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Ep. 6 Transcript

Episode 6: unPACK Session #2 (Cristina)

Mattison: [00:00:00] This is the second unpack session. This is your chance to be a fly on the wall as we unpack separation anxiety and Penelope's full case plan with Christina. If you're enjoying the podcast, follow or subscribe to be sure you don't miss an episode. But now it's time to settle in with us and unpack. So obviously the three main kind of behaviors are the separation anxiety, which is not really a behavior.

Separation anxiety is many behaviors. The lack of confidence in response to new and novel items, not so much environments like objects, items specifically, and the lack of just overall independence, which is tied to the separation anxiety. Um, the management in place we've, we've sort of talked about a lot is really, really solid.

The, the meds made a [00:01:00] world of difference. I know once we got the right level for her to be just comfortable on a day to day basis, the physical exercise routine is just like She plays and gets a walk in the morning before you leave, plays and walks in the evening and goes to agility for funsies once a week.

We like that. Oh, good. So good. So good. And you can see like more confidence. I think at the agility now that she's built up more comfort in that environment than you would expect from her. So that's such a good thing to keep building and keep pushing. Yeah, something I actually, I don't know if I wrote it down somewhere, but I had the thought of, I think it could be really cool to see if your agility instructor would start kind of like running point on some of these drills with Penelope and having Penelope look to another human.

In that moment and build up just a little bit of like confidence and attack while you're on the, you know, the first run, run it with her and then step away and then try and build up to have your goal be that the [00:02:00] instructor could run her on the, on the agility course while you're across the room, that would be big, that would be huge for confidence and independence.

I don't think I wrote that down, but I had that thought. You know, it's

Cristina: interesting enough that my train the trainer literally on Friday, last Friday mentioned she was like, I have. I have noticed a difference in Penelope's confidence, even while she's here. The way she interacts with... The other handler and her, all three of us, basically, how she's not as attached to me in that environment.

Now, she will go say hi and want love and affection from the trainer when she's supposed to be on the heater.

Mattison: And I see it. Well, we're not really taking the agility too seriously, so that's okay. That's good. Um, I think that the reason that I would, I would do that here where I wouldn't always say like, well, let's just pass the leash because we have a lot of agency here during the agility.

There's no leash. She could just walk away. She could run back to you at any point she wants, [00:03:00] right? And she probably will a couple of times. And that's something that we, that, that we take as information. Um, but I think that it, it, it sets it up to be confidence building. It sets it up to build independence.

It sets it up to have environmental reinforcers that are like those secondary reinforcers. Because, you know, uh, what's the easiest item on the agility course for her, her favorite one? A frame. The A frame. Okay. And, and, and she likes it. And every time she goes on it or goes over it, she gets a treat, right?

So the treats, the primary reinforcer, right? Over time, cause she's done it hundreds and hundreds of times. Now that a frame is now a secondary reinforcer. It's also reinforcing to her. So there's going to be a lot going on because you built up so much reinforcement in that place on those items, it's going to transfer over to that experience with a different handler.

I think we have a lot of opportunity to use that Friday, Friday is it on Friday nights. It is. I have no life. That's how I would spend my Friday night. Are you kidding me? I heard that. That

Jerri: sounds [00:04:00] divine for a Friday night. Oh,

Mattison: that would be so much fun because you know, you're going to be, you're going to be with another dog nerd and your dog.

Like those are the, the only two people I want to be with. Don't tell

Jerri: anybody. I think that's awesome that you guys are doing that. That's such a great opportunity to, I, I second everything she just said. It's a great opportunity to remind yourself like this is the place. This is the place where I can push it a little bit further and feel confident and not feel uncomfortable.

And if something does happen or does go wrong or doesn't go as planned, these people are here to support me.

Mattison: And knowing like worst case scenario is she'll opt out of something. Yeah,

Jerri: worst case scenario, she's like, I don't want to do

Mattison: that. Okay, she'll just run back to you before anything else. She's not a dog that's lashing out in any type of way.

And these moments would never be tied to the separation anxiety because she's never going to be left there. So there's not going to be any of those feelings there. Whereas I want to be working on similar things with your family, but at a way [00:05:00] less level, because I actually want to work up to you being able to leave.

And have it. Well, I mean, you do leave. She's not cool with it. So,

Cristina: yeah, she's actually doing really good today. I actually checked on her before we started and she was not by the door. She was by the couch.

Mattison: Oh, awesome. Yeah. Awesome. You know, I don't, I definitely don't talk about it a lot because like, he's not really home alone often, but Remy sulks hard when I leave, like, even when, when my husband's here, I He's like, Remy just sits by the door the whole time.

He doesn't play with his toys. When I'm here, we'll just go grab a toy and go swing it around and play like, Ooh, he's feeling good. My husband's like, he doesn't do that when you're not here. Like I, I recognize and I see it more than I want to, if I'm being honest. Um, probably a lot of dogs are suffering from the level of separation anxiety that, that Penelope feels, but their owners maybe aren't as in tune to it.

Yeah. That's just, that's just the truth. I think

Jerri: An example of that, Christina, I'm sure you've seen it, [00:06:00] is when people will film their dogs coming into the bathroom with them, and then they tell that story about how, in the wild, dogs watch each other's backs, so that they can go to the ba That ain't true.

That dog has separation anxiety. You know, that means that you cannot use the restroom without your dog coming in. I also struggle to manage ends of separation anxiety. When you create a lifestyle where your dog is with you all the time, you will inherently accidentally condition in these things that you really don't necessarily want.

But that is a consequence of living so closely with my dog. And it's something that. Uh, is like a risk versus benefit to me. Um, so I just try to mitigate. The symptoms of overall separation anxiety as much as I can. So I don't want, I certainly don't want you to feel alone. You're just really in tune to the fact that your dog is suffering [00:07:00] and that you are uncomfortable and that you can't like leave and

Mattison: you have to ride in a way that we don't

Jerri: correct.

And you'd be surprised how many people this is, this, these topics don't even come up to them. They're not even aware that they need to seek help for this. So I'm really proud of you. Thank you. I know. I

Cristina: could start wanting to be that neighbor, you know, cause I know that she vocalizes when I'm not around.

And I

Jerri: don't want to, I don't want to be

Mattison: that neighbor. Good

Jerri: for you to care about. Society has rights. They, other people around you have rights as well, so I really appreciate that, that you consider that too.

Mattison: I do want to also just say that, yes, I agree with that, but also I believe that you've gotten Penelope's vocalizations down to a level that is, it's like 20 minutes max.

On her worst days. I'm like, to me, that's reasonable. [00:08:00] If when you leave, your dog barks for 20 minutes and then they're done for the day, like, you've worked down to that level. So yes, society matters, but also, but also, you're in a condo, right? Right.

Jerri: If they don't want to hear dogs barking at all, they need to choose to live in a different place.


Mattison: need to go to apartments that don't allow dogs, or they need to be in a single family home, which I know not everybody can afford. Like, we rent a twin. And we recognize that we share a wall with somebody, right? Like, and it's our landlord, so there's no excuse. Like, I, I have to keep the barking. So I get it.

I do. But I also feel like, but he also has dogs and he understands, like, they're going to bark a little, like dogs bark. So I think no barking, unfair, unfair expectation. And I think you've worked really hard to get her there. Um, I'm, I'm not going to stop bragging on you because I know how much work you've put in up to this point, um, which kind of leads into not, not the next one on the list, but the bottom one, the routine and just how you [00:09:00] got such a clear, consistent routine for Penelope, people don't want to make that accommodation for their dogs.

People don't want

Jerri: to make that accommodation for themselves. No,

Mattison: no, that's a tough adjustment. So you're doing awesome. Yes, the consistency that, that, that you have in her life, I think is so important. And I do not think you would be anywhere near where you are without it. I think if everything else fell away and you had this consistency, like this is the most, the most important thing for a dog like this, because it's predictable.

And without the predictability, she has nothing to like latch on to discipline,

Jerri: discipline and staying with this routine, being really disciplined about making sure that you just show up for that every day will carry you places that motivation, inspiration, all of that stuff will kind of wax and wane.

But just showing up every day will get you results that nothing else would have gotten you. So it's like literally the most important foundational piece that you could [00:10:00] have and you already have it. So it's like, hang on to that and tell yourself that like on days when it feels bad or like you're maybe not making progress, I showed up so overall I am making progress and it is okay.

Yeah, I mean, the last can

Cristina: be sorry, go ahead. It can be challenging sometimes and you do get kind of like. Yeah.

Jerri: Yeah. Yeah. It's

Cristina: normal. I haven't had too many of those days. As of lately, so that's good.

Jerri: It's a good, good sign of progress.

Mattison: Exactly. Another thing that we, we do with a lot of separation anxiety cases is sound masking, but that's something that we didn't feel was necessary because she's not sound triggered, which is awesome.

I think separation anxiety is most dangerous when it's paired with the sound sensitivity, because then they have these triggering moments that you're not there to help with, which is. It sucks, you know, so

Jerri: I

Cristina: might be throwing a wrench into things and I [00:11:00] didn't, I didn't talk about this before, but she, I think she has confinement anxiety, like, definitely.

Yeah, I got rid of the crate. I think I actually maybe I did mention, I think you have mentioned that. Yep. I got rid of the crate completely because she like never in a crate anymore. I

Mattison: don't, I don't know that you need a crate because she's not destructive. There's no other issues. And having her be in a really small area was.

Anxiety inducing. It wasn't helping it. It was harming. I think there's opportunities to potentially if we create a little bit more you, you can create some type of space. You can use a pen. You can, you know, maybe put a gate so she can't get to the front door. To just block her from, like, the area that's kind of, like, the worst of it.

Um, I just am the opinion that dogs don't need to be near front doors. There's, like, no good reason unless they're going through them. Yeah, [00:12:00] I agree. So I love to have gates in front of the door in your house, so they just can't get to about two to three feet. And that gives you places to put your shoes and put your...

And it just becomes, like, the dog free zone. Um, I have a double entrance. To the front specifically picked this place because I'm like, Oh, that makes me feel a lot better for that reason. Um, but he still hangs out right at that door. Um, so we could create a pen in her case. I think it would, the time we would take.

To work on any type of confinement would set us back and there's no need for it. So I just in this, I didn't feel like it was necessary. I would rather focus on building up a really, really strong reinforcement at a station specifically. I think the bed that's right around the corner from the door. And getting her really used to laying there where she's not staring at the door, obsessing over the door, even if she's just kind of listening out, that's better than being at it.

Um, I, I would rather focus on that than closing her in because again, in every other [00:13:00] aspect of your life, there's just no need. Gotcha. Now, if you got to the point a year or two from now where you felt like the separation anxiety was really in a good place, then I would suggest getting something wildly different from whatever you used before.

So like a cloth kennel, maybe. Like if you use a metal wire one, get a cloth one or get a plastic one and then start to work on it really casually with, um, as like a almost emergency preparedness thing, because in a vet or grooming emergency, she will be kind of right. Like, that's just the truth. If you have, like, a sudden need to, um, travel, or if she were to escape and be held somewhere, just it's 1 of those things where it's not a priority right now, but if some of these other priorities are taken care of.

It might be worth working on that one day, especially if you're like, oh, separation anxiety is done. We're going into agility. Okay. Now she needs to be comfortable in a kennel.

Cristina: Yeah, which is where I was kind of going with that. Because when my [00:14:00] trainer said that you have to be, they have to be created until their run.

I was like, oh, well,

Mattison: we're out. So I would go ahead and get a cloth kennel. That is a bigger than what you need because that would still be allowed at an agility trial. And, um, we can start introducing it to her as a novel item, unzip everything, leave it open in your living room for like the next month or 2.

And that's where you start. And there will be no pressure. You're already ahead of the curve.

Cristina: I have everything. I have a cloth one, a metal one, a plastic one, a pen. I have it all. She owns my house.

Mattison: The pen, I think you could use that to put in front of the door. Like, to block that off. I think I, I think that would be something to try, especially in combination with building up the reinforcement of being on that bed.

That's not her place bed. That's right around the corner. And it's been right around the corner. Like, that's the spot it's been for a while. So yeah,

Cristina: still there, right? Right there. [00:15:00] Yeah. Okay.

Mattison: Okay. Anything to add Jerry to that was management, but with some other kind of other things sprinkled. I think everything sounds awesome.

Jerri: Okay, I was just going to add a couple of things that you had already said about, um, just different ways to. Use crates, introduce them, not use them, have it, you know, all the things, but, but I do agree. Um, you know, Enzo doesn't use a crate other than when he chooses to go in it and lay down, but he is crate trained because I'm paranoid about.

You know, this, this really big, powerful dog. I know your dog is much smaller, but just the thought of him being freaked out inside of a crate. And if he gets loose or if whatever, whatever, whatever at the doctor or at the vet, um, I just think ultimately at some point you're going to have to think about doing that.

So take as long as possible in the process. Like she was saying, just you've already got this stuff. Just get it out and start working on it. I've seen some really cool [00:16:00] stuff in other countries where crates aren't allowed the way that they, um, kind of manage and give their dogs these little like areas and rooms.

It's really cool. So there's, there's stuff down the road, you know, when you get there. Choices. You don't just have to put them in a crate. Hey, I just had to recondition.

Mattison: I just went through that whole process with Remy because of the car kennel. Oh, yeah, yeah,

Jerri: yeah. I

Mattison: saw that. And he got stressed again over the weekend, taking him to my parents on like a 35 minute ride, even though he was fine for like two hours last weekend.

So, gotta bring it back inside. We're gonna need some more. Yeah,

Jerri: it's the same with Enzo. I don't, um, he, he's weird about things in the vehicle. So we can be fine. And then something happens that I may not even see or know, or it might even be me, my energy, my attitude. Yeah, if I'm rushing the children, he can feel that and he's like, uh, I don't, uh, you know, and then here we go.

Now [00:17:00] we're backwards. So, and I, I just have accepted that that is, I've just accepted that this bothers my dog. And no amount of me wishing it to not be so is ever going to change it. So they all have their little things, you know, that we're, that we're working on. You're not alone. The car is a whole

Cristina: nother story.

We won't get there.

Jerri: We won't go there. I grew up with a little poodle when my, when my grandparents passed away. We got her and then I also had a cockapoo, um, all growing up. So I'm actually very familiar with the, like, the disposition that Penelope has, that personality. Like I grew up with two when Madison, I watched the first video.

I was like, Oh, I already know.

Cristina: Yeah.

Jerri: So I can, I can feel that there is, there's a lot, a lot of intelligence. Inside of that little dog and I'm sure that, um, you know, I'm a very sensitive, [00:18:00] intelligent person as well. So I can

Mattison: understand

Jerri: and so is Madison. So I understand and you probably are too. We attract, you know, our dogs, we, you know, are very much like us.

So it's kind of funny. You're like, yes, as a matter of fact, I am.

Mattison: Okay, so some of these skills that we wanted to start developing and we have started developing are the scatters in a way to desensitize novel items. So bringing them more out into the world and taking off some of the pressure from that. So that way, it's just like freebies freebies freebies. Um, the stationing as opposed to a place command, it's a little bit different, like a little bit different from go to her bed, um, to counter condition to the pre departure cues and building up a little bit more resilience to the frustration, especially in the context of enrichment.

I'm not surprised that she's also an easily frustrated dog that that to me makes sense. What does that look like in [00:19:00] agility when she gets frustrated with something? So,

Jerri: you know,

Cristina: she, she just jumps. So the teeter is our main frustration, and I think it's partly to do with the movement because she'll do it when it's completely blocked off, so when there's zero movement, she'll do it.

But as soon as there's a slight bit of movement, she opts out and she will go halfway and then jump off. So, um, she just quits.

Mattison: And what does she do right after she jumps off? She'll come to

Cristina: me. She comes directly to me. Yeah. It

Jerri: sounds like she gets frustrated, she... Has a really hard time self soothing and she will immediately, um, I call it and I know dog.

I'm not saying that dogs are thinking at this level, but when humans do it, it's like, they're smearing their emotions all over the place. It's almost like she comes and dumps them on you because she's not sure. Is that, is that accurate? Or I would,

Cristina: I would agree with that. It's like, she's like, I [00:20:00] can't do this.

I need your help. And it's weird. I don't know. I don't know if they really do this, but Even when she's uncomfortable outside, like say she has a piece of poop stuck to her foot. Okay, like when she immediately comes to me and I have to figure out what's wrong with you. Yeah. You know what I mean? So it's like, I'm like, Oh, you got poop.

Maybe you got poop stuck or whatever and something's wrong with her and she's always decoding

Jerri: her like you're trying to always figure. Okay. Yeah. And

Cristina: even if, um, I have a lot of hair and photoshoots, so she might get a piece of hair stuck in her, in her tooth. So then she comes to me and I'm looking at her mouth and I pull the hair out and then she's fine.

Hmm. Okay. What if, like a toddler that literally cannot talk comes over to me and I'm like, now I have to figure out what's wrong with you. Yeah. Are you dying? Like what's going on? I mean at some level. in agility

Jerri: too. At some level you want that because you want your dog to feel comfortable coming and [00:21:00] trying to communicate with you.

Um, but when she doesn't have any autonomy, that's where I start to go, okay, how can we help you determine this is a thing I need to help you with, or this is a thing that we need to. We're going to go past this right now, which is much like a toddler.

Mattison: I feel like I'm talking about my

Jerri: 5 year old right now.

Like, okay, this is not, you know, you need to go to someone else for this or how can I help you figure this out? Which some of you mean, you can't. Explain to a dog that they need to pull hair off of their canine tooth like that. I get that. Okay,

Cristina: or even some of her puzzle toys. Like, she'll just walk away like the snuff.

Like, I got her a snuffle mat and I'll scatter food in there. And I thought it was the food. Like, it wasn't like, high enough value that she just was like, this is terrible. I don't care. And she just walked away. [00:22:00] And I'm like, I'll kind of get her to try to come back and she just, you know, walked away.

Jerri: Okay.

She just doesn't like the texture of it or what do you think? She won't even

Mattison: probably we needed to do scatters around it first because probably the snuffle was new all in and of itself. She's like, I ain't putting my face in that thing. I don't know. Yeah. Or

Jerri: maybe like put a paper towel on it so that part of the park.

Yeah, it might be just be, you know, how people won't touch things or they won't eat stuff because it looks texturally looks weird or they won't touch something. I think dogs feel that way too about a lot of stuff.

Cristina: You know the Kong wobblers? I had one of those too, and I just gave it away because she wouldn't We

Mattison: can't use that because it's so loud.

Yeah. We have one that we like that's much quieter.

Cristina: But she will use, um, when I put the Westpaw topples together. Yeah. She'll use that. Yeah. Yep. And she'll [00:23:00] move that around and eat

Jerri: it. So she has some pretty specific preferences about things, where some dogs, kind of like people, some people are like, whatever, it's cool, I don't care.

And me, I'm like, I'm not touching that. I'm not eating that. No, no, and no. Okay. That's important to know because I think that to expect our dogs to change fundamental core things about themselves is unfair. I don't like all of the lights to be on and you're not going to train me to make them me like it.

I don't, I prefer that they not be on. I can deal with them being on, but it bothers me and I'm going to exhibit behaviors if I am overly bothered for too long by it. And so I think some of the stuff that's happening with her probably is like that. And then how do we provide a really good balance with some of these skills?

So that we're still honoring kind of who she is and not pushing her, but also toddler. Yeah, [00:24:00]

Mattison: it doesn't seem like she is getting frustrated with the enrichment. It seems like she's sensitive to some of these and they're just. Like it almost wouldn't be worth desensitizing her to the cotton wobbler because it's so loud.

Like, I don't like that. I don't want it in my home, which is so, um, yeah, I agree. I think having a couple of enrichment items that at least take, take mealtime from what would be maybe like, you know, four or five minute activity and make it like a 10 minute activity just to get her like slowing down. And I don't mean necessarily physically, cause I know that she's not like at risk of just gobbling it down, just, just to have her.

Have some fun with it and fun that isn't necessarily dependent on interacting with you. We don't need to have like a list, just a couple. Who's that

Jerri: account? Um, Madison, I think it's Kingston, the doodle. There's two little doodles. They look just like, almost just like Penelope. I like same color and everything.

And they have this incredible [00:25:00] Instagram account where they constantly put out DIY enrichment. Um, because they live like. In some major city, and so they're always, like, showing you different, um, really, um, cost effective enrichment, just different things that I have not seen before. Um, so you might check them out, too, because you run across something that seems.

You know, that looks good one day. It's hard to come

Cristina: up with ideas on your own. She will, she will enjoy a lick mat. Oh

Jerri: good, yeah. I just bought one of those for Enzo. Yeah. And he

Mattison: liked it, yeah, good. Okay, so I want to jump down to the timeline real quick. We can adjust this a little bit too because I think we can actually go ahead and start using the cloth kennel as like a specific novel item.

For us to be working on the, um, the desensitization. So I think if you can just put that somewhere where she doesn't spend a whole lot of time, but she would like, be aware of it and then just ends up every door and do [00:26:00] nothing else for now. Um, and then we're going to start our. 4 weeks together. Um, what day is today?

Monday. Yeah, we can start today. We'll start today. So, um, next week we'll, we'll talk about maybe doing something a little bit more with that. But I also will be curious to see if she, like, won't go within 10 feet of that corner. If she goes and you know, like information collecting because we're not like, we're going to take all the pressure off of it.

Like, Oh, no, it was for me. This isn't even for you. Don't even worry about it. Right. And working on, I feel like we do already have a good reinforcement history of the scatter, but again, building it up without necessarily having her wait or do anything else. It's just find it nose to the ground. Like, I want her to hear the cue, find it and just just be sniffing and

Cristina: I did that last week on the on our evening walk.

I just took her evening meal with me. And she did great. So I just had to, [00:27:00] my brain had to be ready to say, find it and let it go before anything

Mattison: else. Yeah, that's great.

Jerri: I always just think of it like with Enzo, I think of it as this like little red string. Like I'm throwing it in his head's going down, like, that's what I'm, that's what I'm looking for.

I'm looking for immediate response and I like to think of it once he gets it. It's just like me throwing glitter and flowers out and people can see that I'm glittering and flowering. I don't know if that helps,

Mattison: but that's probably how people say it. Um, and then I think really heavily focusing on the stationing activity.

So doing that free shaping with the unelevated bed. Yes. Pay. Yes. Pay. Yes. Pay. Yes. Pay. Release her right? Just huge reinforcements on that bed with, like, no expectations. I think a that's going to just we're going to see her start start to [00:28:00] want to go there and just just offer that up and hang out there. Um, I think very, very quickly.

We're going to want to use that. If she does get agitated or upset or stressed out and kind of looks to you, like. Walk over there and just kind of stare at the bed. And the second she gets on it, yes, pay, yes, pay, yes, pay, you know, again, I know we're running out of time and I want to just very briefly and high level say a lot of separation anxiety specialists are not going to recommend you train with food, but I feel that we lose a lot of opportunity to be really clear with these activities and building up reinforcement that doesn't necessarily have to have to do with us.

Um, I think that Penelope. Okay. Sometimes she looks like, like she doesn't know what to do. And like we said, if you're not there, then she doesn't have direction. So we need to build self suit and to do that, we need there to be a station for that.

Cristina: Are we naming this or we're just no

Mattison: name, no name, just [00:29:00] lots of lots of yeses.

Lots of yeses over there. You can say find it and sprinkle them right on there until she actually steps on it and then just yes. Yes. Yes. And so we will be checking in with you on Wednesday to see how things are going. So please feel free to submit videos between now and then,

Jerri: especially if you have questions about what you're doing on that stationing.

Like, I would rather you just do it wrong and try. And just make sure you put the camera up and show us and then we can be like, Oh, actually, you know, but, but don't be like, I don't know what I'm doing. I'm just not going to do it. That don't do that. Just try and

Mattison: do the best you can. Thanks so much for your time today, Christina.

And I'll talk to you soon.

Unpacked was created by Jerry Sheriff and Madison Simpson and edited and produced by Josh Wasta under the supervision of Straight Up Dog Talk, LLC and Emily Breslin. See you next time.

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