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Ep. 10 Transcript

Episode 10: Follow-Up #2 Cristina

Welcome to Unpacked, an open-minded podcast taking a clinical, not political approach to helping pet parents around the world. I'm Sailor Jerry, certified dog trainer, virtual dog training revolutionary, owner of Tulsa Pack Athletics and creator of The Open-Minded Approach. And I'm Madison, her friend, certified dog trainer and behavior consultant. Together we have nearly three decades of experience in behavioral dog training.

We've been working with real dogs and the humans who love them to create solutions to problematic behaviors that feel too big for them to tackle on their own. In this episode, we are checking in on a previous guest from Unpacked. Dog training is a journey, that's no secret. So of course we're checking back in with our guests from season one to see how things are going. We're offering encouragement, adjustments, and the next steps to these incredible humans.

If you haven't yet been introduced to this case, go back and listen to season one and then return to this follow up episode. If you're caught up on season one, settle in with us and un-

Well, hello, Christina, how have you been? I'm all right, how are you guys? We are doing well. We are so excited to catch up with you and Penelope. I know that we have touched base here and there on some of the progress and we've been, I think, seeing, well, maybe it's just been one big shift that we've seen, more so than a slow continual progress, but.

I actually don't know if Jerry saw that particular update, so I think that she'll be excited to hear about that. Yeah, I am curious to know all the new things about what's going on in Penelope's life. Queen Penelope. I know Princess P as we call her around here. Princess P, yes, that does sound appropriate, doesn't it? Princess P. Yeah. Are you referring to like the cot? Yeah. Okay.

So I had a friend come by and she had a puppy and her puppy peed on Penelope's bed. Long story short, the puppy peed on Penelope's bed. So I had to take it away to wash it. So in the meantime, I had replaced it by her elevated cot so that she could be still have something there in the meantime. And to my surprise, that heifer started

So she's no longer at the door like at all while Christina's gone during the day. Well she starts off by the door. Okay. Just to make sure because you might come back. You might still loop back around. Yeah, I might have forgotten my coffee or something and decide to stay. But she starts off by the door maybe for an hour and then the rest of the day she's either on the cut.

on the rug or on my couch. Very good. Yeah, I was- That's hard to complain about that, huh? That's great. I know. And so I tried to encourage her to stay on the cot. So like, I'll give her a cookie on my way out on the cot and she hops off and she does her little laps around the house, but then she eventually settles. And yeah, she's either on the, she was on the cot today. That's great. I think a little bit of time at the door is

like you said, really understandable. Do you notice it being combined with any of the other stress signals or behaviors like whining, vocalizations, things like that? On like a regular day, like a Monday through Friday business day, no. In a random time on the weekend, yes. Okay. Yeah. Yeah, so like when it's, I'm not gonna say out of the blue because she already knows when I'm leaving, way before I leave. But if it's not our normal...

Monday through Friday schedule, then yeah, she does vocalize at the door when I'm on the weekends and stuff. Okay, so the structure helps her maintain her composure and understand kind of what's going on. That's what I think. I think it's it's something about predictability with her. Yeah. Yeah. There's something about the predictability. I'm I'm a well, I'm not anymore, but I used to be really really anxious and so

I found that the more predictable my life was, the less anxious I was. And I have seen that in so many dogs. And I know other dog trainers have reported that as well, that, you know, when we provide them with structure, predictability, these certain expectations, they don't spend their time worrying about what's going to happen because they know what's going to happen. Yeah. On those normal sort of sort of average business days, how much vocalizing do you think that that she is doing while you're gone now?

minimal, I'd say if she's, because she'll start out by the door. And she even settles by the door. She'll do her lap around the house. Yep. She comes back to the door, she settles by the door. And then she eventually moves on with her day. Okay, so really, no, yeah, so like, she's self soothing and like overcoming it like, okay, I'm gonna be okay. I'm gonna go lay down now.

Where before that was definitely not the vibe before. The vibe before was, you know, she was having a meltdown. We've got 20 minutes of melting down. Panic, almost. Yeah, yeah, panic is a great way of describing that. And we saw that amount of time decrease while we were sort of working through the initial stages of the plan from, like I said, about 20 minutes, which even that.

was not your day one of getting her down to 20 minutes of panic. That took you a long time, but that was when we started working together. We got that down to about nine minutes. But it sounds like that panic is like she's not even really reaching that zone. It sounds like she has this very predictable pattern of she does her sweep, she comes to term with it, she self-soothes and goes to her sort of her other predictable and sort of daily routine of

laying here, laying here, hanging out here. She's got her enrichment. And she started eating quite a bit more with you not home. That's actually a huge shift too, is she didn't used to eat while you were home and now she's here for the snacking. Yes, yes. That was another thing that, you know, occasionally I'll come home and her breakfast is still there. But most of the time after she's done her sweet.

She goes to the bowl. I like it. She eats. It's part of her routine, which is great, which is absolutely great. And we didn't see her being able to get to that place before because I think she reached a place of acceptance, but not true maybe decompression before. And now we're seeing her actually engaging in that decompression and bringing herself down to the level where she can engage with food. And that's really exciting for her. And that speaks a lot to how she's feeling.

So I think that something that we'll be talking about next is really working on those pre-departure cues, things that are the signs before the signs that she's picking up on that stressing her out on the weekend days, and then just teaching more coping skills for the unplanned absences. Because it seems like the planned absences are in a really, I don't know, want to call it a manageable place. It sounds like it's in a really good place. Yeah, I would agree.

It's night and day. It's really weird to me. I'm like, what, why didn't you tell me you hated the bed? I would have gotten rid of the bed. I don't think it was about that specific bed. Right, you could have told us. I think that there was a lot going in there. And a lot of it too, is I don't want to discount the the effort that you've put into just building her confidence.

because that translates over to so many areas of their life. And talk to us about how that specifically, but also the agility work has been going. It is crazy. It's almost, well, it's not crazy, but it feels a little crazy. Like, so I'm into grooming and I'll show you her in a little bit, but so I had somebody help me with her stacking.

stacking her, you know, like in confirmation, how they stack, trying to get her to stack. And we were outside and it was a picnic table. And she was like, Do you mind? If you don't mind her getting up on the picnic table, I don't care if she gets on the picnic table. And I'm like, I don't care. So I was like Penelope like up. So she went from the ground to the seat to the top of the picnic table by herself with just

with just requesting it, you know, like, I asked her, you know, up and she, she did it. And I don't think Penelope thing a year and a half ago would have done that. I would have had a brand new object, brand new texture. Was it like even a new environment? You know, it was a wooden, it was a wooden picnic table, so it had holes, gaps, you know? So I was, and then she stepped on the table. So like, I was just so proud of her. Like, I don't think, yeah.

So I attribute that to agility and all the confidence building for her to be able to have done that. And that was awesome. Two weeks ago. I don't think that it's out of the realm of possibility for us to next year when things are at a place for you where you're like, you know what, I think I'm ready to tackle some more goals to be putting more conscious time into the kennel so we can start looking at getting her enrolled into.

competitions and situations where, you know, she previously, the only thing that's really been holding her back is the chem is the kennel comfort and being able to have skills to decompress and be comfortable ringside is going to open up a lot of fun for the two of you. Yeah, I think so too. I think when we get there, there's no need for you to ever compete with her. Right? Well, we all know you're going to bring home, bring home the goal. But like I said, there's there's no need or pressure for you to ever

do that. That's not a requirement. But if you felt like embarking on kennel training would have maybe set you back with the separation anxiety or, you know, she could have taken a hit with confidence if you rushed it. Like, I think that we can intentionally, you know, through a really gradual process, realistically start to tackle that goal. I don't think that that's out of the realm of possibility or even that far into the future. Yeah, I agree.

I agree. I did have those concerns. I was worried that too much was going on, that we weren't making progress or in my opinion enough progress. It's hard to see the small wins when you're in the thick of it. It would have felt challenging, but I feel a lot better even though we have those weekends where she freaks out still from time to time.

I still feel like we could probably do this. Yeah, and I'm actually pretty confident we can do this. Yes, the time is right. The time is now. I think that it's important that, you know, this wasn't your first and most urgent goal because separation anxiety and the behaviors that go along with it were impacting her and you on a daily basis. So we sort of have to get through the things that are impacting us negatively before we can maybe step into

the more fun things. And so I think that getting her to this place and what you both have done together, it's just been transformative to see, honestly. It's been so exciting and I'm so proud of you both. And I think that this will be just a whole new chapter for her to get to like take off goals instead of addressing challenging behaviors. And a separation anxiety in my perspective is

the one of, I don't want to say the, but one of the most challenging behaviors to overcome because it is never a short-term, it's never a short-term solution. So keeping motivation over what is likely to be six months to a year or longer of a journey and that's standard in this type of, you know, behavior change plan. That's really hard to keep up that motivation. So I just want to give so much, so much props to you for the amount of

the hours and hours of work and thought and care that we know that you've put into changing Penelope's life. And it was you. All of it was you. I second that. It was definitely, it was definitely you. Nobody, yeah, I agree. We never touched her. No, thank you guys for, thanks for the support when I felt like giving up and the, and the breakdowns that I had and the discouragement I faced. It was...

I it's a lot and I know it's not gonna stop. You know, those things aren't those moments aren't gonna never come back. Those are still gonna happen. We're all human. Yeah, thank you. But I thank you for keeping keeping me grounded through them. I appreciate it. That was definitely you guys. So thank you. Absolutely. Like I said, I think that's one of the biggest challenges of separation anxiety training is just having somebody to help you keep motivated and to

point out those wins because it will feel impossible to see them when you're in the middle of it. I know a two minute victory doesn't feel very big in that moment. When you take a step back and see and you see those those two minute victories stacking up that's when your whole life looks different. I know it's just like it makes my day when I see her just like side like sprawled out.

on the couch or on the cut. It just makes my day, because that is just, she's getting the best sleep ever, and that makes me so happy. Because living in a constant state of stress is not good for her health, and I want her around as long as possible. And when your body can't even recover, because you can't even rest well, I mean, this goes for me too. Not just her, but me too.

We were talking about that recently with a client about the need to rest and recover. And I think we were talking about it in the context of reactivity. But reactivity and panic from, you know, a separation anxiety type behavior, what that's doing to the nervous system is not identical, but it's not all that different. They're just different types of dysregulation. And the impact that that has on your body when

24 hours and then you don't recover and rest overnight, it carries over into the next day, the same with us. It's bigger than just trigger stacking. It's your nervous system not getting a chance to reset in the way it needs to, to function, not even optimally, just at all. Exactly, exactly. So I'm glad that she is resting and sleeping, not just overnight, but while you're gone. That's like, mind blown. I know.

So it sounds like the grooming hobby may be turning into more than a hobby. Are you, are you? Yeah, you're getting sucked into, I could hear it in your voice. You're getting sucked into our world. So talk to us about that. Cause I have noticed that her grooms are beautiful. And I knew that you did that. Thank you. Oh my God. Yeah, yeah. It's fun. It's a lot of fun. It's a lot of, it's very challenging. And I try to.

be I am a little hippie dippy let's be honest right so I'm a little hippie dippy so I like to make sure that you know everybody everybody every dog that gets on the table is comfortable and I only do what they're comfortable with and I think Penelope's experience experiences that I've had with Penelope really allows me to be a little bit of a more compassionate groomer because they just

you know, you just you feel for them, you feel for them in a different way because you know that this is stressing them out and you know that it has to get done but it's like, okay, we'll take it step by step. So yeah, yeah. My sort of humble beginnings working with dogs, it was, it was training, but then it was grooming before it was training heavily. And so I groomed full time for well over a year when I was and I give

Again, more props to you because I, you will hear me say it, grooming is so much harder than treating and that's why I do what I do. Because that was, to me, just one of the most difficult things. But I learned so much. One of my biggest takeaways from that was co-regulating of emotions and the impact that we have on the dogs on the table. And it was actually a poodle. I remember the poodle that was on the table.

and just every muscle in her body was so tense. Her name was Viz. And I was trying to do her paws and she just kept snatching them away. Nope, nope, you're not having, nope. And so I put a hand on her chest and I put a hand on her back and I just took, I closed my eyes and I took several deep grounding breaths and I felt every muscle just relax and ease. And then she let me do the pawl. And I was like, oh, so we just had to breathe together?

We just had to be chill together. And it was such a huge takeaway. Like I still can picture and remember that moment. And so something to look into is the fear free movement. And especially within grooming and vet care and sort of, you know, removing fear and intimidation from those process, from that process. It can be really difficult, right? To, as a groomer, as a practitioner to

to stay calm when things are getting difficult. But I agree, I think it's so critical because what we feel in that moment impacts the dogs on the table every single time. Absolutely, I think one of the main things I think I've been told and now I realize it now that I'm doing it a little bit more often with different dogs, because doing it on your own dog is one thing, doing it on other people's dog is a completely different story. So, but making sure that they're a part of the process.

making instead of just treating them as objects, which I think a lot of people do is just treat them as objects. Like I need to get this foot. I need to get this tail like stand up instead of treating them like objects, asking them to please stand up requesting their

And you respect her. Exactly. And I respect all of them. So I think that's another thing and I think they realize that right, you know, I think they feel that kind of respectful energy and they tolerate that to a degree. So, you know, what are some of the things that that you've taught Penelope that sort of in our language that give her that agency? What are those start buttons? What are those cues that that you taught her that have translated over to care in things like grooming?

So, she had, I would like to say she has like a designated opt out, but I don't really think she probably does, but I haven't picked up. But whenever I feel that she's getting too tense, then we just take a break. We just take a break. Okay. All right. Let's just take a break. Let's just sit on the table. We're not getting off the table because we're not done. We're not going to get off the table, but we're just going to sit here and we're going to take a breath.

Do you want a cookie? Do you want to just lay down? I think even changing her position sometimes, like she just needs to just look the other way on the table for whatever reason she wants to look to the right. So I'm gonna work around her instead of looking, making her look to the left while I'm doing the left side. She can still look at the right, I'll just go to the other side. Give her some options, yeah, yeah. And not forcing her to turn around and things of that nature. I think that's, so she definitely.

She's not getting off the table, but she can lay down, she can sit, can take a break. Yeah. But yeah, I think that I think that's really helped her. That's how it is. That's how you have to treat horses, too. You can't you can't. We're not we're not leaving. If you want to if you want to lightly jump over this jump, that's fine. If you want to back up, if you want to. But we can't we're not we're not running out of here. And there is.

a lot of power in that. I think a lot of it's just the shift in our energy to just say like, I hear you, like, okay. And I think that they pick up on that. I think that's nice. I always wondered why people just don't walk around the table. Like you can just switch sides. You know, if the dog's not vibing on it, you could just, but we do. And I learned, where I learned that was in hair school. When I went to hair school, because we do this to people all the time.

this when you're cutting their hair instead of saying, can you put your head down for me? And you don't have somebody, even though you consented to being there, you can send it to your haircut to have your hair done. Do you really want to be manipulated? Like, you know, it's just little things to think about. Well, I think about that. One thing that photographers do that a lot too. Yes. I think they just touch without really you consenting to being touched.

I know. Oh, that's a good point. One thing that I try and sort of distinguish is because I work on a lot of cooperative care with my own dog who has a lot of handling sensitivities. And there's very few things that that he and I really have to work on. So I really try and bucket situations into if the answer can be no.

If the answer can be no, and we're gonna work through it, then I provide the opportunity for an opt-out. Like when we're working on cooperative care and we're training and the stakes are really low. But sometimes the answer can't be no. Like when we're getting our vaccinations and we're doing certain things. And there does reach a point with the nail trims where the answer can't be no, where it becomes a matter of health and safety. And as his guardian, as his steward, I need to make the choice that is in his best interest.

And it's also important in those moments that I do not engage in the same cooperative care patterns that I am when he's able to opt out. We have to take a different approach in that moment, like giving options like, okay, this is going to happen. You can sit down, you can lay down, but this is going to happen, but not having it be the same as when it's you can opt out of this at any moment. Those are, those are two different things. But I imagine that that giving Penelope the choices that you have.

have probably all fed into the confidence building, right? Because if you have a low confidence in fearful dog and you put them in a situation, you take away their agency and all their choices that might not work in your best interest. So I think that by providing her those choices and giving her that sort of power over her own situation that those can really help with that. So, you know, I...

I heard you say that you're not quite sure that she has a specific opt out, but I feel like you are so in tune with her that you're gonna pick up on the whispers. You almost don't need this specific signal because the second that you start to sense the little bit of like, okay, okay, I get it, yep. And so sure, you can always train some type of cue to make something easier for our dogs to communicate to us or back and forth.

But I also think that you know the subtle signs of your dog. You have studied your own dog for many years now, and you know what she's saying to you most of the time. Our dogs still confuse us sometimes, where I'm like, what are you saying to me right now? But for the most part, we understand the unique dialect that our own dogs have. I'm also running out of cues. This agility has taken so many words out of me. I'm running out.

things. I don't know what to call things anymore. And then if you want to laugh here, here's a joke. So jumps, when she's taking the jumps, again, there's no nice way to say this. So when she's taking the jumps from the back, from the rear, I don't know what to call that. Like, I don't know what to say about that. So I just, I haven't, I haven't named it yet because I can't figure out a good name for it.

you're really going to want to impress, you know, like, like, stir mix a lot, you know, like, really grabs it in context, you know, no pun intended. Yeah, I think that's getting interesting. Like I said, I'm running out of words. Hey, don't hesitate to go to a foreign language, because I have done that. I have done that.

Oh man, that's going to be, that's a lot for the human. You're asking me to run to point and speak two languages. It's a lot. Maybe you need to like name it. Like this is George. Now if you go to George. That's a good, that's a good point. Maybe I need to just name it. Honestly, you're asking the wrong person.

Jerry and I don't even touch the sport world. I'm only going to give you answers that are going to get you scared back in trouble. Oh goodness. I'm really sure though, it's a lot of fun. I'm really living for that update. I'll definitely keep you posted. Funny.

So Christina, do you have any questions for us on sort of where to go next? I know we talked about making just some shifts and changes to your plan in terms of the goals because our goals have obviously shifted. From my perspective, I think the kennel and putting time into there would be a great place. Again, when you feel that the time is right in your life to sort of shift onto this next phase of goals.

And then starting to work through those pre-departure cues, those physical signs that are letting Penelope know that you're getting ready to leave, which if it's not according to the schedule, that's going to cause stress. So the keys, the jacket, the shoes. I know that's something that we've sort of talked through that process. And I think that we've done a little bit of that, but I also think that there's an opportunity to do that more through the lens of the, again, the less predictable absences.

sort of trying to come up with some more strategies to help her cope in those situations. And yeah, what other goals or questions or behaviors do you wanna talk about while we're together? I think those are the two main ones. I think eventually down the line, I'd like to tackle some of her car anxiety, but I don't wanna even touch that with a 10 foot pole right now.

Honestly, working on the cloth kennel is going to take you very, very far with the car anxiety, because I'm going to suggest that you use that in the car, because a lot of car anxiety is more tied to motion sickness than we realize. These dogs don't quite have their sea legs in the car, and they're getting flung all around, and they're getting very nauseous. So a kennel really, and then encouraging them to be laying down and being a little bit more still is really going to minimize that, and that can do a lot.

Plus if you're building up all this reinforcement history of nice, calm, comfortable behavior in the kennel, that translates right with you. That makes a lot of sense because she at first would not even sit in the car. She'd just stand and wobble. And I'm like, sit down. Just sit. Exactly. The kennel will help a lot with that. At least now she sometimes sits. Okay, good. So we're getting somewhere, I guess. Yeah. I wouldn't necessarily put the kennel in the car now.

because I know that you two take a lot of trips to agility and to this, to that, and so I want you to not add stress to those events. I think we wait until we've reached a certain threshold of her comfort with the kennel before making that sort of adjustment. That's reasonable, absolutely. That would be it. And then she'd be the perfect dog. I'm kidding, she's already the perfect dog. Oh, she is wonderful. She really is. And it's just, it's.

It's so good to hear from you and to get all these updates. And we are really excited to be able to help you through this next phase of goals. So that's something that I will touch base with you individually to get you set up with that three months of aftercare that we've been talking about. That way, when you're ready to sort of tackle these goals, you can do that with a trainer sort of helping kind of nudge you along. That way you're sticking to the path and getting opportunities to get questions answered.

um, you know, sending in some videos to make sure that we are keeping Penelope under threshold, although it sounds like Miss, Miss Confident Thang is just hopping up on whatever these days. I know, I know. Who would have thought, who would have thunk it? And stacking with the bulldogs of the world. I know. I love watching dogs stack. I think it's so great and it's hard. It's hard to teach. It's, you know, there's this, there is like an art to it.

All right, Christina, well, thank you so much. I will reach out in the next couple of days to just sort of give you the information. That way, whenever you're ready to start that aftercare program, we can get that set up. But thank you so much for your time today. Thank you guys so much for your flexibility and your understanding. I really, really appreciate it. No, of course. We love getting to check in with you.

Unpacked was created by Jerry Sheriff and Madison Simpson, edited and produced by Josh Wasta under the supervision of Straight Up Dog Talk, LLC and Emily Reslin. If you are enjoying this podcast, follow or subscribe to be sure you don't miss an episode and leave us a review on your favorite podcast platform. Looking for more honest and relatable dog content? Check out our sister podcast, Straight Up Dog Talk. See you next time.

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