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Ep. 4 Transcript

Episode 4: unPACK Session #1 (Amy)

Mattison: [00:00:00] Welcome to unpacked, an open minded podcast, taking a clinical, not political approach to helping pet parents around the world. I'm Mattison, certified dog trainer and behavior consultant, and this is the first unpacked session. We're going all the way back to episode one when Jerry and I unpacked reactivity in a multi dog household.

We are so excited to share with you the heart of our conversation with Amy as we unpacked her case plan. We'll be back to a full length episode next month. If you're enjoying the podcast, follow or subscribe to make sure you don't miss an episode. Leave us a review and tell a friend. Settle in and let's unpack.

Amy: All right. So one of my biggest questions, and I started rolling in this newer setup this past weekend because I wanted to see, practically speaking, what would come up. So like you said, a lot of high interest questions, um, So the first thing, I think there is some gaps I [00:01:00] personally need to fill. So when it comes to like exercising the dogs, especially like high intensity, I feel like I need to brush up, especially with Ace on his fetch, if we do something like fetch.

Ace is one of those dogs, he loves playing, but he... Kind of is like after a few times he's got the ball and he's like, I'm done. And so, um, prior to working with you and getting in with you and Jerry, I was doing it inside with the leash on him to get him to help continue that, that back and forth. Which is great.

Mole's one of those dogs, like, I'm going to have to continue working on. She, she wants to do stuff when she wants to do things.

Mattison: How are they with Tug?

Amy: Ace, that's the love of his life outside of swimming. He could tug all day, every day, probably more than I ever could. Um, Mo is an interesting case because again, that underbite.

So she thinks she's big and tough, but she can't quite work well enough. So some things I've done with her is, um, Cocoa has taught us like our makeshift, um, flirt pole. [00:02:00] She likes to do that. Um, so, so I think I'll work that in with her because Fetch is not really her thing. She doesn't really, you know, Fetch,

Mattison: I I think is good in small doses.

I think it can become too repetitive and the, the sort of. The dangers there are both the physical repetition of if they're, if they're just completing the same action over and over again, it's not actually great for their bodies and it tends to just kind of promote that neurotic kind of mindset. So I, I like structured fetch for dogs that love to fetch.

I'm not. A huge believer that we need to introduce it. Um, I would do instead more leaning into, especially for ace leaning into the tug and then using the tug to get him really amped and excited and then having him drop and then having him go to place and then do a decompression drill and then come back out when we tug and we go to place.

And it's a really good way to after you've taught the [00:03:00] decompression drill to sort of Practice that, but with a positive trigger, like, okay, he's he's up here, but it's not because he saw something to make him react. It's because you were just playing tug and that gets them up there too. And then we go to place and we so tug tug has a lot of benefits because it is something that can get their energy from a 2 to an 8 like that.

And, um, I will send you my drop kind of demo, um, which is really all about communicating through energy. So usually not using food. Um, the only time that I use food for drop is, uh, there's a dog, like I've been working with recently at the shelter named Lucy, who she's just a tug, a tug of machine. Right.

And if, if you say drop and you hang onto it, she's just going to keep tugging. So what we did was we did drop and then immediately find it until she. Okay. started going nose to the ground the second she heard drop. So we used it for a period of time until [00:04:00] I could get her to just release much more quickly.

But for most dogs, just communicating through energy, which you'll see in the demo is enough.

Amy: Yes, and that's something that I really worked on, especially with Ace, because again, he loves his toys and he loves his ball. So his is really great. Um, Moe's has gotten a lot better. So, um, I think that's a great opportunity to take advantage of rehearsing that.

Cause I, unless we're like playing a lot, which to be honest with you, sometimes I lose track of last time when we played. Um, I think that's a great time to...

Mattison: And I think that the flirt pole for, for Mo sounds perfect. Maybe getting some type of like crinkly toy to put on the end of it. That's like almost like a soft tug that like, if you're not pulling hard, she probably could kind of do like a gentle little tug tug.

Amy: Okay. We're getting a lot of rain. So, um, it's probably going to be well into May. Looks like. So I've been. Working them inside. So thankfully, I think I showed you some of the [00:05:00] foyer area. So the foyer, um, is an open area between the two living spaces. So what I've been doing with Ace and Noel is, um, I've been looping them from one room to the other just to get the cabin fever out of them.

Because especially Ace loves 24 hours of cabin fever and he's going like berserk.

Mattison: It's great for that. And dogs love to chase food.

Amy: Especially Mo, she's like, there's no chewing sounds with her. So, so that's great. Yeah. As long as you go and get that food and you bring it back.

Mattison: So, so you're just standing in the middle and you're putting one, one way and one the other.

That's perfect. What a great way to sort of burn off mental.

Amy: Okay, and I just got a whole bunch of food.

Mattison: What is he currently barking at out the window?

Amy: It sounds like there's a big motor outside. So something that I've learned, because I've been working with some of this like sound clip stuff, is that, um, [00:06:00] I've started with the diesel engine sound. Cause that is kind of like, we have

Mattison: actually Remy's that's Remy's only real thing is he hates that

Amy: there's something about that.

And like my, when, when I was still with my ex, um, I think he's got used to it. Cause we had a diesel truck, a diesel engine truck for him. It's the vibration, like it's the vibration in that low. humming sound. So I can recreate the sound, but I can't recreate the vibration. So he's like flying through with like,

Mattison: okay, here's where you have to use a high quality Bluetooth speaker.

So you can put the speaker on the ground and he will feel that. Yep. Not like high quality, high quality, but you know, not like a, not like a 5. Dollar tree version that it just sounds really shallow. You want it to have, if you have, like, I have a soundbar with a subwoofer that I could hook something up to that.

And that would sound very realistic. So think about, think about anything like that. That's going to be more [00:07:00] basey and then put it on the floor so he can feel it. Okay.

Amy: Yeah, I listened to it yesterday. I was like, oh, I forgot. It's, it's the freaking vibration.

Mattison: It's the vibration. Yep. Remy's the same.

Amy: Yeah, it's so funny because like, sometimes he'll react to like, the neighbors slamming their car door.

Sometimes he won't. Like, with Ace, sometimes it's like, I caught it last night. I kind of closed the dryer door. Maybe a little too loud and it spooked him. So I think for Asa, it's like, Oh, you scared me!

Mattison: Okay, so he just has like a heightened startle response too.

Amy: Yeah, so I'm like, okay, that's something to note for sure.

Mattison: It is definitely something to note that he's just more easily spooked and doing the sound, uh, desensitization and generalizing it as much as you can will help with that. Yeah. And then also just thinking about, like, how does he kind of bounce back from those startle moments? Like, if it's a bark and then he's kind of fine, I think that's really workable.

If he gets startled and he stays up here, then I think we want to talk about [00:08:00] introducing some decompression, whether it's place or the scatter or some way to help him calm down. But he's pretty quickly regulating that.

Amy: I think it depends on how startled he is, it feels like, because sometimes he'll bark a couple times and then he'll kind of look around to see if it's going to happen again before he barks again.

And sometimes he's just on one, just, and I'm like, okay, now it's time to scatter, you know, we need to stop with that.

Mattison: So it seems like he's, he's trying to figure out, is there something there? And if, if he's like, I'm not sure, then he's not going to keep barking. But if he knows there's something there.

Right. He's going for it. Okay. Okay.

Amy: And we did a lot of practice because my brother, I had lived with two of my brothers in their twenties. So, you know, their bachelor life in it. So one of them especially does a lot of Uber eats and like DoorDash. So it's almost like every evening there's a car coming. So I used to dread it, but now it's like, okay, now we get to practice.

So every day, yeah, activity course and now working with you. So, [00:09:00] um, now I'm like, okay, I'm annoyed, but at the same time, we got to work through this. So it's going to continue to happen.

Mattison: Yeah, yeah. And now you don't have to like have have somebody drive by to pretend that they're a delivery driver. You can just practice, but that happens all the time.

Amy: Yeah, for real. It's like clockwork 6 every day. Okay, there we go. Perfect. Yeah, I was like, thanks. Thanks, Adam,

Mattison: you know, and that's just more ace is reacting to the noise. He probably does hear the door slam and he's alert. And then once he hears them at the door, then he's barking. Yeah, I

Amy: think, um, yeah. It took me a while to understand this, but Ace is just my more sensitive dog, you know, like he, the sounds, the noises, you know, um, even like if there's a change in me, he's very quick to, to, to tune in.

I noticed Mo will jump into the react, reactivity if she, she sees, oh, Ace is freaking out, you know.

Mattison: Yeah, I think we want to try and... Like the first goal is when you see that he's alert, [00:10:00] how can we kind of prevent that further reactivity? Right? Like that's okay for the first thing to be that for now that Ace notices something and you try and keep it by by using those protocols from kind of going any further.

Right? But ultimately, we want to have him not even be startled or alert. Right? But that's not that's not day one.

Amy: Okay. So this is the before dinner after dinner protocols. And this is probably where I need the most clarification, maybe. So I know we're talking about, okay. Um, so before their dinner, we want to make sure that they have some movement before we work into the reactivity setup.

So I'm trying to think like what that looks like. So to give you some context, um, you know, we're coming out, coming out of the snowy weather back into like. Doing life outside a lot of like retuning up of like being on the leash. Right. Um, and I know that's just something that's going to take some time.

Mattison: We're just going to continue to [00:11:00] do so it could be structured play for movement again. Right. Especially like if the weather's crummy and you don't want to go outside. I'm gonna tell you what, sometimes not always it takes a lot for me to convince for me to go out when it's raining hard. He doesn't want to do it.

And like, I'm not going to make them go out, especially if I don't want to be out. So there's no reason you can't do structured play inside as their movement. Um, what you were telling me about how you were using that loop, um, same thing that's giving them both opportunities to move, just knowing that they've been in the kennel for a couple of hours, giving them an opportunity to just shake it off, you know, 5, 10 minutes of movement each that that's honestly it.

You could slap a leash on them and just take them around the building around the house around. And then switch and go the other way. We don't even have to head out into the neighborhood, especially if that's gonna, you know, be a potential, a potential to rehearse the reactivity. We just want to, we just want to shake it off.

Jerri: I do not really, you know, Enzo's around me a lot because I work from here and I do, and we really don't, that my life cannot be less [00:12:00] than. What's going on with Enzo, right? Like, it's just not a, a personal vision for me. I love Enzo. He's my best friend. I wanna include him in as much as I can, but like, I didn't, I included him in what I was doing.

Okay? So I made sure that the tasks that I'm doing prepare, always prepare him for that. So, um, The scatter feeding and then working the structured play into the task that I'm doing to keep the engagement. I was probably out there maybe 10 minutes messing with my camera doing all the little whatever's that you do and chasing him around while he played with the stick.

You could do that with a drag line. And I would just turn around and I would go, What are you doing? And then he would run, and then I would turn back around and like, hurry up and try to put the mic on, and then I would turn around and get up and chase him. [00:13:00] You know, and it wasn't anything that was like, All this extra time I was putting in, it was just remembering to just almost like you would a child include them in the moment because they can't just, you know, be there like that.

And then the other thing that I did was when I knew that I had this going on, so I had back to back things. I had an interview and then I had this and I knew that I didn't want him to be restless or let's take it reactive or, extra in any way, whatever. So I made sure that I took his food and I saved it for the time of the day that I knew that this would be most beneficial and helpful to all of us, to everyone.

Everybody wins, everybody wins. And I scattered it all over the yard. He was out there for probably 30 minutes. I hurried up and put my makeup on and I did a little or whatever. I don't, I don't think that was the order, but I did whatever. And then now I'm able to do [00:14:00] this. I don't have anxiety. That, you know, he's not fulfilled or he's gonna do some type of weird shit or, you know, whatever the case may be it that it's there's so much relief in learning how to work this stuff in.

But that's the way I think about it. I think about it as like, okay, I have to go take a shower. Milo. What do I, okay, I can't just expect Milo to just do nothing. I'm purposely talking about my child now, not my dog. Switch. Um, you know, so I need to make sure he's set up with his toys, that he isn't hungry, so he doesn't go wandering off looking for something.

It's just really more about setting us all up for success than it is having more time. It's just maybe doing it, doing it a little differently. So as you approach thinking about things like dinnertime, thinking about these rituals, put those [00:15:00] glasses on. Of I need everybody here to win.

Mattison: Uh, what's the first thing that you do for you when you get home from work?

Like, do you catch up with your brothers from the day? Do you watch a news clip? Do you, do you doom scroll? What do we do? What do we do? I eat. We eat. Okay, so grab yourself a snack, stand in the foyer, and start launching kibbles for them to chase while you get your blood sugar up. Like, absolutely incorporate it into something that is, you know, a part of, of your day.

I like, I like the way that you said that, Jerry. It's not about finding more time. It's about being more creative with our time. And honestly, women, we are multitaskers, masters at it. To a fault. I can't do one thing anymore now. It feels wrong to not be doing six things. So, agreed. The movement piece, especially, should be the easiest one.

It should be Almost mindless. Okay. Cool. Cause the other parts take a lot more mental engagement from you. The movement part shouldn't. [00:16:00] Awesome. Honestly, that's something where we probably could long term talk about if the boys wanted to get involved and help out, they could certainly play a part in the movement because that's, like I said, that's just a shake off.

That's just getting, getting our legs stretched out. All right.

Amy: Well, you used to explain to me in like layman's terms. Because I think, I think my brain has a way of overcomplicating certain things. I know we just talked about like, maximizing and being creative about the time that I, especially when, as soon as I come home.

So, will you walk me through, okay, when you get home, We get done with our movement. We go into our reactivity setups. That part I understand. The part that I think I'm getting a little confused with is the post dinner. We were working reactivity setups with one dog. What are we alternating each day? Are we, are we, are we alternating the reactivity setups?

Mattison: I think that it's too much to expect you to be practicing, working on Ace's reactivity and Gizmo's reactivity every single day. I think that's unreasonable. So I think we alternate. Today it's Ace. Tomorrow it's Gizmo. Oh, Gizmo's [00:17:00] not. Feeling great today. She gets a day off. We're going to work ace again.

Like just balance it throughout the week. So they each work maybe three days a week on the reactivity setups.

Jerri: Think about it. Yeah. Amy, think about it. Like at the gym, like you're going to do glutes, you're going to do arms. You're going to do, I guess you could do glutes three days in a row, but we all know that you're just trying to get them faster.

Okay. And that's not going to work. So you can go back to doing it. Once or twice a week and hit the other sections as well.

Mattison: And if you try to hit a section that's still sore, right, it's too soon.

Jerri: Probably the greatest analogy that I've ever dropped about that.

Mattison: I think it's fantastic. It's so good because, right, you've got your upper body and your lower body, right?

So, like, even if you plan to do upper body one day and you wake up, but your upper body's killing you and your lower body feels great. Audible pivot. Go with what feels right. If one dog is not feeling great one day, they shouldn't be training reactivity because we should have no behavioral expectation if our dog is [00:18:00] physically not feeling great.

I say no, but like in the terms of behavior change, behavior modification, we're not going to change his emotions if he's got a migraine, right. Or if he's just really not feeling it, it's not linear. We all know.

Jerri: Even something as simple as like, what if it's traffic's crappy or like what, you know, you look outside and you're like, why is it so busy today?

That maybe that isn't the day to work on car reactivity.

Mattison: Right. Sound sensitivity inside.

Jerri: Yeah. Like it doesn't mean that we've, Oh God, we didn't do it this week. We're never going to get the chunky, but that's not what that means. You know, you could say it's,

Mattison: we have a plan and we're going to hit all the parts.

Um, and we're going to stick to the plan as much as it makes sense to. But we also need to be willing to be flexible and adapt because the world is going to do that anyway. And so are our dogs.

Jerri: I think it's helpful like when you're having that in your brain, like, Oh my gosh, what am I working on? What do I do?

Like, look at the scenario in front of you. What [00:19:00] opportunity is presented in front of you to practice that particular thing? If you know that that night you're going to carry in a bunch of groceries, then be like. This is it. Practicing the barrier reactivity. You know, like if you know, think ahead. I think we have to do that a lot with filming.

It's like, I don't always want to always get my camera out and do that stuff, but it's like, I'm really missing an opportunity when I know, you know, I'm going to walk through the door. This is a great opportunity to practice that or to train that. It's the same kind of concept. So keep an eye out for that stuff during the day.

And I think it'll help you be a little bit more intuitive naturally.

Mattison: And that was an analogy for all of the content creators out there. Cause that hit me hard. I'm like, I get that because there's so many times when I'm like, okay, I'm about to train my dog. I probably should film this because it'd be great content.

Uh, I don't really want to, that would take more effort. And then I don't. And it just kind of is like status quo. And

Jerri: yeah, there's no joy in it. And then we know that also, and this is parallels to dog training too, that there are [00:20:00] some times that you just. Don't bring the camera or you have it and you want to pull it out.

Oh my God. I'm going to catch. And it's like, not the time, not the time, not the time today. It's I don't feel well. My dog, this is a mental health day. I'm just going to, this is not, we're not doing that right now, but you know, I also know I can't be doing that every single day.

Mattison: Every day is a mental health day.

Goodbye. So we get home, we do a little bit of movement with them so they can both shake it out. And then we pick the one that is going to do the reactivity setups and we're going to take half of their dinner to do that because I don't, I don't want them to be training for their whole meal. I want them to get a chance to eat the other half of it kind of in a more relaxed way.

Now the dog that didn't do the reactivity, I think this is where you were like, what do I do here? That should be the training. That is the prep work. For the reactivity, right? So it could just be doing place for decompression, any type of skill that is going to help for Gizmo. It's certainly going to be building up a strong reinforcement hitch on a station for her.

So we can get something that we can transfer into the [00:21:00] car. This is a broad look at the Bulldog breed group and what they were originally bred for, which was entertainment. They were designed. And by that, I mean, what we did to their DNA, we picked and chose what pieces we wanted from that predatory cycle, which was only one.

Only one. And we designed them to idle 99% of the time and use all of their, everything explosively in that 1%. So the danger is that when we let them idle all day long and we, that reservoir builds up, anything is gonna be explosive. 'cause that's, that's just what they were designed to do, is to just come out the gate with everything that they have.

So if we don't find opportunities to kind of like. skim the tank, you're just going to see a lot of all or nothing. And I don't think that it has to be a lot. And I think that a lot of dog walkers are actually more willing than you'd think to not walk your dog and do some type of structured play or engagement or walk them around the property or talk about these types of things and be on board.

And a lot of pet professionals [00:22:00] understand that they're a piece of a holistic. plan for a dog. So it's not just that you have to hire a 14 year old, you know, from down the street, like it can be somebody who knows what they're doing and is committed to bringing the right enrichment and fulfillment to these dogs where it's needed most.

Amy: Yeah. I totally got that from what I was reading in the plan too. Um, and I know my sister has just told me that she's been looking into some more help during the day with her dog.

Jerri: So just as a bully breed enthusiast, even my dog, if I don't play with him during the day. If I don't have, like, something, and I'm, I'm talking like, we could even go on a walk, we could scatterfeed, we could, you know, down that long road that I've, you've seen me walk down.

We can do all of those things, but if I don't play with him... And do something about his need to shake and pull and tug. It's almost like he doesn't like me as much. I don't know [00:23:00] how to explain it.

Amy: I know exactly what you're talking about.

Jerri: It's like this visible disdain that I, like, kept something from him that I know he needs.

I don't think that dogs are trying to be manipulative or anything like that, but it's like there's something in him that I can just see.

Mattison: Shredding helps a lot too. Opportunities to shred maybe, like cardboard and paper that they can tear for the rest of their dinner, letting them just shred.

Jerri: The meeting of needs is kind of common sense in a way, just if you're involved in a dog community, you'll run across those kinds of things.

Managing arousal in your dog is something that you practice by being together.

Mattison: Unpacked was created by Jerri Sheriff and Mattison Simpson. For full episodes and transcripts, or to apply to be featured on the podcast, visit us at www. unpacked. stream. See you next time.[00:24:00]

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