I recently had the fantastic opportunity to chat with the delightful Dr. Zazie Todd, an expert in dog psychology, canine behavior, and positive reinforcement dog training. Her enthusiasm for strengthening the bond between pets and their humans is genuinely infectious! She shares her wisdom on pet-friendly training methods, dog behavior science, and animal welfare in an engaging, supportive, and non-judgmental manner, truly believing that providing quality information can help people improve their relationships with their dogs and lead to happier lives for all.
Our conversation focused on the importance of acknowledging that dogs and other animals have emotions and are sentient beings. Dr. Todd's insightful book, "Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy," offers practical advice for enhancing your dog's well-being and deepening your bond with them through evidence-based dog training techniques. We chatted about the significance of offering positive experiences for dogs and understanding the science behind their behavior.
We touched on the value of positive reinforcement in dog training, highlighting how it is essential to avoid aversive techniques. Our discussion also covered the development of the five domains model of animal welfare and the heartwarming connection between humans and their canine companions.
Dr. Todd emphasized the importance of using reward-based methods, like treat training, when working with dogs, noting that aversive techniques can have negative effects on a dog's welfare and the relationship between the dog and their guardian.
Throughout our conversation, we covered various topics, including understanding your dog's preferences for treats, addressing dogs with sensitive stomachs, and sharing tips for training outdoors. We also emphasized the significance of consistent practice in helping dogs become fluent in a behavior and the vital role that early socialization plays in a puppy's life.
Dr. Todd underscored the importance of socializing puppies during their sensitive period, even with vaccination concerns in mind. She mentioned that the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior recommends good puppy classes for puppies aged seven to eight weeks. These classes should provide positive experiences with a variety of people, animals, objects, and surfaces, helping puppies grow into friendly, happy, and confident adult dogs while preventing potential behavior issues.
In conclusion, my enlightening conversation with Dr. Zazie Todd shed light on the importance of understanding dog psychology, canine behavior, and adopting positive reinforcement dog training techniques to strengthen the bond between pets and their guardians. By providing positive experiences for dogs, acknowledging their emotions, and using reward-based training methods, we can contribute to their overall well-being and happiness. Let's embrace Dr. Todd's valuable insights and work together to create a happier, brighter future for our beloved furry companions, fostering a deeper connection and lifelong bond with our canine friends.
Follow Dr. Todd at https://www.companionanimalpsychology.com/
Visit instagram.com/thedoodlepro for behind-the-scenes peeks at the doodles Corinne works with daily!
Wag; The Science of Making Your Dog Happy with Author Dr. Zazie Todd
[00:00:00] Dr. Zazie Todd: I think when people get a dog, they want their dog to be happy. Yes. They wanna have a happy dog and they wanna have a good relationship with their dog. And so that's a really nice way to get people thinking about how to improve their pet's welfare, improve their pet's life, and at the same time improve their relationship with their dog.
And when you know what your dog needs and you provide the things that your dog needs, your dog is gonna be much, much happier, and they're gonna have a better relationship with you. And they are much less likely to have any behavior issues as well, which again, is good for you, as well as being good for the dog.
And so I wanted to give people lots and lots of tips so that they could achieve that for their own dog and their own relationship with their dog.
[00:00:41] Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™:
Doodle breed. Dogs are easy to love, but can be challenging to parent. I'm Doodle Expert Car Gearhart, also known as the Doodle Pro, and I'm here to help doodle parents have a more fulfilling and rewarding experience with their doodles. No one has professionally worked with as many different doodle breeds, or has more experience with doodles than I have, and I love to share my expertise in a fun, compassionate, and non-judgmental way.
From my years of work and education in the pet care and dog training industry, I have an incredible network of skilled training. Grooming and veterinary professionals to share their knowledge with you and give you the doodle specific answers you are looking for. I hope you enjoyed today's episode as I help you parent your doodle like a pro.
[00:01:33] Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: I'm so happy to have our author for our book club this month, wag. sassy Todd here zzi, thank you so much for joining us. We've been counting the days for you to be coming.
[00:01:45] Dr. Zazie Todd: Thank you so much for inviting me to chat with you, and I'm so thrilled that the book Club chose to read my book.
Thank you to all of you for reading it. Absolutely.
[00:01:53] Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: One of our students in the Doodle Pro Academy, said this is the book that she wished she had read when they were selecting their sweet dog and before their dog even had come home. So better late than never, where have really enjoyed reading your book
[00:02:09] Dr. Zazie Todd: together.
Thank you so much. That's lovely to
[00:02:12] Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: hear. So I know that you have a background in academics, in psychology, and then you did gene Donaldson's Academy for dog trainer. Can you tell me how all of that came to be your, you had your academic side and then why you decided to get hands on with dog training?
[00:02:31] Dr. Zazie Todd: Yeah. My background is in academic psychology, actually, social psychology. I wanted a dog for years and years, but I worked too much. We worked long hours. I traveled quite a bit for work. It just wasn't an option. And then I immigrated to Canada with my husbands and finally we had the option.
We actually did have the chance to get a dog and we got two dogs, ghost and Bja, who I write about in Wag. And I started writing my blog companion, animal psychology, and my mom actually gave me a copy of John Bradshaw's book Dog Sense, which is a fantastic book. And I was like, Why didn't I know that canine science existed, but BC as a psychologist, psychologists were not at all interested in dogs.
I had wanted to do something on cats very early on. Like , I really would've liked to do a PhD on that. It just wasn't an option. Psychologists were interested in rats and mice and pigeons and nothing else at that time. Just boxes
[00:03:26] Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: and levers. Is that
[00:03:27] Dr. Zazie Todd: Yeah, that's right. That kinda thing. And I wasn't interested in that particularly.
Yes. I didn't find that particularly exciting or particularly good from an animal welfare perspective for some of it. I was more interested in pet dogs and cats and people's relationship and so I started writing my blog companion animal psychology and I was just like, wow, this is so interesting.
And I really love talking to people and telling them about canine science and the line science and about how it can help inform our relationship with. Pet dogs and pet cats. And I enrolled in the Academy for dog trainers because I thought I've got all this psychological knowledge and background, but I want to make sure I've got the experience and practice with the dogs.
And Jean's Academy is just amazing. It's an incredible education and I learned so much from it. And I used to think I was a pretty good dog trainer beforehand. I was not until, I had studied with Gene, it made such a big difference. It was just incredible. So I was really pleased to be able to do that.
And that's really what set me on this path of learning more about dogs. And I'll be honest, I also was motivated by some of the things that I saw on TV about dogs, which were not true at all. And I thought, why do people think they said some of those myths we've got rid of. But some of them still persist in some ways.
And I think that is the detrimental dog. So I'm really quite passionate about sharing good quality information that will help people have a better relationship with their dog.
[00:04:54] Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: And having a PhD and a basis in science and just watching stuff on TV that. Just doesn't have that basis must have been really frustrating.
[00:05:08] Dr. Zazie Todd: It was quite surprising. Let's put it that way. But of course, I think in any field it takes a long time for science to filter through. And I've heard people in child development, for example, say that it can take up to 40 years for things to filter through from the science, right through to social workers and, pediatricians and so on, all knowing all about it.
About child behavior and child development. And I think it's the same in dog training. It takes a while and I think we are lucky that now there are more places where we can read about science if we want to stay up to date with it. It's much easier than it used to be. But even it, takes time for these ideas to filter through and for people to know about them and realize that they're important.
[00:05:51] Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: And most people who are pet parents, this isn't their profession. They haven't spent a decade studying learning theory and behavior I, almost take what you're sharing about that 40 year, what it takes that drip down to get into the common knowledge as forgive yourself if you don't know some of this stuff.
Absolutely. If, you just watch a couple of episodes of something on TV or your neighbor told you some advice, do you remember how your parents did it? Like we just
[00:06:25] Dr. Zazie Todd: do the best we know. Absolutely. Everyone is doing their best for their dog because they love their dog. And it's such a shame that there is information out there which suggests people should be doing things that actually are not good for their dog and not good for their relationship with their dog, and loves to blame if they follow that because it's, there.
And also I think if you get a puppy and you've had a puppy before, maybe that was 15 years ago, right? We know a lot more now, so actually we can do a much better job now but, I think people tend to think they know what they're doing because they've had one before, so you know. The more you learn, the better a job you can do basically.
[00:07:02] Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: And I often say that it does mirror child development. So what my grandparents did to my parents didn't do with me. They learned more. And then what they did with me, I've learned more and I used different methods with my kids and I see the pattern delayed with pets, but following the same kind of reinforcement techniques and stuff, just a bit behind.
Do you see the similar pattern? Yes.
[00:07:34] Dr. Zazie Todd: Yeah, I think so. And it's quite interesting often, after, when I talk to people about why you shouldn't use aversive methods with your dog, people sometimes will start thinking about some of the aversive techniques that people use with them when they were a kid, which they didn't like.
I. And it can make people quite sad to think, about those issues. But we see that people understand there's, a huge amount of science that tells us that it's really important not to use physical punishment with kids. But in the past, people used to think that was okay. And that's one of the ways things have changed.
And as you say, it's still changing like that for dogs. But we, have increasing evidence that using physical punishment, aversive methods like shock choke collars or yell, even yelling at your dog is bad for your dog's welfare and has risks for your dog's welfare. But it's just taking time to filter through it.
[00:08:27] Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: does. And my grandfather, he used a belt with my dad and he loved my dad and he was the loving father. He knew how, and then my dad didn't with me, but we'd get spankings and he loved me and he did the best he knew. And of course, our dogs aren't human children. But it. The same that we do the best we know with the tools that we have.
And that was something I loved a lot about your book wa there's a lot of dog ears and highlights in it, but you made this science so accessible and digestible and there was a lot I learned and this is what I do for a profession and I still continue and study and I didn't feel judged at any point.
If there was something I didn't know about before, you just made it really accessible just to be able to be understandable and non-judgmental at the same time. I really
[00:09:27] Dr. Zazie Todd: enjoyed that. Thank you. And I think everyone is doing their best. Yes. Everybody loves their dog and it's important to recognize that.
And no one can know everything. As an ordinary person getting a dog, by definition, you're not a canine scientist with all this background, so you're not gonna get everything right. Plus we're all human. Even canine scientists make mistakes. Pretend to time, I'm sure. I think that's important.
What I've tried to do is to explain the science behind things, cuz I think it really helps to understand why I'm recommending things. And then at the end of every chapter, I've got a list of tips of how to apply the science at home and then write at the end of the book, I've got a checklist for a happy dog, which summarizes really the things from the book, the main points from the.
And I think people can use that to see what they're already doing, that they're getting right to encourage them to keep on doing it. And maybe also they will find a few things that they're not doing, but that they might like to try. So people can use that to think about what would work for them and their own dog and their own lifestyle to bring that into their dog's life.
And so I hope that will be helpful to people. And it is not intended at all to judge people. No one will be doing all of those things. Yes, I've got friends who are real experts, and yet they still say, I'm not doing all of those things. No one can do everything. But you can pick things that will work for you and fit into your lifestyle and help to make your dog even happier than they already are.
[00:10:54] Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: think just to validate for you that the checklists are so helpful. One of our superstar students may in the Doodle Pro Academy, she listened via audiobook and she typed out the checklist for everybody so that they could be able to read it and check it off so they could have a physical copy because it was so helpful.
[00:11:12] Dr. Zazie Todd: Oh, that's lovely. I'm glad, it's so useful.
[00:11:15] Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: It is. So I keep talking about the book, but ZZI, you have a couple great books. You mentioned the one on cats, but this one wag that we're discussing today for our doodles, the science of Making your Dog Happy and that sounds. Like almost lofty, right?
Like of course we want our dogs to be happy, but then you give like such practical tips on how to tell if they are and then how to get them to a happier place. Can you share a little bit more as to why you chose that as of your topic and what dogs need to be?
[00:11:54] Dr. Zazie Todd: Yeah one of the things we know these days about good animal welfare is that it involves positive experiences.
So if you think about the past scientists, and it sounds ridiculous to say it now, scientists used to argue that animals didn't experience emotions, that they were not emotional creatures. And although now we cannot say exactly which emotions a dog is experiencing at any particular point in time, we can't say for sure because we can't get inside their head.
We can make guesses based on their body language, but it's now widely accepted that animals are sentient beings. They perceive the world around them. They have emotional responses to that. And so we've had this way of looking at animal welfare for decades now, called the Five Freedoms, which probably a lot of people have heard.
But as a result of thinking about pets experiencing emotions that's developed technically there's another model called the five Domains. And what that says is that it's not just important to prevent harm to animals, which is how we used to think about animal welfare. It's also important that they have positive experiences.
And I think when people get a dog, they want their dog to be happy. Yes. They wanna have a happy dog and they wanna have a good relationship with their dog. And so that's a really nice way to get people thinking about how to improve their pet's welfare, improve their pet's life, and at the same time improve their relationship with their dog.
And when you know what your dog needs and you provide the things that your dog needs, your dog is gonna be much, much happier, and they're gonna have a better relationship with you. And they are much less likely to have any behavior issues as well, which again, is good for you, as well as being good for the dog.
And so I wanted to give people lots and lots of tips so that they could achieve that for their own dog and their own relationship with their
[00:13:41] Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: dog. Thank you. One of my favorite things about working with Doodle parents is just I know we all have our own like favorites, but they're so devoted and you don't find doodles left out in a yard.
People aren't picking a doodle mix to work their farm in general. This is truly a companion relationship and it's so symbiotic the the happier we make them, the more joyful our relationship is together and we are selecting doodles because we want that really special
[00:14:19] Dr. Zazie Todd: relationship. Yeah, I think so.
I think doodles are lovely dogs. I know they're all different, but I really love them.
[00:14:26] Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: So, do we. And when say that scientists used to think that dogs didn't have feelings doodles have huge feelings and can run really high on the happy and exuberant scale when we walk in, what we're working in our program.
Zumi Zen is just the greetings when you walk the door and how they can settle because it's just can be really over the top of how happy they are
[00:14:54] Dr. Zazie Todd: but I think I love that kind of reaction from a dog. And I know sometimes it can be a challenge and you need to tone it down a bit because otherwise you can't get in with your shopping and so on.
But I, love it when dogs love their owners so much and they're so exuberant like that. I, yes. Think it's just lovely. Yes. And we don't
[00:15:12] Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: need to punish out and take away that joy. We can channel them and teach them to be able to keep their paws on the ground when they're greeting grandma when she comes over to visit.
But we don't need to just. Have them submit and, just make all of that go away and scared of what it could be instead. Can you share why it's so important to use reward-based methods to train?
[00:15:42] Dr. Zazie Todd: Yeah, so it's really important to use reward-based methods, which means giving rewards for behaviors that you want to see more of, and removing rewards for behaviors that you don't really so much. And the reason for that is that when people use aversive methods, there are risks to the dog's welfare, and those risks include stress, anxiety, fear, or worse relationship with the guardian.
And also the dog more pessimistic. If they're stressed over a long period of time, then that has health risks for them as well. And the thing is, the science, it shows that it works. And it's also much, much better for you on your relationship with the dog.
[00:16:21] Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: You're improving your connection in your rapport, in your relationship at the same time that you're getting behaviors
[00:16:28] Dr. Zazie Todd: Yes.
That you're looking for. That's right. And for example, one of the study findings is from dogs trained with aversive methods in classes. They don't look at their guardian as much. And I think that's very sad, but also if you're trying to train a dog, it gets in the way because you want them to be paying attention to you.
Whereas if you look at a dog that you're training, who you're training with positive reinforcement, they're looking at you and they're so excited and so happy cuz they know that they're gonna earn those treats. Yes. And food is such a great way to motivate a dog. It's really the best way to train them.
And you can use petting and you can use players' rewards as well if that works for what you are teaching. But it's very easy to just to use food because it's so effective.
[00:17:11] Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: And we can often overestimate the value of our good boy and our pets compared to other awards like food.
[00:17:20] Dr. Zazie Todd: Yeah. And if, only saying good dog was enough, that would be much easier for us.
But again, this is something that scientists have actually tested. They've compared what happens when you say good boy or good girl compared to when you actually give some food. And what they found is that unless you've already taught them that saying good dog reliably means that they're going to get a treat next.
They don't care if you say it. Yeah. If you've paired it with a treat, then they know, okay, that's interesting. If you haven't paired it with a treat, they're not interested. It makes no difference to them. Cuz it doesn't mean anything to them. It means something to us. So we have to see it from the dog's perspective and actually find something that will motivate the dog.
[00:17:58] Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: It was funny, I was doing recording a demo for class and I had my 11 year old son Gavin with me and he always he's around, he sees me working with dogs and he was like, can I ask a question? And it was while we were videotaping and he goes, when can we fade out the treats? How long do we have to use them?
I was like, have you listened to me ever? But it's such a normal human thought of like, how long do I have to do this? And
[00:18:32] Dr. Zazie Todd: yeah, because we want things to be easy for ourselves as well,
[00:18:36] Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: because I don't have to wear a fanny pack everywhere.
[00:18:41] Dr. Zazie Todd: But the trouble is if you face out the rewards, especially if you face them out early on, which a lot of people do, the dog is gonna stop doing the behaviors that you like cuz they're not getting rewarded anymore.
And. There's a technical term for it, which is extinction. But basically if you want your dog to keep on doing these things, you do need to keep rewarding them.
[00:19:01] Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: Yes. It's just like when people say, I don't want my dog begging at the table, and someone will say, ignore it. Once it stops working for them, they'll stop doing it.
Instead you could be teaching them other behaviors, et cetera, but if you stop paying them, you're ignoring it. Yeah. You say Come and you stop paying them for the work they're doing. You're essentially ignoring it and doing the same thing you're doing for that begging dog.
[00:19:24] Dr. Zazie Todd: Yeah. And it's so important. And recall getting your dog to combine called is one of those examples when we always say to people, use your best treats. Because that's a situation in which typically there are lots of other distractions, lots of interesting things that your dog could be doing. Chasing squirrels, sniffing things whatever.
And so actually it's quite hard for them to come on call because they've got all these other interesting things they could do, and you want them to come to you. And then also sometimes as soon as they get to you, some people will click the leash on and take them home. So if they come to you, maybe that's a bit boring too.
So you really have to have good rewards in that situation. Actually, that's a behavior. It really is expensive behavior. And one of the studies that I liked the most actually tested what dogs will run fastest for. So they trained dogs in a lab to run along a runway and they had different treats at the end.
And in one of the studies they tested them how fast they would run for a piece of sausage compared to a piece of kibble. And they ran faster for the sausage. If someone was comparing me with, I don't know, chocolate and something that I don't especially like vegetable boring I would run faster for the chocolate too or walk faster probably.
Yes. Yeah. So it does make sense and I think we can think of it as making sense. And then there was another version, similar study to that, that one which looked at whether dogs preferred differences in the rewards they get. And they had three different rewards and for each dog they found out which one was their favorite.
And then they're tested. Would they run faster always for their favorite or did they prefer variety? And they found that it varied. It was different. So there were individual differences between dogs but even for some of the dogs who had a favorite right at the beginning, there came a point at which variety was better.
So over time, most dogs are gonna a bit of variety in the rewards that you give them too.
[00:21:19] Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: And how do you help your readers identify how much their dog likes it when they're identifying if this is a really valuable low value or high value besides like the speed of return?
[00:21:30] Dr. Zazie Todd: Yeah. So the speed of return is something that scientists have used to look at it.
We can just look at how excited our dogs are by it. Are they happy to keep on working for it? We can just try different treats. But I think one thing to remember is that a lot of people would really prefer their dog to work for kibble, but we give them kibble at other times anyway. So that's not very interesting for them.
So something other than kibble is better. And one of my favorites is just to use little pieces of chopped up chicken. Or little pieces of chopped up cheese. But every dog is different. I have occasionally known of a dog who doesn't like cheese. Believe it's or not, I
[00:22:06] Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: can't understand it myself.
[00:22:08] Dr. Zazie Todd: But yeah, so you have to know your dog and try out different treats and see how they work. And that will help you identify what is working best. And if your dog seems a bit bored of it, just try something different
[00:22:22] Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: and add in a little variety. Yeah. A lot of doodles are prone to sensitive stomachs. And so when we're doing different treat taste tests and measuring, is this a soso treat or a super treat they can get pretty upset their stomachs. Yeah. What do you advise for readers who their parents are worried about? Another bout of diarrhea if they're introducing something besides their kibble or if they're on a sensitive food diet, but they know they wanna be reward based with their training.
[00:22:56] Dr. Zazie Todd: And a lot of dogs are on special diets, so one of the things you can do is usually for a special kibble, like if they're on a sensitive stomach, kibble, there usually is a canned food that goes with it. Yes. And you can use the canned food. That's a great option. Or sometimes there are special treats that.
With it. There aren't as many of those available as they used to be at the start of the pandemic. One of my favorite types of those treats, they stopped making it, which was a chef. Oh goodness. Because it was so useful. But they, because they were limited in what they could do, they had to focus on the food.
But often there are special treats that go with it. Or you can take something which is one of the ingredients of the kibble and use that. So if the kibble is chicken based, for example, that's a good sign that actual pieces of chicken will be okay. Yes. Or if there are certain vegetables because some dogs really do love their vegetables.
If there's carrot in the kibble, then pieces of fresh carrot, for example, can be a good thing to use as well. And if your dog has a sensitive stomach, those are the things that I would start with. That's
[00:23:56] Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: a great tip of looking what's in, what their is already working with their stomach and looking for those single ingredient treats.
So you know that's already working as part of their diet.
[00:24:08] Dr. Zazie Todd: Yeah. So then it's less likely to cause any issues. So that's, probably a good place to start. Wonderful.
[00:24:15] Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: One of our students recently asked, my dog is doing great with different values of treats inside, I'm able to get more difficult behaviors and I can tell which are higher or lower value rewards for him.
And then when we go outside, And there's all the sounds and the smells and the winds blowing. It all goes out the window and the food's like invisible. So I have my thoughts. I'd love to hear what you would share with a reader like
[00:24:41] Dr. Zazie Todd: that. I think that's actually a very common problem. But first of all, I think it's amazing that this person already knows which foods are high value for their dog.
That's absolutely brilliant. So yes, well done. And so often outside is much more difficult and this is why we suggest that people often start their training indoors first. So there is. Several reasons why outside can be more difficult. It may simply be that there are so many interesting things happening.
Yeah. Or it may be that the dog is actually fearful outside. And so I would pay attention to the dog's body language to see which of those it is. Because if they're fearful, then you're gonna want to work on the fear. But most often it's just that there's so many interesting things happening, so you can break down How interesting outside is, you can pick less interesting places to start to train in.
That would be one thing to do. If you're lucky enough to have a yard, then your yard could be a good place to do that. If not the street close to where you live, maybe could be a good place to do that. The
[00:25:41] Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: front step before your even. Yeah. Like off of your.
[00:25:45] Dr. Zazie Todd: Yep. Yep. Instead of just going to the park where there are so many other people, or just picking times of day when it's quieter and there aren't so many other things.
And I think that would be the way to make outside become a bit less interesting. And to start then, but you're still gonna have to do lots of practice outside. And one of the reasons this is such a great question is that it shows how much practice is needed before a dog becomes really fluent in a behavior.
And I think everyone always wishes their dog would just learn it like that. They'd know it in the house, why don't they know it everywhere? It, really just shows how much practice is needed. And it would be the same. For example, if I used to play the flute as a kid and playing at home on your own is nice and easy.
You don't have an audience. Then if you are on stage somewhere with a big audience it's, quite distracting and quite scary. And without experience, you are more likely, I found more likely to make mistakes in that situation. It's similar. That's. Probably the best analogy I can come up with.
But yes, when there are other things going on it, it's harder to do the behavior and especially when there are other things more interesting for a dog to do.
[00:26:54] Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: I forget which respected trainer used this analogy and it'll come to me afterwards, but that we expect, just like we know George Washington was the first president in the us.
That once we know that we know it. And so when we've taught our dog of behavior, we think it's, they know it and that they can do and perform that behavior whenever we cue it, whatever the distractions or however the distance is and that it just doesn't really work that way.
[00:27:22] Dr. Zazie Todd: Yeah, it's not so much like a piece of knowledge, it's more like a skill that you have to work out, like learning to dance or learning to do some martial arts or, learning to play an instrument or something like, or to paint or something like that.
Nice. It takes time and you don't just get it. Unfortunately.
[00:27:39] Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: We were doing an exercise in the Doodle Pro Academy where I asked them to just put aside 50 pieces of kibble or tiny little treats and we were just reinforcing throughout the day touch, just practicing that. And then I shared afterwards that it was twofold.
We were really proofing that behavior when we would ask the cue, but also it was Letting us go with am I treating them too much? And just seeing what happens if I reward behavior that much. How our dynamic changes and how much more they're paying attention to me and offering behaviors and how happier we are working together.
And one of the students was like, I thought I was training a lot. And then when we did this exercise, I realized I wasn't at all. And when we have that quantity, then it can really highlight just how little we were actually practicing before. I
[00:28:36] Dr. Zazie Todd: think that's a really fun exercise to do. And I bet the dogs loved it too.
[00:28:41] Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: We also did the same for offering attention and now they're saying, my dog won't stop s swearing at me in the house. And they're like, I'm doing it. I'm looking at you. I loved in your book, you addressed certain phases of life. A lot. Don't talk about when dogs are older or senior. That was just beautiful.
I felt like I got to know your personal dogs through the stories here. But if we were to go to the beginning I think you and I share a passion about the socialization period. Most doodle parents get their dogs around eight weeks as puppies from breeders. So we have this amazing opportunity with them.
At the same time, people spend two to $4,000 on their dog. They are invested financially and with their heart, of course. And the breeder or vet will recommend don't let your dog put their paws on the ground outside of your home, sometimes even in the yard until they're fully vaccinated at 16 weeks.
I would love to hear your thoughts. I know that there's veterinary society statements recently that have come out to give more clarity there, but I'd love to hear what your thoughts are on socialization
[00:30:04] Dr. Zazie Todd: in the window. Yeah. So the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior has a wonderful positioned statement on the socialization of puppies.
Yes. And they say that it's really important they recommend a puppy class. So it's really important to socialize your puppy. And they recommend a puppy class for puppies which they can attend from seven to eight weeks. And I, it's ideal to go during the sensitive period for socialization. So there is a balancing act.
It's right that you shouldn't be putting your puppy down on the ground and so on. But this period of your puppy's life is a really important period when they are learning all about the world around them, the world that they're going to live in. And if they have lots of wide experiences, positive experiences not, stressful ones, you shouldn't terrify them.
Yes. But if they have lots of positive experiences in this time with all the kinds of people, all the kinds of animals, all the kinds of objects, even surfaces, so on, everything that they're going to come across in later life, we know that helps them grow up to be friendly, happy, confident adult dogs.
And if they miss out on those experiences, unfortunately, it's because of the sensitive period ending. It's harder to fill in those gaps later on. And so we do have, obviously these concerns about vaccination, but what the American Veterinary Society of Animal behavior point out. Is that the leading cause of death of dogs under the age of three, very sadly, is behavior issues.
Yeah. Not disease. And so those behavior issues can largely be prevented by attending a good puppy class and doing lots of socialization. And the thing about puppy class is you, pick a good one. All the puppies should have to have their first set of vaccinations before they go. They should have had a first deworming before they go.
And the trainer will check that. It's important that they check that they will do. Yes. And they also will have sanitized the area. So it will be nice and clean and safe for the puppies to mingle with the other people at the class and the other puppies. And that in itself helps with the socialization.
And a good puppy class also will hopefully, Bits of puppy play because we know that play is important. And it may include things like getting your puppy used to sirens or fireworks or something. In a safe situation where they're watching carefully and they're making sure that none of the puppies are getting too stressed or anything like that.
So it is a safe way to get your puppy used to things. And it's so important because it makes such a big difference to later behavior. And I think that position statement from AV s a b is really important because unfortunately, there still are people who recommend waiting until after your puppy's vaccinations, but that's quite late.
That's missed the sensitive period. And then what you are risking is behavior issues. And we know that they are, can actually be very severe and,
[00:32:52] Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: as we know, it's really easy to condition fear. To add fear to a dog, and then reversing it is so much harder. Yeah. And giving them those positive experiences.
I love the analogy of that. We're putting deposits in their bank account. If they played with 50 black dogs and had wonderful safe experiences and then one black dog and I'm saying black dog, cuz that's mine and that's what my Nestle looks like. And then one black dog pins them, that dog's taking a withdrawal out, but they have so many other deposits that they can lean on to not think that this one little black curly hair doodle nestle is dangerous because of that one
[00:33:37] Dr. Zazie Todd: incident.
Yeah, I think that's a really great analogy. So it is a really wonderful opportunity during the sensitive period to set your dog up for success in their later life, basically. Yeah. And so for people who've gone to a good breeder, they will already have had some socialization at the breeder.
So I think this is one of the ways in which Doodle parents, doodle caregivers do very well because they've gone to a breeder who, who has done some kind of socialization. Their responsible breeder will do that. But unfortunately, there are also many people who get their puppies from puppy farms.
Yes. And they haven't contacted the breeder and chatted about anything. They don't really know much about the background of where their puppy has come from. And unfortunately, puppy mills can be quite. Bad situations. There is no socialization. Their puppies sometimes just live in a cage. They don't even necessarily get opportunities to play with other puppies.
Yeah. And so it's really important, especially important for those puppies to go to puppy class cuz they already have gaps when they're coming into your home. Whereas if you've gone to a responsible breeder, at least they will have done some socialization already. And they will tell you about. And so you will know that, and you still have to build on it.
But for puppies that really have missed out on that, because they've come from a puppy farm, it's extra important. And we need a lot more deposits. Yeah, you need a lot, more deposits. And I think it's especially important in terms of having supervised play in puppy class in which the puppies are happy all of the time.
The trainer does a consent test if they're not sure, because some of those puppies have come from backgrounds where they've not met other dogs, they've not had chances even properly to play with their own litter because they've lived in bad circumstances. So puppy classes is really important for, all puppies and it's, it makes me sad every time someone tells me that they're waiting until after the vaccinations, because they're trying to do their best. They really are trying to do their best. Yes, they think they're doing the right thing, but they're really missing this wonderful opportunity. And unfortunately, there may be problems later on as a result of
[00:35:37] Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: that.
I could see it years later when I meet the dog and, we talk about what the socialization experience was like. It's just it's years of work to make up for those few weeks. Yeah, that's right. And it's just it's an abundance of love and caution. It's it's the most careful thing that you could try to do, but unfortunately it collides with their developmental needs.
[00:36:04] Dr. Zazie Todd: that's right. That's a good way to put it. Yeah.
[00:36:07] Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: And I do see a lot of people that get a second dog and they're like we don't need puppy socialization classes because they love playing with my older dog. And so first you have to assume the older dog actually is enjoying this play style with a puppy and is young enough to enjoy it.
But second, that's just depositing for that one specific dog, right?
[00:36:32] Dr. Zazie Todd: Yeah. And other dogs, unfamiliar dogs are another matter. So a puppy class. They're meeting unfamiliar puppies and that's great. Yes. And of course you can't at that age risk them meeting unfamiliar adult dogs because you dunno if the adult dogs have disease, you dunno if the adult dogs will like the puppy and be friendly to them or not.
So you can't risk that. But in a puppy class, because everyone is a puppy, they don't have their full adult teeth yet, they're all still learning. It's a much, much safer environment for a puppy to meet unknown dogs. And that's important. So the dog in your home is not unknown for very long. Great.
And there's only one of them. So that's actually not a very big deposit if we're using that metaphor.
[00:37:10] Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: And my favorite classes have. Skilled positive reinforcement based trainers that have a low ratio of how many puppies there are versus trainers and that they take frequent breaks. It's not an hour free for all where a dog's over stimulated, one's hiding under the chair.
That's, just throwing them in the deep end and let them work it out is just doing, if I'm, really killing this analogy here, but it's just doing so many withdraws as opposed to deposits
[00:37:41] Dr. Zazie Todd: then. Yeah. So it needs to be a very carefully supervised situation in which the trainer and their helpers, cuz they will have helpers at puppy class two, they all are paying careful attention to all of the puppies.
And the play sessions only need to be very short. Yes. Because there's a lot to fit in puppy class. There'll be short play sessions with not even the whole class as a group, but just with two or three puppies at a time. And then you'll be moving on to other things cuz there's a lot to fit in.
But even though short sessions, they really can help a lot.
[00:38:12] Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: And when we talk about that vet association's position statement and how they said it's actually more dangerous for dogs that have behavioral problems which can be linked to the lack of socialization most of the time that's happening during that adolescent period.
When we look at who is given to shelters and who's relinquished, you have a whole section on adolescence. And I hear a lot of pet parents saying, my dog, as we talked about George Washington earlier, my dog knew this, and now suddenly they're a teenager. And it's like everything's out the.
[00:38:53] Dr. Zazie Todd: Yeah. And we don't honestly know enough about adolescents in dogs, but it, does seem that dogs go through an adolescent period and there is some research that suggests that teenage dogs like teenage people are more willing to take risks.
Yeah. And it's just part of the normal brain development that's happening in that time. And it's very common for people to say, my puppy was perfect and now they're a teenager and they're not doing what I say. You just have to carry on doing all of the same things that you were doing. Keep on doing the training, don't despair.
Just keep on working through it. And they will turn into a wonderful adult dog, but they're just going through a teenage phase.
[00:39:32] Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: I have a 13 year old now. I'm living it, and I know I'm only at the beginning. My hope is that it's the same as with the dogs, that the foundation is there of what we've built together.
And we'll get out on the other side as long as I stay the course. Yes, I'm sure Zzz, I shared with you that the Doodle Pro Academy, we have our course Zoomies to Zen and they chose Wag as our book for our book club. And I will share in the show notes that we have a bunch of pictures of different doodles posing with your book.
And I didn't ask for this, just people really enjoyed it or they're reading with their Kindle and they're doodles enjoying a bone at their feet. So I'm so happy that you're willing to stay on with us and answer some of our book Cubs
[00:40:21] Dr. Zazie Todd: questions. Yes, of
[00:40:23] Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: course. Thank you.
Thanks for joining me on this episode of the Doodle Pro Podcast. If you enjoyed the show, don't forget to rate and review us wherever you get your podcasts. And I invite you to follow me on Instagram at the Doodle Pro for behind the scenes peaks at all of the adorable doodles I work with daily.