top of page

Ep. 3 Transcript

Episode 3: High Drive Dogs

Jerri: [00:00:00] Welcome to Unpacked, an open minded podcast taking a clinical, not political approach to help pet parents around the world. I'm Sailor Jerri, certified dog trainer, virtual dog training revolutionary, owner of Tulsa Pack Athletics, and creator of the Open Minded Approach.

Mattison: And I'm Mattison, her friend, certified cynologist.

Together, we have nearly three decades of experience in behavioral dog training. In this episode, and every episode, we will fully unpack a real case. We've been working with real owners and their very real struggles behind the scenes for months to provide this learning opportunity for everyone else out there.

Jerri: We're giving you a peek into our world and minds, following through with our promise of adding transparency in this industry.

Mattison: If you're along for the ride, this is how it's going to look. First, we'll introduce our incredible and dedicated owner and explain their intake process while we describe their dog or dogs [00:01:00] and the problems that they're dealing with.

Jerri: Then we'll walk you through our assessment and explain how we got there.

Mattison: Lastly, we'll break down the management and modification plan. This is something we do a little differently. We're delivering a high level end goal case plan to every single owner. We believe in their ability to process a lot of information with us as a team.

To ensure we're all working towards the same goal.

Jerri: I'm glad we're doing this because cattle dogs are actually one of my favorite breeds. It'll probably be the breed I get next.

Mattison: Really?

Jerri: Yeah, I'm not gonna get another. bully, I can't do a ton of stuff. Because he is the breed that he is.

Mattison: It's a real shame.

Jerri: It's unfortunate. And you know, I like him. I like him full of zest.

Mattison: Well, cattle dogs are not lacking in zest. In fact, I think they've got a little, a little extra sprinkle of it.

Jerri: That's true.

Mattison: Well, we are here today to talk about Serena and her two dogs. Milo and Koda.

Jerri: Milo is such a great name.

Mattison: It is a great name.

Jerri: Koda a great name too, I just have a son named Milo. I just [00:02:00] wanted to plug that really quickly.

Mattison: And Milo and Koda have, I don't want to say they have typical cattle dog issues because It just feels like an unfair generalization because there is a lot going on here more than just the breed of dog. That is a huge input just in terms of I think how they process the world, which is actually really interesting considering what we were also talking about before just about cognition and processing of, of sensory information.

But I think that that was really a huge piece of this here Um, and we're going to dive into some of the behaviors that Serena was experiencing with Milo and Koda, but we are going to come back to breed specific characteristic. If we find ourselves generalizing too much, we will reel it in, but we are going to be looking at cattle, dogs and herding dogs as a breed group because they were bred [00:03:00] for a purpose and that Impacts their behaviors a lot,

Jerri: not only impacts their behaviors in a more nuanced way.

It impacts their herding behaviors because if I were to go out and pick the most forward of all of the dogs, I have all of the herding dogs. I would pick a heeler, so it, you're dealing with the personality type within a group and there's, then there's, you know, that's even more nuanced because every dog is different, but I think that's important for people to know corgis, heelers, those, they're very, very forward.

I mean, even stock bred border Collies. will be really forward. Aussies are going to be a little different, you know, border collies that you think of more traditional, like European border collies, like when you see with flocks of sheep and things like that, it's different, it's softer, it's more, um, it's more brain and not as much brawn and the heelers, you're going to get a lot of brawn.

without a lot of thought. [00:04:00]

Mattison: So by forward, you mean higher drive, higher intensity.

Jerri: Yeah. Yeah. Because I think heelers are really working with cattle. You know, Aussies and Collies are working with multiple different kinds of things, but you would never, I've never seen anybody use a healer on anything other than cattle.

Not seriously. I would love if the viewers have, you know, anecdotal. Information evidence about that. I would love to hear it, but I have never seen a healer put on anything other than, uh, unless it was really large, large flocks of sheep, I've seen that, but there were multiple, multiple dogs working if you like healers and you're really into that, or excuse me, herding breeds.

Um, this is a great episode for that because I really love to talk about the nuances of each of each of the groups in, um, heelers are my favorite of the herding dogs.

Mattison: I think it's also important that we say now that we're [00:05:00] working with PET. Dogs within the herding group. These are not working dogs. They don't, they don't have a really specific and contextual outlet for that purpose driven drive.

You know, like we have a friend of ours, Corey, who has a whole handful of herding dogs, but she also has a farm. And those dogs work and those dogs have a purpose. And so finding an outlet for her herding dogs doesn't have to go out of her way to do that. It's part of, it's part of their day and part of their life.

So I, again, I think it's important to note that we don't have working dogs here because not every Aussie in the world is going to end up on a farm. Just doesn't work out that way, you know, and Aussies and cattle dogs of, you know, all types can make great pets, but we do need to look at what are those breed or breed groups, specific needs, and what are the other behaviors that we're seeing that could be related to those needs not [00:06:00] being met in the way that their DNA really calls for. Why don't you tell our listeners a little bit about what Serena was seen with Milo and Koda.

Jerri: Serena was seeing a situation that we see with a lot of cattle dogs and I'm going to speak very specifically here. Behaviors that she was seeing in themselves are not like, Oh my gosh, that's, that's so rare, Serena. I don't even know what we're going to do. Like these are really general behavior, common problems that you would see in a consultation or hear in a consultation.

So that wasn't shocking to me. I don't necessarily think anything was. It's shocking to me, but Serena and Milo and Koda, theirs is one of those that I could almost tell you what was going on without even seeing video and just reading the really thorough history. It was, you know, when you start to see a certain number of things that are going together all the time.[00:07:00]

You kind of know what you're looking at. So if you think that you might hear something about you or something that sounds like you or sounds like your dogs in this, listen to some of the solutions. She has two cattle dogs. One has escaped the backyard and had an altercation with another dog and the other has redirected on the first one.

So let's just for a second, let's break down what that looks like. There is a dog in their backyard. That's their dog. It is an arousal so high over the sight of another dog and then her other dog is redirecting, which then again leads me back to, is this an over arousal issue that's kind of run rampant in a household?

So it's so important that people. Listen to this episode, listen to what we're saying. This is so very common. We realized on the intake that they were both healthy, so there wasn't medical concerns. I know we always kind of like to go in that area, talk about that [00:08:00] if they're there, but they weren't. We've got two dogs in a home.

With what I suspected to be problem with the management of arousal. So we're starting to kind of piece these things together.

Mattison: I think that going back even to our main topic in episode one, you know, these are two dogs from us, you know, the same breed group. However, They are unique individuals and they have different sensitivities and they have different preferences.

And for example, Koda loves his food, real food motivated. Milo, he's kind of average with his food drive and his appetite. And over time that created some issues because Koda's exuberance to get food and Milo's indifference created some resource issues between the 2 of them. And that was 1 of the reasons that Serena had reached out.

Another way that they are very different is Koda is just a little bit more enthusiastic and driven and motivated [00:09:00] both with food and with . Play and Milo's just a little bit more sensitive and a little bit more affectionate, and it doesn't appear to be quite as driven as Koda on the surface, but we do see a high level of anxiety in Milo, especially related to some of the sound sensitivity that we've also touched on in the past.

They did have a not so great training experience with koda at a certain point, which they realized very quickly that the basis of the training was to put Koda in an uncomfortable situation and then punish any sign of fear or discomfort. So that didn't last long. They pulled him out of that and they've done various trainings in terms of just building up obedience cues, but they really didn't have the protocols and skills needed to start addressing the reactivity.

Both at the barrier in the yard, which had grown really intense and the barrier in the house, which is a big window that looks right out on their street.

Jerri: Koda, our little plompy purebred looking guy. [00:10:00] Um, he has a really high play drive. He has a really high prey drive. He has a really high, probably drive everywhere all the time in general.

Milo is a little bit codependent with Serena. Koda's kind of always getting in there and blocking. So you have dogs that are vying for mom's affection all the time and I'm going to just, this is my advice to people if they have a healer, healers are one person dogs. They like to know who their person is.

That's okay. Now we've got it and we're going to move forward. When you start adding in dogs or people to that scenario. So we're now we're going outside our sweet little bonded pair and our little snow globe that we're living in. And you start adding more, it can be difficult. It can be different than adding Aussies, for example, who will work a little bit better as a team in a group.

These are, this is anecdotal [00:11:00] evidence. There is no scientific evidence to prove what I'm saying. It's just thousands and thousands and thousands of dogs I've seen over the years in different contexts. Some in vet med, some in training. Some in daycare, some in boarding, whatever, whatever, in these, this has been true for years.

Regardless of ideology of training, I have rarely seen a situation where it was a good idea to have two heelers in the house and it just went perfectly. There's always gonna be the vying of attention and affection from their person because that's the way they are designed to be. This is the dog that's in the back of your pickup truck.

This is the dog that's sitting, you know, waiting for you to come out of the feed store. This is the dog just because they're not working doesn't mean that they don't still have some of these innate qualities to the breed that are in there kind of screaming to get out. And so if there's one person, Two [00:12:00] dogs and not enough understanding about how to kind of meet their needs.

They're going to start getting their needs met how they can. And it's going to be things like this that you see in multi dog households where they're vying for attention, resource guarding of the owner, uh, fighting over toys, you know, another form of resource guarding. You're going to see them getting pushy potentially with each other before you see full on fights, there's going to be this tenseness.

Mattison: Because in this situation, they have, you know, several people in the household. Serena has a partner, they have children, there's a cat, there's a couple other small animals, and Koda in particular seems to have compartmentalized his humans to where one of his humans is his affection. And Snugglebud and his other human is for play.

And I've seen that as well, where they will go to one human when they're feeling one emotion, you know, Hey, I'm feeling calm and relaxed. So I'm [00:13:00] going to go and gravitate towards this human. Cause that's, that's the person that I relax with and cuddle with. And, oh, I'm full of energy now. So I'm going to go slap dad in the, in the calf with my, with my tug rings or something.

And we talked about this with Serena when we went through and unpacked her case plan of Just how good these dogs are at pattern recognition. And that that's just such an easy one for them to pick up of this human has this context. This human has this context. And, you know, on top of all of that, the boys do love each other.

These two play, they hang out. They really enjoy being around each other.

Jerri: They definitely act like brothers. Brothers got a hug, brothers also fight, you know, brothers get on each other's nerves.

Mattison: When one is having a bad day, it is likely to impact the other one. One thing that they do have in common though, is that they both seem to fixate on the cat.

We do have a prey drive in many regards, and that's something that we talked about was the [00:14:00] emotions, yes, but also the The biological process.

Jerri: The adrenaline dumps that they're doing are absolutely reinforcing.

Mattison: Yeah.

Jerri: What gets blown into their veins through their endocrine system when all of these things go on is astonishing.

It's more addictive than any drug that any human being could ever do. And then the behavior itself is, is reinforcing to them. And then we can't ignore what's going on with the cat. Massive cortisol dumps from being constantly in fear. And that's not something I know that Serena wants going on. It's certainly not something, it's very common in homes.

That's why I'm stopping here to talk about it for a second. It's not okay to let animals chase each other where they're not switching between predator and prey. That's a note for everyone. When there's healthy play going on, because lots of people's cats and dogs play. But they should be switching.

Sometimes you get to be the getter and sometimes you get to be the gotten. And so I was [00:15:00] glad that she brought it up and wanted to figure out like, okay, we can't let this continue. What, what, what steps do we take

Mattison: Now on top of the prey drive? Another behavior that Serena was struggling with was a pretty intense leash reactivity.

That honestly has a lot tied into it because Koda especially is super friendly when it comes to people. Right. But if Milo is reacting, Koda is going to start reacting too. And so we have these states of arousal that are feeding into each other constantly. And I was so impressed with Serena when we were going through her case plan with her, how quickly she was really able to connect the dots.

 About reactivity and what's happening in the body and what's happening in the mind and why these types of things get worse and don't just stay the same. We don't see reactivity, you know, stay at a constant level. We see it escalate because it is reinforcing in that way. And we were able to make so many connections between that and [00:16:00] addiction and the way that it just feeds into itself.

Jerri: I was just thinking that, I was thinking it in my brain as you said the word addiction. Because it's exactly what it is. It's when you get reinforced in that way. Okay, let me give you an example. When I say lots of cool words and then people clap, oh my god. I mean the reinforcement. Should I say it again?

Do you guys want an encore? And then imagine if I did that once a week. And then all of a sudden, this is kind of a lifestyle. Hey. You know, and now I'm looking, I'm looking for it. Now everything is becoming about the stage. And then I'm, now I'm doing it every day. It's every day. And it's just going to be difficult to break those patterns.

I have absolutely no qualms comparing dogs to drug addicts. One time Denise Finzi did that and the internet lit on fire and came for her. And I was like, hmm, well, I was a drug addict and I thought it was a pretty sound [00:17:00] analogy that you made. And the analogy was, and I think it's relevant for here, so I'm going to say it.

Don't get upset like your dog's doing something personal to you when they're in a reactive explosion. Nothing is taken over. They're not here with you right now. It's very much like. I get that your child that's addicted to drugs just stole 20 out of your purse. Without the drugs, without this cycle of negative behavior, they wouldn't be doing that.

And it's the same with our dogs. And I know that that resonates with people that are living in recovery. And I want to make it resonate with the people that aren't.

Mattison: And that, that's what this state of arousal really is to these dogs. It's that impactful.

Jerri: Feels so good to them. That's what people don't know is it feels good to pop off.

When you're a dog, it feels good to rip it. You want to rip it, you want to shake it, you want to run.

Mattison: You know, they were bred to do it at the right [00:18:00] intensity and in the right context.

Jerri: Yes!

Mattison: But we are not funneling it into the right places right now.

Jerri: I saw a video on the internet of a healer the other day, and it was like, a UTV takes off down this long road.

On these people's ranch and I don't know that I've ever seen a dog run that fast. A greyhound maybe on a track, but

Mattison: Oh, is it, is it Winnie the cattle dog? I feel like I've seen.

Jerri: Yes. Yes. Yes. It was Winnie.

Mattison: That dog is like Winnie.

Jerri: I mean,

Mattison: Olympic athlete.

Jerri: I just want everyone that has a healer to watch that.

And to be like, whatever it is that I need to do to recreate that feeling for my dog is what they need in a home setting. How can I give you something like that?

Mattison: And that's something that we will come back and address, but here I want to kind of talk about the flip side of having such a, just, just wonderfully intelligent and driven dog, which is that hurting dogs.[00:19:00]

Yes. Cattle dogs, more so, have such a need for order and structure that chaos will send them into a complete spiral. And that, unfortunately, is what we're seeing with dogs like Milo, where any, any little bit of chaos, anything out of place, is sending, and it's, and he's not even the more cattly dog cattle dog, but he is the one with the height.

The higher sort of, um, baseline of anxiety. So his resilience to things that are sending his body into that hyper arousal, he just can't take it.

We talked about their leash reactivity because they both were leash reactive and their prey drive because they both have a strong prey drive. But Milo really... Is living in his barrier reactivity all day long. He has [00:20:00] that huge window that is triggering him. Every motorcycle, every dog, especially the nemesis dog.

We all know, we all know the nemesis dog out there, right? And he really is stressed out when he's in the backyard. When any type of dog is coming by, running the fence line and really similarly inside, absolutely losing it at the window. And then that unfortunately is triggering Koda because Koda, Mr.

Cattle dog through and through says order in the court, like that chaos. And so he is going to slam down the fist of judgment and just take care of it because that's what they're designed to do. And that's where the issues between them were happening was Milo was really. Unable to stop his spiral and coda was like, okay, I'll do it for you Which is not exactly how we want them to resolve that.

Jerri: Yeah, because they do it with teeth.

Mattison: That's how they communicate Yeah

Jerri: And you know what the reality is that they know what they're doing. They know what they're doing when a [00:21:00] dog has had enough Of another dog, and is like, look, you obviously aren't doing anything about it day after day after day. I'm gonna go in there and do something about it.

The healer is the one that's gonna do it. It's going to make an executive decision, and it's going to go immediately in, and it's probably going to say something to you about it, with side eye, you know, later. Well, you didn't handle it.

Mattison: They're not middle management, they're upper management in a different department, and they're coming over to do your job and tell you that you didn't do it well.

Jerri: And I think people need to know that. When you get that vibe that your dog is policing behavior, it's because there's behavior that needs to be policed, or the dog wouldn't be doing it. And if it is doing it over something that doesn't need to be policed, then you can look at that as a different scenario.

But it happens a lot, where people are like, Oh, she just doesn't like it when they play. Oh, he always is the police of the group. It's like, well, they're trying to regulate energy. They're trying to either... Diffuse or I don't know, um, but there, [00:22:00] there's a reason if you're seeing that policing behavior in your dog, look further, look a little deeper into that.

Mattison: There was one other piece of our meeting with Serena that I wanted to talk about, which was, we talked a lot about data collection. This is where I get excited. You know, my inner nerd is like, let me get an Excel spreadsheet. I'm going to organize it. And we, we just really wanted her to start collecting some information to understand what was happening on the days when they were redirecting onto one another.

Again, we were going to try and manage and hope that that didn't happen, but we wanted to figure out what individual triggers. from more than likely Milo because he was more likely to be triggered were then leading to an outburst from Koda. So we could try and find out what are the patterns here. What is causing Milo's energy to go so high that koda feels the need to intervene.

Jerri: And remember, we're not doing entrapment here. We're not like, Oh, we're setting up scenarios and then you're going to get in trouble. [00:23:00] It's just asking them. To live with safe management in place. We're not setting up scenarios in which we know the dogs are going to fight. That's ridiculous. It's not safe to do that.

And it certainly isn't safe to, to instruct someone to do that. You could think about it like journaling. There's things that you are not aware of that are going on because you see them and you think them. And then in that moment, it just leaves. So it's not that you don't notice them. It's just for whatever reason, your brain didn't think it was important to keep that piece of information.

And for something like this, all of the information is important because that data is going to let you see behavior. Let's talk through our list. Exactly what Mattison was just talking about.

Mattison: Immediate implementation that we gave to Serena during our meeting. The first thing was that we really wanted to limit that stress and rehearsal.

The whole point of the management is to keep the dogs from rehearsing those unwanted behaviors and from. Initiating that biochemical process that we know is putting their body into so much stress. We really [00:24:00] do not want that to be happening a dozen times a day or more for a dog or for any creature.

Jerri: We practice these things until they become automatic.

I used to use that all the time to remind myself, you know, when I was training an animal or in the gym or whatever we practice in AA, we practice these things until they become automatic. So I was trying to set default behaviors. Well, guess what? That's true for good and bad stuff. You start repeatedly practicing something.

You're going to get good at it. People are letting their dogs rehearse and not even understanding that it's an option to not allow that. You know, that your dog doesn't go by the window, your dog doesn't go by And it gets complicated because I think people here limit the rehearsal and they're like, Well, what am I gonna do then?

You know, it's like, I can feel it in myself, like, there it's a defensiveness of like, Well I have to walk my dog down this street. I have to take it out [00:25:00] here. And I think a lot of times the have to's aren't actually have to's. They're just a lack of knowledge about perhaps another option. Maybe some other things that we could do instead of this.

So keep, keep that in mind too. It's not that we want. To lock all dogs in the house and never let know that is a big complaint against the force free community. Well, then our dogs are never going to be able to do anything. That's not what we're saying. We're just saying limit as much as possible their ability to rehearse turn down for what.

Because guess what they're gonna do? They will, in fact, turn down for what? Repeatedly. Disco balls will drop. Shit will hit the fan. That doesn't sound like a great party, but...

Mattison: You know, we say limit rehearsal. Not end all fun forever. This is not meant to be a permanent restriction for your dog. This is so we can make some changes and we can't make changes if your dog is continuing to rehearse the old behavior.

I [00:26:00] compare this to an injury. If you break your ankle, you don't just start walking on it right away. You have to use crutches. You have to use some forms of management to give it time to heal before you can take that step.

Jerri: Koco has a really good phrase at handoverover on Instagram. I love her little phrase about it.

It's not forever It's just for now just whenever you feel sad in your little heart like taking these privileges away You're not you're building a safe management system

Mattison: and part of that involved Solo everything.

Jerri: Eh, solo, I'm going solo, I'm going solo. I've been waiting a really long time to sing that song.

Thank you.

Mattison: You're welcome. You're so welcome.

Jerri: You know, everybody needs that solo time. Imagine all those people that have a bunch of siblings. I don't. I'm a selfish, self centered, only child. Like when your parent did something alone with you. Just so special. You know, I can imagine that it was. Gosh, Solo everything.

I love that one.

Mattison: Mealtime management. We wanted a little bit [00:27:00] stronger mealtime management. There wasn't an issue between them at mealtimes, but knowing that one dog has a massive, massive food drive and will scarf his food down and then start eyeballing his brother's food, we certainly wanted to just remove that worry for Milo that Koda might come in and, you know, grab some leftovers that weren't exactly leftover.

Jerri: I'll just take those, thank you. Wait, I'm still eating, I forgot. No, you're not. Yeah, you're not. I'll take it right out of your mouth.

Mattison: Were you going to finish that?

Jerri: Why is it half chewed?

Mattison: You mean you weren't chewing that up for me to eat?

Jerri: Dude, your food's half chewed.

Mattison: This is something that we've mentioned in I think every episode so far.

The way that I phrase it is meaningful exercise. Finding a way to meet their needs in a way that's meaningful for them. For these two high drive dogs, we need opportunity for some high drive work. The, you know, the regular walk that is such a challenge and a [00:28:00] struggle for them right now is not what these dogs need.

We can use a combination of just really high intensity, physical exercise combined in some mental stimulation, and you can burn off so much energy in, you know, 15 to 30 minutes. In light of how difficult the leash reactivity was, we suspended leash walks and focused more on that meaningful exercise. And we talked a lot about the yard and the fact that if Milo is gonna be out there and he has a potential to react, if there's a potential, any potential that we think a dog might be walking by, that we need to have him on a long line and he needs to be solo.

That way there's no potential for redirection and we can actually start to work. On decompression in response to seeing those triggers without the potential of him escaping the barrier hurting himself or another dog for the window inside. We suggested blocking the visual for now. So we can isolate some of the sound triggers.

Milo is very sensitive to motorcycles and anybody that's walking past their home. So we suggested getting some type. of [00:29:00] window adhesive. The ones I recommend do not have any glue adhesive. It's just water. So if you're thinking to yourself, you know, I don't want to put something sticky on my window. This is not going to mess up your window at all.

This is a really easy product. You can get a plain one that just blurs. You can get stained glass. So it's going to bring beautiful light into your home, but it's going to blur the image. So your dog is not going to have that visual trigger. But again, this is our crutch. This is to help us get through so we can give some alternatives and teach both Milo and koda to decompress in response to that

state of hyper arousal,

Jerri: an important part of a lot of cases is muzzle conditioning. If you have dogs that you are afraid could potentially harm each other and they have to live together and your goal is to integrate them and have them integrated, or they already are, but they're fighting, whatever the case is.

Muzzle conditioning allows you to safely begin the process of doing some of those things and working on some of those things. If you're just looking to come out to Dodge City in the wild, wild west and start shooting guns [00:30:00] off, what I feel like people are doing when they do a lot of behavior modification with dogs that are known to get into it, And they don't muzzle condition.

It's not only not that hard, right? It sets a precedent for you to condition anything that you use with your dog. You then understand that you can't slap things on dogs. It doesn't work that way. It makes them uncomfortable. And so when you go through the process of learning how to condition a muzzle, you really go through the process of learning how to condition a tool, a piece of equipment at its base level.

And you can take that and pivot to other things, you know, that comes up in the future with your dog. So when we suggest muzzle conditioning, it's a preventative measure to make sure that you can move forward safely. Let's circle back. To the police dog, not the police dog you're thinking of, but the dog who polices, that stuff cannot be helped.

They're feeling it inside. If the party's hopping, Koda's got to [00:31:00] manage that. And honestly, do you really blame him? Can you really blame him for that? So, the things that we put in place. Certainly would not be to punish that dog that's having a problem with the energy level that's going on and they're going around and okay, you are doing too much.

I'm stepping in breed. Specific behaviors should not be punished. We help them by not creating or letting them get into situations where those behaviors. can be on display and then we have all these negative consequences from stuff that's not. It's better until we can learn some different skills, until we can get a handle on these weird patterns, the nemesis dog patterns, all those kinds of things.

We help them. We come in and help our dogs manage all of that stuff so that they're not feeling like they have to do the policing of the other dog. We're going to do it. Yeah.

Mattison: And once they see you start jumping in Being that strong leader in those moments [00:32:00] over repetition, they can learn to be off duty and they will just look to you to handle it.

Jerri: The great thing about healers is they're there to get the job done. That's what they're there for. The job will be done. So somebody who is doing the job, are you doing the job? You're not doing the job. I'm doing the job. So yeah, when you start stepping in and advocating, really attempting to be a good steward there, the dogs do notice that because the job's getting done.

So, okay. So mission complete.

Mattison: The reason that I use the word leadership there is because I think it's so important to be a model of behavior for your dog. I think that we, we, that the cross species thing means that we cannot model behavior for our dogs, but if you are. Responding explosively to stressful situations.

Yeah. And your dog is also responding explosively to stressful situations.

Jerri: If you have a bad temper or you're a volatile person, I would strongly caution you against getting a Ford dog. If you have a problem with emotional regulation. Not the dog for you.

Mattison: Because you [00:33:00] have to be able to model good, calm, and stable energy with honestly really any dog that is struggling with an emotional spiral in the way that Milo is.

Jerri: And I feel like I'm seeing that out of Serena.

Mattison: I was just going to say that. She's got a good head on her shoulders and I think that she is grounded enough to tackle this. Let's talk about where we wanted her to start. With Milo, this is going to maybe sound similar to a previous episode, but the sound sensitivity.

Until we can isolate some of the triggers or lessen the intensity of the triggers, the reactions are still going to be at the same level that they're at now, which is not at a place where we can really work and work towards a behavior change. So we wanted to get some of the sound sensitivity worked on first and then starting to address the barrier reactivity at the window and then eventually out in the yard.

For Koda, we really wanted to start looking at energy regulation and energy triggers and building very, very [00:34:00] strong and clear patterns of decompression for Koda to be able to go from his eight back down to, you know, a two, which is probably about as low as it gets for a cattle dog.

Jerri: What happens when you have a dog or dogs like this?

What are we talking about when we're talking about arousal, decompression, relaxation? It's very simple. Think about it like a zero to ten. So zero would be a dog that's sleeping, you know? Laying, sleeping. Ten would be a full blown over arousal. So for my dog, that would look different than, say, a healer. And two healers might look different.

Arousal is the throttle. It's their internal throttle ramping everything up. It feeds into their drive. If you have the throttle wide open all the time, your boat is going very fast on the water. And that is not a maintainable speed. It's not good for dogs to have wide open throttle all the time with [00:35:00] no ability to lower the level.

So when I see Enzo going up, Oh, now he's at a five or a six, I better be clicking that down one at a time. So when we talk about decompression relaxation protocols, that's what we're talking about. We're talking about scenarios in which dogs can learn how to lower their level of arousal by doing things like stationing for decompression.

Some people call that place beds. I used to call, I mean, whatever you want to call it with my dog, I carry food with me. And when I noticed that his arousal is going up because of his body language, I help him by inserting something into the scenario that will allow his calm me down system to kick in, which is his parasympathetic nervous system.

That's what we're trying to get to. We're trying to help the dogs kick in that part of their nervous system so that they can experience what it's like to decompress from those high levels of arousal. Once you get down and lower levels of [00:36:00] arousal, dogs think better, respond better. They can remember. They are more likely to make better decisions and have more desirable behavior.

But if they're never taught that and they don't know, think about, it would be like if you never taught a toddler the things we know toddlers need to know. You just have a kid that just grows up screaming and throwing stuff because you didn't teach them how to walk it down. We can't be having tantrums.

We can't be at this level all the time. Overall, I think that this was a really fun one because there's, it's so layered. You've got a multi dog house. You've got a high drive dog. You've got a sensitive kind of sensitive dog, but there's a lot to unpack, pun intended, here. But I think that there's so much relevant information in here.

There's going to be words that maybe if you're a listener that you haven't heard before, especially if this is your first episode, if it is, I encourage you to go back and listen to the other episodes [00:37:00] because you'll hear repeating themes that we're talking about, right? Leash reactivity. Barrier reactivity, resource guarding, and you're going to find your story in some of those things.

And this was just such a great example of what so many different people are dealing with across the world today. And with such a popular breed of dog that we all really, really love and want to see do well.

Mattison: This is one of the breeds that. You worry, you worry when a really high drive breed gets popular.

Dogs like Malinois and like cattle dogs being put into kind of average families. We just tend to see these types of issues. I'll tell you what it takes. It takes somebody who has decided this dog is my whole world.

Jerri: Yes.

Mattison: And I am going to meet this dog's needs.

Jerri: Okay, what do you think?

Mattison: I think that these two dogs could [00:38:00] not be in better hands because Serena, she just gets it in a way that we could see everything clicking into place for her. And she was asking such amazing questions back.

Jerri: Mm hmm.

Mattison: For exclusive access to behind the scenes content from the podcast and Rescue Work, digital downloads to help every pet parent, plus full training and behavior courses.

Join me at And if you're an owner or a rescue and you'd like to work with me, reach out at freedbytraining.Com.

Jerri: If you are listening to this podcast, you obviously have some interest in your dog. Maybe it's somebody else's dog. I don't know, but if there's anything that I can help you with, I would love to see you over in the world of Tulsa pack athletics.

There's a lot to look at on my website. So if you get over there and you're really confused. And you don't know where to go. You can schedule a phone consult with me. We can talk about what's going on with your dog and what steps that you might take next to set you guys up [00:39:00] for success. You can visit me at www.

tulsapackathletics. com.

Mattison: Unpacked was created by Jerry Sheriff and Mattison Simpson for your chance to be featured on unpacked. com. Apply at www. unpacked. stream and find us on Instagram @SailorJerri theDogTrainer and @FreedbyTraining. See you next time!

bottom of page