Our Shaped by Dog podcast is designed to be heard or viewed. If you are able, we encourage you to listen to the audio or watch the video, as each includes nuances of emotion and emphasis that might not come through on the written word. Transcripts are generated from the audio, then humans review with love and care, and then there's a double check by our dogs. If you are quoting in print, please check the audio first for full context. Thank you!

Speaker Key

SG Susan Garrett


SG This is the time of year where a lot of people set new goals. And I thought, what a better time than to share with you the five questions I've asked students all over the world to help pinpoint the process they're going to use to overcome their dog training challenges. Hi, I'm Susan Garrett. Welcome to Shaped by Dog.


In James Clear's great book, Atomic Habits, he talks about having when you look at all the things you would like to change, setting goals, that you should ideally pick a domino goal. That is one thing that if you fixed that one challenge, it would make the other challenges maybe unnecessary, definitely easier to achieve.


For example, let's say you're dealing with a dog who has zero focus for you and zero focus for working with you. The dog won't come when they're called, they jump on your guests, they pull on leash and when they get a toy, they play keep away rather than retrieve. So, when you look at those challenges, what one would be the domino?


Well, if you had a dog that had great focus for you and great focus for work, then he's more likely to come when called because he's less likely to stray away. He's less likely to jump on guests because he's going to be focused for you, which means he'll want to bring his toys back to you and far less likely to pull on leash. That is taking a series of challenges and taking that one domino focusing on it and it makes the other challenges seem simple.


This is what happens with the students in our Recallers program. They'll come to us and they'll go, “Okay. Well, I played your ItsYerChoice game. And I've played this but my dog's still chasing deer.” You've got to be patient with continuing daily action, small steps. When you achieve small successes, the big success just happens. But you have to be patient and put in the daily games that make the success just happen.


All right. So sometimes you just, you know, we all get impatient. We all, you know what, we all like to lose that 20 pounds in a week. However, it’s not just getting to the gym every day for the first eight days of January that counts. It's just doing something small consistently for the year. That's what's going to make the difference.


Okay. So, let me tell you about those five questions. The first one is going to— you're going to kind of go “What? Really? That's one of your questions? Cause like that's a duh.” Trust me on this one. If I see somebody who's come, somebody come to me for my help and they're struggling, most of the time I will ask this question first, “Do you love this dog?”.


And it seems like such an obvious thing. “Well, yeah, of course I love my dog.” You would be shocked at the number of people who say, “I don't know, I don't really love this dog.” And if you don't really love the dog, you're less likely to put in the time to help overcome the challenges.


And so, in that case, that is the only time I will tell somebody, “I think it's best if you found this dog new home.” Because every dog deserves to be loved. Every dog deserves to be in a home with people who love them. So that is probably the only time I tell people this dog would be better off living somewhere else.


When I was, probably 20 years ago, I was lecturing in Japan and I don't know, somewhere mid week, it was a series of camps. People paid an extraordinary amount of money to come to these camps. So, they told me about a woman who is going to be coming with a very high, high, high drive Border Collie. Very talented, but a young dog, less than two years old, that she was having problems with this dog nipping. And would I do a private consultation with the dog? 


And so, I did and through an interpreter, I was asking these questions and finally I stopped, and I asked that question, “do you love the dog?” And she kind of deflected and talked about something else. And I let her go on and then I finally came back and circled back and asked her again. She said, “Honestly, no. I've just recently learned to like the dog. But I am going to be keeping him because he's phenomenal at agility and I want to be good at agility.”


Now there's nothing that you can do at that point. I wish she would love the dog, but she loves what she gets from the dog. And so, I gave her some things to do and then I went and did a lecture. Now the lecture was two hours. Little activities in the middle, but in the midst of this lecture, I showed videotape of my young high drive Border Collie that I had at home at that time. That was my dog Buzz, the subject of the book Shaping Success.


Buzz was cray-cray. High, high, high crazy. I showed videos like the bad dog trainer routine. If you haven't seen that on my YouTube channel, you might want to check that one out. So, she saw a dog who's very similar to hers do things quickly when asked. And after that, now we had the afternoon where we were going to be working out in the agility field, but she got up, packed up her things and went home. And that was it. I never ever saw her again.


I said to the interpreter, “What, what, what, what is going on?” And the interpreter said to me, “Um, she thinks you're a fraud.” I'm like what? I’ve had the blood rush to my face. Nobody's ever accused me of being a fraud before. She said she knows that nobody else in this room has a dog like the one you have except her. And she knows there is no way you could get a dog that high and that crazy listening the way Buzz does unless you used a shock collar and you're lying to us all. And she wasn't going to sit there and listen. So that leads me to the second question I asked. What is the current story that you're telling yourself that you've got that's got you stuck? What are your limiting beliefs?


She had the limiting belief. Back then there wasn't a lot of people doing what I was doing. Talking about using reinforcement-based game-based dog training to overcome any dog training challenge. And so, she had the limiting belief that the only way to do it was through force.


And you've got to remind yourself, the boundaries of your imagination do not define all that’s possible in life. Something that I mentioned in my video, The Journey: So, what are, what is the current story you're telling yourself? Is it that my dog’s too stupid, my dog doesn't care, my dog is on his own agenda? Or is it a story about you? I don't have the skill. I'm not a good dog trainer. I physically don't have the abilities. I don't have the resources. I don't have the time. All of these— now you could defend and fight for your right to own those stories. But at the end of the day, they're all just stories.


That's what is holding you back. That story has got you not moving forward and there might be a reason for it. Maybe you don't want the dog to be brilliant, because then it would put too much of a spotlight on you. Who knows what the reason is, but I would like you to examine what is the current story you are telling yourself that is got you locked in some limiting beliefs that won't allow you to progress with this dog? Now, there are two podcasts that I would love for you to listen to. If you've listened to them already, please go back and relisten to them.


So, the first one is episode number 8, which is the belief loop and how our beliefs create our outcomes in life. The second episode is episode number 23, where I talked about your identity as a dog owner. That it's like a pair of colored lenses that you're wearing. And that is what got you locked into the place that you are in right now. And I know because I've seen thousands and thousands of students in our online programs, and in all the places I've taught around the world have success with what I share.


And so, I know it is possible for you. Maybe you need to borrow my confidence that I have in what's possible for you in order for you to grow that confidence in yourself or the confidence in the belief in your dog. So those are the first two questions. The third question, what does success look like?


Which what I mean by that is what is that domino challenge? And there's two parts to this. Actually, there's four parts. So, the first is what does success look like? And what does it look like today without that success? So those are the first two parts. What does success look like? So, if your big domino goal is, I'd like a dog who comes when they're called all the time.


Now, chances are that your real goal is I want a dog who has great focus for me and focus for work. Because that will give you that great recall, trust me on that one. So, what does that look like? What does it look like for you in your— how do you live your life? “Well, I'm far more relaxed when my, I go out with my dog to the park, because I know I can take them off leash and I can just go, “come on, boy, you're coming this way.” I know there's no distraction that I can't call him back from.” “I know I can take him places.


I can go visit my friends and he'll be welcome there cause he's not going to jump all over them and try and steal food from their counter.” Now, what does it feel like having a dog that you don't have all those things with? “Well Susan, I love my dog.” I know you love your dog, but what is the pain? What is this costing you having this problem between you? “Well, I can't take them off leash.” “Well, I get embarrassed when he tries to jump on people.” “Well, I get mad at him and then I feel bad because I know it's not his fault. I just don't have time to fix it. And so, yeah.”


Now I would like you to ask those two questions and this is a tip I'm going to give you that I use when I'm at the world championships. I walk a course to figure out the path I'm going to take on the dog agility run. And then I have to lock it in my brain, how I'm going to handle it. So, I see, I visualize, I make it real. The sounds, the site, everything around me is real. So, when I see that run in my mind, I see how I'm going to handle it. But the second time I do it, I see it through my dog's eyes. When my dog is my team, what is he seeing? Or what is she seeing? What obstacles she's seeing next.


That's what I'd like you to do now. What is this goal that you'd like to overcome? What does it look like through your dog's eyes today? What is the frustration your dog is feeling? What are they seeing that they really want, but they can't do? What is your dog looking at when they look at you and they want to do something? Or when you close the door because you're going out one more time without them because you're embarrassed by their behavior?


Right. So, what does it look like through your dog's eyes? The pain of not having this goal achieved. And what would life be for your dog if this goal was achieved? Where are the places you could go together? How would his tail be when he's walking beside you, where would he be looking? What would he be, look, how would he look like with this big ball or retrieve stick in his mouth? That would not be a real stick of course. That would be a plastic one.


The big retrieve object, as he bounds back to you. So those are the things, what does success look like? Take that time and really visualize that. The fourth question I have for you is, what is the time slot your going to put in for five minutes a day? You're going to dedicate, commit right now. And if you can do 10, that would be brilliant. And if you could do two 10-minute spots or two 5-minute spots, but I don't care. I just want you to commit.


Every day at 5:30 AM I will train my dog for five minutes and then every day at 7:00 PM or 9:00 PM, whenever it is, I will train my dog for five minutes. Write that down, commit to it and start a journal. A journal and your commitment and every day you're going to either write in that journal what you did with your dog, or you're going to write this, “I did not train my dog today, my commitment to his better life wasn't so great.” Write that same sentence anytime you don't train, and I promise you're not going to be able to write that two days in a row without getting your dog out and training them. Even if you're dead tired and you're ready to go to bed, “I don't want to write that sentence in that journal. I'm going to train my dog”.


A small step. All right. James talks about that a little, a tiny, tiny little thing doesn't seem like it's going to be very impactful, but if you do that consistently day after day after day, that's what creates a transformation. All right. So, number five question I have for you, What's your plan? How are you going to achieve this? What's the path? I hope it isn't, “I'm going to scroll through YouTube and jump around” or “I'm going to go to the local shop and trust everything”. 


Not to say there's some amazing local dog trainers. So, don't get me wrong. There are some great ones. But right now, we're in the middle of a pandemic so a lot of those dog training schools are closed. What are you going to do? And we have— If you're listening to this podcast, I have a lot of great information you can get in other podcast episodes that I've done here. Or if you go to my blog, my YouTube Channel, there's a lot of great information there. But it isn't a systematic approach.


Once a year, we open up my Recallers program and that is what gives people systematic approach to their dog training. That's what helps them get that big domino and knock it off. Create the focus for you, create the focus for your dog. And it's all done through games. So, people are happy to carve out that 5 minutes or 10 minutes, twice a day. However, normally we don't allow anybody to join Recallers except that once a year. But I'm going to do something different. This is when I talked about when I used to teach in Japan.


When I used to teach regularly all over the world, I would make some crazy promises. And I would say just right Lynda Orton-Hill back at the headquarters and say, “Susan said, you would send her this... X.” And I would get home and she would say, “Susan! I have a hundred people asking!” Sorry, Lynda. So, here's what I'm going to do if you guys are listening. 


If this is something that is of interest to you, you've answered those five questions. You know what your goal is, you know what that better life will be for your dog and you want it now. I want you to write my team an email, that's wag, w-a-g, [email protected] with this subject line: “Hey, Susan said...” And what we will do just for people who listen to this episode of this podcast, I am committed to help you. 


If you would like to join our Recallers program, we will make it available on an individual basis to those of you who are willing to make the investment, not just in your dog, but in yourself and every dog you'll ever own for the rest of your life. You're ready to jump into Recallers. Now, you're not going to see this posted on Facebook. You're not going to see this anywhere else except for people who come across this episode. This is your life altering chance to join Recallers when we aren’t doing an official registration. 


It's doing the little stuff consistently that brings you to the big stuff. And the big stuff with our dogs is them having their best ever life. And there's nothing more that we can do that's of greater value to our dogs than that. I'll see you next time on Shaped by Dog.