Deb Jones, PhD: Good Traits for a Sports Dog (and Pet)

by Jun 1, 2020Dog Sports, Podcast0 comments

Jessica Hekman: Welcome to the Functional Breeding Podcast. I’m Jessica Hekman, and I’m here interviewing folks about how to breed dogs for function and for health: behavioral and physical. This podcast is brought to you by the Functional Dog Collaborative, an organization founded to support the ethical breeding of healthy, behaviorally sound dogs. FDC’s goals include providing educational, social, and technical resources to breeders of both purebred and mixed breed dogs. You can find out more at, or at the Functional Breeding Facebook Group, which is a friendly and inclusive community. I hope you have fun and learn something.


Jessica Hekman: Hi, friends. This episode I’m talking to Dr. Deb Jones. Deb has a Ph.D. in Social and Behavioral Psychology and worked as a professor for more than 20 years at Kent State University. She has been in dog sports for more than 25 years competing in obedience, rally and agility. Deb is the author of 12 books about dog training and currently teaches both online and in person. I was happy to get to talk to her about what behavioral traits make a good sports candidate.


JH: So hi, Deb. Thanks so much for coming on the podcast. I really appreciate it.




Deb Jones: Oh, hi Jessica. I’m happy to, very happy to be here and excited to talk to you.


JH: Before we get started with you know, I think the most important question first is probably who are the dogs who you live with and what are you doing with them right now? Because that’s what everyone needs to know first about everybody.


DJ: Okay, yes. First things first. At the moment I live with four dogs. I have two border collies. Zen is 12 and a half. And I always tell everybody he’s the perfect dog.


JH: I have met Zen, and I can say that Zen is, in fact, the perfect dog.


DJ: He is. He’s just the perfect mixture of everything you would want in a dog. And then Star, also a border collie who is nine? I thought she was 10 for a while, but I’ve been told by the breeder that she’s nine (laughter) so I lose track of years pretty easily. And she is a lovely dog. She is a very sensitive dog, and so much different than Zen in temperament. And then my roommate has two Shelties right now: Tigger, who is three and Pixel, who is two. And over the years we have co-owned some Shelties together. So there have been a lot of Shelties in and out of this house. But that’s who we live with now.


JH: So you’re a fan of herding dogs then?


DJ: I am a fan of herding dogs. I must be and I don’t know why some days because they can certainly get on your last nerve.


JH: We were just talking before we started about the powerful “yip” that my border collie likes to emit. So, and I actually don’t know if you are competing with either of them, with Zen or Star. But maybe you could talk either about that or what you did in the past with other dogs.


DJ: Yeah, that’s a good question. I did compete with both Zen and Star but haven’t for probably the last five or six years. With Zen, he competed in agility. He competed in obedience and got his Utility Dog title when he was, like very young, like less than two years old. And then Rally Champion like three times or so. And so Zen was, again, perfect dog. You take him in. He does the thing. Whatever that thing happens to be, he’s happy to do it. Star got mostly rally training. And she did well. She did just as well as Zen, sometimes beating him. I would often show them in the same class. And it was always interesting to see who would beat who on any given day. And before that, I also competed in agility with lots of dogs. I had papillons that I competed with. And my one papillon, Copper, who got both his MACH and his UD in the same week. That was a good week. And then a little papillon named Luna that I had. And then we did agility with a whole ton of Shelties. And so did a lot, got a lot of titles with them. But over the years now I’m getting to the point where… I got to the point where it was just, I’d done everything I really wanted to do sports wise. I still love to train. And for me it was always about the training. I don’t need to show my dogs in order to train my dogs. And I can reach goals that I set myself without having to spend the time and the energy and the money. If only I had back all the money I spent on agility trials now I’d be living differently. So that’s a little…


JH: It’s convenient in COVID times to not expect to go to shows.


DJ: It is and I think that we’re going to see a whole lot more virtual competition kinds of things happening for a while now which is good, because you can do a lot without going out around people in order to train your dog.




JH: Yes, for sure. And so now I believe you are doing some teaching of other people how to train.


DJ: Yes, I’ve been teaching dog training since about 1992. I’m thinking back quite a ways here. I was actually still in graduate school at that point. But I started while I was getting my degree in psychology. I also started teaching some dog training classes because I got a dog in grad school because it was so stressful, and I was bored. And that turned out to be a very good choice in the bigger picture. So since that time, I’ve taught dog training classes of all different sorts. Of course, back then it was all in person, because that’s all we had. The internet was just really getting going about then. But so through the years, I’ve done seminars, conferences, a lot of things along those lines. And now, as you know, I teach at Fenzi Dog Sports Academy online. And I do basically almost all of my teaching there between classes, webinars and workshops.


JH: Yeah, and so I would say, and you correct me if I’m wrong, that the theme that I hear coming from you with your FDSA classes is Focus.


DJ: Focus is a big thing and it was the thing that I first started with when I was training back when we were doing a lot of agility. Like in the late 1990s. I had a dog Copper, my papillon, who was very sensitive, very soft, but very smart. Loved to train. But when you’d get to trial, he’d sort of freeze up and slow down and just not be the dog that I knew I had. And then my friend Judy had a Sheltie, who was the total opposite. He was Saber. He would get on that start line, and he would go. He didn’t necessarily take any of the obstacles she wanted him to take. But he was fast. (laughter) He was so screaming fast.


And so you would think these are two totally different problems. That you have this soft, sensitive, slow-down dog on one side and the wild, high, out of control dog on the other side. But in reality, they both, to me, came back to the same thing, which was a lack of focus on the trainer. And they were more… Copper was more interested in the environment because he was worried about it. Saber was more interested in the environment because it was more fun. And because it was enjoyable. And I saw that if we could change their environmental focus to more of a focus on the trainer, that was sort of the start of my work there. And coming up with exercises that would help that to happen.


And so then since that point in time, I’ve of course worked with this concept a lot. Revised it a lot. Written several books about it. Did several sets of DVDs back in the day with Clean Run on it. And I don’t even know if people still buy DVDs anymore. I think they’re pretty much out of stock at this point. They were streaming for a while, but that’s older stuff. So that was older stuff. Look at the more recent stuff, because I’m constantly changing what I think and how I approach training. And probably even in the last five years, I’d say, everything that I do with focus has improved. It’s gotten better because I’ve been able to sort of step back now and look at all my students and their dogs and the challenges they’re having, which are just like the challenges I had 20 years ago. But now I know so much better the kinds of things that we could do to help them. And so that’s been a long evolution, in terms of developing these ideas that I have about focus and about kind of the best way to what, I always say, is develop a working relationship with your dog. You’re developing that relationship. It doesn’t have to do with how much you love your dog, or how much you enjoy your dog. It has to do with how you work together and making sense to the dog so they can be a partner in that process.




JH: Yeah, that’s lovely.


DJ: Good!




JH: And so as you know our focus through this podcast, it’s supposed to be about breeding. And so we think a lot about genetics, but it’s not, obviously… It’s not just genetics whether your dog has a nice relationship with you or not. It’s also how you manage the dog. So I’m sort of thinking about what we should dive into next, like which direction to go? But maybe starting with first things first and genetics.


DJ: Okay.


JH: So you’ve worked with a bunch of students and you said that they’ve had a… you’ve seen a whole lot of different problems that come down to focus. So, maybe what kinds of dogs are people getting, and how much does that contribute?


DJ: That’s a good question. And genetics is so vitally important, right? We can’t override genetics with anything that we do. We can alter things a little bit. We can try to move dogs to behave more in the direction that we would like. But we can’t make them something they’re not. And this was hard. This was a hard thing for me to come to as a behavioral psychologist, because our foundation is kind of this idea that environment can change everything. But we know now that is just not true. That is just not the case. It’s not all about what you do to or with your dog. You have to start with good genetic material. And so what happens a lot in the dog training world and in the dog sport world is that somebody gets a dog just for a family pet. And then they sort of stumble into dog sports somehow or the other. And they go, “Wow, this looks like fun.” And it is fun. It’s like some of the most fun you can have. So they’re going, “Well, this looks like fun. I want to do it with my dog.” However, their dog probably genetically wasn’t bred to be a strong working dog. And they didn’t have the background of working with the person. So they’re trying to throw the dog into something that the dog has no basis to understand how to do it. And the problem is both the genetic aspect of it, I think, as well as the fact that they haven’t had the kind of exposure and education and experience that would make this now easier for them to do. 


Taking your dog to an agility trial. Everybody wants to talk about agility being fun for all dogs. And I actually have a podcast that I just said, “It’s not.” (laughter) Not a podcast, I’m sorry, a webinar where I’m just saying it’s not fun for all dogs. It can be very, very stressful for some dogs. And yeah, people are surprised by that, because that’s not what they’ve been led to believe. And they’ve also possibly seen that in training their dogs behave very differently than they do at trials.


But to kind of pull it back to genetics, it matters a lot. It matters what raw material you start with. You can make your job so much easier if you either by luck, chance, or you actually know what you’re doing, get the right dog for the job you want them to do. One of the reasons I love herding dogs and I love border collies in particular, is because they want to do whatever I want to do. So they make it really, really easy. They honestly don’t seem to care a whole lot. “You want to do obedience? Great! You want to do agility? Great. Want to do nosework? Sure, what the heck!” And that, to me, is like the perfect foundation for anything that I can build on.


And I’m not saying all border collies or all herding dogs are like that. Because we know that’s not true as well. That you really want to choose, if you have the opportunity, from a background of dogs that does the types of things that you want to do with your dog. That will up your odds of getting a dog that can do these things. That doesn’t guarantee anything. Because, you know much better than I did, genetics can throw you some real curveballs sometimes. And you get this random odd outlier in a group of puppies that are all bred to do the same thing. But it makes sense to start there.


And for me, I always puppy tested. And I like to start with puppies, not that I don’t think you can start with adult dogs and make a lot of progress and reach your goals, because I do think you can. But I like to start puppies because I like puppies. I love that first year so much. I don’t want to miss out on it. So I would look at a litter of puppies and puppy test them. And I know there’s a lot of controversy about whether or not a puppy test is an accurate or valid thing in any way. But I would do my own version of puppy testing. And what I saw were huge differences in the same litter of puppies. That typically you could kind of categorize them. As you know. “These look like they’re a little too much. These look like they’re not quite enough for what I want. But look, look, then there’s these right in the middle. And this is the one I want.” I don’t want those extreme ends of the scale. Because that’s where you run into having to do so much more work to get them to the place where they’re a stable, comfortable, mature working dog. I hope some of that makes sense.




JH: It did! And actually it reminds me of, at the beginning of this conversation, you told me how Zen was perfect. So maybe you could tell us where you got Zen from and did you pick him out of a litter? Did you have him as a baby?


DJ: Yes, yeah. A couple of things with Zen. Yes, there was a litter and he was my first border collie. So I had no idea really what I was looking for. But I’d known a lot of border collies. I’ve been doing agility for a long time and obedience. So I knew enough of border collies. And yeah, there actually turned out a couple of things. And I do have preferences. I like male dogs, mainly. I don’t like to have more than one female at a time, and that’s a personal preference. And so I knew I wanted a male dog. And there happened to be these red border collies, and I loved that color. So it’s a terrible way to pick a dog. Don’t follow my personal preference at all. But it just turned out that there was a litter. There were others, but there were two red males. And so we took those two males to test them. And let’s see, the one… And Judy Keller and I who train together, you know…


JH: Judy, your roommate.


DJ: My roommate who also wrote the focus book with me, and we do all our classes, a lot of classes and things together. So we were testing them. And the other one, the one I did not choose, bit her in the testing, and then ran under the van and wouldn’t come back out. And I’m like, well, that one’s not gonna work. Zen on the other hand, chased her through a big field and ran with her and just had a good time. And our little test that we did, everything just was great. It was like, “No, he’s not too wild. And he’s not too reserved or laid back.” And so that was the extent of my testing with him.


I’d done much more formal testing on other litters, particularly letters of Shelties. We have a friend who lives close who’s a breeder, and we’d get, Judy would get, her Shelties from her. And so we would always test the litters. And sometimes we’d test the litter even when we weren’t getting them, just for fun. Just because it’s our idea of a fun thing to do. And my personal testing is based on, you know, a lot of reading (what some older, more traditional tests are) and then my own intuition, which may or may not be good. But it’s worked out for me, to a great extent. And I would, we would do a series of tests, and rate them, you know, typical rating scale of like a one to 10 scale and see where they fell. And I’m always looking for the middle ground. I’m always looking for those puppies that fall in the middle, that don’t end up being so hard wired and intense, and unable to calm themselves down and energetic. I don’t want to live with that. And on the other hand, if it’s the one that you can barely wake up to test, and they’re not interested in you, they’re not interested in what you’re doing, they don’t really want to play with toys, food holds no desire for them, then that to me, now, that’s going to be a hard one in the bigger picture. So I would just shoot for those that hit that middle ground well. And typically, that’s worked. And I was able to see in many of the litters, puppies, even years later, that I had tested. And would see things that did bear out to be the case. That the ones that, in particular, didn’t recover well if something startled them, they tended to maintain that over the longer haul. And they were always going to be dogs that didn’t have a lot of resilience. And so I didn’t want that as a dog to train. Because I don’t want to work that hard. I want it to be easy. (laughter)




JH: So it’s not just the picking the right puppy out of a litter. It’s also, and some might say it’s more important, to pick the right litter in the first place.

DJ: Yes, that’s, I think, a really, really good point. You have to go back… Well, ideally, you would go back and take a look at the parents, the grandparents, the relatives that you can know. And of course we can know a lot when we go to a breeder who has kept very good records. And you can take a look at pedigrees and look back in the past and see what’s what. And for example with Zen, I could look back and see basically a whole line of, on one side, of all obedience dogs that got obedience trial Championships. So to me, that says a lot about, “Wow, not only were these dogs well trained, but they must have had something in them that made them easier than the average to get these titles.” So that to me said a lot. And we always do talk about, look at what the relatives have done. And look at not only conformation titles, not only the championship, which evaluates the look and the structure of the dog, if you care about that kind of thing, which a lot of people don’t care about that kind of thing. But if you do, it used to be said, “Well look at whether you have a lot of champions in the lines.” But I think for what we want with dog sports, beyond that, there is, what kind of performance titles do you see in these lines? What do you see the relatives of these dogs doing? And again, you could get that one weird outlier, that even when you see all of this in the family, they are like the black sheep of the family (laughter) and they don’t quite do what you might expect of them. They don’t quite live up to what you thought their potential was. That happens.


And on the other hand, you can get a dog with the… either you don’t know much about the background, or what you know isn’t all that great. Maybe they came from like the sort of puppy mill or backyard bred breeder thing. And every once in a while those puppies turn out phenomenal. But I wouldn’t bet money on that. If I was going to bet I’d say, let’s look at the relatives. Let’s take a look at the bigger picture. As far back as we can.


Years ago, one of the first Shelties I got, and I wanted, I have this thing about coloring, which is not really good. But I wanted a bi-black Sheltie. Shelties come in many different coat patterns. And so sables are pretty common. We’ve had a blue merle. We’ve had a tri-, which is black, white and tan. But I wanted a bi-black Sheltie. So I went to a breeder that I didn’t know real well, but she had some champions in the background. That much I knew. And I found this bi-black puppy. He didn’t test the way that I would have hoped. He was a little aloof. But that’s part of that breed standard that they can be a little bit aloof. He was a little bit more concerned about the environment than I liked. But of course, because I wanted him to be what I wanted, I ignored that. And I pretended it didn’t happen until I looked back later and realized that probably should have told me something. And I should have listened to my intuition instead of trying to override it with my desire to have this dog.


JH: We learn as we mature. We learn from our mistakes.


DJ: We hope so. I hope I learned from my mistakes, but I have a feeling I would fall into the same mistakes again. It is very hard when you’ve got your heart set on something to recognize that this is just not right. And that this is not going to work. But I got this dog and early training went fine. He hit about seven, eight months old and went into what we normally call a “fear period.” As you know, we talk about this a lot. Not necessarily as a scientific thing, but you see these times where they seem to be more sensitive to unpleasant or new experiences. And for him, this just globalized and a puppy who had been seemingly okay was not okay with anything, ever, anywhere. He was… I would talk about neophobia, fear of new things. Constant. He was miserable. We always took our puppies with us to trials, of course, and they’d hang out and be in the car or be in a crate or whatever. And we were showing three or four weekends a month. He was miserable. He wouldn’t even get out of the crate in the car. Because there were new things there. And everything was terrifying to him.




And so when I started talking to people about this, turns out, “Oh, yeah, his grandfather was like that.” (laughter) And I’m like, thank you so much nobody for telling me until way after the fact that there was, and not only was he the grandfather on one side, but he ended up being grandfather on both sides. And I’m like, “Oh, they doubled up on the worst possible trait that you could with this puppy.” And that’s not something you can train out of. Now there’s no way you can train a dog to not be afraid of everything in the world. You can then try to make the world as comfortable as possible for them, and as safe and predictable as possible for them. But that dog could never in a million years have been what I really wanted, which was a performance dog. There was just no way in that.


JH: Yeah, you can improve them. You can…


DJ: Mmhm


JH: But you are always going to be sort of modifying their environment to make it manageable for them. And the sports competition environment is so challenging.


DJ: It is.


JH: Incredibly challenging.


DJ: Yeah, I think we don’t recognize that often enough. How hard it can be for some dogs to be in those environments. Because we enjoy it. We want to do it. We’re having fun with it. And we don’t see that it’s none of those things to some dogs. And there are dogs where you just go, “Oh, they should just stay home. That’s a dog that needs to stay home.” And that dog actually, I ended up placing him in a home with another Sheltie. The people were retired. They never went anywhere, and they didn’t want to go anywhere. And he lived out a long and happy life in their home and they were thrilled with him. He rarely, you know, left the yard so it was perfect for him. It was very predictable. It was very safe and controlled. And so the environment worked to his advantage there. There is nothing I could have done that would have made him a good performance dog, much as I had wished that that was the case and what I ended up with.


JH: Yeah, it’s a great illustration of the kinds of stuff we’re trying to think about in this podcast. So the podcast is associated with the Functional Dog Collaborative, which is intended to be a resource for helping people to breed dogs for particular functions, be they purebred or mixed breed dogs. And so I would say you had one function in mind when you were getting a dog, and you found a dog who was actually ideally suited for a different function: being a stay at home pet. And he was great for that, right? Sounds like. But it’s important when you are picking a dog to think about exactly what the function you’re aiming for. So do you see people making mistakes? As they, you know… What would your advice be to people as they’re looking for the particular function that you and I are talking about, which is a sport performance dog?


DJ: Yeah I think in general people don’t realize that that’s what they should be looking for. They don’t know what they should be looking for. And so here’s a place where a good breeder can be incredibly helpful. The breeder should be able to say to people, “This is not the kind of… either this is not the breed for you because what you want is not necessarily what they’re good at, or what they’d be comfortable with, or this is not the particular dog for you. But this one is.” So I think breeders have a lot of responsibility there. Because they’ve been around the litters for the seven or eight weeks before we get a chance to even go and look at them, though I have looked at litters as young as five weeks, and on through. So I think trust, finding a breeder you can trust, finding a breeder who is knowledgeable about their breed, but also who is realistic about their dogs. Some breeders think every dog they produce is perfect, and can do anything they want it to do. And that’s not any more true, you know, than every child is perfect. We just know that there are some… We all have strengths and weaknesses, and different litters and different puppies will have strengths and weaknesses as well. So having the chance to observe that, knowing as somebody who’s looking for a dog for a particular function.


And my function that I look for, of course, has changed over time. It used to be I would be looking for the dog that was definitely more energetic, that seemed to have a lot more interest in activity and in doing things. And as I’ve gotten older and stopped showing, it’s like, no, that’s not the dog I want now. I’m much more happy with more mellow. I can certainly, you know, develop motivation in a dog. I have confidence I can do that. So I’ll take one that needs a little more of that than one that’s high, than one that’s way over the top all the time and needs a lot of activity in order to be comfortable and happy. So knowing not only what you want to do with the dog… I want to do agility with the dog and I did agility for many years, but how are you going to live with this dog? What’s your day to day life with the dog going to look like as well? Because a lot of dogs are not happy with a laid back lifestyle. So we want to do agility on the weekends. And then we want them to hang out all week while we work and do nothing and do next to nothing, maybe go to class once or twice a week. That’s not really fair to a lot of dogs, I don’t think. I think we’re expecting them to be what we want in the moment. And rather than to be what we want in the bigger picture, if that makes any sense. So you know, it’s like, what’s the overriding thing? I’m going to live with this dog a whole lot more than I’m going to show a dog. So first of all, can I live with whatever the demands of this type of dog are?


People are often surprised. I belong to… One Facebook group of many I’m on is a huge group of people who hike with their dogs. So it’s just hiking with dogs. It’s just a general group and I went on it because I like to hike with my dogs. And I guess it’s no surprise to me that you see so many Siberian Huskies in this group. So many I think they’re over represented for the breed, for how many there are of the breed in general, because they need so much physical activity all the time. And so people discover, “Well, I got this dog. Now I have to hike with it 5-10 miles a day in order for it to sleep at night.” (laughter) And so thinking about what you’re really getting yourself into when you decide you’re going to choose a particular type of dog.


And when you think about, “Okay, what’s my hobby with this dog?” I like to let… As I’ve gotten older and smarter (maybe smarter) I like to let the dog tell me what they want to do. And rather than me choosing completely on, “I must do this sport with this dog.” Or, “This dog has to be my everything dog who gets all the titles.” At one point in time that was sort of what I wanted, was that “everything” dog who can do a lot of different things, and I was lucky enough to have a couple of those. And now it’s more along the lines of, “What is this dog really like? What really appeals to them?” And I can’t know that when I pick out my puppy, necessarily. So I have to be open to changing what I want to do. So that it’s something that both the dog and I enjoy. If it’s only what I enjoy, and the dog isn’t having a good time that’s not really fair. And if it’s if the dog likes it, but I don’t like it, I’m not going to do it, whatever it is. I’m not going to keep up with it. Because it’s not going to be fun for me.


For example, I wouldn’t enjoy hunting with a dog. Even though I might like a Labrador Retriever. One of my first… My dog in grad school was a Labrador Retriever, and I loved many things about her. But I wouldn’t enjoy hunting with a dog. And even if my dog liked it, it probably wouldn’t be something I’d do. So why should I force my dog to do something that is clearly just not in their temperament and personality to enjoy? And I’ve found with Star, she likes a lot of things as border collies do. They tend to be generalists, and they’ll, again, do what you want to do. But one of the things she really took to that surprised me was nosework. And I, that wasn’t even on my radar. There was no, there wasn’t even nosework when I got her. So that was like a brand new thing. But then I dabbled in it and she just was like, “Oh, I got this.” You know, and she enjoyed that, and enjoys that to a great extent. So I wouldn’t have gotten a dog for nosework. That would not have occurred to me. But it turned out that that’s something that we can enjoy together and do together. So I worry about people who are so focused on a sport that they forget that they need to discover with the dog what they want to do, and then compromise, you know, and do a little bit of what you both like. But please don’t push a dog that really, really doesn’t like something and keep thinking it’ll get better. Because typically it goes the opposite direction. And it tends to get worse unless you change your approach drastically.




JH: I was thinking the other day that every dog loves nosework. (laughter) How do we end up getting into any other sport? I was thinking maybe every dog I get from now on I’ll ask what do you really want to do? And if I offer them nosework, I think most, well a lot of dogs, would choose that. I think all dogs would enjoy it. Maybe not all dogs would have it be their most fun thing. But I think all dogs enjoy it.


DJ: Yeah, I think there are the things that are general to dogs like sniffing. So, you know, we know dogs love sniffing. That’s pretty common that they would enjoy that. But then there are things that are much more specific to the type of dog like herding for a herding breed, or IPO for some of the working breeds. Not that you can’t do it with a different dog or a different type of dog. But they just seem to have been bred, they purposely have been bred, for those kinds of activities. So they’re probably going to fall in there a little more than the more general kinds of things that we see. Like I think rally is pretty much along those lines, rally, that you could do it with a lot of dogs. Some won’t love it, but they’ll do it. Others will think it’s the best thing that ever happened to them. So it falls on that continuum a little bit. But yeah, the sniffing thing for sure. When they came up on the idea of scent sports, I think they really hit on something that’s great for so many dogs for so many reasons.


JH: So Zen apparently really liked both agility and sort of rally obedience type stuff. So what do you think it was about him that made him like going in that direction?


DJ: Ooh, that’s a good question. That’s a little hard. I would say why did Zen seem to be the kind of dog that you could have done anything with, and somebody more dedicated than me could have done a lot more, could have continued on to higher titles and everything. But I think a big part of that though, I say somebody, not me, could have done better. But at the same time a big part of our success was that we had a strong foundation of working well together. And that I worked very hard with him from the moment I got him to make working with me, no matter what we’re doing, the absolute best thing you could ever imagine. And I do this a lot. And that’s why I like that first year of life so much. I said I really enjoy puppies and I really want the first year (even though I know you can develop strong relationships with dogs later in life – I’ve seen it over and over again). But that first year to me, I can forge that relationship that I want to have with my dog. And I can introduce my dog to all of the things that are going to be important for me, for them to be able to do, and I can expose them to a lot of different activities that we’re going to do together. Yet at the core of all of it is I’m teaching my dog, and this goes back to focus, to focus training. I’m teaching my dog that I am always the best bet for getting what they want in life. And I am always the one who is going to give them the opportunity to have the most fun. It’s going to be with me. We’re going to always have the most fun together. Everything we do together is going to be enjoyable. And so why would they not want to do it? Why would they… There’s nothing they would, they’d never say no. If my dog said, “Oh, I’m not interested in training with you right now…” If Zen ever said that to me, by his behavior, “Oh, I’m not interested in training with you.” I’d be, “Let’s go to the vet.” Because clearly this dog is very sick.


So for me building that intense desire to do what I want to do, because what I want to do always works out in their best interest. And it’s always a fun, fun thing for them. It’s not going to be stressful. It’s not going to be frustrating. It’s going to be fun. And there’s a lot that goes into that. When I started first teaching people this, I didn’t even know how to put it into words. I didn’t even know how to say what is it I’m doing that’s allowing me to be successful at this and how do I tell you even what it is? And then how do I give you steps to get there? Because to me a lot of it was very organic and very intuitive and how it’s just how I live with my dog. It’s how I live with my puppy. But I took a lot of time (laughter) to try to figure it out so that I could share it with people. And so they could have that same level of success if, you know, if they do these things, and if they work through these steps and exercises. But I think that’s a big part of what I had there. And as I said, I had pretty much the same thing with Star though she never got a chance to show in agility. But she still wants to do whatever I want to do. And whenever I want to do it. And so I worked through that the same way with her, even better because I knew more. But even though she’s much more sensitive… So for example, in rally, I could take Zen into rally anywhere, anytime, anyplace and fine, you’d get 100 pretty regularly.




Star loved it, wanted to do it, really motivated, but the environment bothered her just a little bit more. And so I had to do more work to make sure she was comfortable. And that she felt confident, and that she felt good about what we’re doing, which at one point led to barking in the ring because she would get so excited. And then she would start barking. So then we had to work through how do we get rid of the barking yet keep the enthusiasm level high? So I worked through that, and got to the point where that worked out pretty well, where it ended up that we would get minimal barking. And she could still work at a pretty high level. But that was… And the difference between the two of them, I think, is emotional stability and confidence. And Zen had that very naturally. He’s just a stable dog. And even if something upset him, which I’ve rarely seen happen in his entire life, just, “Uh, whatever. It’s another thing. It’s gone. It’s better.”


Star on the other hand takes things a little more seriously and takes them to heart. And she has a harder time recovering from them. And I always talk about this as the characteristic of resilience that I think is so important in dogs and I want a resilient dog. I want a dog that’s gonna bounce back. Because bad things are gonna happen to them in life. I don’t want to have to babysit them all the time. I don’t want to have to constantly be worried that something’s going to happen that they can’t get over. And so I’m always looking for that resilience. So I think with Zen it was a mix of having that resilience already naturally and me being smart enough not to mess it up and to capitalize on it in terms of building the way that we work together early in his life so that working with me was always, and still is, the thing that he wants to do whenever you want to do it.


JH: Totally. Alright, so we were talking about, “What are the personality traits that make a dog a really good prospect for being a performance dog?” So you talked about being really interested in working with you?


DJ: Yes.


JH: Which you can get. You know, as you said, border collies are… Many of them are more likely to be interested in that. But you see that in a lot of other breeds as well.


DJ: Yes.


JH: You talked about… I might say that resilience and sensitivity are sort of flip sides of the same coin, right? 


DJ: Yeah. I would agree that those two things are. Yes. You don’t want, I mean, we talk about, we use the terms a “hard dog” and a “soft dog” in terms of temperament. Not that they’re hard to train or easy to train. But the harder dog can take a whole… Can withstand a whole lot of unpleasantness and keep going. Whereas the soft dog, one little bad thing and they fold. They can’t manage that. So again, I always want that middle of the road, if I can possibly find that. I want the one that’s tough enough to withstand unpleasant things, but not so tough that they don’t care what I think, or that my opinion doesn’t matter to them, because I want my opinion to matter to them. I want them to want me to be happy, just like I want them to be happy. I want this all to work out. Which sounds like an odd thing to say.


So I want, I always go for moderate in energy level, physical energy level. You know, I’m a couch potato person. It takes a lot to get me off the sofa and moving. I do it because I know I should. But it’s not easy. So I don’t, you know, I don’t need a dog that is in constant motion. I don’t want a dog that can’t settle down, and that can’t relax, and that can’t hang out on the sofa with me in the evening for hours while I read or whatever I’m doing. So I look at physical energy. And think a lot about that. On the other hand, we know with physical energy, there are dogs that you can barely get off the sofa. I mean, I could get myself a nice little, you know, lap dog of some sort that wouldn’t want to move, and would be perfectly fit for me sitting around my house. But that wouldn’t be the dog that I want to take out and then try to do sports with. Because that wouldn’t be fair to that dog. You know, that dog that’s happy to be a lap dog. Now let him be a lap dog. Why not do that? So I do think about that energy level. So resilience, energy level.


We, one of the things that we often talk about now, and it’s kind of a buzzword in dog training, is arousal levels. And so arousal levels, to me, have to do with emotional arousal, how excited you get, how enthusiastic you get, how then you can come back down to a baseline or a normal level. And we see a huge difference in arousal levels. And I think much of this is genetics. That we’re breeding high dogs. We’re breeding dogs that want to do something, must do something. Almost, you know, think Malinois. (laughter) You know, it’s obsessed to do something. Must keep active, you know, at all times. And I feel like I should mention here, while I’m saying things, is that we’re clearly talking in stereotypes about some of the breeds.




JH: Yes. Excellent point. So why don’t you say a little bit more what you mean about that because I think that’s a really good point.


DJ: Okay, the stereotypes thing or the…


JH: Yeah, just when you say that you’re talking about a breed stereotype, then you’re warning people.


DJ: Right. That this is kind of gathered from what we commonly believe to be true of the breed. But that’s just kind of the mythical average for this breed or type of dog. That doesn’t mean, again, that the one that you’re looking at is going to have all those qualities. So when I say something about a Malinois that’s constantly got to be active, and likes to bite things all the time. They love to bite things. That feels very good to them. It’s highly self-reinforcing to bite things. And that doesn’t mean that the one you get will have those qualities. But your odds are good that that’s what you’d see.


JH: #notallmalinois


DJ: Right. But we still talk about them that way because we’ve seen that. We’ve seen this trend or this pattern in this type of dog, and many have been bred to be that way on purpose. They’re bred to be more active. They’re bred to be bitier so they can be used in those bites sports and have that natural desire to do those things. Herding dogs are very much bred to be interested in movement in the environment, and not only interested in it, but to want to get out there and control it and to cause, and to change the movement and to make it faster or slow down or move this way or that way. That’s very much what they’re bred for. So then we’re surprised when they chase kids that are running. That’s ridiculous, because of course they do. That’s what they do. And again, you might have the border collie that never did that. And that’s fine. That happens, too. I took Zen herding. This is one thing he wasn’t good at! (laughter) We went to a herding clinic with ducks. He was terrified of them. And he would not even look at them, let alone herd them. Terrified.


JH: Poor Zen. Only one (indistinct) of the barn.


DJ: That was it. And people were kind of almost like, you could see them almost feeling sorry for me, like, “Oh, that’s a shame.” And then they’d say, like, “Well, maybe he’d be different on sheep.” And I’m like, “No, he wouldn’t.” He would be even more terrified. (laughter)


JH: Well little did they know that you had the perfect dog.


DJ: Exactly. But not perfect for somebody who wanted to do herding!


JH: No.


DJ: If they had wanted him for herding, and he does have siblings who have herding titles. Who knows why, you know, that that dog did well with it. And on the other hand, he’s got none of that in him. So back to those weirdnesses of genetics. So.


JH: Yeah, I’m gonna figure all that out for you guys. So don’t worry. Just give me a couple of years. Maybe six months.


(laughter) (indistinct)


DJ: I would appreciate that. And then you tell us which dog is going to be the exact right thing for what we want to do?


JH: Yeah, for those who don’t know that I’m joking, that was a joke. It will be a long, hard road for us to get there. But okay, so that was good. I think we really needed to pause and cover what we meant by stereotypes, because it’s easy for people to assume that if I get a border collie, I will have exactly what I’m looking for. That I can predict exactly what it’s going to be just based on breed.


DJ: Right. And that is so far from the truth. I’ve seen people in agility, who start out with whatever their pet dog was, who was a perfectly nice dog, but just never could get real motivated, didn’t have the desire, didn’t have the skills, whatever. And then they decide with their second dog, what are they going to do? They want to do well in agility? They’re going to get a border collie. And how does that end? Often very badly. Because now they’ve just got the opposite set of problems. Now they’ve got a dog who is too much dog for them. Who is so fast and so quick and needs information and wants to know what to do, and you’re not able to keep up with them. So now you have a totally different set of problems. But it’s no better really than the problem you had on the last dog. And probably because you came from a dog with no motivation, you thought you should build drive in your border collie. By getting them all jazzed up and doing a whole lot of tug and active play, which made the problem even worse. They don’t need that. Most of them do not need any more than what they’re already born with. So we tend to do the wrong things with the wrong dogs based on our last dog.


JH: Yeah, it’s such a common story that people just are swinging back and forth between the two ends of the spectrum. And it’s not, and we’ve talked about this before, but it’s not just the second time sport dog owner that falls prey to this right? I think we see in people who are, who have breeding programs for sport dogs, that there’s this push to start breeding these higher and higher octane dogs these days.


DJ: Right. I’ve just been, I’ve been aware recently of several, like a handful of litters of different border collies, because that’s the breed I kind of keep an eye on. And they’re mainly being advertised as well, “These are going to be World Team dogs.” Meaning these are dogs that are going to be so high energy, and so fast, and so quick to learn that you can be on the World Team with them. It’s like I don’t even think… I think that’s false advertising to a large extent. Now granted, what you do is if you have the right material there, and you place them with people who have the capacity to be World Team trainers and handlers, then you’ve got a good match. And that’s what they’re saying. So they take high performing border collies, let’s say, because that’s just what I’m familiar with. They take high performing mother, high performing father. These are fast, highly intense, you know, probably high winning dogs. Put them together and say, “Okay, now. Now we’ve got all these puppies that are going to just get gold medals at Worlds from now on.”


That’s not what tends to happen in the long run. Now, they may do very well for the right person in the right setting. But if you give one of those dogs to somebody who doesn’t really yet have the experience in the sport, they’re not going to do well. They’re not a starter dog. They’re not a dog to learn on. And on the other hand, you’re going to, you know this by chance in terms of genetics, they’re not all going to be high, high dogs. You’re still going to have variation in energy levels, variation in arousal levels. And what worries me, (because I work a lot with people whose dogs are too high. The other end of our spectrum of problems from too low is too high) is that these dogs are not comfortable in their own skin. They’re not happy and relaxed, almost ever. You know, we talked in herding dogs about breeding dogs with an “off switch.” And what people mean by that is, when you need them to do something, they’re 1,000%. And when they’re not working, they can chill. Lots of these guys, when you breed for higher and higher arousal, and keep breeding high arousal dogs to other high arousal dogs, they’ve got no off switch.


JH: So what does that look like? Can you operationalize that for us? So at, so in the house, what does it look like? And then in the ring, in the agility ring, what does that look like?




DJ: Right. Okay, that’s a very good question. Because we’re scientists, we’re all about the operation. (laughter) Yeah, so in the house, a dog with an off switch can just go relax. They can go lay down. They can amuse themselves. They can chew on a bone. They can take a nap. They’re not constantly on you to do something with them. And Zen is perilously on the edge with this. Because every once in a while, I’ll look across the room, and he’ll be sitting there staring at me. He’s learned not so much to keep bothering me. But he’s waiting.


JH: He’s hoping.


DJ: Yeah. “Will you do something now?” And then every once in a while he’ll start dropping toys on me. You know, “Here’s a toy. What about this and what about…” And then there’s no off switch there. That is not an off switch. That is they constantly trying to get me to turn on. So instead of me trying to get him to work, he’s trying to get me to work.


JH: I heard a story about a border collie recently who got so aroused when they’d play ball with her that the family stopped playing ball with her. So then what the dog did was she would go find a ball. She would wait until people were standing in the kitchen doing dishes so that they were ignoring her. And she would put the ball right next to the foot and then go wait until the person moves so they tripped over the ball. And then she would, with great excitement, go fetch the ball, retrieve it and put it back next to the foot again.


DJ: That doesn’t surprise me. I would not be surprised about that at all. Because they’re very good at problem solving typically, and figuring out how to get what they want. And so I could see that happening, that a dog would do something like that. But a dog that becomes obsessed with action, and movement. That’s where we get into trouble. And with herding dogs, we do see that a lot. They become so obsessed with it, they can’t leave it alone. They can’t relax because it might happen. It’s possible. And I do have to admit I pick up… There are certain toys that I always put away when we’re done playing. Because if I don’t put them away, we don’t stop. We just, he can’t let it go. His Hol-ee ball is his kryptonite. Yeah, he’s got such an obsession with it. So we don’t play… We play with it, but then we put it away. But a dog with an off switch, he could let it go. They go, “Okay, we’re done now.” And the dog, “Okay, we’re done now.” And move on to something else, and be able to gear down in energy and intensity level. So that’s sort of what we mean by an off switch. A dog that knows when it’s appropriate to be on, but also when it’s not. And when I can just go hang out and act like a normal dog.


JH: And it can be challenging, right? To live with dogs that don’t have that. So my new border collie has, as some people know, only been here for a few months. And I think he’s going to settle in just fine. But one of the things he’s working on right now is he gets really overly aroused if he thinks I’m going to open the door to go back to go outside. I walk by that door frequently. And so I’ll walk past it and he starts vulturing. Right? Because he’s like, “Oh my god! The door!” Well I can’t put the door away. 




DJ: Right.


JH: And, you know, that’s not a massive problem. And a dog’s not going to be rehomed for that. But it’s exhausting to live with a dog where you’re constantly worrying about their arousal level.


DJ: Yes, it is exhausting. And I think that’s one of the dangers that we run into whenever we’re picking for an extreme or whenever you’re breeding for an extreme. Is that you could possibly end up with these dogs that are running at 1000 miles an hour all the time. And that’s just like, I don’t think that can be comfortable. I don’t think that can be. They’re never relaxed. They’re never calm. A myth that I’ve heard, and I hear it a lot in border collies, is that the red dogs are crazy. The red ones are crazy. And the idea being that their arousal levels are somehow not as easily controlled. That they tend to in general, somehow going along with coat color, is this higher arousal level. Now, I can’t say one way or the other whether that’s true or not because red border collies are kind of rarer in the breed anyway. And I’m sure color genetics can be connected to God knows what other possible traits. I mean everything’s connected to everything at some point in time. But that was the myth that people didn’t want red border collies as herding dogs because they were too crazy. They were too wild. They would get too high. And so they would cull those puppies when they were born. So you don’t have a lot of reds because they weren’t allowed to survive.


JH: Selection against them. For what it’s worth there’s the same story in the Labrador Retriever world. Do you know this? That the chocolate labs are the crazy labs?


DJ: Yes.


JH: And we get asked that in the laboratory where I work a lot. (laughter) We have, you know, we go back and forth. I think a lot of us don’t believe it could possibly be true, because we understand the gene that controls that coat color so well. But yeah, who knows?


DJ: So that’s, yeah, that’s the interesting thing about genetics to me is we don’t know for sure. And so as a breeder, you don’t really know what you’re going to produce. What you intend to produce is one thing. What actually comes out of that could be so vastly different, because there’s so much that’s unknown about it. And, you know, including things like you know, the breeds where you’re breeding specifically for something like ear set, (laughter) you know, and so what goes along with that, though? What else do you get when you get upright ears, you know, that could pop or you get tipped ears, or whatever it is that’s required for that breed? I’m always fascinated by what else could possibly be going along with that. So you’re getting the structure in the look you want in that dog. But what else is underlying that? Because I’m so much more interested in the temperament. I’m so much more interested in what’s happening underneath than what the dog looks like, even though clearly I like my red dogs. (laughter) I still want…


JH: We all have our, yeah. I like dogs with long hair. And I keep telling myself, it’s not that important. But we all, you know, you like what you like, for sure.


DJ: Yeah.


JH: All right. So dogs with no off switch, difficult to live with. Some people would say, “I’ll take a dog that’s tough to live with if it, you know, will get me where I want to go in the ring.” So then what do these high arousal dogs tend to look like in the ring?




DJ: Okay, well, this is a problem. It can be a problem, because high arousal dogs are reacting to stimuli. They’re reacting so fast to the things that they perceive around them, that they’re not thinking. They’re not taking a moment to make a good choice or decision. They’re a constant bundle of reactions. So to get them to stop and think is the hard part, right? Because they’re all, “go, go, do, do, do.” A friend of mine used to say about her border collie, she needs the information faster, faster, faster, faster, faster, faster. And if you don’t give it to them, they will just spin off and do whatever they think is the right thing to do next. And then they’re going, and getting them back and getting them to think is almost impossible. And we see this a lot. If you look at dogs on the agility start line, and you see these highly intense dogs, you can probably guess when you see them on the start line, how the run is going to go. And you’ll see the ones that you mentioned “vulturing,” like sitting so far forward, they’re practically falling over, because they want to move. And just having to hold that start line stay is hard. And they bust through the first jump and they take an off course and and the handler’s doing whatever they’re trying to do. And it’s not helpful.


JH: Hollering. Pointing at the jumps. “This way!” (laughter) Yeah.


DJ: Yeah. Waste of time at that point, because they can’t even hear you anymore. So that’s the dog whose arousal has taken them out of the realm of thoughtful cognition. They can no longer listen and respond appropriately. They’re just doing whatever seems like the next thing as fast as they possibly can. And I’ve actually seen dogs that sort of get into loops, where like, “Tunnel, Tunnel, Tunnel, Tunnel Tunnel,” and you can’t stop them. And again, that’s not what we want. If you want a dog who’s going to win, okay? It can’t just be because they run fast and they’re high. It needs to be because they take direction well. And so that’s a whole different thing from arousal level. Arousal has to come down in order for a dog to be able to take direction and to do the thing that you’re asking them to do. So this idea that if I just build them up, and I get all this energy level in, then we spend a heck of a lot of time trying to figure out… I talk about moderating arousal levels all the time with my students. “So, my dogs now at 11. How do I get them back down to five? How do I get them somewhere in this normal range where they can think?” And people discover that when they’ve gotten that dog who they thought was going to be that World winner. And now the dog is just so eager to do things so fast, that there’s no way they’re ever qualifying. You don’t qualify. And it’s very frustrating. I’ve run those dogs in agility. I’ve had those dogs. And so I can tell you, it’s very frustrating when you have a dog that you know has all this potential, but they get over aroused. And then getting them back to the place where they can listen to you is a long, hard road to get there. And it’s…


JH: So. I was just going to ask if you would differentiate between arousal level and energy level?


DJ: Yes, I would. I think energy level is part of arousal level. I think there’s a physical energy for sure that the dog can be as physically active as they want to be. And it, they enjoy it. They enjoy being active, it feels good to them. It’s like, I don’t understand it. But some people feel good when they run. I don’t get it. (laughter)


JH: It’s perplexing, but it seems to be true.


DJ: But then to me, arousal level is also very much about emotion. It’s about this internal state of how you feel. And so as I said, it feels good. It’s like I always call these dogs adrenaline junkies. It’s like it feels good to them to be high. It feels really, really good. And so they want to keep repeating that and getting high. So there’s all this internal stuff going on, I think. And then in terms of the ability to think, I think your cognitive level matters, and you lose that ability to think clearly. Because it’s all just action, action action. So I think there’s some internal processes that are going on, in addition to having physical energy itself, because you can add physical energy, and you can still think, and you can still make good decisions and choices, and you can still listen. Or you can have a high arousal level where all of that stuff just goes out the window, and you are in a state where nothing good is going to come of that. I mean, once a dog gets in that state, I always tell people, nothing good is going to happen next.  You know, we’ve got to get them back out of it. You can’t learn anything, when you’re in that state. People often want to replicate this state in training, to try to teach the dog something, but you have to learn it in a lower arousal state. You don’t learn well in that overwhelming high arousal state. So learning to get that state down, you know, rather than saying, “Oh, let’s get them really high, and then teach them some lesson.” It’s like a no, (laughter) that’s probably not gonna work.


JH: Alright, so if I, if we’re talking about what a good personality, what good traits for a working performance dog, in agility is what we’ve been talking about. So let’s just stick with that. So we’re talking about a dog who is resilient, not too sensitive, a dog who really feels strongly about working with his handler. A dog who has a nice, moderate energy level, and does not get highly aroused too easily. 


DJ: Yes.


JH: Maybe… Hopefully this is a fair question. But so if you’re looking at a dog like this running the course, so what does that look like? So you know, you put the dog at the start line? We talked about the vulturing forward, right? So what does this dog look like as it runs the course?


DJ: I would say that when you see a dog that stops you and draws your attention, and in agility this will happen. It’ll be like, “Eh, dogs are running.” And you’re not paying attention and all of a sudden you look at one you go, “Whoa, look at that.” And it’s typically, there is an intensity, but it’s almost like they’re able to multitask a little bit. And I hate that term, but I’m using it anyway. Because it’s split between what they are physically doing and what they are being told. So they’ve got part of their focus on their handler, while they are performing the thing that they are supposed to be doing at the moment. But they’re able to split that focus just enough to do the thing while listening and do the next thing while listening.


When you see the dog streaking straight across the ring as if there’s no handler present, that’s not what we’re looking for. And I’ve had, again, I’ve had that dog. I’ve been on the start line and my dog took off and hit the tunnel clear on the opposite side of the ring before I knew that the dog was even moving. That’s not helpful. You know, people are like impressed but, why would you be? Because (laughter) I didn’t have any… I didn’t have any communication with my dog. So I guess part of what this goes back to, for me, would be the dog that would be the one that I would be most impressed with is the one that’s got a clear communication system with the handler. And yet at the same time is confident and independent enough to keep going and to do what they’re supposed to do without babysitting. They don’t need somebody right there. Yet at the same time, they’re always checking back in. Maybe not stopping and turning because then it’ll slow you down. But you know, they’re listening. That one ear is always open for what they’re being told to do next.




JH: Yeah, I really like that. I think you can actually sum it up as communication. I hadn’t thought of it this way before. All those things you talked about come into communication, right? So there’s interest in the handler, obviously. But if you’re too sensitive, you’re going to be really distracted by the environment, and you can’t communicate with your handler. If you’re aroused, you’re too distracted, and you can’t communicate with your handler. And if your energy level is too low or too high, then you’re not where your handler is and able to work with them.


DJ: That, I think… That is what it turned out to be, which is sort of surprising to me, too. Because I didn’t often… I don’t really think about it. But it is communication with the handler. I think going back to, I always call it, working relationship. But kind of the same thing. I’m getting information from the dog. That’s determining how I act and the dogs getting information from me, that determines how they act. And it’s a quick, a very fast back and forth kind of communication. And in the best teams in agility it’s shorthand. It takes so little for the trainer to tell the dog exactly what to do. And the dog is very confident that, “Oh, yes. This is the right thing. Because I trust that what you’re telling me is always the right thing. And I’m interested in doing what you tell me.” And so that does, I think, come down to a lot of communication. And that takes a while to develop. That takes some time. If you have the dog who is all on his own agenda, and who is sitting on the start line, eyeing that tunnel across the ring, no matter what you say, or do, (laughter) there’s no communication at that moment. They’re done. They know what they’re doing. And that is exactly how it’s gonna end up and it’s not going to end well. So yeah, I think teaching the dog the communication system with you is such an important thing. And we spend a lot of time working on that with arousal as well. Just telling them simple things. Like, “Here, you can have this cookie.” Or, “Wait, I will bring this cookie to you.” Just a simple communication. But it makes a big difference.


JH: That’s it. So it’s both genetics and environment. As you’re saying, it’s a lot of work to get there. But it’s good to have a dog with a solid sort of genetic foundation to head them in the right direction to get there.


DJ: Definitely. Definitely.


JH: Yeah. So that might be a good note for us to end on. Can you tell people where they can find out more about you or what kind of stuff you have coming up? You have a webinar this evening so that’s going to be past (laughter) by the time this airs. 


DJ: Yeah. That webinar will be come and gone.


JH: We can try to air this before June, though. You probably have a class in June.


DJ: Oh, yes. I’ve always got something coming up. So people can find me, I have a website I have a website there. You can find me online at Fenzi Dog Sports Academy, which is where I do the majority of my work. So that’s where you’ll see I’m teaching my Focus class actually in June. There are two different classes. I have Get Focused in June and then Focus Games in August. So I have that coming up. And yes, I have a bunch of webinars and workshops and there’s always projects that I’m working on. It seems like there’s a never ending amount of dog training stuff that I can do. So you can find out more about all that there. I write a weekly blog post through my website, and I’m always on Facebook with stuff like that. And so you can find the blog post there. I’m working on getting a newsletter started. So.


JH: You have a cooperative care website as well, I believe?


DJ: The website isn’t up yet. But I have a Facebook page. Yeah. It’s called Cooperative Care with Deb Jones. There’s a Facebook page and a YouTube channel. And we’re working on putting together a Cooperative Care Certificate program that people can work through and earn. So cooperative care just briefly is all the husbandry work you do for grooming and veterinary care. So breaking that down, teaching our dogs to tolerate a whole lot of what they think is nonsense and weird stuff, so that we can take good physical care of them. All that falls under cooperative care. So yeah, you can find those on Facebook or on the YouTube channel, as well. So yeah, lots of projects going on there. But you can find me online.


JH: Yes, you are. All right. Well, fabulous. Thank you so much. This was a blast.


DJ: No, thanks, Jessica. I always have fun talking to you. (laughter)


JH: Thanks.


DJ: We always have a good time together.


JH: We always have a good time together.

Thanks so much for listening. The Functional Breeding Podcast is a product of the Functional Dog Collaborative and was produced by Sarah Espinosa Socal. Come join us at the Functional Breeding Facebook group to talk about this episode or about responsible breeding practices in general. To learn more about the Functional Dog Collaborative, check out Enjoy your dogs.

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