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SG Susan Garrett
SG Success in dog training acquires you to take consistent action. But let’s face it, you’re not going to take
consistent action if you’re frustrated and overwhelmed and really not a hundred percent sure you’re
doing the right thing. Hi, I’m Susan Garrett. Welcome to Shaped by Dog. Today I’m going to give you a
strategy to help you take consistent action.
But first, I want to start with something I haven’t done in a really long time. And that is read some of
your reviews that you’ve left on this podcast. And thank you so much to each of you who are leaving
reviews. The first one is from the Funkybec in Australia.
She writes, “Lessons in more than just dog training. If everyone who owns a dog listens to Susan’s
wisdom, there would be far fewer rescue dogs and more compassion in the world. I love this podcast
and wait impatiently for each episode. Susan’s methods are far more than dog training. They are about
compassion, clarity, and understanding. Something we could all use more of in our lives.”
Thank you, Funkybec. That’s awesome. And I think you’re going to like today’s. The next one is from
Ninjama25, who writes, “Oh my gosh, I’m addicted. Love this podcast. Brilliant. I’m learning tips and
philosophies that are changing how I coach clients and how I work with my foster dogs. Thank you,
And thank you, Ninjama25. I hope I’m saying your name right. This one is from TeeyaMareeya. You
guys have got the greatest handles; I got to tell you. “Some great tips here. Thanks so much. I could
listen to your podcast all day. They’re absolutely my favorite. I love your passion and your way of
explaining things. You do it in such a way where you educate but don’t patronize. It feels like having a
conversation with a friend. Thanks for being a friend through lockdown.
Thank you, Teeya. And I appreciate this feedback because that’s exactly what I’m going for. That’s the
vibe. I want to have a conversation with friends when I have a podcast. When I’m looking at the lens,
when we’re recording this, when I’m speaking into the microphone, I’m just thinking of talking to a
And another great handle, Ionica Mermaid, “Just wanted to say thank you for all the content you’re
putting out there. And that I am amazed how much you motivate me. I got to know you through
YouTube this year and started Home School the Dog, because I wasn’t sure if Recallers was worth
spending so much money on.” Okay, it’s honest. “But now that I have it,” She actually is a Recaller. “I
know it was worth every penny, and I might even renew it next year as there’s so much breathtakingly
awesome content. I’m really grateful to have found you, your content, and not to forget your team.
I just love shout-outs to the team because, you know what, I have got a fabulous team behind me. So,
thank you, Ionica Mermaid, who finishes by saying, “My dogs and I have improved in less than two
weeks more than in the last several months. Can’t wait to see more.” Thank you for leaving these
reviews. I read each and every one of them. And we share them as a team. We actually share them in
our slack channel.
That’s our technology for talking to each other. So, thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Let’s fix some
challenges in dog training today. Now I’m going to start this with a story. I was out cycling today with
my family. So, two of my brothers and my one sister; we went cycling on the trails. Now here in
Southern Ontario, we used to have a lot of electronic trains and obviously, when the diesels came in
the electronic trains went out and they took out the electronic train tracks, and they put in these
amazing cycling trails.
So, we have the radial trails and the rail trails that go all through Southern Ontario. You don’t need to
know all that, but it’s fun. Wherever the trail intersects with a road, no matter how minor, there will be a
big gate across the trail. Now, this, I’m assuming, is to prevent any kind of motorized vehicles from
going on the trail. But there’s two small pillars off to the side, big enough for one cyclist to get through
and maybe a few inches to spare on either side.
If you are listening to this podcast, I’ll put some actual video of what I shot on the trail today. So, you
get a real image of what this looks like. Now I had this epiphany about dog training out on the trails
today. Because I watched people go through these gates, these big metal gates, and many people
would slow down almost to a stop.
And then they would have to accelerate through it again. And I’ve seen my friends do this over and
over. Now they don’t come to a stop, but they really slow down. And all along, I’ve thought, “Well, it’s
the fear of hitting one of these pillars” they’re metal. They’re in the ground. They’re going to hurt if you
And I always assumed that people slow down to almost a stop because they didn’t want to get hurt.
They didn’t want to hit these uprights. I believe what actually is going on is people are putting too much
focus on the uprights and not enough focus on the path. Now I just wheeled through these uprights,
and it’s not that I’m not afraid of getting hurt. I don’t want to get hurt.
But I know that if I’m traveling on the path with a big open area, my wheels don’t really move that far.
So why all of a sudden going through a gate would they suddenly start, you know, randomly going two
feet, one direction or another causing me to get into trouble and possibly hit an upright. They won’t. I
focus on the path. I don’t focus on the obstacles. The things that might hurt me.
And my big epiphany was, I think that’s potentially what’s causing people a lot of challenges in dog
training. Whether you have a brand-new puppy, or you have a rescue dog, or even in your own dog.
You get wrapped up in focusing on the things that you don’t like. And that doesn’t give you the
opportunity to focus as much on what you want.
And the other thing is it changes your emotional state. I’m going to share with you this quote. So, we’ve
gone from bicycles. We’re going to basketball now. Now for those of you who aren’t basketball fans, I’m
a massive basketball fan. We are now in the midst of a best of seven series to crown the new NBA
world champion. And the two teams involved, the Phoenix Suns, who I’m secretly rooting for, but that’s
And the Milwaukee Bucks, who I’m still a fan of. So, it’s win-win for whoever wins. Now, they’ve played
five games in this series. After the fourth game, the leading score from the Milwaukee Bucks, he’s a
fellow from Greek by the name of Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Now I admire this man because he’s a phenomenal basketball player, but I think he’s also a great
human being for a number of reasons. I kind of wished he played for my Raptors, but that’s another
story. So, Giannis has scored 40 points a game, almost every game in the playoffs. And somebody
was interviewing him after the last game.
And they said, “Hey, you must really get excited about all these points you’re scoring and how easy it is
for you to score.” He had the most gracious answer and I really believe this is going to help dog owners
to focus where they need to focus. And what he said was, “If I focus on all the points I scored in the
past, that’s my ego speaking. That’s me being boastful. That’s me just thinking about how great I am.
And if I think about how many points I might score in the future, that’s my pride. That’s me getting built
up about myself. And so, what I do is focus on the present, and that puts me in a place of humility
which allows me to be the best I can be and have fun at a job that I love.”
And so, I thought of this immediately, and I mean, I didn’t want to do a podcast just on that little thing,
but it fits so well with what I want to talk about today because it’s so easy to allow ego to come into dog
training. Why isn’t this puppy as good as my last puppy? And why can’t he just get this?
And what happens is its ego speaking. “It can’t be me. I’m a great dog trainer. My last dog was
amazing. It must be this dog. He must be stupid or something.” And what it does is it changes our
emotional state. It puts us into a place of being disappointed. And disappointment is not a great basis
to have an amazing relationship.
And at the end of the day, whether your dog is trained to the maximum potential he could be or not,
having the greatest relationship possible is really the most important thing.
So, ego gets in the way, and when you feel triggered, ask yourself, “is this ego thinking?”, “am I
comparing my dog to a dog I used to have?”, “am I comparing my dog to some imaginary standard that
I think that this dog should be achieving?”
Now, if you’re focused on the future, what’s happening is maybe you have a training goal, “I need this
puppy house trained before I go back to work.” “I need this dog’s agility skills done so I can enter the
national championship.” My version of who this dog needs to be in this timeframe will tend to have you
make poor dog training decisions. You’ll be making decisions about outcomes you believe you have to
And you might approach your training more frantic. You definitely will be more inclined to take shortcuts
in the training just to get outcomes. So, like Giannis Antetokounmpo, I really would love for you to focus
on the present. One of my favorite words is the word “surrender.” And I’ve mentioned this on the
podcast before you think surrender is something of weakness, somebody on a battlefield waving a
white flag. “Oh. They gave up. They’re losers.”
I think of surrender as a place of strength. That I’m surrendering to any outcomes whenever they
happen, but it allows me to come from a place of great humility and focus on “what does this dog need
from me now.” Here’s the behaviors that I don’t want. These are the obstacles. ‘My puppy is peeing
and pooping on the floor.’ ‘My puppy is nipping at my kids.’ ‘My puppy is destroying my furniture; my
puppy doesn’t listen or pulls or is reactive towards other dogs.’
Whatever you don’t want, those are your obstacles. And the more you focus on them; it’s your ego
getting mad at ‘why isn’t this fixed?’. Trust me when I say it’s going to get further away. It’s going to
take you even longer to get there when you’re focusing on ego; from a place of ego, there’s a great
quote I found when I was listening to a podcast.
I’m going in random directions here on today’s podcast. I was listening to a podcast, a business
podcast, actually. Her name is Alexandra Horwitz. She studied human cognitive ability, and then she
transferred to dogs.
And she had this great quote that I’m like, “Yeah! You get it!” And her quote was, “When you are dog
training, and you’re doing it right, it will literally change you.” And that’s what I’m talking about. It
changes you from being emotional and ego-driven to being humble and present and giving yourself
grace for things that you may have done that weren’t correct. And it’s giving the dog grace by meeting
the dog where they are and just observing them from a place of complete neutrality. What do you need
now? What is the best thing I can do right now?
And, you know, I can’t say this often enough, every interaction with our dogs is a conversation, and
every conversation with people is a relationship building or a relationship tearing down event. So, every
time we interact with our dog, you might not think you’re training, but every interaction is training. Every
moment of training is our conversation, is a daily conversation with our dogs. It’s an opportunity for
connection, for growth, and for trusting confidence to grow.
And when you do it right, it literally will change you. Absolutely it will change you. And so, what are
those things that you can focus on? I’m going to give you five things that if you have a new puppy or a
rescue dog, and three of them really apply to all dogs. But if you’re frustrated or you’re overwhelmed,
focus on the present, and these are the five things.
Number one, daily exercise. Now, if you have a puppy that would be age-appropriate, of course, little
wee puppies, we’re not taking them out on 15-mile hikes. So, exercise, fresh air, letting them get out
there and, you know, smell and frolic and just have a great time. Daily exercise is huge. Number two,
engaging strategic games that create behavior change in your dog.
And of course, I’m talking things like our Recallers program, Home School the Dog, our training is
changing behaviors which changes who the dog is, and it’s changing the people because you can’t
help but when you’re having a great fun game with a dog and then you see outcomes like the dog is
actually becoming more of who you want, it’s changing you.
As Alexandra Horwitz said, “When you do it right, it changes you.” So, we’ve got age-appropriate
exercise, we’ve got engaging strategic games is number two. Number three, puppies need downtime.
And they need downtime in confinement. Now you may have to grow this. So, the first puppy I’ve ever
had, my youngest puppy, This!, who is now getting close to being a year old.
When she was a puppy, I had to grow her confinement time strategically because she whined a lot.
There was some anxiety. Whining is anxiety, barking well, barking can be a number of things, but you
know, depending on what you’ve done, you may have created it. But it’s a sign of anxiety. And so, with
This! I had to grow her time in confinement till the point where she was okay with it.
We’re doing our dogs a favor because we’re going to have to go to the grocery store at one point; they
have to be left alone. So, it’s a trifecta here. Number three is downtime, confinement downtime alone.
Puppies need to nap. So many puppies get in trouble when people don’t give them downtime to nap.
And they’re too young to self-regulate. Like my dogs now, they’ll just sleep for hours on end anywhere.
If I’m in the middle of teaching, they’re just out. But puppies won’t do that on their own. Not many of
them anyway. And so, exercise, training, back outside to have a peer or a poop, and then downtime. I
need you to go in an ex-pen or a crate to nap.
And so, the trifecta is they get their rest, they learn to be comfortable with being in confinement, and
they learn they don’t always have to be next to you. So important to grow that confidence in the puppy
that they’re fine when you have to go out without them. And it starts with just getting that routine in
order. We’ve done some training; we’ve done a little exercise, and then we have some downtime.
Number four on the list is socializing, with people, with new environments, socializing with puppies, with
all sorts of things. So, socializing is super important. Number five is enrichment, and this really needs to
be a podcast on its own, puppy enrichment. Because people have the wrong idea of what puppy
But, you know, puppy enrichment is maybe some brain games for the puppy. Maybe some smells for
the puppy to scent out. Puppy enrichment is not giving your puppy a stuffed Kong. In my books, that’s
just a different feeding bustle. That’s all it is. So, we’ve got the obstacles. And it doesn’t matter if you
don’t have a puppy.
What are the obstacles for your training? Maybe it’s the obstacles of trying to be a more reinforcement based dog trainer. That, “Oh Susan, that requires a lot of time. I don’t know what to do.” If you don’t know what to do, just check out these podcasts. We’re getting really close to having a hundred podcasts here, and I make every single one of them a little master class for you because I want to help you.
Do something. Take action. Stop focusing on the obstacles and start focusing on the path. Because
when you focus on the path, things happen faster. You don’t have to slow down. Things start to
accelerate. You start to get results. The outcomes happen for you without you being the one to push
for them. They organically just appear for you.
Focus on what you can do. Sure, acknowledge the things that are troubling you, but focus on what you
can do and then ask yourself, “what does this puppy or what does this dog need from me today?” You
know what, your brain knows. It’ll give you an answer. Trust me on this. I’ll see you next time here on
Shaped by Dog.