What’s a Dog Trainer, Anyway? With Mike Shikashio and Kim Brophy

In this episode of K9 Conservationists, Kayla speaks with Kim Brophy and Mike Shikashio to answer an important question: what is a dog trainer?

Science Highlight: Relationship between aggressive and avoidance behaviour by dogs and their experience in the first six months of life

Links Mentioned in the Episode:

Where to find Kim: Website | Facebook 

Where to find Mike:  Website | Bitey End of the Dog 

You can support the K9 Conservationists Podcast by joining our Patreon at patreon.com/k9conservationists.

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Transcript (AI-Generated)

Kayla Fratt 

Hello, and welcome to the K9Conservationists podcast, where we’re positively obsessed with conservation detection dogs. Join us every single week to discuss ecology, odor dynamics, dog behavior and everything in between. I’m your host, Kayla Fratt, and I’m one of the cofounders of K9Conservationists, where we train dogs to detect data for researchers, agencies, and NGOs.

Kayla Fratt 

Today, we’re going to start out with a little bit of a review highlight before I even tell you what we’re going to talk about, which is that quote, “Kayla and her guests are so generous in sharing their knowledge about ecology, dog behavior, and scent work. I really appreciate it appreciate how their conversations span from theory to practical applications. My favorite part may be Kayla’s thoughtful focus on behavioral health of working dogs. Thanks for making such a fun podcast.”And thank you for reviewing, if you would like to make my day go ahead and leave a review over on Apple podcasts or on Spotify. I read every single one and I share them whenever I can on the podcast.

Kayla Fratt 

So let’s get into it. Today, I want to dive into the question of whether or not we as in conservation dog, folks, practitioners, our dog trainers. And we’re gonna come at that from a bit of a sideways angles by asking what is a dog trainer? Because I think before we decide whether or not we are trainers or not, we kind of need to define what a trainer is. And I am thrilled to have two absolutely amazing guests on for this episode, both of whom are really challenging the typical framework of what dog training even means bringing lots of diverse perspectives and start training. They’ve both been on the podcast before. So we’re going to be welcoming Kim Brophy and Mike Shikashio on to the show. I am so excited to get to this conversation, we went in all sorts of different interesting directions about welfare and exploitation. And what even is dog training, all sorts of good stuff.

Kayla Fratt 

But before we dive into it, we do have to get into our science highlight, which was prepared by our wonderful volunteer Heidi Benson. This article is concisely titled Relationship Between Aggressive and Avoidance Behavior in Dogs and their Experience in the First Six Months of Life. This was published in 2002 in Veterinary Records by DL Appleby, J. W. S. Bradshaw and R. A. Casey, so it’s about 20 years old. The authors wanted to know if experiences early on a dog’s life were associated with aggression or avoidance later on in the dog’s life. So basically, what they did is they looked at three groups of dogs. The first group referred to as the clinical case show cases showed signs of avoidance or fear aggression, there were 820 of them. The second group was a control group of 82 dogs that had behavioral issues other than avoidance or fear aggression, such as excitability, jumping, up chewing, etc. And then the third group consisted of young dogs from the general population. There’s 123 of those surveyed via a questionnaire randomly distributed by 33. Veterinarians. To be included in the study, the dogs had to have been obtained directly from a breeder at or before 28 weeks of age, and the maternal environment of the puppy needed to have been known and fallen into one of two categories, either domestic living in the house or non domestic living in a kennel. The clinical cases were compared to the control group in three variables the maternal environment, the exposure to urban or equivalent environments between three and six months of age, and the dog’s age overall, the purpose of the general population group was to establish the validity of the control group by comparing the age at which they were obtained and the environment from which they came against these variables and a sample of puppies from the general population. behaviors for all clinical cases were categorized into seven groups. So either avoidance only, or aggression to unfamiliar people, veterinarians, familiar people, dogs of both sexes away from the home, dogs of one sex away from the home, and dogs in the owners household. The authors found that puppies raised in a kennel environment or that did not experience urban environments between three and six months of age were significantly more likely to exhibit aggression towards unfamiliar people and avoidance behavior. The aggression at the vet was also more likely from puppies raised in kennel environments, aggression towards familiar people or towards dogs was not associated with either a kennel or domestic environment. And these results support this suggestion that there is an association between dogs early environment and the development of fear related behavioral problems. One important limitation that was noted was that quote, ideally, the control group should have consisted of adult dogs with no behavior problems, but the authors deemed it would be too difficult to locate a sufficient number of such dogs, the control group and 82 and the general population group, and 123 were also much smaller than the clinical case group, which was an 820 and the others The study also did not come to consider other factors that contribute to behavior such as genetics. And you can imagine that potentially dogs that are raised in let’s not just say kind of environment more but more of like a puppy mill environment. There might not. There might be a lot of socialization stuff, epigenetic stuff. hormonal stress and genetics of the parents that are very, very different from dogs that are being really carefully selected in a well considered breeding program. And that’s not just, you know, kennel environment versus not. So definitely some stuff that this may be missing. But it is interesting that they found an effect.

Kayla Fratt 

So let’s kind of start getting into it here. I often hear other conservation dog practitioners pushback on the idea of being dog trainers, in discussions, it seems to me like this comes from a couple different places. One, we don’t want to be perceived as someone who can help you with your dogs barking issues. So kind of there’s this perception from some trainers that I’ve spoken to, or some conservation dog folks that I’ve spoken to that they’re like, Yeah, I don’t teach dogs to see it or heel or like, I don’t work on obedience. So like, I’m not a trainer. And then the second thing that I think I am kind of hearing when I hear these discussions is that there’s this belief that dog training meets, forcing dogs who obey us and perform train behaviors on cue with no free freedom, teamwork, or creativity. And it’s a very like hierarchical, top down process. And there could be other reasons for the sentiment. In fact, if you listen all the way forward to the end of this episode, I come up with one other that I hadn’t thought of at this point, but I’ll leave that as a secret that you have to listen for. But honestly, I don’t believe it for a second, we train and teach our dogs every single day to perform complex behaviors, and stay safe in the field. I’m obviously biased. I’ve worked as a dog behavior consultant for years and still make much of my income that way, there’s, but this also gives me this perspective, that being a conservation detection practitioner is far more than training some basic obedience, it’s even a lot more than training a dog to sniff out an odor and sit when they found it.

Kayla Fratt 

Training is not the whole story. So while I disagree that we are not trainers. In other words, I think that we are trainers, I understand that we are so much more than that. And we have these really unique and special relationships with our dogs that are not best described, as you know, this really hierarchical, command based structure. And personally, I feel much more comfortable, as a professional as a practitioner as an expert, being familiar things with things like the different Differential Reinforcement of Incompatible behaviors, or the concept of extinction, or the legs model of applied ethology, which we’ll talk about a lot in this episode, which is learning environment, genetics and self. Because they give me roadmaps and frameworks to help my dogs out whether that’s helping the dogs in Kenya, learn to ignore caracal and leopards cut in favor of cheetahs, cat, that’s a DRA Differential Reinforcement procedure, or, or working on directionals with my dogs and making sure that I have a really good understanding of shaping and splitting and all these other training specific terminologies and frameworks, and then even working on other behavioral things.

Kayla Fratt 

So luckily, I haven’t had any significant behavioral concerns with either of my dogs. But when I was at working dogs for conservation, I spent a lot of time working on counter conditioning and desensitization and, you know, specific training protocols like look at that, and latte and all sorts of stuff that you’ll hear about if you’re really deep in the dog behavior role to help those working dogs cope with the challenging environments that we asked them to work in to help those dogs feel comfortable in kennel environments to help them feel comfortable staying in hotels, to help them feel comfortable flying. And to help them get over, you know, whether it’s kennel stress or a bad home environment when they were little or whatever. Because we do get a lot of our dogs in this field from less than an ideal environment. Again, whether that’s a well meaning home that just didn’t know how to handle the dog like this, or something else.

Kayla Fratt 

So if you’re not familiar with them yet, Mike, Shikashio, and Kim Brophy here are two of the people I admire most in the dog training world. Kim has practically single-handedly shifted the conversation in the US to include much more applied ethology. Well, Mike’s podcast is one of the most diverse and wide ranging regarding lenses and approaches while focusing specifically on aggressive dogs. So I’m really excited to have them here. And without further ado, let’s get into the interview with Mike and Kim. All right, well, welcome back to the podcast. Mike in the camera. Why don’t we start out with kind of our, our basic starter question of Kim, tell us a little bit about what you do professionally and the dog you share your life especially with your new introduction. And then Mike, same question.

Kim Brophy 

Sure, yeah. Um, so I’m a certified dog behavior consultant in practice, and so I work as a behavior consultant and dog trainer in my local area. And then I also have a background in Applied Psychology and then teach online courses and whatnot to professionals around the world, online and then it conferences and things like add that and then I have three dogs for dogs now Jeepers, I’ve got to remember to add in the fourth one now that I share my life with. And the newest addition is a Pyrenees mix name monk, lovely puppy that has joined our family to kind of round out our other mixes of herding dogs, toys, and another livestock Guardian mix.

Michael Shikashio (MS) 

Right. And I’m Mike and I own aggressive dog.com. And I’m like Kim, a certified dog behavior consultant, and teach trainers and get to have the wonderful opportunity to travel around the world doing workshops, and talking about aggression in dogs and helping dogs with aggression. My dog is Castanea. She’s a Chilean street dog that came up from Chile, with my girlfriend when she moved up. And she brought along a little Chilean street cat for Nardo, as well. So those are the two little critters I have in my home.

Kayla Fratt 

That’s great. Well, yeah. And, again, thank you both for coming on. So we’re gonna start out with what could be one of the most basic questions either of you has ever been asked, but probably could take us an entire textbook to respond to what is a dog trainer? And I guess, Mike, we’ll start with you for for fairness, and then we’ll go back to Kim.

Michael Shikashio (MS) 

Yeah, so I think we’re gonna dive much deeper into that question as we go along here. But, you know, I think classically, when you’re talking to like the general public about it, I, we might define it that way. So most universal definition of person that is teaching dogs to do certain behaviors, to live more, or to adapt more to living in, in a home with people. So things that we teach them might be behaviors, like sit down, stay, come walk nicely on a leash. And that’s, I think, what most people envision why dog trainer does when they just hear that word. And, of course, as dog trainers, ourselves, or dog behavior consultants, we have a lot of other different terms, depending on kind of what work we’re doing with dogs. So that’s kind of just the short and sweet definition there. But maybe I’ll let him take it from there.

Kim Brophy 

Yeah, I, I think I would agree with Mike that, you know, from the public’s perspective, dog trainer is someone who is hired to kind of create obedience in their pet dogs from from most people’s perspective, to get the dog on board with the human expectations of what they’re supposed to do, and not supposed to do follow basic commands, etc, kind of this like top down model that are in that includes different mechanisms of accomplishing that control, whether that’s positive reinforcement, or more aversive based approaches and techniques, or some balance between those two things, as there’s, you know, a lot professionals that kind of sit on the fence and kind of do a number of things in both regards, to try to change behavior. But, you know, the idea that there, the humans are in the position of instructing the dogs as to, you know, what ends they would like them to exhibit their behavior, you know, in what contexts and to what degree is, and when to inhibit, and when to perform, and all of that. So I think it’s kind of traditionally a top down model, and at least from my perspective, but I won’t jump into this now, you know, it’s something that needs to evolve as a concept for the general public.

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah, well, yeah, thank you both for that. And I think both of you highlighted a couple of the things that I think already are getting to the core of what, where I think this episode comes from so you know, Kim, you really hit on this, like, top down hierarchical approach. And, Mike, you, you hit on the fact that I think a lot of people think of a dog trainer, and they think sit down, stay calm. And, you know, as, as I think all three of us here on this call now, and probably most of our listeners, there’s a lot of training that goes into handling a conservation detection dog or working with a conservation detection dog. But I think where a lot of the hesitation kind of in this industry comes regarding the word training is related to both of those things like on one hand, there’s this perception that well, we’re teaching a dog to find Wolverine scat and ignore pine marten scat. That’s not teaching a dog to heal, so it’s not training. And then there’s also this perception that I think is even more pervasive and more, more. I think something I really align with and a lot of ways is those this feeling that our dogs in this field are our coworkers, and there’s so much more than something we’re just going to teach obedience to and like, run drills with and so I think sometimes that word a trainer can feel achy from that perspective. And because I think I identify as a trainer first. I don’t feel that way, but I really can see where that comes from. Does that? Do you guys have anything you want to add? Before I go on to our next our next question?

Kim Brophy 

I could, but Mike, did you want to jump in first?

Michael Shikashio (MS) 

No, I’ll let you go. I have some thoughts swirling around, but I haven’t solidified them yet. So go ahead.

Kim Brophy 

Okay. Yeah, I was just thinking, while you were talking, Kayla, that one of the things that has been really fascinating to me, and my own journey, as a, quote, dog trainer, and behavior consultant, is that, you know, we were kind of taught when we come into the industry, and I think the public is taught that, like, you have to learn how to be a dog trainer or an animal trainer, and you have to learn the, the core principles involved in that as far as learning theory and behaviorism concept, applied behavior analysis, kind of the mechanisms, if you will, of, of, of learning, and then the, the terms and the processes for conditioning. And whether that’d be operant, or classical, you know, and so people look at it, like, it’s this very isolated, in a vacuum kind of skill set, you know, discipline, practice, etc. And in for me, in my kind of development as a professional, like, I remember, I had a hard time kind of reconciling what I was learning about learning theory, and behaviorism, etc, with all of the other natural sciences that I was learning, like, they didn’t really talk to each other well. And I had this like epiphany, you know, maybe like five years into my career where I was like, Oh, wait, like, this isn’t separate, like all of this stuff, learning theory, behaviorism principles, etc. It’s really just how humans have figured out how learning works in nature. And so it doesn’t have to be this kind of like, hyper contrived process, it’s really a matter of appreciating how organisms in nature learn in order to adapt to changing conditions, etc, and to function successfully, independently as individuals and then cooperate, believe with others and things like that. So it’s more that we’ve kind of tapped into how learning functions and, and part of that, of course, being teaching and so I think it’s, it’s understandable that some people, like humans, long before we ever figured out learning theory and behaviorism concepts are just kind of working from the place of dialing into that natural communication, learning working together co worker process you describe, and they’re not thinking of it as training, even though what they’re doing is teaching and the animal is learning. And all those processes are actually occurring anyway, even if they’re not using those terms to describe them. But then other people might really like adopting those concepts and those terms to what they’re doing. And I would argue that ideally, everyone can benefit from a deeper understanding of behaviorism and applied behavior analysis. Because then we really understand what’s happening under the hood. Right? And it gives us a little bit better toolkit to work from when optimizing that learning process.

Michael Shikashio (MS) 

Yeah, if I can add to that, too, I think, you know, my thoughts earlier, were swirling around, again, going back to that, if we want to call it a label of dog trainer, so title, maybe, so to speak. And, and when we think about it’s, it’s kind of like, you know, the term doctor, for instance, we label somebody a doctor, we have a general idea. So the general public is going to know, Okay, doctor, cool. So we know that kind of what that person is about or what they’re doing. But, you know, obviously, the medical field has evolved over the last several 100 years or 1000s of years when you think about it, but you know, that term doctor has sort of the foundational meaning. And then you have all these offshoots, or these other categories now of specialists and things. And so I think the dog training field has, is starting to evolve that way as well, where you have sort of, you start as a dog trainer, in the sense of, okay, I want to work with animals. But the difference between the medical field and the dog training field is that there’s no regulation, and anybody can call themselves a dog trainer, right? And that can be very dangerous. Of course, when we’re looking at things like aggression, when, you know, literal lives are at stake, whether it’s dog or human. And so I think we’re evolving but I do think labels are very important. And titles are going to be very important as we continue to evolve because just like, you know, witch doctor sets up a certain image in our minds, it’s let’s say, maybe it’s like whisperer or some of these other job titles or classifications that can be very damaging to the consumer, the you know, the average to a pet owner looking for help, they’re not going to know where to go, what to do if we are careful with our labels. So I think we could dive more into the job titles and sort of what people do in this field a little bit more but that’s just some some thoughts off the top of my head kind of piggybacking off what Kim said there.

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah, no, I think that’s that’s perfect. And I like the The idea of this almost as a title as well. And I know, when I’ve been thinking about what word might feel better to me, as far as what I do with my dogs, because like rogue detection teams, they call themselves Bounders, which has a specific meaning that I’m not, I don’t have totally memorized. And then like conservation dogs collective calls their, their teams finder and keeper teams, which I really, really like. And the word that has felt, maybe closest to me is something like a coach. But I do think there’s also a part of me that is really hesitant to distance myself from this, you know, the science of learning and what we know about animal the animal behavior and how we can tie into this. And like, Kim, you and I have had some really interesting discussions about how genetics and pathology plays so intensely into how I work with my dogs. So maybe one of the next opening questions would be something like, what are what are some of the lenses that dog trainers use when working with dogs? We’ve already mentioned a couple that could be applied ethology, that could be behavior analysis. There’s, there’s so many others. So what are some of those lenses? And maybe, I wonder what do those add as far as bringing us out past this really hierarchical top down? So sit means sit sort of interaction that I think some people think of when I think dog trainer,

Michael Shikashio (MS) 

I think I’ll jump in on this one. And so again, going back to that title, or sort of this umbrella under dog trainer, I think it’s first and foremost, it’s for anybody working with dogs should have a foundational knowledge of through some of the different lenses. So Applied Behavior Analysis methodology, may be some of the medical lens of understanding when a dog has issues going on medically that it might need assistance or help. So I think everybody who’s working with dogs in any facet, whether it’s, again, conservation work, or behavior problems, or, you know, should be doing trick training or anything like that should have that foundational knowledge, because it’s, it’s science, you know, we need to incorporate the science. And if we ignore that, you’re really doing a disservice, in my opinion, to many of the dogs and the pet guardians, we’re trying to help in many of these cases. So yeah, I think as we’re evolving, we’re seeing more lenses come into it. And I think as we go along in this conversation, as well, we see trends in the lenses, right, so we see like, over the last decade or so, applied behavior analysis really come into the mainstream and dog, the dog behavior and training world, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But sometimes we get hyper fixated on those particular sciences, and then they’re nothing else exists, right? So we see these patterns and trends that we have to be careful of, because it’s yes, it’s important, but we can’t ignore the other things that are happening in all the science that has been explored over the last 100 years and longer, that we can apply to working with dogs. So I think every again, every every person working with dogs should have those foundational lenses, and then they can go and kind of explore what they want to learn more about. Right. But I don’t I think the danger here is that we’re seeing a lot of newer, you know, we will call them trainers, but folks working with dogs that actually aren’t incorporating any lens of science or any science at all, it’s all sort of this just relationship kind of, I don’t even know what to call it. But it’s there’s no science behind it all. It’s just kind of like abstract. And they’re, they’re putting their own theories and spins on it, which is can be very damaging. And we’re seeing a lot more of that these days with the advent of social media. So, Kim, I’m sure you have a lot you can add to that.

Kim Brophy 

Yeah, yeah, I was just thinking about the same thing that you took the words out of my mouth about social media and the internet, I think, like we’re just in the wild west of the information age, right. And so like, clearly politics, have have shown us that in recent years that like what becomes kind of an authority on information, you know, much less science, like it’s just so watered down. And so it’s really tricky for anyone to kind of make heads or tails of that and determine like, what, you know, what’s worth learning, or kind of what are the core things that someone needs to have another belt in order to be practicing and working with behavior in whatever capacity? And, you know, of course, I’m biased, but really your question Kayla, is is, in my mind kind of answered by like, what was the impetus for me of creating the entire legs model, right, because the whole idea for me was like, we’re only looking at training and behavior through one lens I have after having been in this field for a couple decades. You know, as Mike was saying, that was kind of This obsession or just kind of like hyper fixation on the field of applied behavior analysis, not that that’s at all irrelevant, it’s entirely central to the work. But just we kind of forgot about all these other scientific disciplines. So my task as I saw it with, you know, putting the legs model together was to basically just play connect the dots with all the work that other scientists have done from all these various disciplines, kind of in the spirit of applied ethology, but Applied Ecology is kind of inherently an interdisciplinary, disciplinary lens anyway, of trying to take into consideration you know, yes, ecology, but you know, evolutionary biology and you know, neurology and genetics and epigenetics and physiology and welfare science and many other smaller sub disciplines, you know, psychology, etc, to try to understand, like the big picture of what goes into any organisms behavior historically and other species, and then kind of extrapolate that as relevant to dogs, because they are also biological animals. Because I think that’s one of the things that we kind of do with dogs is like, we talk about them as if all of these other sciences don’t apply to them, like they’re somehow unique. And in some weird black hole or Vortex where like, you know, the natural sciences don’t apply to them. And so, yeah, that’s kind of my interest in passion is putting training and behavior in whatever capacity we’re working into that greater context of natural laws and principles and processes. And then incorporating and giving good credit to all of the work that’s been done in all those different fields.

Kayla Fratt 

Oh, my gosh, I love Kim that you mentioned and I, this is going to be a challenging interview. Because, like, I feel like it’s been four minutes since Mike said, all these things that I wanted to respond to. And now I can’t even I can’t keep track of all of them. But, Kim, I love that you mentioned that it’s sometimes seems like we perceive dogs as out of the, you know, out of the natural order. I’ve been reading a lot of friends to wall over the last couple of years and Mama’s last hug right now, which is about animal emotions. And I think I suspect that one of the things that’s happening here is we think of humans as so separate from other animals that are so reluctant to see that as like a true continuum, at least here in North America and Western Europe. But, and I wonder how much like our dogs are kind of an extension of that. And we think about these things as applying to everything but humans and kind of as extension our dogs because our dogs occupy such a such a strange place in our psyche. Yeah. Yeah.

Kayla Fratt 

Listen, you and your dogs are already canine conservationists by listening to the show. So go ahead and show it off. Join the club, check out our brand new merch store, which is located at k9conservationists.org/shop. It’s stocked with stickers and magnets and bags and shirts, we’re adding new designs all the time. If you’re an artist wanting to collaborate, just we split profits and are eager to hear from us reach out at [email protected] We also offer all of our webinars on demand through our store. So you can check out our puppy raising webinar, alerts and changes of behavior, introducing a target odor, as well as seeking, sourcing and alerting. We’re also planning to add new webinars to this all the time. So if you’ve got a request for a webinar, or you’re a practitioner hoping to contribute a webinar, again, we’re going to split our profits with you and you can reach out to us at [email protected] Let’s keep the learning going.

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah. Is there anything I guess that we, Mike, that you wanted to jump off of what Kim said or vice versa? Otherwise? I’ll just move on to the next question. Except the last

Michael Shikashio (MS) 

the next question, because I think we covered that one. Pretty good. Great.

Kayla Fratt 

Well, and one of the other things that I like, I’m really glad you mentioned that we do go through these phases. And you know, there was a pretty intense phase recently of this, this hyper focus on Applied Behavior Analysis. And I know that was, that was very much so the thing when I was coming up as a dog trainer, I started training it kind of unofficially in 2012, and then got really into it starting in 2016. So I had like a four year ramp up period. And I remember very early in my apprenticeship as a trainer being told by mentors that well, we can train a dog to do anything it’s physically capable of. And I like I think that is one of those statements that is just so indicative of how pervasive applied behavior analysis was, at the time and it’s it’s been changing a lot, again, largely in thanks to the work that both of you are doing and like, just in the last six months, I feel like I’ve heard three or four different people talking about attachment theory with dogs, which is something I had not heard eight more sicko even. So it’s really interesting to see how things come and go from the dog training world. And I suspect in a way that 99.8% of people who are not Professional Dog Trainers just have no idea about these tides that keeps shifting around us. So all of that to say, what are some of the things that you both are seeing and how modern dog training is changing, not just from like, 2022 to 1970. Because I think those 50 years have obviously been a huge shift in how dog training kind of works. But even comparing, you know, 2015, to 2020, to 2016 to 2022, just the last five or so years, what have what have you both been seeing in the industry,

Michael Shikashio (MS) 

I’m seeing a lot, I’m seeing the education just spreading at exponential levels, were I in the previous 15 years, so that it was it was getting out there, it’s certainly much more than even the previous 30 years. But then the last five years, again, social media can be damaging, but it can also be very empowering and educational, if somebody knows how to filter out, you know, the good content from the bad content, but there’s, I think it sparks a lot of curiosity, especially newer trainers, and they’re learning about concepts and different sciences that might not have been talked about even five years ago. And so we’re kind of seeing explosion that and in a good way. And it’s evidence, you know, I’ve I’ve been again fortunate to travel around the world now into 14 different countries. And one of the things I always note is what the trainers in that particular region or country sort of know about behavior, and I kind of always asked, you know, just to get an idea of how I can structure my talk, but it’s so interesting to me is that the level of knowledge has is just increased exponentially, like, you know, what they know about in different countries where, even five years ago, you would ask them about you guys know about this particular protocol, or this particular training technique or something like that, you’d kind of have to go through and explain it. But the last few workshops I did, and a few different countries have been, uh, so surprising to know how much they know. Like, they’re like, oh, yeah, we know about that. Oh, yeah, we read about that. And it’s thanks to again, how information spreads these days. So I see, as you were mentioning, Kayla, like the attachment theory information, and we’re seeing a lot more talk about emotions, a lot more talk about neuroscience, which is really exciting. And, again, recognizing underlying health issues and their impact on behavior. And obviously, the ethology lens that Kim is bringing to the table. So yeah, it’s it’s an exciting time. But I think what skill we need to teach all these new changes is how to filter what’s good information, how to be good to use some critical thought, because again, social media can also be very influencing and how something is presented, it can be very well, but then you have to kind of filter is that actually, there’s there’s some science behind that? Or is it more kind of just for social media? So yeah, it’s exciting times for me, because I’m seeing a lot of different aspects that we wouldn’t have seen, you know, even five years ago. Yeah.

Kim Brophy 

Yeah, I feel like it has changed a lot in just the last, you know, six years, as you mentioned, to, and I think a lot of that is really exciting. As Mike says, I feel like the industry is finally evolving in terms of becoming a little more interdisciplinary, a little, you know, a little better in terms of overall education and kind of access to information. And at the same time, I feel like, I’m also concerned about the, the lack of kind of regulation about the just the information that’s out there in the world in general, in that there’s, you know, online education has become a whole business in itself. And so, of course, there’s a lot of people that are offering courses in the industry, where, you know, it may not have solid footing in some sciences, scientific disciplines and principles and concepts and, you know, established theories etc. And so that can be a tougher a new trainer to filter through. I also think that there’s, there’s been an interesting split that I feel like is occurring, where there’s a body of professionals that are still much more interested in control and obedience, compliance and performance. And that group is growing. And there’s a lot more sports and, you know, ways in which people are kind of pursuing their interests and endeavors for having their dogs reflect their interests in terms of their competencies for whatever, you know, type of performance or application they’re interested in, which is cool, but I also have a lot of concerns about that because I feel like though can still be exploited in that process, in people’s hobbies. And then I also think that as dog behavior problems have continued to become more severe in the pet population for a variety of reasons, that we also have increased our attention to their emotional experience and their welfare, as Mike was talking about. And I think that’s really exciting. I think the fact that we’re stepping away from the control model, and having different conversations about kind of what what ethically we have the right to ask or impose, what expectations are reasonable and fair, you know, taking ownership of the fact that changing behavior or training, modifying behavior is fundamentally invasive, and kind of having a little bit more caution before we kind of jump in and start tweaking behavior just for funsies. I think all of that is really good and important as well. So I think it’s a strange time in the industry, really, I feel like we are pivoting and shifting in ways that we can’t yet anticipate the kinds of ends of.

Michael Shikashio (MS) 

Yeah, I want to add to that, too, I think you were Yeah, Kim was mentioning. So again, this, you know, talking about sports, or performance dogs, and I think that’s an important aspect as a community, or anybody in the discussion around dogs, is to recognize that, you know, we have to pay attention to the culture surrounding that particular dog we’re talking about, because and I’m not just talking about regionally or where in the world the dog is located, but what that Dog’s Purpose is for. So, you know, we see a lot of arguments. And I’ll give you an example, I remember talking about a murmur, Maremma cracker chin mix, which is livestock Guardian dog mixes, and, you know, talking about this case, this was a few years back, and in this mentioning, the dog just stays outside all the time. And then all of a sudden, you get some comments like, oh, how awful, I’ll be abusive and, and terrible for that dog. But we have to recognize the utility and sort of the culture on that dog is that that is perfectly normal for that particular dog in that working aspect. Versus pet, you know, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and somebody’s home two totally different purposes, two totally different dogs. And it’s interesting to me. So some of these conversations around dog behavior and training are sort of, we see that sometimes they’re not recognizing that, okay, this dog has a different purpose, or, Yes, this person is looking for sports and performance. That’s why they got their dog. And maybe that’s what their purpose for their dog is what they want their dog to be like, versus a person that’s, you know, has a dog for utility or even a dog that’s in a different country being used in the meat trade. I mean, there’s different views about the dog that we have, we’re talking about at that time. So things important aspect that I’m glad we’re seeing more of that recognized. But I think it’s, it’s, we’re still a long way off of saying, Hey, what are we talking about here? And what is it for this particular dog? What’s the culture around that particular dog? So? Yeah, great. Certainly.

Kayla Fratt 

I mean, and that’s something I’ve actually gotten less of it than I expected transitioning into the working dog world, but do occasionally get people you know, be questioning or pushing on the fact that I’m forcing my dogs to work. And I think maybe because of the bubble, that of the very particular bubble that I’m in generally, most people think that my dogs have the best lives ever and recognize what they’re, what they’re getting out of their work. But I do think Kim, it’s really important. And this is these are conversations we have a lot within kind of my front circle in the conservation dog world is this exploitation question, because it’s interesting how it is both true that my dogs love this work, and I selected them for this work. And I have set up their antecedents to help them love this work even more, I’ve made it into a fun and successful game for them. But I also have selected dogs with this genetic behavioral predisposition towards being so in love with their toys that they are very easy to exploit. And that’s something we think and worry about a lot in this field, or at least some of us do. Because there’s a lot that we can do with a dog that is over the top obsessed with toys that may not actually be in that star, that dog’s best interest. So yeah, there’s, there’s so much there. And there’s so many interesting questions to pull on in that exploitation realm. But I also, I’ve just, I’ve just started taking notes as the interviewer are talking so I don’t lose my thoughts too much. One of the things that I also really think is important to pull out here as far as this education piece and knowing some of the science is that I do think it’s really possible to get very far off of being kind of a quote unquote, naturally good dog person or, you know, a naturally good animal person. And I think that’s entirely possible. I also think there’s a lot of people who think but they’re in that camp who are not as good as they think they are. But for me, particularly knowing the science, and knowing the research and the background and knowing the history of animal behavior, and our understanding of it is so important for me as a mentor, because it’s one thing to have a natural feel for what a dog needs, or, you know, you might not know the term Differential Reinforcement of Incompatible behavior, but you might be able to feel your way through it. But it’s incredibly difficult to teach that or explain it or, you know, whether you’re working with a mentee or with a client and trying to help keep your dog safe in the field. So I think, yeah, those are, those are the two big things that I wanted to pull out a little bit more from what both of you were just saying.

Kim Brophy 

I would love to jump off of what you were talking Kayla, to about the exploitation just for a moment. Because, like, one of the things that I think is tricky is that especially in a field, where for the last decade, we’ve been, you know, dominated again, by this hyper fixation on a very concrete science of applied behavior analysis, which is all based on observable, measurable behavior, and sticking to these kinds of core facts and not extrapolating and asking questions and spending time in the weeds pondering about things we don’t have clear answers to, is that like, it ends up being a kind of bias away from some of the importance of even philosophy and ethics and terms of really being willing to wrestle with things that we know, we don’t have answers to, you know, the idea that, you know, we can sit here and think about and reflect on which I think, especially when we’re talking about welfare is really important. You know, for a long time, we’ve been, you know, told, or at least at the beginning of my career for you know, at least a decade, it was any dog being worked. That was unethical, right. So if someone had hound dogs, and they hunted them, that was unethical, if someone had a herding dog, and they worked them, you know, on cheap, that was unethical, it was all exploitive, if someone had a draft dog that was pulling a cart that was, you know, cruel, and exploitive. And so in, we’ve shifted to this idea that as a, as a culture, as a society, that it’s a service to any dog to create a luxurious pet environment in which they have no function and no purpose. There, they just get to live the fancy life and have all the good things and be comfortable, and we play with them. And everything’s just really light that way. But, you know, one of the things that like I really wrestle with because, you know, looking at things through the evolutionary lens, it actually doesn’t make sense to an animal to not need to exhibit behaviors for survival, right? Because in nature, everything has to be functional, like you have this whole economical approach to your entire life where you’re being, you know, very cautious and scrutinizing about how you’re spending energy because you need to exhibit behaviors that are going to be functional, and purposeful to, to the ends of the survival. And so kind of sitting around and doing nothing is cognitively dissonant, right. And so, we can breed and have bred dogs to do better with those conditions where they that passivity suits them fine. But we have a lot of dogs in the modern gene pool that have these historical purposes and functions. Like Mike’s case, he was speaking about what the Karaca Shawn aroma mix, were like, it’s actually part of providing welfare for them to utilize those seems that we developed or bred into them. So then we could reflect on is that ethical that we bred the dogs, like you said, Kayla, for the high toy drive or whatever, so that then we can utilize it for conservation work. And so we almost have to really wrestle with all ends of it, right. Like, once we have the dogs in the population, I think it makes more sense to employ them for purposes so that they feel fulfilled, because of the genetics they carry. But then should we be stepping back and saying, Okay, well, do we really need to think about whether it’s ethical to be breeding those dogs to have that kind of toy drive. And again, these don’t have clear answers like these could be the things that could be topics of discussion for months, long debates, and an ethics course and a graduate level, but they’re still important to me that we ask them.

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah, holy, holy cow. Yeah. I’m so glad we’ve opened this can of worms. Even though this wasn’t, this wasn’t the direction we were planning on. But yeah, it’s something I think about a lot in the comparison between my two dogs who I love picking on on this show. And I think at this point, most of our listeners are somewhat familiar with my two dogs. So I’ve got barley, who’s a shelter dog, and he is absolutely one of the dogs that is most obsessed with tennis balls and fetch that I have ever met in my life. And that includes working dogs from you know, Greenbrae and border patrol programs. And then there’s niffler, who I got as a puppy from abroad. Peter, and I want both of them to be good working dogs. But when I was working on Nick fleurs play drive and you know, teaching him to work, I was much more focused on helping and niffler have a variety of hobbies and a variety of Yeah, hobbies and interests so that he had kind of that more fulfilled life and that work didn’t have to be his only thing. And I think that’s something that’s really important to me with starting a dog. But when you do have these dogs in the shelter population, or in the pet population, that do have this level of obsession with toys, I do I agree, Cam, I think it’s best to give them an outlet. And there are really incredible stories we’ve highlighted before with rogue detection teams about getting these shelter dogs that have this, you know, this list of behavior issues of, you know, barking and chewing and biting the mailman and jumping up on people and digging through the couch cushions and everything else. And then you get these dogs out into a job and so much of it kind of magically melts away. And that’s obviously oversimplifying a little bit. And in some cases, it doesn’t in some cases, meeting all those welfare needs aren’t going to fix everything. But yeah, I think that that question of fit is so important. And one of the things that we like, also, we were just talking about in we’re running a course right now for conservation dog handlers is that, to some degree, we can’t really force our dogs to do this work. I can’t force a dog to sniff for me, it’s a little bit different from like an obedience exercise, like I can put, put a dog on a prong collar and force them to heal in a circle with me. But I can’t force a dog to sniff anything out for me. And that is something that I do think, makes me feel a little bit more comfortable with this field. And probably helps the public feel more comfortable with this field versus it’s easier to imagine that a dog running the idea to Rod is being forced to if you don’t know those dogs well.

Michael Shikashio (MS) 

Yeah, it’s, there’s so many thoughts swirling around you guys, you’ve got my mind going so many different directions. And, you know, it’s that word exploitation is interesting to me, because I wonder who’s who’s arguing for that, because, you know, it’s if somebody has a dog in their home, or is they’re basically exploiting the dog because they might have have chosen to be in that home with that person, right, we kind of control them in most pet Guardian homes were controlling most of their daily movements every single day for that dog’s life, you know, and it for truly not to be exploited, then they have to be like, the vast majority of the other dogs on the planet is 750 million street dogs are dogs that are free roaming in the world. But every all the other dogs, the smaller percentage of the dogs that are owned are coming in out of homes, they’re technically exploited when you when you really want to look at it. So it’s interesting that that whole dynamic, but you know, the other part of the conversation you guys are having is that the you know, and Kim has done such a marvelous job of talking about this is meeting the dog’s needs and really exploring, okay, if we’re going to, as humans select for certain traits, and, you know, we start breeding and selecting for certain things over generations, you know, it’s our responsibility to remember those things and not forget that and not just stick these dogs in a pet home. And under the name of exploitation, I guess and not give them the choices that they need that we’ve selected for so yeah, so many so many deep parts of this conversation. I love the way it’s going. And yeah, just keep keep it up. Let’s, let’s keep this conversation rolling. Because there’s there’s so many deep thoughts here.

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah, definitely. Well, and even this is maybe a more minor example. But I think this circles back to this question of what what does the dog want. And so again, to pick on my dog’s niffler is a dog who loves being outside more than just about anything. So if I am working, or if I’m in a place where it is safe for him to be outside, he will spend 16 hours a day outside and just just sitting on the porch, digging holes, you know, half the time he’s being very nice and half the time he’s getting up to, you know, dog hobbies which are not always things that we love. versus my dog barley, who would he just wants to be where the people are. I sing that song from The Little Mermaid to him a lot. He doesn’t care where I am or what I’m doing but he wants to be no more More than two meters away, but ideally at least one meter away. And it’s just, it’s just so interesting. And that doesn’t have as much to do with like being a dog trainer or anything. But I think it’s just so interesting to me how individual they are. And that can get as granular as you know how my dogs prefer to work, or how they prefer to play as part of their reinforcement when they have successfully made inclined, but also just around the house, it’s so interesting to me to have a dog, one dog who never wants to be out of my sight and always wants to, you know, be involved with whatever I’m doing. And then another dog who is just so much more independent, and really just values that, that space and that freedom, and they’re the same breed, and they’ve been raised in more or less the same house.

Kim Brophy 

I was just thinking, I love your term, granular, Kayla, because one of the things that I think that we’re all prone to doing is we’d like, take a you know, clickbait tagline, headline, whatever. And we just kind of run with it, like one of the ones that’s been in the industry for a long time, but I don’t think is necessarily been explored on a granular level is, you know, all dogs are individuals, right. And that was kind of the mantra of like anti BSL and stuff like that, and very well intentioned, like, don’t judge a book by their cover. And of course, it’s entirely true. But when we don’t look at it on that granular level, then we’re missing the like, A, we have a what goes into that individual, which, again, I’m biased, but I go back to the legs model of their learning, their environment, their genetics, and then their internal world of their self. All those things are factors. And I think one of the things that I hope is starting to happen is that we are increasingly getting better at meeting dogs where they are with all of those legs considered. So it’s not like, well, you’re an individual, despite your legs, despite the factors of your environmental conditions, and how many hours a day you spend in a crate, despite the genetics and the fact you are bred to spend your entire day outside guarding livestock not following obedience commands, you know, despite the fact that you might only be six months old and an intact male with some various medical conditions, and that’s affecting your ability to listen today, or the learning you’ve had in the past was a little bit traumatic or confusing or inconsistent, because we just come in with all of this judgment on every dog. And even if we say, well, of course, they’re an individual, we kind of say that, like, it’s a nice thing to say and move on. And we still, as a culture, as a dog loving community, as dog trainers aren’t necessarily great at really assessing all of those factors of what goes into that being. And that’s what I see the job of like our new family dog mediation program, some of the people in there are dog trainers, some of them are not, but what we’re trying to teach people to do is just to see all of those moving parts, and help to communicate that to the relevant human parties. So that they give the person a framework. So maybe that family dog mediator is not a trainer, and then that family goes and actually hires a trainer to help them implement whatever kind of behavior change needs to happen for the harmony of that household. But rather than assume that, like we just get in there and start changing behaviors, and of course, we accept them as an individual, but we don’t really get why we actually really take the time to look at that picture to make sure we’re providing for that welfare. And, you know, whatever our kind of bias or lien, whether we are a dog trainer, or someone who might be doing conservation work and not identify with that term, I think that’s something we can all kind of rally around is that concept of really meeting them where they are.

Michael Shikashio (MS) 

Yeah, that’s, I totally echo that. Because, you know, I think Kim is hitting on the need to have sort of this much more broader view of everything that’s going on with the dog, not just focusing, again, on the trainer side of things sit down stay, and not only just focusing maybe on another particular lens, I think it requires a much broader set, you know, first to step back for a moment, just to kind of look at this, I think, you know, another thing, you know, Kelly, you’re talking about your dogs, too. I mean, the question is, are they having fun? I mean, that’s it and are they happy? And and I think that’s missed a lot because we’re so focused on like that end goal of I must get this dog to stay or sit or I must get them to do this particular task that they’re bred for. And those are important, of course, but I think it misses the whole reason. You know, the work we do is to ensure the better life for the dogs better welfare, better welfare for the people that are like for the for the people as well, in the work we do. Right. So I think Bert broad question is step back and say, Is this dog actually happy with what we’re trying to accomplish with our goals? And in our in the work we’re doing? So? Yeah, deep thoughts.

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah, yeah. Mike, I’m so glad you brought that up. It’s one of the things that when I started getting into this field, and I think this probably applies to many, if not most, if not even close to all of us in this Conservation dog world is one of the things I love most about this is that it’s something that I love doing. More importantly than that, it’s something my dogs love doing. And even more importantly than that, it’s something that has an important mission that I care about. Before getting into the conservation dog world, I was in, you know, the shelter behavior world. And I loved that work. And so I had the I love it piece. And I had the important mission piece. But a lot of times the dogs weren’t necessarily having the most fun, which, you know, is a huge contributor, contributor to burnout for shelter workers, even even as a positive reinforcement trainer and one of the best funded behavior programs probably in the world, in a shelter. It’s still just it’s a hard environment for both the dogs and the people. And then I originally got barley thinking we were going to do agility. And then when I did finally get my big break and got into the conservation dog world, it was just, it was like, okay, yeah, like agility is cool. Agility is fun at all. And like sport nosework is fun. And all I liked that barley likes it. He’s honestly, he’s just as happy doing agility as conservation dog stuff, I don’t think he has any inkling of one job being more important than the other. But for, for me, it’s so cool to see him loving something that also is making an impact. And I can probably think of two or three times ever that I’ve watched my dog in the field and thought, you know, he’s not having fun right now. And it’s that rare. And the two times I can think of our barley on his first first black footed ferret deployment, I think that was a real kick in the teeth for both of us as far as preparation. And it was just such long, hard surveys with so few finds that and I don’t think either one of us were really fully prepared in our career for that. And, you know, some neither one of us were having fun at points and the Niffler, the only time I’ve ever seen him not really having fun in the field is when there’s cattle around, and he’s having to try and fight his genetic need to go herd cattle, and his trading and reinforcement history of finding bats. And one of my favorite things about working both of them this summer was that because I had both dogs with me this summer as as opposed to last summer, in 2021, I only had nefler and Barley was with another, another trainer. This summer, if I saw a herd of cattle on the horizon, I could take niffler out, do a little bit of engagement with him, maybe put a get me out. So he got to learn that when there are cattle around he can have an easy success. But then I put him away. And I didn’t ask him to work in that situation because barley doesn’t mind working around cattle. He’s so much more focused on on the job that it wasn’t challenging for him. But I mean, yeah, it’s those are the only situation I can really think of where they have not been pretty actively enjoying themselves in in the field.

Kim Brophy 

But in Kayla, that makes me think about kind of going back to the original question, right of our conversation of what is a dog trainer as it relates to people that work in conservation detection, dog work, and I just, you know, put that out there, I don’t work in that in that arena. So I’m speaking from outside of it, but I would imagine that what really matters isn’t so much the label about whether or not someone sees themself as a dog trainer, because of all the cultural societal connotations, etc, of that, you know, whether that’s something you’re comfortable using, but realizing that they are in a position of being a steward, and a teacher, you know, and they’re, they’re working to cultivate an experience, and then the result with the benefits to the, you know, the environment and our world that it has. That’s a win win win, right? Like, that’s, that’s I would imagine, most of the people in conservation dog work are not, you know, in it just to exploit dogs, you know, for performance in their own egos, I think people tend to, in that field, largely just really be wanting to do it for all the right reasons. And you know, bring it out of the dog and manifest that and enjoy being part of that partnership. And that whole tapping into the very nature’s of dogs, their brains being dominated by olfaction really utilizing that in a way that many dogs never get to an end but realizing they are learning and whether you like it or not all of those scientific components of applied behavior analysis are happening under the hood. So it might serve people in that field to learn more about it to optimize what they’re doing with their dogs. But you know, whether or not they choose to call themselves a dog trainer is probably neither here nor there. I mean, frankly, as a dog trainer for 20 some odd years I’m increasingly not liking the label myself, because of those connotation reasons in society. But, you know, I think it’s it’s a really amazing niche field. Hold. And I imagine you have a lot of people with different backgrounds in it. And some are going to like to wear that hat or label and others aren’t going to be so comfortable with

Michael Shikashio (MS) 

it. It’s so so well said, Kim, because I think there’s so much that we can learn from other disciplines and other approaches to working with dogs. It’s, you know, I’ve learned so much from other people working with dogs, again, that aren’t in the same field are doing the same kind of work I’m doing so you know, I’m working with strictly aggression cases. But, you know, I’ve I’ve learned, you know, incredible defensive handling skills from the folks in the shelter world, or, you know, the sort of what Kayla was mentioning earlier is like, you know, the science versus the art of training, right. So like, if I want to learn, you know, we have to recognize that a lot of it is like, the things we do like an agility world, there’s a lot of subtle movements that a handler can make, and sort of the art of it, right. And there’s no, not necessarily science. I mean, we could probably apply science to it, but the movements, it’s sort of like dancing, right. And so again, the art just sort this learning, the subtle cues we can do with our own body can easily be brought forth into the work I’m doing. So I do think there’s so much that we can benefit and learn not not shut those doors to, you know, the other lenses, and, you know, not get caught up on the labels of what we’re calling ourselves at this point. You know, it’s, you know, things are things to think about.

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah, yeah, there’s I, there’s so many little things that yeah, I want to pull out. But we’ll, we’ll start trying to wrap up here. And one of the things I was just thinking about is, I wonder. So so much of scent work, in particular are training a dog to do detection is about antecedent. So like when you’re teaching a dog like a specific odor, that’s very much so most of us basically, it’s like, present the odor reward, present the odor of reward, you do that until you’ve got enough of a conditioned emotional response, that the dog is going to start seeking it out. And that’s where then I think people, people like focus on that people who like training, they focus on that part, they focus on that like initial imprinting. And then they also focus on teaching the alert, and they teach like the beautiful sit, stare alert, or whatever it is. And they miss everything in between. And I think also that in between area is because we don’t think of it as much as training because we’re using so much of the environment to teach the dog how to do stuff. And that’s where it’s also starts getting really technical and really esoteric. It’s something I’ve been really dedicating a lot of study to over the last couple of years as far as, okay, so knowing what I know about my target odor and the size of the source that I have, and its volatility, and knowing what I know about weather and terrain, and vegetation, how can I set up where I’m putting the odor and the time of day and how long it’s out there, and where I’m starting the dog, and then how I’m walking and how I’m moving through the environment. In order to teach the dog the lesson I want the dog to come away from. And that to me is like just the pinnacle of like beautiful dog training, or a pinnacle of beautiful dog training. But it doesn’t look like what we think of as dog training. And maybe that’s another route of this that I actually missed until just now is how much of the detection specific work just really doesn’t look like what we think of as training because it’s so much more about chemistry and then and movement, then you’re not getting like a lot of repetitions. I’m not sitting down with a clicker and a bag of cookies and like getting getting 16 reps in a minute.

Kim Brophy 

Okay, I’d love to say something in response to that. I’ll try not to go off on a massive tangent. But one of the things that stands out to me so much, Kayla, about your beautiful description there is that you are you are dialing into flow, and I don’t you know, for the listeners, like I mean, it’s really fun to geek out a little bit on the psychology of flow and happiness, psychology research that’s been occurring in the last 10 years. After all this focus on like, you know, people being depressed and everything, there’s been a lot of increased research done on the psychology of happiness and this concept of flow or all those things are like in sync right? And from my perspective, that’s like balanced legs where all the things are working together. And I think that’s that stands in stark contrast in my mind to the kind of arbitrary nature of a lot of quote dog training, whether that’s with pets or in you know, performance work or whatever. We’re trying to get a dog to do something or not do something that actually doesn’t make that kind of sense to them. It’s it’s not just clicking it’s like it could even you know completely be petting the cat backwards for them and be like, wait a minute what this completely contradicts everything that I’m You know, feeling and perceiving and, you know, feeling impulse to do. And so, you know, for me that that beautiful kind of cohesion where the science meets the art is when all those things coalesce and collaborate for this kind of optimal conversation, where we’re dialing into nature’s learning processes, as a social instructor that, frankly, has Intel, for the dog that is meaningful to them about their environment and how their genetics can end the learning processes and all of the physiological internal processes can can combine to be more successful with the cohesion of all of those legs, like, it’s, it’s just that arbitrary thing has become kind of this dominant subconscious thing in our mind, like getting dogs to do weird stuff that doesn’t make sense to them somehow impresses us. Were to me, that beautiful thing that you described, so well is just balanced legs, and therefore good welfare.

Kayla Fratt 

Well, thank you. Yeah, Mike, do you have anything you wanted to add? And then both of you if you have anything you want to circle back to or expand on? As we wrap up here, the the floor is yours.

Michael Shikashio (MS) 

Yeah, I think getting back to the artistry part of it, I can understand, you know, thinking deeper into, you know, how somebody may not want to be considered so analytical or, you know, scientific in terms of their approach to something like working with a sentient being like a dog. It’s sort of like, if we were to, you know, it feels a little strange to apply science to like love, you know, say you love somebody, you know, kind of, well, we can you operationalize that, right. It sounds kind of strange to that. So it’s, I can understand coming. Certainly, some people working with dogs and certain aspects are going to feel more of the artistry. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be dichotomy from the science, I think it’s important to blend those two in many aspects. So. So just a quick thought on that. And to just add on Kim’s really excellent thoughts, too. Yeah, that’s great.

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah, well, thank you for that, Mike. And I think that’s, that’s a good place to end on that, you know, the science, it can be feel weird to try to operationalize or bring too much science into love. But that doesn’t, it doesn’t have to detract from it. So yeah, that seems like a good place to wrap it up. Kim, and then Mike, do you want to tell people where they can find you online and learn more from you or about you if they’re interested in picking more up of what you’re putting down?

Kim Brophy 

Yeah, um, so our current kind of platform where we have our first couple of courses offered one for professionals and people that are working in a greater capacity with dogs. And then one for the public is family dog mediation.com. For our family dog mediation Education Center, and we will be adding a bunch more kinds of special topic courses and seminars to that this year, from our student base around the world. And also folks can, you know, look me up on Facebook, I love just connecting with folks on Facebook and messenger and learning about what they’re doing and, you know, collaborating on all kinds of things.

Michael Shikashio (MS) 

And you could find me over at aggressive dog.com. I’ve got all the information articles, information about the conference that will be updated soon. But courses webinars is all on there, as well as the by the end of the dog podcasts, which you can hear right through the website or on your favorite podcast platform.

Kayla Fratt  Yeah, and I can definitely personally recommend both of those resources. I’m working through Kim’s LEGS course online right now. And Mike’s podcast has just been even though I’m not working with a ton of aggression cases anymore. And it’s just been absolutely fascinating to hear some of the people that you’ve managed to bring in on the different perspectives on the show. So definitely check those out. And for everyone at home, thank you so much for listening. I hope you learned a lot and you’re feeling inspired to get outside and be a canine conservationist in whatever way suits your passions and skill set. You can call yourself a trainer or not. And you can find those show notes and a transcript of this episode, you can donate to K9Conservationists, buy T shirts, and you can join our Patreon book club and coaching groups over at K9Conservationists.org. Until next time!

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