It's getting the dog to bring it back and give it to you is where the actual training comes in. And lots of my clients, I'll say, oh, can the dog retrieve? And they'll say, yeah, but he won't bring it back. I'm like, okay. So I think, you know, for me it's about a good high drive dog. We'll have all the genetics in place and really all you should need to be doing is shaping those genetics into, into what you want them to do. So you shouldn't, you know, the good high drive dog that you shouldn't have. It shouldn't be too difficult to get those things to happen.

Challenges with the spaniels generally with drive is, is under, is the handler understanding the environment and how the environment affects the dog as well and especially if they've got high drive. So really kind of reigning that in and getting the teamwork to happen is, is is usually what people find challenging.

Melissa Breau: Can you expand just a little more on the environment piece?

Jane Ardern: So with a lot of dogs is, is you'll take a lot of spaniels out into the environment and that will increase their arousal and then you will see these beha, the dog will start to want to do behavior patterns. So these dogs, then what happens is if they're on lead, they can't do that movement and then that arousal turns into frustration. Frustration leads into noise, then they disconnect from their handler because their handler's creating the frustration.

And lots of kind of relationships stuff kind of goes wrong there. Where I see lots of dogs where they've gone into the environment, the environment has, has awakened or awakened those genetics which stuff on, and the handler doesn't know how to handle that. And what they try and do is rein the dog in and restrict it and then they just create massive amounts of frustration.

And I know even with mine when I've worked, you know, sometimes you're out in the field and your dog might start to range and you know the arousal's going up and you're losing them and the worst thing you can do is bring that dog in and put it on lead because they're already losing the plot. And if you put that level of restraint in, at that point you will just create more frustration, more arousal, the dog's gonna be less cognitive. So a lot of times you've gotta kind of be brave and you've gotta push through it. Cause too much restriction for those dogs is creates you problems in its itself. I think there's a lot of crossover there, research and rescue, because we have the exact same thing.

The dog is out searching in the wilderness and then they feel like they're losing control. And so then they put them in on a leash and now they just quit searching at that point. They're like, Nope, done.

Denise Fenzi: So much of that, Jane is what my presentation about in this. It's, it's like, it's, it's not the work, it's the being in the environment now what are you gonna do? And it, there's so much to say about that place where you don't wanna build up frustration, but you need to get into those, those environments so you can practice and you need techniques and things to, to work on to allow you to remain connected with your dog so that you can get to the places that are challenging so that you can actually work with your dog.

Jane Ardern: So I was always taught originally, you know, it's like working in an environment and that's conducive to learning and, and no distractions. And now I just go straight out there because I'm gonna have to get out there at some point. I think that would be challenging for a novice handler. But I do think that for me, my experience that it's better to get out there and just, and just work with it. It teaches you to be better at criteria setting. I do the same thing too. I agree, Jane. So like that's as a puppy, we're down at old St. Charles, there's people everywhere. I had a Christmas puppy and so they have like 30 different kinds of Santas from all over the world and the singers and you know, I mean it's just chaos. And when the pup is already brought into that environment and I'm, so I'm talking one that's not fearful, okay, so we can just take that out. But the one that's, you know, like, okay, I'm just exploring the world and this is just a thing and that's where I wanna teach and that's where I wanna start it, so I'm right with you where it's like, I don't wanna ease into that because dude, that's, it's a lot. So let's just go. Yeah, And I also like how you said how you're shaping genetics because I think I tend to use the word manipulate and I think there's kind of a connotation with that. So I, I like the the kind of change to shaping instead of manipulating because that's really what we're doing. We're just trying to channel and, and, and shape that.

Crystal Wing: I remember my first vet and when I took Quinn, he was an amazing dog. I mean he was, as you said before, there's hard and soft and he was a pretty hard dog and he didn't like the vet and that's fine. We worked really hard on it his whole life and it was just, it is what it is. But the vet immediately was like, why would you ever want a dog like that? And I just looked at her like, he is my unicorn. He is my world, you know? And I get it, these dogs are not for everybody. But I also kinda laugh because when, when someone says like, how can you even do that?

And I'm thinking, okay, if you search, like if I wanted to go and search, I'm a teacher and I wanted to see, to see how can I search for something about how, how can I teach a highly motivated student? How many videos do you think are gonna pop up? Not many because that's not usually a problem. And so I think that's kind of where I, I see our dogs, we just have to make sure that we can take their, their drives and their energy and all the stuff that they bring, their persistence, their intensity, and we can shape that in a thoughtful way. And we start from the very beginning, just as you said, Jane, I love it because bitey dogs, they wanna bite.

Okay, I know that. So guess what, that's my primary reinforcer and I can do grandma's law or premack or whatever you wanna call it, and I can teach stimulus control, which can be frustrating. But now I've got this tool, you want something, guess what? I want something too, and let's figure this out together. I love dogs with high drive.

Melissa Breau: So to bring it back around to the original question, right? So Crystal, do you have things that you anticipate being easier or harder when you have one of those dogs? Yeah, I mean I, I look at what they, what their primary reinforcer is. Okay, so for instance, I guess it goes back to the premack thing, but with Radish, her Malinois comes out and she wants to bite a tug. So in order to bite a tug, you have to find the dead guy easy. I mean, that's what I love about them. The dogs with the really low drive, they're, they're the hardest for me it's such a challenge. It's like what do they like, what makes them tick?

And so as a training decision, my most important thing is I find out what makes them tick. Do you like to chase? Do you like to, oh, and with that, with play, I think so many times I get messages from people, what is that toy you're using? That's amazing. That's like crack. You know, what, what is that thing?

Can I buy it? I'm like, no, no, no, it's not the toy, it's the activity, it's the action. It's what we are doing with it. And, and that's what's tying in. But I also go back to kinda what Denise said really early on, that the dog suspends their belief. And I, I really, so I think having Jane and, and Helene, you guys are, you know, with the dog actually with prey, whereas like Denise and I we're with a decoy. And so I think of it as kind of suspending this belief, but I also think it's because we've selectively bred them. I think it's great to think that our dogs have imagination. I don't see them thinking that the decoy is a big hunk of meat that they're gonna go eat.

You know? So I think when I talk about the predatory, you know, motor pattern that I think sometimes people take it too, I'll, I'll say seriously or like gospel. Like no, no, no, they're not trying to eat me when I have a suit on. You know, I'm just doing the things that they enjoy to do and I'm satisfying that. I don't know if this is even answering your question, but that's where my brain's going.

Melissa Breau: Yeah, no, I think it added something interesting in the conversation. Denise, go ahead.

Denise Fenzi: So I say that when you're driving the high drive dog is the gas, anything that involves going is easy. Anything that involves stopping is hard. So brakes are my problem,

not go. The problem comes from the fact that in a 24 hour day, 30 minutes of that time, I'm actively training my dog. And that's all about go, it doesn't even matter if it's a stay cue, I'm still teaching the dog, what do I want you to do? The problem is the 23 and a half hours a day when the dog is making their own decisions.

And then it comes down to what I don't want you to do. I don't want you running from window to window. I don't want you leaping over the back of the couch. I don't want you running out and, you know, making mischief. So to me, high drive dogs, anything that involves what I want is easy. And anything that involves what I don't want is hard.

And then that comes down to how people choose to live their lives with their dogs. The average pet person spends very little time training their dog. So the way they think is about life, it's, it's how we get through the day. There's no like huge release of frustration from the fact that the dog is hard to live with because then I spend a half hour training my dog and it's all worthwhile.

You know, I don't mind living with a difficult dog because that half hour of the day is everything to me when I train the dog. But if I didn't have that side, I would have nothing to motivate me to put up with the times when they can be difficult. And the difficulty, it's not this permanent state of arousal that people think, one, it's that they have more curiosity and inquisitiveness, they're more aware of what's happening around them. They do respond more quickly to stimuli. So if somebody goes, if something happens outside my window, I guarantee you they are there to pay attention to it. That quickness to trigger, especially that first year or two years of life after that they kind of civilized. But that first period of time when they haven't really learned yet what things you should trigger on because I'm going to encourage it because like I've said, a dog like Xen, I could have turned him into a car chaser in one week. Now nobody in their right mind would do that. But I could have done it very easily. I would've just said, here, let's channel your drive on chasing cars, but I'm not gonna do that the first time he looks too hard at a car. We're gonna find something else to do cuz I don't want to develop that.

And the longer you're around and around these kind of dogs, the quicker you see things that make you go, that needs to stop right now. Like, I cannot have this continue. Like when my gardener comes and blows around the windows and it makes my dogs just go through the roof. The very first time I saw that starting, I knew, I knew to put a stop to that and I knew I know what to do to put a stop to it because it is the 23 and a half hours of the day that gives me grief and I'd like to live in harmony with my dogs.

Helene Lawler: The whole balance of like work versus the rest of life is, is a big one for, for, for these high drive dogs at dogs. And so what's easy with a, with a high drive working Border Collie of course is gonna be working. She, one of the things that's important in my breed is, and, and I'm sure this is across the board in other, in, you know, with all dogs that are bred for work, is also the kind of the, the level and style of natural talent. So you can have a dog who is really driven to herd, who has no natural talent. And so you may not find that the work, the journey to getting the training done is, is easy. So one thing I have to remind myself is, and I got this from one of my mentors, if the dog has the desire, it can be trained. It definitely is easier to train a dog, to work sheep. If they have the desire, they don't have that drive, then it's, then you, then you can still do it. I there are people who, you know, train dalmatians to herd. Like you can train a dog, any dog to do anything because it's all behavior and we can just shape it and train it. But this is gonna be easy. But when we have these high drive dogs, so my dogs, what's easy for me is herding what's easy for me is any kind of work because they love to work.

They, it's not just herding, it's, it's the partnership with the human that they've been selected for generations and generations and generations. So my, I can transfer that desire to work to anything that I wanna do with my dogs, pretty much. If it's not something they naturally want, if it's not hurting, for instance, I may have to be a little bit more mindful about building the desire for the job, but they have the desire to work with me. So I find that, that, that is like, that's my crack, that my dogs want to work with me. And so I, that gives me the R Plus to figure out the rest. And like Denise says, it also gives me the R Plus to live with the things that might not be so much fun.

Like the, I'm picturing, I have one dog who I would also describe as neurodivergent and Aoife and she's been one of my best teachers, but she's the one who's jumping over the couch and going from window to window. And the reason I can't open any windows in my house because she pokes up the screens and jumps out and you know, she's six,

she is not growing out of this. This is, this is the dog, this is her. So there's, there are challenges, but right now as I speak, I have 15 high drive dogs in my house. Let me just stop for a moment. Silence, right? They have been out to pee today. That's it. I had somebody working outside, I couldn't let them have their morning run, they've had lunch, they've peed, that's it. And so they do not necessarily, or they're not necessarily hard to live with. But I have had, I actually have shaped this. I work in the mornings. My dogs are used to nothing happening in the mornings, I've patterned their nervous systems to give me the lifestyle I want.

I have had to work on that. There aren't dogs who come out of the box like this. My dogs are not out of the box like this. So that's something I have had to work at is the fact that, that I can sit here and talk on Zoom and they don't move that I can, you know, review people training agility dogs with, at trials with barking coming outta my screen and they just sleep through it. So those are things that I have had to work on and, and that certainly is more challenging with the dogs I have than, than a lot of dogs that aren't high drive. So that's where I would see the difference.

Crystal Wing: And I think something you pointed out too, it's, you know, where do you wanna put your energies? Especially when you start to have multiple dogs and multiple high drive dogs. Like I don't have the dogs with the best manners. I, you know, I live by myself in a little house. I have a padded floor that we train on. I mean, you know, it's, and when you talked about like the dogs bouncing on the screen and such, well why don't you get a better trainer? You know? Right. Yeah. So I think it's important for people to realize that our dogs are not gonna be perfect and we have to figure out where we're gonna put that energy. And I'm gonna put the energy into, I've had to put so much energy into conditioning for Checkmate that that's my whole existence with him has just been that.

So now we get to put some energy into training and, and I think those are important things about our high drive dogs too. Especially ones they get injured. I mean, he has spent a lot of time recovering from injuries and surgeries. I mean, that's two hip replacements. Yeah. And I, I thought too, Denise you had said about the not fun part about being still, so that's the hardest part to train them. And we did a human shaping game. We did it in club occasionally cause it's, I don't know, we are just glutton for punishments, but we enjoy it. And I love being the dog. So in the whole human shaping game, I'm like, yeah, yeah, yeah, you guys be the trainer.

I'm the dog and I'm, I'm driven. You know, I'm like trying all the things, touching all the things moving around la la la la, la. The hardest time I ever had, it took me the longest. I just had to be still, that was terrible. And they all had the best laugh ever. And for the first time it felt so punishing. Yeah, it really, I love that game, but that time stuck in my mind and I almost didn't wanna play the next time.

Denise Fenzi: I mean, I love that. That's brilliant. That is our portage, that is such a great way to think about it. And that's one of the last things I even bothered to teach. So my dog is coming up on two years of age and the first year, every time I tried to teach him stay, if I wasn't standing right there feeding him, I realized it was making him miserable. So I just stopped doing it. And the way I just came in the back door. So I did teach him to stay, but it certainly wasn't your traditional stay for three seconds. Here's a cookie stay for, I decided that it wasn't important and it wasn't.

And you know what, the other day I decided I needed to get something from another field. I put him on a down stay in the field he was in, I left him out of sight safe and I knew he would stay. And I came back and he was right where I left him. And I remembered thinking that was pretty close to a minute.

So that's what I need for my competition. So you're growing into, you're maturing, we're all finding your way, but definitely backdoor thinking for the boring stuff, rather than hitting it head on, oh, I'm just gonna work harder. No, I'm not, I'm just not gonna train it till you're ready.

Crystal Wing: And my back door way of the stay was I used competition. So I used my experienced older Quinn who had, you know, IPO three and he has a rock solid down. So I asked him to down and I asked Ucon to down because I had to teach it as a young dog to get onto the search and rescue team. And that competition was brilliant for teaching the concept. It was more fun for him.

It wasn't so punishing. It was more fun for me. And so he had, he had a, he has actually a pretty, a pretty decent that long down. So yeah, that out of box is the way to go. Cuz I'm telling you, I've never felt so punished playing a game and I love that game.

Helene Lawler: Yeah, Yeah. Movement is so reinforcing for these dogs. And when we, when we try to contain that movement, especially when they're young and still, like their, their brains are still developing. Like, I have dogs. I don't tr I don't do much formal training until my dogs are close to two. And the first couple of years it's all about just like, like I have a 1, 1 1 young p he's just churning two this week at, or sorry, one this week. And he was just, he had so much trouble regulating himself and I know a lot of people would have taken, done an enormous amount of impulse control with this puppy and try to teach him how to regulate himself. And I didn't do any of that actually. I just let him be his wild self when he couldn't crate.

He just got a room when he couldn't, you know, like I, or actually two rooms cuz that was what he needed to be able to have the space, like my kitchen and my laundry room. And every morning I got up and I'd have to clean up pian poo. And that was just what we did until we were able to settle. And he's a, he's definitely like pretty down that he's like one of an outlier. My, the rest of his litter wasn't like this, but he was an outlier. And I'm like, if I put the screws to this dog, I'm gonna have a lot of problems. And so I just let him be, I let him move. I took him for lots and lots of decompression walks.

I taught him some basics. He can walk on a leash. He comes when he is called. He, he, you know, by the time he was eight months old, he, he now creates like a champion. He's now per, he's 12 months old, he perfectly house trained, he's settled, he's still a little quick to alarm bark at things, but otherwise he's really coming into his own. And so over the summer, probably by fall I'm gonna start to do a little bit of stock training with him and shape him that way. But I'm giving him whatever time he needs. But I, but I just gave him the time to settle into his own. Now I know the, the lines, I know the genetics, I know both parents very well. He's my breeding, his parents were my breeding. So I know where this is going. And I also knew that sh like trying to really put a lot of control on this dog would cause me a lot of problems down the road. So I just, I've just let him kind of mature and, and he's you now, he's starting to be really lovely. I'm looking forward to working with him. So interesting. Right. Because I think that's such a key part sometimes is having faith that the dog will turn out okay and that it'll all be okay in the end. And sometimes it's real hard. Yeah. To believe that it'll all turn out okay if you just, you know, take a deep breath. But that's an important piece, piece of the puzzle sometimes. I wish you could hear our head shaking. It's so cool to be on a zoom and see all of us like nodding our heads violently like bobble heads.

Melissa Breau: Yes. It kinda came up a little bit in that last question, but I wanna talk a little bit more about the management piece.I think a lot of high drive dogs just live in a constant state of management, right? Like, and I mentioned a lot of people would've maybe put the screws to that, that Border Collie and, and tried to add some control. And not that there's necessarily anything wrong with management cuz there's not. But I am curious to have you guys talk a little more about the possibility of having a high drive dog and not having to constantly stay on top of management to make sure that they don't just constantly hurt themselves or constantly get into trouble. Crystal, I'm gonna have you start us off.

Crystal Wing: So I think if people ask me what state I'm from, I would say management. Cuz I feel like I've got Tim on my shoulder and I've got Yukon on my roof. And what I mean by that, so this is way back in the very beginning of my teaching career, this is 18 years ago, there was a professional development session and they had talked about ignoring, managing and teaching. And so I was like, oh, I can remember this as TIM. And so I always tell myself in any situation, am I gonna teach something here? Am I gonna ignore this? Am I gonna manage it? And I feel like manage is kind of the foundation that's there on my shoulder.

And so, oh, and, and I should also note that I, I said that Yukon is on my roof, he's part goat, part dutchie and his drive is to get to the highest point possible. And I've struggled for like the last couple years to keep him off the roof of my house. So when you have your neighbors that are like messaging you, you know, you're at school or I, I, you know, work at school and I've got, you know, pictures of him up on the roof of my house, I'm like, yeah, I got you. And they're like, is he safe? Is he okay? I'm like, he's fine. But with that, I mean I feel like our, our high dog, high drive dogs need jobs, they need expectations and really kind of all the time in my world, I have to be consistent. That's the most important thing that I can be. And it's the thing that I lack the most. And like Denise said earlier, I try really hard not to let them rehearse the things that I don't want them to do.

And noticing that and catching that early becomes really important. And that comes with experience of just being around the high drive dogs. But it, it's important. I think so I like with my dogs, I can't have them loos in the house. I'm working on it, but I may never get them there because they're not gonna be safe. They just, they will find trouble.

And so, because that's not easy for them, you know, and some dogs, they just come like Nakota was my first drivey dog that I raised from a puppy and he is now my dad's dog because he, he didn't wanna do the job I wanted to do. And that was only fair to him. And now his, you know, he's bro dog, but for him, he went to my parents' house day one, he just is loose in the house. I'm like, ah, that's just so great for some dogs. They can do that. But I do think that going back to the idea of our trainers, I think that good trainers are good managers. We have to be aware of what our dog is capable of and we have to set them up for success in our environment.

Nakota is fine in that environment. He's not gonna tear stuff up. He's not driven to tear things up. My guys are so to set them up for a good experience, I'm not gonna let them have that rehearsal time. It doesn't mean they live in crates or kennels all the time. Don't, don't hear that. That's not what I'm saying. But we gotta teach our high drive dogs. Exactly. You know, what we have that we want to do. And that's through excellent stimulus control and impulse control. So we have to decide, are we gonna teach it, ignore it, manage it. And I just think it all comes through experience.

Melissa Breau: Denise.

Denise Fenzi: So one of the reasons I have so much value for low arousal dogs, high drive, low arousal is because I think they can become really nice pet dogs a lot more easily than high drive, high arousal. So my first working line dog, so that would've been going back about 20 odd years, was very high arousal, very high drive. And I literally did not see her stop moving my house until she was almost a year of age.

I mean it was, I would put her on the obsessive scale. I would say it was unhealthy. And it, I got it in my head that that was normal. A dog who just could not stop, go, go, go. Like somebody would pick up a ball and it would never, would she stop. And oddly enough never dropped of exhaustion if she was not forced to stop moving.

She didn't stop by comparison, the dog I have now, my young dogs and at four months of age would be up on my couch taking a nap. And I was shocked by it. I would just literally look at him and they're like, how, how is this even possible that he's just sleeping on my couch? And I just as, cuz he was not an exciting puppy to watch train up.

I just took it on faith. He's gonna get older, he has a driven pedigree, it's all gonna come. And it did. And it does. I do think we can choose to select for dogs that have high drive and modest amounts of arousal. Enough arousal so that their quality of life can be significantly better and they can live as pets. So one of the concerns I have about people with this choice to go with the really high arousal dogs is that then they say, well now he has to live in a crate all the time. Which he may well because they have so little capacity to do anything else. And I feel like now we're talking, now we're talking ethical questions that need to be addressed. Especially for dogs that often don't get to work cuz the owners have full-time jobs and there's all these other things going on.

I also am pretty willing and for, I remember saying this, you know, 30 years ago, I am willing to put a lot of time into my dog for the first six months that I get them. And I make a lot of sacrifices to make that happen. So it means I am willing to stop all the things I'm doing rather than creating the dog and taking the issue off the table.

I train it and it is a pain in the ass. It really is. It makes my life difficult, it makes me cranky because I have to keep stopping what I'm doing. But I really believe that putting in that time up front, because if your dog doesn't get to practice being loose in the house and doesn't get to practice how to function as a dog, I think it's really hard for them to learn it. That management has a great place, especially as the dog is maturing because maturity is this wonderful thing that often takes issues off the table. If the dog didn't start the bad habits, they don't develop the bad habits. But I also think that sometimes you're not actually teaching, you're just, now your dog is out and they're running around the house.

I had so many people say, well I can't let my dog out because he does all this stuff. But then the question is, but how much time have you actually spent working on it and letting the dog practice and being involved so that the dog can get better at the skill. And it's not a simple thing because some dogs are, by the way, they are almost impossible. They live in such a high state of arousal, which is in my opinion quite unfortunate. And then there are dogs on the other side like Xen, who are really quite easy. And it would be, it would be unfair for me to take credit for that because a large part of it is his genetic reality. I just happen to love his genetic reality.

Then there's everything in between and, and these are all factors, but management is critical to staying out of trouble when you cannot be involved and giving a little as a human and asking yourself, can I take a puppy at this time and be fair to that puppy and give it what it needs in a way that we're all getting enough, the dog is getting enough time out and I'm getting enough freedom from the dog to breathe. We all need to get enough.

Melissa Breau: Helene?

Helene Lawler: When I first read this question, I was thinking, I don't, I don't do any management, you know, and, and then I, I thought about it and I was like, wait a second, my whole life is actually management. I just, it's so built in. It's like breathing to me and I don't even realize how much I'm doing because, but I was thinking when, when I read the question I, the word management triggered a feeling of being de tired and, and work and energy as opposed to the what? It's the opposite. It's, I just have systems in place, which makes everything easy. And I'm also very fortunate that I breed my own dogs for the most part.

I occasionally buy one in and, but I, one of the reasons I like, I have, I have a mission for what I'm doing with my breeding program. Part of it is that high drive, low arousal. I really like that. I select for that in the working, working sheepdog world. We're gonna see a lot more of that.

So that's what I'm part of what I'm, my mission is, but also how I raise puppies. So my puppies from the start, I, so the way I my management isn't is, is involves good fencing, compartmentalized yards a lot. I have lots of space. I like found a property that I can, like I, I've designed my whole life around my dogs if you wanna hear about management.

But I started living in an apartment in the city and I had for 25 years. So I spent 25 years with high drive dogs, living in tiny apartments in big cities and making it work. I now have this great property, but this was a long time coming. But I pattern my dog's nervous systems. Arousal is a habit.

It and some, some dogs are much more prone to it than others as we're discussing. But it's also really important to realize that we can actually create a lot of the problems that we have through how we raise and train our dogs. And, I learned this from Shade Whitesel. The importance of being very, very black and white about where you train, for instance. So I, I often hear people who are like, I can't leave the dog out cause it's always shoving toys into my lap and, you know, won't settle. I have, I have training areas, I have like a training room. We do not train in the living room, we do not train in. Or if I'm going to train, I do train in my kitchen. It's very clear. I set have very clear setup. So I keep things really black and white. So it's very clear to my dogs, we are training now, how do they know? Because the treat jar is now out on the counter. The, the training props are out, everybody's put away. I've got one dog out, it's a station, you know, it's a setup. And then I put all that away and it's back to being a kitchen. And so I keep things cuz Border Collies, as anybody is familiar with the breed, know how quickly they can become obsessive compulsive. So I keep things very, very clear, but I also have a very clear pattern of like, when we, we exercise, we exercise in the afternoons. We don't do anything. Mornings are pee, snack, nap time because the mama works. And, and I just kind of have this very, I have really, really stable routines and, and my dogs are patterned enough that I can switch up that routine and, and not have a problem.

Like if I had to go out this afternoon, I could take them out for, you know, a five minute runaround and bring them back in instead of their hour and a half runaround and just the pattern. They'll be like, okay, we ran around, we came back in, now we nap. Now I couldn't do that for a week straight, but I can get away with it for a day or two. So having systems, having patterns in place, having and, and that so much of that has emerged cuz I've been doing this for so long, I mean, you know, almost 35 years into living with these dogs. And so I don't really even realize, I'd have to really think about how I manage, but that's, that's so, yeah. So I guess I do a lot of management but it doesn't feel like work cuz it's systems in place. It's not constant effort on my part. Interesting Jane. Yeah, same as the others. Really having seven cockers in the house, there is lots of management happens and again, I don't see, like for me management is like,

I look at it as like the cop out, the easy kinda, when I don't have the energy we can just manage the dogs and I think it's okay for, for people to be able to do that. Routines, you know, I think routines and management, we have a routine of when I go to work and you know, when they eat and when they sleep and when they're settled and when I'm doing webinars that I want them to be quiet.

So yeah, we have all that management in place. I remember someone always saying to me like the, you know, the first year of a puppy's life is a lot of environmental management. So so you set them up for success, they don't learn the wrong things and they get, you know, they, they, you create the right habits with those puppies so they then are not getting into those problem behaviors that, that generally develop. Especially when a dog kind of has the whole freedom and run of, of house and guard and they're just gonna get themselves into trouble. It's, it's what dogs do. I think management is, it plays a huge part in it.

Jane Ardern: But I do think that there are dogs that are managed and not trained. I also think one of my kind of things with management as well that I see a lot is people kind of overdo the enrichment.

I, we see lots of this with the spaniels and it drives me mad and the like, you know, he is had like 17 kongs today and six licky mats and I maybe your shaking going oh yes, yes, yes. Because people don't understand that what you provide becomes your baseline. So be a little careful if you wanna live your entire life three hours a day, providing your dog with enrichment, that becomes the expectation.

Yeah. Yeah. And we definitely, we see this a lot and I'm like, you know, these dogs need, they need to sleep, they need to rest, they need to switch off because when these dogs are awake, you know, they are pretty high energy and full on. And that's one of my things I see a lot that the, a lot of dogs are getting what I would say they're getting too much enrichment and it's keeping them in a heightened state of ] arousal and, and being awake. And then especially the young dogs, they get over tired as well because they're not getting the rest and the sleep. I mean my guys like at home they sleep a lot.

People like, you know, they're like, I take my cocker out for five hours a day and it's still not tired. And I'm like, you know, mine get a quick 45 minute run in the morning and then they go to sleep for three hours when they come back because, so yeah. You know, I think that management's really important. But, you know, training where, where it's needed.

Helene Lawler: For me it's always about focusing on the needs of the dog. I love that point about the over enrichment. Cuz again, that's something that, you know, I see all the time and one of the things that I do right off the bat with my puppies is I'm raising them from tiny little babies is I have people over and we ignore the puppies.

Yeah. And so I have, I have plenty of, I have very few dog friends in person who are, who live close to me. And the few who are dog people are dog people like, you know us who have lots of dogs, so they're not particularly excited about the puppies. So we come over, we sit down, we, we ha we talk, we have tea, we whatever. And, and like the puppies and I, I have a friend who's a breeder and I do the same thing at her house. I'm like, oh cute, okay, so how you doing today? Right. And we ignore the puppies and they, because I think too often puppies are the center of attention while they're, we and everybody gets, makes a big fuss over them and then they learn that. Whereas I like my puppies to just be furniture and Right. So, and, and so I think that's really important. And, and the other thing that I have as an advantage, and maybe you do too, Jane, with having adult dogs is that my adult dogs are also the fun police.

And so my puppies learn very quickly that you do not get rambunctious in the house. Cuz we have rules. One of my rules in my house is there's no play and there's no running in my house ever. And if puppies start to get wound up, be often before I will even have to respond to it. One of my adults will give them the stink eye and the puppy I'll be like, oops. Right. Nap time and that's it. And we go outside and I, I raise them that way right from the start and then I have the adult pack that, that helps support that pattern. And so yes.

Crystal Wing: Yeah. Were you able to maintain that in the apartment living style as well?

Helene Lawler: Oh, that's where I started it. There was just no, no playing in my house. Interesting. Okay. Yeah, No, that's, that's been a rule from, from decades built. Yeah. I just, we go outside and we do stuff outside and when we come in we do not play. Cuz I, yeah, that's, so that's…

Crystal Wing: Now is that just play between the dogs or does that play with you and the dogs as well? All of it, yeah. Oh, okay. My house is' definitely different than where I am. I like, I like a calm house. I can't have with 14 dogs at this point. I mean, I didn't always, I used to have, you know, 2, 3, 4 in when I lived in apartments. But yeah, I just didn't want, I had, I, it may be a came from, I did have a dog who would quickly go into over arousal and fight. And so we needed calm in the house for that reason. He was a rescue that I took in and he had a hair trigger reaction. So that may, if I think about it, that may have been the origin of it, but I also just really like a calm house. And so I, we'd go out, we'd run, we'd go for hikes, we'd come back and we settle and I do other things and that's just always been the way it's been in my house. And, and I, yeah, I have a training area and that's where we work. We're gonna do stuff in the house and otherwise it's, we do, as I said right now, I got, I don't know, many dogs lying around my feet. And that's, that's what we do inside, when you have the litter, you have people come over and not interact.

Denise Fenzi: Like I'm the one who sees a litter and just zoom right over there and fussing.

But then I tell people, don't do that with your own puppies. But it never occurred to me that I start that in the litter. Right. I, when my puppies come home, I tell people, please don't do that. Like I, when I have a new puppy, please don't come up screeching at my puppy, just ignore my puppy and then you can play in a few minutes.

But just start. But it didn't occur to me that I am a perpetuator of the problem when I go and look at like, I was recently hanging out with some service dog puppies, little Labradors, and you know, I just went right in there. I was scooping 'em all up, but now I'm thinking about this going, yeah, that first eight weeks really matters.

And even at that very early phase, it makes sense to start showing them the picture that people walk in the door that you don't know and just not much happens. So if I ever have another litter, which God please don't let it ever happen, but if I ever have another litter, I will take that piece of advice and I will tell people that even if you come here to see them, keep your grabby fingers to yourself for at least 10 minutes and then we'll start looking at the babies.

Yeah. I feel like that has been, I, that's, that's really important again, because, and again, for me, I like, I want zen dogs. That doesn't mean I want dogs that don't move. My dogs move a lot. They're, but we, I, here's where you get to move and when you're in the house, we're quiet, we hang out. And that starts, like, I raised that from, from pretty much from day one. So I guess I'm kind of thinking because I, I do things differently and so I'm kind of going back and forth in my brain about why do I do it the way I do and should I change?

And so I like these conversations because I'm thinking, okay, I have a small house and I have a really muddy backyard at best most times because it's just the way it is. And so I do, like, I don't have a separate training space. I have a kitchen, living room, bedroom, one room, like it's all in one room.

And so I have to have it very clear under stimulus control of now we're working, now we're not. And so I think that's where I've kind of managed that environment. And so even like shaping posture, you know, I, I don't have the dogs that are throwing behaviors at me all the time because this is my shaping posture and this is what it looks like when I want you to offer things.

And then I've turned that posture off and now it's, you know, so it kind of, I think I'm just relying a lot more on the stimulus control piece because I don't feel like I have the access or the means to the property that I would need to have a separate space and to have the, the area outdoors to do the training and, you know, and just weather alone, I don't think that I could achieve kind of like, you're, you're making me feel like I want this that you have, but I'm thinking, I don't think that it's possible. I don't think with where I am, but I'm gonna really think on this.

Helene Lawler: Well, I, from my very first dog, I take my dogs off property to have that exercise and movement. I know that's not always possible for everybody, especially with different breeds. So a Border Collie generally a breed that's pretty easy to train, to be able to take any everywhere and anywhere. You know, a Dutch Shepherd not so much, right? It depends on the dog, but right.

Yeah. So I don't wanna speak to other breeds, but I know with mine, so I, it's always been my way of life. Like I got my first dog when I was in college living with multiple people and they were basically like, you can get a dog as long as we don't know we have it. So it probably goes back that far.

And so I had to work really hard to make sure that my dog didn't disrupt. I, you know, I sh my house with my housemates and so I took that, I trained that puppy and you know, raised him on a university campus, you know, and like the littlest hobo and that. So for me, that's been my norm. And I also come from the, the working herd world where that's also the norm of how dogs are. So that was kinda my introduction and then I've just carried that through and just found other ways. Everywhere I've moved, I have always found ways to make that possible.

Crystal Wing: I appreciate this conversation. It's got me thinking. Thank you. And I think it also kind of points out that there's not necessarily one right way, right? Like y'all agree on a lot of things, but that doesn't necessarily mean that everything's exactly the same all the time for all the dogs or all the people goes back to, like Denise always says it has to work for everybody, right? So you have to find the compromise that works for your household. And I think it was a good recognition too, where Helene said, you know, a Dutch Shepherd versus a Border Collie. I do think that there's some breed characteristics or things to consider there as well and even how breeds are perceived in public and then also where we live in the world and what's allowed outside of our doors. And like some places like you have to have a muzzle on your dog at all times to be outdoors and you know,

some are really strict leash laws and some have off leash areas. And so I think there's so many things to factor in. So I appreciate this. I raised my Malinois while living in Chicago and that it was an interesting challenge to maintain that criteria. And now she had a really good temperament. So that was, you know, but I think because I didn't, it didn't even cross my, she was my second dog, so that was my, not my even on my radar to, to worry about any of those issues. Yeah. And today I might feel and think differently. The climate has definitely changed.

Melissa Breau: So I wanna talk a little bit about misconceptions. I think there are lots of misconceptions out there when it comes to high drive dogs and would love to just maybe have you each pick one or maybe two and just kind of set the record straight. Denise, you wanna start us off?

Denise Fenzi: Yeah, I think one of the biggest issues is that people make false relationships. So for example, a person might say, oh, look at the endurance and stamina on that high drive dog. Therefore that means they need a lot of exercise and that is not correct. High drive dogs like Xen. I have never seen him stop moving if movement was something we were doing together.

He has incredible stamina, but that doesn't mean he needs a lot of exercise. Another one is the whole drive arousal thing. People think that because the dog is showing a tremendous amount of arousal when it's appropriate and drive that the dog lives in a state of arousal. And that is not a correct relationship or assumption or hardness. My dog is extremely hard towards the environment.

You can, he, I've seen him come back with bloody feet and he's still working because of things going on. You can hit him with a stick. Now don't misunderstand, I'm not talking about a baseball bat, I'm talking about a stick designed for the protection sports with the goal of intimidating the dog. He is hard against those things. I can do things to him physically and mentally, which show me that he is quite sturdy. He's a hard, strong dog and none of that relates to how he and interacts with me. So again, the misunderstanding about environmental hardness as if it were the same thing as handler hardness. And then from these misconceptions that the dog is now handler hard or the dog needs an excessive amount of exercise comes other as assumptions, which are often not only untrue but unkind. So because the dog is handler hard or because the dog is environmentally hard, he must be handler hard. And that means that you need to use a lot of compulsion to keep him under control. And that's when things start to get unkind rather than saying, well maybe you created the handler hardness by building up punishment callous in the way you train the dog up.

Adding more and more compulsion over time that the dog overcame. And yeah, now you do have hardness but you caused it. So I think I see a lot of these kind of, let's call them chains of thinking, logic chains that rest on foundations which are simply wrong. And if people don't understand that endurance is not the same as hectic behavior, arousal is not the same as drive handler hardness is not the same as environmental hardness.

If people could really understand those base behaviors and where they come from and what they are, I think our training could really skyrocket and our understanding and our ability to train the dog in a fashion which is really as kind as possible.

Helene Lawler: Oh, I love that. Just to kind of sort of carry on what Denise was just saying, the, a lot of people, the misconception of the amount of exercise and stimulation that these dogs need in particular, you know, with the Border Collies, people feel like they have to like train all the time and exercise 'em all the time. And, and then I see all the, you know, like, oh, my dog is always pestering me to work and always and needs more exercise.

And, and often I'll say, well, has your dog had a nap today? Cuz maybe your dog thinks, think toddler, especially young dogs like Todd, like they, they get worked up, they probably need, here's, here's a quick tip, put your dog in a crate and if it's asleep in 30 seconds, that's what it needed.

Not more exercise. And so I see that a lot, I see a lot of people, and I'm guilty. My Malinois when I had a Malinois, I trained her three hours a day and exercised her and ran her with a bike. And, and then I, this is the dog that I raised in Chicago and I lived in a tiny little apartment and I had to have her crate in a closet in the front hall closet because she would just spin in her crate all night and I couldn't sleep.

And looking back now, yes, she was a dog that had been selected for a lot of arousal in her lines, but I'm pretty sure I created a lot of that through constantly. Like they, they will, they, it's like you give more, they give more, you give more, they give more. It becomes this like one upmanship in terms of like how much energy you're both putting into what's going on.

The dog is just responding and feeding into all that. And so our job is to be really structured like, hey, you're a toddler. Like it's nap time. My dogs all have from, from puppyhood through to my 13 year old nap time every afternoon. You know, things like that. And, and so they often need less. And the other thing that I see a lot of is the intense structure. And as I talked about earlier, I like to really give them a lot of, as much freedom as I safely can. Freedom of movement, freedom of choice and, and, and not start training too young. My dogs have the basics, you know, like I said, they, I teach 'em the crate, I teach 'em the recall. Sometimes I teach them to walk on a leash every now and then I go to go somewhere with a dog, one of my dogs and I'm like, oh, you've never been on a leash before. You're like 18 months old. And because I have 60 acres and so sometimes my dogs like, don't have to learn how to walk on a leash until I need it.

So I do like to get those basics in place, but a lot of the other stuff can just wait until they, they, they're, they're more ready. And then I don't like that nervous system to be overstimulated.

Jane Ardern: Yeah, I think again, moving on from talking about like young dogs and how much training and work that they need when they're high drive, I see a lot of dogs who have had a lot of training pressure put on them owners, people get them and they're like, I want a high drive dog that I can train and do stuff with. And they get them and they just like overwhelm these little puppies. And it has a huge impact on the relationship. It has a huge impact on, on the dog's arousal levels and frustration. And they start developing these like bizarre coping strategies for the stress that they're being put under. And a lot of the belief is, you know, oh, I'm using positive reinforcement training, therefore it's okay. And you often see a lot of these dogs are being, are being frustrated. The training is creating a lot of frustration in them.

And I'm kind of the same where I think, you know, it's a puppy. We are gonna go out, we're gonna learn about life, we're gonna learn about life together. We're gonna build a relationship. I'm gonna observe this dog, find out what its reinforcers are, expose it to the environment, and see who they are and what's going on.

And then, and then once I've got to know them, then we can start to put a plan together to, you know, to to, to start to train the dog to, to do the job that it needs to do. And some of them take time and some of them can be trained really quickly.

Crystal Wing: So I'm hearing about, you know, the, the dogs, the constant enrichment, the constant exercise, the constant training. And I think those are things that can't be devalued. Those are important things, but there are limits to what we are capable of and limits to what the dog actually needs. And I think that's where play becomes so important because when we can fulfill our dogs through the right kind of play and the right kind of activities that fulfill those selectively bred desires, that's really, I think what satiates them the best, the fastest. It's important to know that they do need exercise, right? And I'm kind of just reiterating what we've already said, that they do need the right kind of thought, thought-provoking activities. That's, that's what high drive dogs need. And I think it's so important for us to recognize what it is that they actually need.

And we've mentioned a lot of those throughout, so I don't have to go through all those, but I, that's where I just kind of keep going back. I have some friends that are doing search and rescue and I had one that recently was like, you know, I could never have a Malinois. And I had another one that was like, I could never have a lab. And, and it's, it's interesting when I start hearing people say that because then I start to listen to what it is they think that these dogs are, or that they have or that what they would require. And there are certain breedings like there's a, a certain breeder in search and rescue and the labs are just frantic.

They are shut off like a cannon and they are out there and they have a hard time trying to get their, their alert to let the, the handler know that they found that the, the whatever source they're trying to find. But then you see another lab that's very methodical. And so I think it's important that we don't just assume that all breeds are created equal, because even within like the labs, there is such a significant difference between the ones we're using in the search and rescue that's doing really well versus the ones where I'm like, okay, so we can encourage 'em with some energy, you know, and they're just so lazy. So I think we can't just say that all Malinois are high drive. So I think that's another little misconception that we have because there are some mals that are just beautiful, low arousal, high drive that are a dream to work with. And then the high arousal, high drive, oh, I've had it. And it is, it is a lifestyle. And when I say that I am for real, I mean the first day that I let Quinn in my house, he was a six month old puppy when I got him, I picked him up from the airport in West Virginia. He came outta the airport like, let's go. And then he came to my Missouri home, I opened the door and I thought, okay, I'm just gonna let him explore the house. He jumped onto the kitchen counter on top of the refrigerator, on top of the cabinets, jumped across the space where the sink is and broke the pendant light and fell into the sink and broke dishes.

And I was like, what just happened in my life? What, what have I brought into my world? And so I think the misconceptions are that all Malinois are that way. We have to be smart about what we choose or if we already have that creature, we have to make a lot of smart decisions for them and us. Alright. All right.

Melissa Breau: So we've all kind of gathered here today cuz we've got the high drive dog conference coming up on the eighth. And so I do just wanna quickly kind of plug everybody's talk, give you a chance to talk a little bit about what you'll be talking about during the conference, who should consider joining you for your particular, talk a little bit on what you'll cover and then you wanna start us off Helene?

Helene Lawler: Sure. So I'm gonna be talking about surprise, surprise, arousal and specifically looking at both the difference between arousal and drive, but getting into like what is arousal all about from a perspective of the nervous system and looking at going into a fight flight response or a freeze response. So stress high and stress low, what that looks like, how to separate that out from having a dog that has high drive and how to work with it.

And a very important part of all of that is mindset. And so anybody who's getting to know me, you know, that mindset is, is a huge component of how I work with my dogs and training. So really focusing on the handler end of the leash and under, so understanding what's going on, understanding arousal from a nervous system perspective and then understanding how to manage your own arousal around these dogs is,is gonna be the focus of my talk. Awesome. Jane, I'm going to be looking at the emotional state of the dog during training. So really looking at when you are training behaviors to your dog to be learning to look at the dog and learn to read the dog and look at the detail. I see a lot of dogs, especially, you know, we talked earlier about stillness and movement and I see a lot of dogs where they've been trained stillness, but they're really just emotionally, it's not reinforcing for them, they're not in the right place, they're finding it difficult, it's maybe frustrating. And what then happens is, is the way I look at it is when we train behavior, if we haven't attached the right emotion to them, when you take your dog into a sport or you take it out to work and you put that behavior under pressure, if the emotion's wrong, then that behavior is gonna fall apart. So I'm very much into when we are building behaviors and training those things that we want and the things that the dogs will naturally find punishing, such as teaching them to stop and be still applying and kind of looking at the emotional aspect of that and, and learning how to read your dog as an individual so you can support them and build these behaviors that are gonna be more reliable.

Melissa Breau: Crystal?

Crystal Wing: I think if we see arousal energy and assume it's drive, we're setting everyone up for frustration and there's a little quote by Clinton Anderson and it helps me out and it's that "frustration begins where knowledge ends." So I'll take it a step further and say that frustration ends when fascination begins.

And if you don't find your dogs absolutely fascinating, oh, you're missing out so much because I think that my guys are just the most fascinating creatures in the whole world. But then beyond that, every dog that I meet, I feel the same about them. I love seeing when dogs are fulfilled in their biological needs, you know, those drives. And it's really cool when we can shape those drives. As Jane says, I think I'm gonna use that instead of manipulate from now on because I have all these silly sports I wanna do that really don't make a lot of sense. Like in search and rescue, I want my dog to go out and tell me where the thing is. Like that's great. They can do all the search and the locate, but that report part is weird. So I have to manipulate and shape what it is that they do to be able to tell me what's going on. And so when we can both enjoy these activities, that's when it's just the coolest ever. So, you know, we have these moments, I don't know, I have them where I get frustrated and I think that high drive dogs are a lot of fun, but they also get frustrated and they can also be frustrating to us. So I think if you have a growth mindset, you have a high drive dog or you work with people with high drive dogs, you know, they could use any sort of help. I think you'll get some food for thought. And with that hour, I think you'll also maybe have some fun hearing.

My silly antics, especially you know, when I have dogs like Yukon who does silly things like climbing on my roof. Denise, do you wanna talk about your talk? Yeah, I'm gonna talk about an area that I find particularly challenging and that's not behavior in the home and it's not training, it's managing your dog when you are in a working environment with a high drive dog because they learn very fast that this is an exciting place because they trigger easily on what's happening around them.

And I'm going to try to give you a really wide range of kind of from management through passive training to active training, things you can do to help your dog learn to function in those environments when it's not quite their turn but they know it's coming soon. All right, any final thoughts or key points you guys kinda wanna leave listeners with? Jane, you wanna start us off?

Jane Ardern: Yeah, so my final thought is just make sure that you have fun with your dog.

Melissa Breau: Crystal.

Crystal Wing: I'm gonna say put TIM on your shoulder and I hope that you have a fun time getting all those squirrels lined up to join that river dance.

Denise Fenzi: I'm gonna say that I think as you listen to this very long podcast, long conversation, if you are not sure what it means to have a high drive dog or you have one and you're trying to wrap your head around them or you're considering it, I'm gonna suggest that training is gonna go a lot better if you listen to this podcast many, many times and or you attend the high drive conference because I guarantee you teaching the skills is the easy part. Figuring out how to understand the dog in front of you, understanding what is arousal, what is drive you will be able to look at your puppy so much more easily and make good decisions for them if you understand those foundation pieces accurately, not kind of historically what somebody said was true. If you can really understand what you might be getting and then run with that. Because I think there's this misconception that your job is going to be to control the dog and to, you know, keep your thumb on it because it's gonna go for that world domination thing. If you can really start to look at them and appreciate them and understand them, even if you don't have one yet, grasping the concepts is going to put you in a position regardless of your sport to make really good decisions for your dog. I think in a way that is way beyond, if any of us were teaching you specific skills like how to teach your dog to sit, you don't need that. What you need to do is understand why sit is harder than go.

And if you understand that you're gonna make really good decisions for yourself. So I do hope people either join the conference or really you can pick up so much from this podcast. I learned from this podcast I learned from every presenter here different ways to think about things so that they're even more clear in my own mind. And I think anyone can develop that just by listening carefully or possibly attending the conference if that's the right thing for you.

Helene Lawler: I think one thing that I see very often is people getting themselves into a state of over arousal, over their high drive dog or over the idea of one people, especially if you're thinking of buying one and or you know, you're on a puppy, you're waiting for your puppy, you're, you're getting a new puppy and it's gonna be this new like working dog.

And people get themselves really wound up and in a state of over arousal and, and fear and anxiety that they're gonna ruin the dog that they're gonna have, that the dog's gonna control their life, that they're gonna, things are gonna go out the window. And so really working on the belief that you can do this, the belief that they act like, as we've talked about, these things are actually easier in many ways and, and they, and they're so much fun to live with. So if, if you're finding that you have some anxiety, if you have some fear around what's going on, examine that, the thoughts that are creating that like really kind of look at your mindset and, and shift into that, that growth mindset. I can do this, this is possible, this is gonna be fun, think thoughts like that. And you're gonna have a fantastic and amazing journey.

MelissaBreau: Awesome. Alright, thanks to all of you for, for coming on and for sticking it out. It definitely was a longer conversation. I appreciate all of you and I appreciate your time.

And thank you to all our listeners for tuning in. We'll be back next week with Julie Flanery to talk about what goes into really awesome heelwork. If you haven't already subscribed to our podcast in iTunes to the podcast app of your choice that our next episode automatically download 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 feature 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! 

E320: Julie Flanery - "Learning to Love Heelwork"
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