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  • Writer's pictureAdele Shaw

Ep 51 // What Equestrians Can Learn From The Dog Training World

In this episode we talk to the amazing Denise Fenzi! All about the similarities in dog training and horse training, bridging the gap between training methodologies, bringing positive reinforcement into our interactions with human learners, keeping in mind all the parties involved (owner/caregiver, trainer, animal learner, and society), and so much more!

"Denise Fenzi (she/her) has titled dogs in obedience, tracking, schutzhund, mondioring, herding, conformation, and agility. She has two AKC obedience champions, perfect scores in both schutzhund and Mondio ringsport obedience, and is well known for her flashy and precise obedience work. While a successful competitor, Denise's real passion lies in training dogs and solving the problems that her own dogs and her students' dogs present. She is a recognized expert in developing drive, motivation, and focus in competition dogs, and is known internationally as an engaging speaker and an expert in no-force training for sport dogs. She has consistently demonstrated the ability to train and compete with dogs using motivational methods in sports where compulsion is the norm. In addition to training and speaking, Denise is a prolific writer. Denise thoughtfully and persistently works to break down the barriers that prevent people from obtaining a truly interactive and mutually enjoyable sport relationship with their dogs. Fenzi Academy is the culmination of her efforts as a forward step in providing progressive information to any trainer who wishes to learn." You can learn from Denise Fenzi through her many social media platforms or through her website(s)!


[00:00:00] Hey there. Welcome to the TWE Podcast, the podcast where we talk about all things related to horse training, horse keeping, and being better horse people for our horses.

[00:00:24] I hope you enjoy this episode today, and if you'd like to share your thoughts with me or have suggestions for future podcast. Please feel free to reach out to me through social media or the TWE website, the willing on my website. You can also find a ton of great information about horse training and keeping in general, as well as check out the TW services and just learn more about us. Also, we have courses and memberships that you could sign up for. Before you do that, though, I would love for you to listen to this episode and I hope it inspires you in a positive way today.

[00:01:03] Denise Fenzi. She/her has titled Dogs in Obedience, Tracking, ShutzHund, Mondeo Ring, Herding, Confirmation, and Agility. She has two AKC Obedience Champions Perfect Scores in both Shutz Hund and Mondeo Ring Sports, Obedience and is well known for her flashy and precise obedience work. While a successful competitor, Denise's real passion lies in training dogs and solving the problems that her own dogs and her students dogs present, she is a recognized expert in developing drive, motivation and focus in competition dogs, and is known internationally as an engaging speaker and an expert in no force training for sports dogs. She has consistently demonstrated the ability to train and compete with dogs using motivational methods in sports where compulsion is the norm. In addition to training and speaking, Denise is a prolific writer, Denise, thoughtfully and persistently works to break down the barriers that prevent people from obtaining a truly interactive and mutually enjoyable sport relationship with their dogs. Fenzi Academy is the cumulation of her efforts as a forward step in providing progressive information to any trainer who wishes to learn. All right, thank you, Denise, for joining us today. And thank you so much for just kind of reaching out to me and wanting to do this podcast episode today. Oh my gosh, I can't talk together. I'm really excited about getting to talk about just how our world's really cross paths and how much we have in in common when it comes to dog training and horse training. There is so much that's in common there, and I'm really excited to talk about that.

[00:02:42] Me too. I think you're right. I think there's quite a lot in common between our worlds.

[00:02:46] So I originally found you, I can't, I think it was on. Well, okay. So I had known about you and what you've done for a long time, and I do have dogs and I work with my dogs regularly. And I actually spent some time working towards being a certified dog trainer. And then I kinda switched worlds because I realized that while I love dogs, my true, like my passion, my obsession is horses. So I went back to the horse world and unfortunately I did not take the information that I had learned about working with dogs to the horse world. I very much went right back into my traditional, you know natural horsemanship, forced based kind of training methods. And it wasn't until many years later where I started to integrate all I had learned about clicker training and positive reinforcement and just operant conditioning, everything, all the science into working with horses. And then I spent quite a bit of time, you know, building up my experience there. And it wasn't until more recently, I would say probably in the last six months that I became even more aware of your work and I think particularly on TikTok. And when you started talking about, I can't remember the first one was, but I really got invested when you started asking people to talk about kind of defining the other camp. So how, what does other types of training look like and what does that mean? And then getting people to really talk with each other and express how they felt. And then also diving more into Lima and what that meant. And does it apply to just the animal learner or does it also apply to the human learner?

[00:04:25] And that was all just so fascinating to me, and I've just been obsessed with all of your work since. And so I'd love to talk about that more today. And I know you expressed interest.

[00:04:34] Yeah, that's actually one of my favorite topics on TikTok. What I asked people to do was to take the position of the other side. So if they were a force free trainer, they would say, I'm a balanced trainer and this is why I'm a balanced trainer. And to make a persuasive argument for the opposite position. And then I tweaked it a little and did it, I don't remember Instagram or Facebook. And I said, whatever side you are, I want you to argue. Why the other side, what it offers, what makes it fantastic. And in and of itself that was kind of interesting. But then when it was over, I asked people to say, did you feel fairly represented? So as a force free trainer, I looked at what the balance trainer said about what's wonderful about force Free. And I would say that when I was done reading, I did not feel that they understood why I was a force free trainer. And that for me was actually eye opening. And I think many balance trainers had a very similar feeling that they didn't feel like they were being understood. And while in and of itself, I did not go forward with that at that time. I just became aware of how deep the misunderstanding was across camps and yeah, I became pretty vested in getting people to recognize that human beings are human beings and there are good people and bad people and kind people and unkind people. All over the spectrum has nothing to do with the person's training method. Some force free trainers are quite good at applying their principles to all species, including humans. Others struggle. And I think a lot of the struggle is because of their frustration. They, they feel that dogs are being maybe abused and mistreated. And I found the same to be true in the balanced community, that some of them were exceptionally kind, kind people. I also learned how much range there is. When we say balanced, the, the words make no sense. The, there's no such thing as force free. It's just the word we use to try to represent that. We try not to use force or intimidation, but we all know that, you know, realistically in life, if you are defining that by the four quadrants it's an impossible situation because life constantly involves taking things away and it, it's complicated. And so balanced. If you use the words force free literally would cover everybody, or at least 99%. But then balance trainers say, no, no, no, I'm not balanced. I'm not trying to be balanced in the sense of the quadrants. I'm trying to be balanced in the sense of how I think about training so that I end up with a dog. That it's logical, it makes sense. And then I found myself getting a little frustrated because I don't appreciate that you took that word, because I consider myself very balanced in terms of how I address my, I'm constantly balancing my dogs drives control, desire to go, desire to stop. These are to me, dog training is all about the balance and finding, you know, what does your dog do well? How much time do you spend there? What, what does your dog, or I suppose, horse struggle with? How much time do you spend there? How are you getting to the middle of the balance point? And one side of me says it's so overwhelming and so big. That there's nowhere to go with it. But the other side of me is chronically difficult. And I suppose the reason I'm where I am in life is because I'm always pushing the bounds and trying to understand the edges. And so I keep finding myself coming back to it and trying to help people get along a little better. And I actually think I was reasonably successful on TikTok. You are always going to have extremes. And my personal suggestion to the balanced community is that they control their extremes. And my personal suggestion to the force free community is that we control our extremes. And in my opinion, our unwillingness to do that or our inability to do that is probably the biggest hold up to truly high quality conversations that really examine what is excellent because at this point, The extremes are controlling the conversation and it's fear of being censored by the extremes. I have quite a bit of trouble with the force free extremists in the dog world because I'm not extreme. I'm pretty balanced and that doesn't mean I use force my training, I go to some trouble not to. But my thinking is balanced in the sense of it's not all about the dog. Society does matter. People do matter, families do matter. And I find that in the force free community, it's often all about the dog. And in the balanced community, I find myself frustrated because it's often all about society and family and the dog gets sort of tossed to the side. As long as the family's getting their way, they don't care what happens with the dog. And I really feel like those extremists on both ends make it very difficult for the middle to talk openly about what are the myths. I mean, there's so much stuff. The one I keep going back to is the role of emotion in dog training and we think in terms of quadrants in the dog world. So you've got positives and negatives, and I don't think that way. I just think in terms of happy and unhappy, I think it's cleaner and easier, more logical. But in the balanced dog training world, they really downplay how emotions drive behavior and how if you don't address the dog's underlying distress, if you don't address the reason for the dog's problematic behavior, then you may solve the problem in terms of the expressed behavior, but you leave the animal awfully unhappy. And so that's the kind of thing I think we could talk more openly and honestly without people feeling slammed. If we could control our extremes and really focus on the education in the middle without sort of throwing barbs at each other nonstop, really we, we create a lot of harm in the name of what we believe and. You know, I'm kind of big on social psychology and it's pretty well understood that when you do that, you make it close to impossible to change the position of the one you are arguing with. You harden them so much against you that you, it would've been better if you never showed up. Then they might have naturally evolved, but we are not doing ourselves any favors in the dog world. Now, I don't know what's going on over on your side, but I suspect you're probably 10 years behind the dog world. So probably more. Yeah. Okay. So more tradition. And I would guess that you are struggling with some similar you probably have what I call evangelicals. So you've got your evangelical force free dog trainers who have lost, frankly, that it's okay. I mean, I get it, you just walked in the church, you're not, you're not seeing big picture yet. But they're very harmful in the way they take themselves into the world. And they, they don't show a lot of respect sometimes for people who have been exceptionally successful and really use minimal force in the dog world, the best balanced trainers use minimal force because they're good trainers, so they don't need it. They're clear, they're crisp, they don't do things I would do, but they get the point across very fast because they're good trainers and I respect good training. I just feel like my job is to help those individuals understand that they're such good trainers. If you just tried this and this and this, you probably wouldn't even need to do that. But it's hard for me to do that if they won't listen to me. And so I go to a lot of trouble to to be palatable so that they can listen to me and I listen to them because frankly I learn from them. I just take...

[00:11:53] That pretty much just explained the horse world as well. And, and you're spot on. As far as you know, we're, we're behind, we're behind the dog world, but it looks very similar. I would just say that the part that we're behind on is, or I don't even know if behind is the right word, but we're, we're very much heavily weighted to what is kind of referred to as traditional training. So I guess that would be more comparable to like balance training. So it'd be, we call it just traditional training or natural horsemanship is another word. And that's one of those words that I'm sad that they've really taken because I view what I do as a very natural approach. I look at their health and their environment and how they're feeling and their emotional state and what they're, you know, what they're eating every day, all that first before we ever go into the training aspect. And to me, that's the most natural approach possible. It's the least invasive and all of that. And so it's hard that, that's kind of the word that has been associated with very intense and a lot of times very punishment based training methods that really put the horses in between a rock and a hard place. And of, like you said, there are some really fantastic trainers out there that train that way. And I respect that. I respect the work, I respect their expertise, I respect how they respect the horse. But a lot of 'em are not that way. And just on the flip side of that, You've got what a lot of, kind of negatively referred to as like the pure R+, the purists, that are the extremes on our side where it's if you use any kind of pressure, if you're still using a bit or if you, which would be comparable to like a prong collar or something for the dog world if you're still using a bit or if you're still using actually probably the bit isn't the best comparison. It depends because there's varying degrees of bits. So maybe a regular leash caller or, anyway, there's all the nuances there, but if you're still using one, then you are a terrible trainer and they get just attacked by these people that are very extreme about and needs to be quote, force free or pure r plus a hundred percent of the time, or it's abuse and it's, it just matches up exactly with what you were talking about. And that's part of why it's been, or that's really a big part of why it's been so fascinating to watch you start these conversations between the different, you know, camps, the different communities of training. Because that's exactly what it's like here. And I like your reference to the evangelical people that they're, they have found this new thing. They're really excited about it, they wanna share, but they come in over the top and very aversive to the people that are trying to hear from them, to the point where it turns them off. And I can't tell you how many people have come to me and have said, Hey, we tried for a little bit, but honestly, like we just, we posted a video here, or we talked about this here and it wasn't good enough and we just got. Just attacked for how I was still doing this, I was still doing that and basically punished. And so they gave it up. They stopped trying to learn clicker training. They stopped trying to learn how to improve their training, and they went back to whatever was they were doing before because of the people and because of how they were being treated. And that's so unfortunate because they're trying, they're trying to learn and they're trying to explore a new way of working with horses. Yeah.

[00:15:11] Change is exceptionally hard. And when you know something and you're comfortable there, it takes a lot to reach out of your shell. And the easiest way to do that is to have people who are welcoming your efforts. So I am pretty hard on people who come into my personal spaces, whether TikTok or Instagram or Facebook and shame anyone. I, I am actually much harder on force free trainers who shame others. So if somebody puts up a picture in my sphere of a dog on a prong collar, I will talk about how beautiful the dog is, how bright the smile. I don't say a word about the collar. I, they'll figure it out on their own if and when they're ready. And even if they're never. If I take them from a nine to an eight on the compulsion scale, then I've done a good thing. So I, I get notes, I would say probably between five and 10 a week from people saying, I just want you to know that you have dramatically changed how I train my dog. Some of them say I've given up force altogether. Others say, I'm striving, I'm doing my best. Others say, I just want you to know I'm thinking. So I haven't even made changes, but I'm listening to you and I'm thinking. And that's, to me, that's a lot. Five or 10 is a lot. The willingness of people to explore and I, my response is always go you. Ask me if you have questions, I'm available. I'm, I'm available for that and I wish you the best. And, and that's true. That's just how I feel. I'm not trying to convert the world. I'm trying to get people to be aware and education to me is the route to making that happen. So I focus pretty heavily, especially when I do Instagram lives. I'll pick topics like arousal is not drive in the dog world, this is tremendously misunderstood. They say things like, oh, if I could only channel that drive cuz the dog is ballistically running all over the place. And my response is, well you can't because it's not drive. Drive always has a focal point. Things like that, I can talk about that for half an hour. And I know a lot of people are very hard to that conversation, but I know that if few are at least listening and then maybe I say something that reminds them of a dog they have and then they suddenly it clicks into place and they go, oh my God, that explains a lot. And I value those opportunities.

[00:17:19] Yeah. I. I do get quite a few messages as well and I'm always really excited about that opportunity. Just to see them, like you mentioned, they may even just be thinking about it. That's a seed planted, that's a thought process that started, that's where I started a long time ago when I was using all of the compulsion and punishment and pressure and all of that in the world with my horses, and I was feeding them so differently than I feed 'em now. I was keeping them in environments that were completely. Like, I wouldn't even consider putting a horse in that environment anymore. This all started off with thinking about trying something different, and if I had reached out to somebody and said, Hey, I'm thinking about doing this, and then they had said, well, you better get to it or else you're a terrible person. I would've been like, oh, excuse me, . Like, what do you mean I love my horse? I'm trying really hard

[00:18:07] Absolutely. And you're not a terrible person. And that's the thing is you're not, you're not a better or worse person than you were then. You're a person who knows different things and because you know different things, you're able to make educated choices that align with your values. I hope and to me that's really critical is to understand this isn't about good people and bad people. I've seen some pretty horrific behavior on both ends of the spectrum in terms of just amazing disrespect for other people. It concerns me more when I see it in the force free sphere, just because if they really do understand learning and if they really do understand how important it is to have a comfortable learner and that it has to be from the perspective of the learner, then I struggle more to understand why they refuse to see humans as learners. I know why, but it, it hurts me more. I think the fundamental reason is they are distressed at the fact that they believe dogs are being harmed. And they believe that human beings, even though on one side, they really know that a learner is a learner, the other side of them says, but they know better because I told them. And if you just walk that down the line, they also know that that's not actually how it works. But the cognitive dissonance really kicks in there that their belief, that abuse is taking place, that there's trauma, that there's torture and the words they use to describe these things are so extreme. I think some of these folks are just very fighting. I mean, I, I see threads that go for days and I'm like, my God, how do you do that for days? I mean, I, I would be a, and I did do that many years ago and I just remember it was literally wrecking me of all night thinking about what I should have said, could have said, you know, it goes on and on. And then realizing I needed some peace of my life and sort of, focusing my direction. And actually that's why I started the academy which I think is very funny because if the person who I was engaged with at that time in this conversation knew that it was a result of our conversation, that I started this unbelievably large and successful online school, specifically in response to my recognition that my behavior, all I was doing was taking both of us into the gutter for the entertainment of others. And I am never gonna do that again. I mean, I make myself look stupid. I make my beliefs look stupid. Why am I in the gutter? You can hang out there if you want to wallow, but I'm not going to join you. I'm going to do things. I'm going to do things that I believe change behavior. I know how to change behavior. I know how to change dog behavior. I know what it takes to create the basis of changing human behavior. At that point, the learner decides to opt in or not, because I do not control the environment of the learner. I refuse to use their worst case scenarios as examples. You know, see, there you go. Dog was being hung to death. Okay. Could we all just agree that anybody who hangs a dog that's, yeah, that's not dog training. Anybody who calls that out as dog training is being cruel to balanced trainers, because do you really think balance trainers identify with hanging a dog to death? That's just sick, right? So we really need to stop using the extremes, whether they're on the force free side or the traditional side as representation. And I was in a podcast, a dog podcast with balance trainers. And I was with another force free trainer being interviewed, and I just thought she handled this so brilliantly because they kept doing that. And she said, you know, we all need to just stop that. We need to look at the best examples of traditional or a more modern based approach. And that's where the conversation needs to take place. Because much of the conversation is not about effectiveness. There's lots of effectiveness. The question becomes one of ethics and bigger picture. So you mentioned for example, that you've changed how your animals live. And the first thing that occurs to me is the way your animals live now is probably more expensive. And so with that in mind, then I start thinking about the kid. Who has a horse and it's very important to her and she doesn't have the money. And so maybe her choices are also driven by circumstance. And in the dog world, this is a big factor. The way I feed my dogs is probably not the same as my neighbors. The amount of time I devote to my dogs is unreasonable of me. I would never ask it of a, a random person because they have so much else in their lives. And so that's the point where once we get well educated cuz we can just agree that many methods work, then we need to start talking about things like what's a reasonable amount of time? And if you can get something done more quickly and it brings huge joy to another player, Does that have value? Do we wanna give that weight? How much is the expense to the other learner? So if you start thinking in terms of stakeholders, which I talk about a lot, you start to realize that nothing is simple. And there are many stakeholders. Some of your I'll just talk about this. Some of your listeners probably know if they know me, they know I had a dog named Dice. I did send my dog back to my breeder. It was literally the hardest decision of my life. I love that dog so much. And he was unable to live in my family safely. Because he has, he has some issues, he has some behavior problems. I did not send him back for competition reasons whatsoever. I didn't send him back because of my relationship with the dog. But I stood back and I looked at the stakeholders and we all matter. My family does matter and society does matter. So if my dog got off my property, Or decided to go over my fence where my neighbors have dogs, they have rights. And I think a lot about this, you know, and, and sometimes it's, you know, somebody's, well, if you can't afford the vet care, you shouldn't have a dog. Well just stop and back that one up for a second. I mean, really just think about what you just said. There are homeless people where I live that have a dog and it looks to me like that dog is their world. So it is true that their dogs maybe not getting quite the same vet care, maybe not quite the same food, but I would be hard pressed to say that the dog doesn't necessarily have high quality of life. And these are conversations I think would be healing to our communities to be able to talk about it and to agree to disagree because how you feel about some of these things and how I feel may not be the same, but it's really not right and wrong. It's about where we sort of bring our core values and there's room for conversation there. Yeah.

[00:24:03] You bring up so many great, very nuanced conversations that I, I love and this is why I've been following your stuff. And A couple of thoughts I had as you were talking. One, people who have been listening to my podcast for a while know that I'm a huge advocate for keeping your horse, but I have talked about situations where it is appropriate to, for the horse's sake and for the human's sake to consider a new home. Taking that into considerate, well, I should put it this way. It's more about in general, our equestrian lifestyle. The, the culture of being an equestrian. There is a high turnover rate with horses. So when I was growing up, especially in the show world, it was very normal for people to, you get a horse, you have it for two years and you trade it on and you just keep going and you keep upgrading horses for every two years, automatically it didn't matter. And so that's where I am a big advocate against that. However, there are circumstances, like I have a horse, actually, I ended up adopting her where I was very, I, I advised the owner that this was an appropriate decision for her to decide that this horse needed to go to a different home, which was me. Thankfully it worked out that way for the horse and for the owner. But she, the personality and the temperament and the amount of time that would go in that would be necessary to train this horse to be safe for the owner to handle at her experience level and with her lifestyle was just not going to be reasonable to ask of anybody.

[00:25:34] And I like that you bring that up about the amount of time. Like there's a lot that I do with my horses. I spend hours and hours and hours every week working with each of them. That is not reasonable for me to ask of the average horse owner. And reminds me of another podcast I was listening to where the, I can't remember who it was. That seems to be a theme of tonight. I can't remember , but the she mentions that as trainers, one of the big things that we need to remember is. These, you know, she was talking about pet owners, so dog owners, but this also applies to horse owners too. The average horse owner, they are not trying to become certified force free, fear free, you know, clicker training, all of that trainers, they just want to live and coexist peacefully and joyfully with their animal. And I think that's a reasonable request and that's our job is to help them and help the dog or the horse in my. Be able to achieve that. And so that's just kind of that point you brought up. I thought that was a great point. Yeah.

[00:26:31] And I think as people bring in more positive methods I am a, a crossover trainer, so I was fairly, very traditional once upon a time. My relationship with my dogs was different then. And I would've been much more able and willing to give them up because I, I mean, for starters, I never asked the question, is the dog enjoying this? It actually never occurred to me. And it wasn't cuz I was a terrible person. It just didn't occur to me, you're the dog, I'm the human. It's just the way it is. And now it's one of my biggest, it's actually, it's the top of my head question is, is my dog happy? And I find that it changes my relationship with the dog so much that my willingness to place a dog is it's just in a. I'm in a different place because I appreciate them in a different way. And when they frustrate me, I see it as part of who they are as, and I, I could take a big picture of you, whereas that was not true. When I was traditional, and even to this day, I do find that if I am in a more punitive place, which in the greatest scheme of things is probably extremely minimal compared to most people, but when I'm in a more punitive place with my dogs, I feel that hardness creeping in that lack of appreciation and respect for them. And that sense of, dammit, I want my way, you know, that, that hardening comes through. And I find it with my family as well, even with my children, when I'm frustrated and I just want my way, I, I feel that hardening come in as opposed to when I do a more cooperative approach to getting my way. And I try to remember that. I try to keep that on the top of my head because my life is better when I'm in a softer place, you know? And I know, I think I have a pretty hard shell, but I'm pretty soft on the inside and I don't wanna lose that. I like that ability to empathize and feel for the other. And I don't like what happens when I'm in a more dominating sort of mindset. And it doesn't really matter who I'm interacting with, whether it's social media. Or the dogs or people.

[00:28:22] That reminds me of what caused me to make a shift and to start looking into other options, which is when I explored or first started exploring clicker training and all of that I got to a point with one of my horses where I had to ask my que myself a question of, am I willing to go to this next level of hardness? That, that's, I had never phrased it that way before, but that's essentially what happened was I could feel it. I was angry, and I know you're not supposed to be angry in any training. Obviously that's a counter to productive and effective training. But it was happening because I was very much thinking about what I wanted and what I needed. And it just kind of came along with the package and I was very it was me against the horse. And so for me to get this horse to do the thing that I needed her to do, It was going to require another level of me being hard with her and hard, you know, going to that hard emotional state for myself and I was basically not willing to do that. And it forced me to explore other options. And I think that's a really common story I hear, a really common journey that I hear from people that are exploring, changing their training methods and the way they're interacting with their animals is that they get to a point where to be able to keep going down the path they were going down, it was just miserable for them. It was miserable for the animal. They weren't willing to do it, and they, and they didn't like seeing their animal unhappy. And so what other options are out there? And that's when they start exploring. And I think that's a, a beautiful place to be, although a very, very challenging place to be emotionally and mentally for the human and also the animal. And that's where it's so important, tying us back to the beginning of our conversation. When people then come at them and, you know, essentially attack them for not being perfect or not using enough, you know, cooperative care or not using enough positive reinforcement, they're already at such a vulnerable and sensitive stage in the learning process. That's such the worst stage to implement all that punishment and. That type of interaction with them, right?

[00:30:34] Because that brings that hardness back to the fore because now they're hardening against society who's telling them that they're bad people? And so then they, they resist that. I actually really love that you brought up the issue of anger. Another thing I've sort of noticed in the dog world is that we talk about what should be rather than what is, and we do this a lot. So we talk about how we should raise our dogs, how we should spend time, how we should feel when we train them, how we should feel when their behavior is appalling and embarrassing us. And I think we need to spend a whole lot more time talking about what is, and I talk about this all the time because I don't think I'm an exceptionally angry person. As a matter of fact, I think I'm pretty mellow. And yet it's not at all unusual that in the middle of training, I feel those seeds of frustration starting. I've just learned. I have a lot of experience to listen to those seeds because I, I think I could say never has it actually served me well to push through, but we don't spend enough time talking about the fact that decent, good human beings have emotions and frustrations. And I can tell you my training session in the morning sets my entire day if I have a good training. I mean, that's ridiculous actually, that the 10 minutes I spend with a dog in the morning literally drives the quality. I'm on the top of the world or I'm like ready to stick my head in the bucket. And that says a lot. And I, I don't even think I'm all that unusual. So knowing that, I would love for us to talk more about how our emotions are impacting our relationships with dogs and with people. And I have noticed that in my in the more traditional dog community, they kind of pit the trainer and the human against the dog. So would you like to be able to watch your dog without him being a fool on the street? Kind of a, it's, it's, it's playing into the emotional reaction. Yeah, yeah, this person's on my team. But unfortunately, when you do that, then the team is against another, right? So, and in the force free world, sometimes they pick the trainer and the dog against the owner and the family. So it's all, how would you feel if you got left home alone for eight hours a day in a crate? And then the owner's like, well, but I have to work and I have 300 children. I, well, what are you gonna do about that? Right? So in all of these cases, we struggle to really look at the emotional wellbeing of all of us and to just be really honest about what I want to be able to do versus what I'm actually able to do on an emotional level. I definitely don't give my dogs the quality of life I would like to every day. I think I'm good enough and I'd love to talk more about the good enough, right? And acknowledging how my experience is when I give people permission to be good enough, they try to exceed that. So when I say look, If you could just once a day, give your dog a little enrichment thing here, just a bully stick, right? That's gonna make your dog happy for 25 minutes. When they have permission to do the minimum, I find that they're like, Hey, I did that. And guess what happens? Just like a clicker trained animal. They offer a little more. And then you say, well look at you. I see that you took your dog for a walk on the block today. That's excellent. I hope you enjoyed your exercise, and now you have a way to pull them towards more and more positive. So I'm actually pretty good with the bare minimum. Now, from there, what's one thing we could give? If they're willing, what are you willing to offer? And if nothing, that's fine. I just have a lot of faith that when people feel good about themselves, they have more to give. And I really try to bring that out in people, that sense of, you're good enough and I know you're trying really hard. What can I do to support your journey and accept that you'll never have to be me and I don't have to be you. And it's.

[00:34:03] Yeah, I, that makes a whole lot of sense. And I love hearing that, and we could definitely use a lot more of that in the horse world in general. It's, when you talk about the, the human and or the owner and the trainer pitting against the dog, I see this all the time where, oh, you know, your horses being a bully or a brat or whatever. And obviously we have all the issues with labels. Just that emotional factor. So the trainer will actually make the owner feel really bad because their horse is acting a certain way, which then makes, you know, puts them in a certain mental and emotional state and then they need to do this x you know, whatever thing to the horse to make them behave right, to show the trainer that their horse really isn't a fool or whatever. And it just creates such a kind of toxic little relationship there between all three of them. And then the same thing with on the other side where we're the trainer and the horse are then in that part of that relationship pitted against the owner. They're just never enough. They're not good enough, they're not doing enough, they're not perfect, whatever. And I talk a lot about the downside. I'm. I'm a recovering perfectionist at heart, and so I'm, I'm trying to get, move beyond the idea or not even move beyond, I'm just change my perspective on what is. Yeah, perfect. I used to try and always try get to this idea that I had in my head of this would be a perfect level of enrichment. This would be the perfect lifestyle for my horse. This would, whatever. And the longer I've been doing this, the more I realize that one, there's no such thing as a perfect environment, a perfect lifestyle. And every horse is different. And one of my favorite sayings recently is, it depends. It depends on the horse, it depends on the owner. It depends on all of the goals of the training. It depends on a lot of different factors. There is no black and white. This is perfect, this is not. And then also perfectionism, moving goalpost like it, it's just, there's no such thing. And you'll get six months down the road and you'll have reached what you thought six months ago was impossible. And then it just moves again and you just keep going. And so we drive ourselves nuts trying to get to perfection, and then it feels impossible. And then we give up or we just beat ourselves up about it really bad.

[00:36:18] Or we add a lot of pressure to the relationship. Yes. So I mean, I see that as when I was actively training students. My least favorite students to work with were the ones at the top, because chasing from a 1 98 to a 200. So if 200 is a perfect score, we're talking about degrees of precision and expectations of perfection in high stress environments, which take a lot and often that hyper focus on the tiniest detail. Boy, if you're doing that, you have to make an enormous effort to make sure it stays fun for everybody, for the coach, because I often would get that owner looking at me with that. Well, now what do I do? Look, and I didn't get that a lot from people who were just having a good time trying to get through. As a matter of fact, I would have to kind of pull them up and say, you know, we're gonna kind of, let's see what we can do about this, because if we let this path continue, I see some problems coming up, so let's fix this one now. And they're kind of, they're just so happy that they're progressing, you know? But personally, I prefer. To work with people who didn't have that super, super, super high expectations because, and in the dog world, the amount of, I call that perfection paralysis, the amount of perfection paralysis is enormous. And as a result, many excellent trainers with excellent dogs never progress because they stew and they stew, and they can't go forward until they get this step perfect. And I'm like, you know what? That's not really true. You can work on it from a different angle. You can start pushing forward a little bit and circle back around. But whenever you feel like you're just pounding something, if you are feeling it, I guarantee you your learner is feeling it. I don't, clicker training can be miserable for an animal. Just like virtue of staying in the more positive reinforcement quadrant doesn't mean the animals having a good time. If you are radiating pressure, I mean, I'm watching videos and I'm hyperventilating on some of these, this, you know, the, the silence, the pressure of silence is significant. So there's sort of this still silent waiting and I just, I feel myself over here breathing harder and harder. Like, could we just change something here? Could we move, could we lighten up? There's got to be something to change this pressure because I know your animal is feeling this. And people struggle because they're trying so hard. They're trying to remember their mechanics. They're trying to remember how many repetitions. I'm like, you know, so, That's why I often tell people, you know, don't worry about it. Just throw some food down. , like, could, could we just lighten the environment a little bit here? I think your learner will have a better time. And happy learners are easy learners as a general rule generally but that perfection thing is stopping some fantastic teams from moving. I talk a lot about spiral training, which means I rarely work on anything for more than a week or two. I'm just constantly rotating around. I focus here for a couple weeks. I focus there for a couple weeks, a few months later I realize I have four skills. Those four skills add up to this other skill. So, oh, I'll start working on the beginnings of this slightly more advanced skill. I do that for a while. I get bored. I come back down and I teach a few more base foundation skills, and then I realize, oh, now I have those two plus that one on that second level, I could start this third level skill. And it really does prevent me winding myself up into a, a little spring stressed because I, you know, I've seen people work on a retrieve for six months straight. I'm like, how can you stand it? I mean, how can you stand that pressure if you haven't gotten what you want in a week? You really need to try something else. You can come back to it. It'll, that dumbbell will still be there. And I really encourage that sort of lightning up the whole thing. Cuz otherwise I think we do lose the joy.

[00:39:35] I have definitely witnessed this in my own training and also in my students or clients. I will tell people within the actual training session themselves, I have them toss food all the time or into a bucket cuz horses are not nearly as good as dogs. And with scatter food, you can't really do that. Especially since we're training on like grass and stuff. But we have food pans everywhere, so I'm just like, if you ever get stuck or things get too tense or whatever, just toss a handful into the bucket. Let's start over and like, let's just take a little break. And then we also do like. Kind of pauses where the horse knows what to do during that pause. But we also, I tell them to shake out their shoulders, take a nice inhale and exhale, you know just relax their body a little bit, almost like a little mini meditation moment. And then we go back to training. And that helps a lot, takes the pressure off because they. I definitely see this and also in myself where I get so hyper focused on, we've gotta get this thing right now that it, the horse is like, oh my gosh, lady, just loosen up . And and then the other is, yes, the, I'll take breaks pretty often where we'll work on a behavior for, you know, maybe a, a week or two, a couple weeks at most. And then we'll kind of put its rest for a while. I'll work on some other stuff and then I'll come back to it. And honestly, most of the time I come back and it's better. Like they did some training on their own while I wasn't there. And I'm like, yes, it's great.

[00:40:54] It's amazing. We talk about that a lot in the dog world. Our informal term for that is latent learning. I don't think that's the correct term, whatever you wanna call it, but you know what, it amazes me. You just touch on it. And there was one time I was on the video and I was a little bit frustrated with my little dog, couldn't get him to retrieve. And so I put it on the ground and he was slightly behind me and I was talking to the camera. And he went and picked it up. Like I didn't see it cuz I was actually talking to people. But it was like he just needed that mental break and then he was able to figure it out on his own anyway. I mean, normally of course we have more time, but in this case, I just walked away from it and I guess he sat around and thought about it. I, it does make you wonder how much is actually going on between sessions if they really do start going, you know, I wonder if she didn't like this. She didn't like that. I mean, I don't know. It's very hard. I can't put myself that much in an animal's head, but it is a fascinating reality that a break can be. The best thing on the planet. I know in my training, I don't do a ton of food training. I do it for foundations, and then I tend to move to toys and play. And th