Ep. 110: Let's Talk Reactive Dogs and Scent Work

Mar 29, 2024


Dianna L. Santos and Christina Young

One of the many wonderful aspects of Scent Work is how it is a benefical activity for so many categories of dogs, including reactive dogs.

In this episode, we have the privilege to speak with Christina Young of Positive Dog, a certified dog behavior consultant with IAABC and PPG, about playing the Scent Work game with reactive dogs.

Learn more about Christina:



Dianna L. Santos (00:00):
Welcome to the All About Scent Work Podcast. In this podcast we talk about all things Scent Work, that includes training tips, a behind scenes look at what your instructor or trial official may be going through and much more. In this episode, I am delighted to speak with Christina Young of the Positive Dog, all about reactivity and Scent Work. So before we start diving into the episode itself, let me do a very quick introduction of myself. My name is Dianna Santos. I'm the Owner and Lead Instructor of Scent Work University and the President of Cyber Scet Work. Scent Work University is an online dog training platform where we provide online courses, seminars, webinars, and eBooks, all centered or around Scent Work. So regardless of where you are in your sniffing journey, we likely have a solution for you. Cyber Scent Work is an online competition organization where you can either participate completely online or you may be able to work with one of our Evaluators to have an in-person assessment. Definitely encourage you to check Cyber Scent Work out. Now that you know a little bit about me, let's dive into the episode itself. So in this episode I have the distinct privilege of speaking with Christina Young of the Positive Dog, all about reactive dogs and Scent Work. Let's have a listen to that conversation. We are so delighted to have Christina today for our podcast today. Thank you so much for joining us. Did you want to let our listeners know a little bit more about you?

Christina Young (01:21):
I'm Christina Young. I am a Certified Canine Behavior Consultant, both with the IAABC and with PPG, and I'm a huge Nose Work nerd. I teach it to my reactive students. I have online courses and in-person courses, and I'm also a Cyber Scent Work Evaluator.

Dianna L. Santos (01:40):
So we are delighted that you're able to join us for this conversation today. Christina had actually reached out and said, Hey, do you think that we can have a talk about reactive dogs and Scent Work? And I was like, yes, please. So this is something that we've actually had several of our clients both as Scent Work University and Cyber Scent Work have reached out and be like, oh, I happen to have a reactive dog. Do you guys have any kind of resources or is there anything specifically for me? So I think this would be really helpful, but we first have to get through the whole thing of, well, what actually is a reactive dog? So could you actually give what you consider to be a reactive dog?

Christina Young (02:14):
Well, that's a great question. It varies according to who you talk to. There's no specific definition that everybody agrees to. So I consider a reactive dog, one that has trouble performing kind of things that we would think of as normal dog behaviors in a quote, normal dog class. So if the dog is too anxious or too frustrated or too excited by things in the environment to do the things that you might expect the dog to be able to do, I would consider that reactive. Some dogs might react in an energetic way by barking and lunging and spinning and doing all those things, and other dogs might react in a lower energy way by shutting down, slowing down, unable to eat, unable to respond to known cues, that kind of thing.

Dianna L. Santos (03:04):
So that's a really good thing to point out and I'm hoping we can talk about that a little bit more because I think that a lot of people have the expectation reactive is always loud or reactive is always active, but I think that second category, a lot of people overlook where the dog goes inward, where they kind of stress down. So could you maybe talk about that a little bit more? Because someone may actually have a dog who falls more into that category, but they may not be taking the same kind of steps to potentially set that dog up for success where they're actually pushing the dog into situations where maybe the dog wouldn't be as successful because they may not actually be deeming that dog as reactive. So can you talk about that a little bit?

Christina Young (03:42):
Sure. A lot of dogs when they're reactive, so when their arousal goes up, we can talk about what arousal means too. I suppose when their arousal goes over the point where they can function, that's when they get the loud barky lunge or spinny or the border collies scream at you. But other dogs, when the arousal goes up, all those active behaviors are meant more to say, Hey, I need space. Go away usually. And you can also say, Hey, I need space. Go away by being calm, by sniffing, by walking away from the scenario. So a lot of dogs you'll see in agility for instance, they're reactive and they'll stress down and they might leave the course and go and pee or go and start sniffing. And those behaviors are communication from the dog that they're uncomfortable just as much as the barky lunge ones, but they're not as scary to people. So people don't see them in the same aggressive way. So they might not see that the dog is suffering or struggling.

Dianna L. Santos (04:53):
And I think that's a really important thing for people to keep in mind. And then we're bringing that back into the context of Scent Work. It can get very confusing because, oh, but my dog is sniffing. It's like, no, actually that's not the kind of sniffing that you're looking for. So can you talk about that for a second as far as how they may be able to tell if their dog is doing displacement sniffing as opposed to hunting, sniffing?

Christina Young (05:14):
So it's not just the sniffing, it's the whole body language of the dog. It's the whole picture. So is the dog actively looking for something and hopefully we have a baseline say, Hey, this is how my dog normally searches, and right now they seem kind of stuck in that corner or they're sniffing in a different way. And that's something that instructors can help you identify in your dog as well. Often it's their gait, so how fast are they moving? Most dogs when they're comfortable, when they're hunting, when they're confident, a move in a fluid way, their body is maybe trotting or a fast walk or they have a certain kind of bounce to their step. And then when you see displacement sniffing, it's often a walk or a very still or they turn their body away from whatever is scaring them. There's very kind of a different look to the dog. Once you get to know the dog's baseline, you can see when it changes.

Dianna L. Santos (06:14):
Is it possible for a dog to switch back and forth where one moment they were hunting, then something happened and suddenly they're doing displacement sniffing?

Christina Young (06:22):
Oh, absolutely. We actually had that in a class last night. Another student watching drop their keys and the dog immediately went into a displacement sniffing. So it happens.

Dianna L. Santos (06:37):
I think that's an important thing for people to keep in mind because a lot of times I think when it comes to Scent Work, at least in my experience, people seem to get very laser focused, kind of blinders on. We're just doing Scent Work, we're just finding hides and everything else that we think about our dogs kind of goes out the window. And if we happen to soften up our eyesight as far as how we're looking at those things, the reactivity on the more active side kind of makes a little bit more sense to people. But to me, we can see it as instructors or trial officials. Those dogs who are suffering, when they're stressing down, they're struggling more because their handler doesn't know what they're looking at, they don't know what they're experiencing and they don't know how to support. So from your perspective, having all of this expertise, what do you recommend for people to first assess, who is my dog? What does my dog need? And then what would I be able to do?

Christina Young (07:32):
Those are great questions.

I'm really thinking about these. So to decide who your dog is, I think it's really important to see your dog doing the exercises at home or somewhere where they're really, really comfortable, where there's no distractions, no scary things, no exciting things. And if I can say, Hey, this is who my dog is in their easiest possible environment, and now if I start adding in, depending on your dog, whether they're anxious or they're just overexcited or frustrated, layer in the things that cause your dog's behavior to change. And then you say, Hey, does my dog get slower when there's a person watching? Does my dog get a little more frantic when the people are watching or when there's a dog nearby or when we're near a playground or when there's traffic or whatever it is for that dog that causes their behavior to change. And so if we know what their baseline is in a comfortable environment and we know how they change in different contexts, then we can get to know our dog and know how they communicate when they're distracted or stressed or frustrated by something in the environment.

Dianna L. Santos (08:45):
And then once you have an understanding about who your dog is as far as where they may land in that spectrum, what are some things that you should think about when you're doing set work in particular? So one of the things that I've mentioned is the last thing we would want to do is try to attach the trigger to odor of every single time I'm sniffing Birch, here comes the scary man or the scary dog, or the scary keys. So is there anything like that that people should be worried about?

Christina Young (09:10):
Yes. Well, I start all Scent Work on just primary on just food. And so that gives me a baseline for the dog, helps them if the room is scary, if the environment, if there's a barrier and it's scary, whatever's going on for the dogs, if something is challenging for that dog, and I say scary a lot, but it can be a lot of different emotions that cause reactivity. So any of them apply. So I start on primary because the dog will work through challenges for primary without necessarily pairing that trauma or that scary thing or that frustrating thing with food, because food is a primary reinforcer and they eat it all the time, not just in Nose Work. So if then we put Birch or here it's Wintergreen for most of our novice dogs, if we put Wintergreen too early, now the dog might associate those things for the reactive dogs, anytime I add something new, I go back to primary.

So if I'm starting with elevated hides or I'm starting with cardboard boxes that might fall over, or if I'm doing something new that might be too challenging or scary or frustrating for the dog, I'll go back to primary to introduce that concept. And then once I know the dog can handle that challenge and with confidence and enthusiasm, then I'll add odor back in. So with my dogs, I don't do, oh great, you did primary and now you do paired and now you do odor. And it's not a linear thing, it's a back and forth. So I'm, hey, this might be hard for the dog. We're going to go back to primary to test it because if it is frustrating for the dog or if it is scary for the dog, we do not want them associating that emotion with whatever odor they're searching for.

Dianna L. Santos (10:58):
And that's an excellent point because it is very hard, if not impossible in some cases to change that negative association. And then if you were trying to compete and you're trying to use a baseline odor such as here is Birch, you are kind of out of luck.

Christina Young (11:13):
Yes, and I was going to say I don't even do that just for reactive dogs. I have a dog, he's a border collie and he has a very low tolerance for frustration just in his own little high arousal self. And I'll do that for him too. So especially I know he struggles on metal surfaces, so if I haven't done a chain link fence hide in a long time with him, I will pair that. He's pretty advanced now, so I'll just pair it for him. But I might just do primary fur less experienced dog first too, not just for reactive dogs. I would do that for any time I thought the dog might struggle and become frustrated with the hide.

Dianna L. Santos (11:52):
And I think that's wonderful approach. I'm sure there's some people that their brains are exploding right now, like, oh my God, go back to primary after we've already been on odor, distractors, distractors. It's like, no, really, the dogs are really good, particularly if you're careful with how you do it and you're mindful with how you're training. And it's, again, it's the thoughtful process that you're talking about that I really appreciate of understanding. We're trying to set the dog up for success. We're trying to help them understand, and the more that we can isolate what it is we're looking for them to do, and then we can build upon those skills once we know they can. So there's no point in putting the dog into the deep end of the pool and say swim, and they're like, I don't know how.

Christina Young (12:33):
Yes. So I always think of training all things, but especially well with all things, not just Nose Work is you're either testing or you're training. So when I'm training, I don't want my dogs to fail. I want them to maybe have to work through some challenges a bit, but I want them to succeed. I always want them to come out feeling really confident and like, oh, I did this great thing and they got reinforced and that's training. And then every now and then I test and I say, actually right now, let's see what the dog can do. I'm not sure, let's do a little test. But I'll pad that test with a success. We'll start with something I know the dog can do and I'll say, Hey, let's set this up. And I'll have the student choose their own easy search and say, put this out, but I want you to bet me your car that your dog will find it within 10 seconds. I want it to be that easy. And then we do that, and then we can do the testing hide. So where the dog might fail, if they do have a hard time, we will then follow that with another easy search to build their confidence back up.

Dianna L. Santos (13:36):
That's amazing. What a wonderful thing. I hope people really take that kind of process to heart. Then for those of them who may be again struggling, because it is sometimes a struggle when you have a dog who is reactive where they do have arousal issues in either part of the spectrum when they're doing their training sessions, and they're probably also trying to do some behavior modification maybe on the side, maybe they're trying to couple Scent Work with behavior modification. What are your recommendations, generally speaking, and I know we're talking about big generalities here for how they should do that as far as do you recommend that if they were to do behavior modification to potentially do a separate session as a way to help the dog have a win, do you recommend them to have more breaks or is it trying to figure out the kind of Scent Work training session they should do based upon the kind of behavior modification work that they're doing? So they're not potentially having any kind of negative influence onto their Scent Work? What are some of the considerations that they should be thinking of that maybe they're not right now?

Christina Young (14:37):
Well, I think if Scent Work is done thoughtfully with setting the dog up for success in mind, I don't see how said work can hinder reactivity. I can't think of any way where Scent Work would cause a problem for reactivity training or vice versa, because the more reactivity training we do and make our dogs more confident, then the better the dogs will feel going into novel environments if you do trial them. So I don't think there's anything there inherently that doesn't go together, but it's important that the Scent Work be done thoughtfully. So for instance, my classes, one dog is in the room at a time. If the dog is human reactive, I do have a barrier up, and I'll have, for instance, if the dog's only reactive to men, I'll have a man stand behind a half door so they can still watch, but they're a little bit less around for the dog.

And we can work through all of those things first. So when the dog comes into the classroom, we don't start with Scent Work, we want to make sure that the dog comes into the classroom and we can let them acclimate, let them walk around and sniff the place I teach in doggy daycare. So if they pee, it's not the end of the world. All their dogs peed there first. And then we start with some cookie tosses. Can the dog chase a treat and eat? If that's easy, can the dog do some tricks that it knows at home? Can it sit, can it down, can it still eat? And we build up their skills to make sure the dog is comfortable before we do Scent Work. And I think that's important for the Scent Work part of it, because we don't want to start doing Scent Work if the dog isn't comfortable in the environment.

Dianna L. Santos (16:24):
And with that same thing apply once they've actually had a baseline, maybe now this is someone who's been doing Behavior mod and or Scent Work for a while. Maybe they're starting to do field trip searches in safe places, a friend's house, a family member's house, something like that. Would that be the same type of approach? Do acclimation first, then Scent Work?

Christina Young (16:43):
Yes. Now if you're preparing to trial, you might not have the time or the opportunity to do that. So part of my Scent Work classes also includes stationing. So stationing means you put the dog in a sit stay, a down stay. It might be on a towel, it could be on a platform, whatever works for that dog. So we would transfer that out to just a sit or a downst stay before trialing because you probably can't carry your cable board or your climb around with you at trial if the dog has gone through all this. We have the baseline, we're used to a very specific start line routine, which includes the dog sitting or downing whatever's most comfortable. You put your hand on the dog's harness, you stand beside them, and we release 'em forward. That is how we do Scent Work. So if we go into a new room, they're on a field trip, maybe they're at a field or they're at their friend's house, like you say, and the dog looks uncomfortable doing that part, we're not going to go forward and do Scent Work.

We're just going to work on those pieces, maybe acclimating, maybe doing some tricks to loosen them up and get them having fun. But we will always use that as a test to say, Hey, is my dog ready? In the middle of a search too, if something happens like a sheet runner comes in and kind of worries the dog, then I can back up and say, okay, that was okay, kiddo, here you go. And here, I don't know about in the organizations you compete in, but you could feed your dog for any reason during a search here. And so I might give the dog a treat, ask them to do a couple of tricks, ask them to station again, sit or down maybe a peekaboo between your feet kind of trick, and then really go through your whole start line procedure again, even though you're in the middle of a search.

Dianna L. Santos (18:25):
And that's another thing to bring up that if the dog were to in the middle of a search, so you've already released them, you've had your start line routine, they were good, they showed you, they were ready to start searching. They're currently working. Maybe they found one hide, but they need to find another. And something happens. They hear something, a car backfires, someone closes the door, someone drops their keys, a dog barks in the distance, whoever the case may be, and they are startled or they are entranced, aroused, engaged, pick your word, but they are no longer searching. They're now in a reactive sequence. So would you do the same type of thing to help them restart? Or what would you generally recommend that someone would do?

Christina Young (19:04):
Yeah, it depends on the dog. Like all dog training, well, it depends. And some dogs, if they're more experienced or they're further along in their reactivity training, they might just be able to shake that off and continue. Other dogs, like my little, I have a little American Eskimo dog, I trial hymn for a little bit, and anytime something worried him, I just do the whole start line sequence again in the middle of the trial. I mean, you have a long time usually in these searches for the novice levels, so you have time to stop and make sure your dog feels comfortable. And that's more important anyways. So if we stop, do something your dog knows and feels that they can do without thinking some sort of automatic behaviors where they can go, okay, I can do this. Rather than saying, Hey, go do this thing that's hard for you, even though you're a little stressed. We want to lower their arousal, get them back thinking about things that they can do before we rather than ask them to go do something that might be challenging for them.

Dianna L. Santos (20:05):
And then speaking on that, since you've been using all of this in your classes and in your training, what are some of the benefits for people who maybe haven't started Scent Work yet, but they do have a reactive dog, why would they? They're already working with a trainer and behavior modification. They've already made all the adjustments, they're doing all the management, they're doing all these things. Now I'm listening to this podcast. So someone told me I should, and now you're telling me I should do Scent Work. Why? Can you tell them why they should bother?

Christina Young (20:30):
Oh, there's so many reasons. So firstly, there's a lot of science behind why sniffing is good for dogs, but that all aside, you can do scatters. You can do all kinds of sniffing things elsewhere. The reason I like Scent Work for dogs is it's fun. It's a really fun outing where you can go and do something with your dog and feel like you have a normal dog. You can go out and go to a class and have peers and laugh and be part of a social group. And everyone can tell you how smart and how fast and how clever your dog is or how cute they are, or how amazing you get your own little cheering squad now that they're eating now in class or they're able to sit now in class. And it's a lot of fun. So it's a great way for you to get out and just do something low stress with your dog, and that increases your bond. And then it kind of builds everyone's resilience back up to be able to go do the hard stuff. A lot of these dogs and their owners, every single time we put the leash on to leave the safety of our house, that can be hard. So every time leaving your house is hard, then having a really fun, easy, non-stressful place to go with your dog once a week or even if it's an online class that's worthwhile,

Dianna L. Santos (21:50):
Perfectly said, and it's good for the sanity of the handler as well as for the dog. And I think it's important for everyone to recognize that if you happen to have a reactive dog, it doesn't matter what part of the spectrum that your dog is on, you are going through that as well, and you're going to have to take care of you too. So doing activities like this can help you again, have that sense of normalcy, which is probably why you got your dog to start with. You were looking to go on this lovely journey that you're on right now, but you should commend yourself that you've been supporting your dog so much, but this is a way that you can kind of take care of both of you. So it's a wonderful activity to do that. The other thing I wanted to ask you is on the other side of that is if your dog is rather reactive, but now that both of you have been doing Scent Work for a while, you love it, you've been bitten by the bug, and now you're like, we are a good team and I want to go trial, but your dog is really reactive, they're very uncomfortable in lots of situations.

What do you tell those clients and what are some of the options that they have?

Christina Young (22:52):
Well, Cyber Scent Work for one, they can do searches and environments where their dog is comfortable and sending the videos to you. I think that's a great thing if they want to do that. The other thing is look for smaller trials. I know that might be a big ask in a lot of areas where trials often fill really, really quickly. But if you want to go out, I would volunteer at a trial first. Get to know the judge, get to know the people, the host, get to know who's running these things. And so you get to put yourself in the environment and get to know what the trial looks like. I mean, that's assuming you haven't already competed with another dog. And then you are more prepared to go in. And so the next part is before you compete with your dog, your dog really should be comfortable being created in the car or in a safe space so that they have a place to relax while they're waiting for their turn.

And while your dog's there, before you bring your dog out, you just do a little roundabout and just remind all the other competitors and people there that I'm bringing out a reactive dog. It's our, we're new to this. I really want to be successful. If you wouldn't mind helping me out, can everyone just not look at us or not approach me when I'm getting him ready or pottying him? You can go out and advocate for your dog and let people know what it is that they can do to help you. Because if you tell people what you need, a lot of people, I mean, nobody's at a Scent Work trial that doesn't love dogs. Everyone there wants you to succeed. So just go out and talk to people and let them know what you need.

Dianna L. Santos (24:28):
And this is a very good point to make sure that you are advocating for your dog. And that was one of the reasons why we started Cyber Scent Work is we wanted to give a way for people to do just that where they didn't feel pressure to go to an in-person trial where it may not be appropriate for them or their dogs, even just where they're in their journey right now. Maybe with more behavior mod training, maybe it will be more comfortable to do so. But what I was noticing as I was both instructing and officiating, whether there were some teams who were at these trials that just frankly should not have been there and they were struggling, and I could see that they were chipping away at all the wonderful progress they'd made sometimes for years over their behavior modification. And then it was just all basically undone in a weekend, which is just heartbreaking.

So that's something that I also want to really stress for people is that if you are working with a reactive dog, absolutely advocate for your dog all the time, but protect your behavior modification training. Really make certain that you are protecting that with your life because you're putting so much time and effort into it, and you've made so much wonderful progress. Yes, having the titles and the ribbons is great, but you should be able to create some own metrics for yourself that no title will be able to represent. My dog is now comfortable and trusts me to do X. Nothing can surpass that. You did that. You built that by working with your Instructor and your trainer and that little ribbon that you may get at the trial that may chip away at that, that's not good. So that's one of the reasons why we created Cyber Scent Work is so that people have that out.

They have that ability to still show off. We are an amazing team and we can earn titles and ribbons. But I do just really think it's important that as professionals, we made this clear that your behavior modification achievements that you have are so precious. Please protect those and the other stuff will come. So did you want to talk about that a little bit as far as how people may be able to think about their journeys when they are working with their reactive dogs and the kinds of decisions that they may want to think about or make as they're going along their journey?

Christina Young (26:40):
The golden rule in dog training for everything, reactivity, Nose Work, everything that I do is confidence, confidence, confidence, confidence. And if we see our dog losing confidence, that trumps everything else. It trumps Nose Work, it trumps that pretty ribbon. It trumps we were going to work on greeting dogs today, it trumps we were going to walk into the hardware store today. Confidence, confidence, confidence. So I want people to look at their dog and learn their body language and learn, say, Hey, that tail set means we're losing confidence, or that tail set means this or that. Change in gait. Oh, my dog went from walking in front of me to kind of walking behind me. What's going on for my dog? So if we always look at the confidence and make that our primary goal, assuming we have a dog that struggles with confidence, if it's a overly enthusiastic excitable fellow, we might instead be saying, are they still responsive?

We have a metric that we look at, and that's our primary goal. And anytime we lose that, we want to go back to it. So I have two kinds of students basically. I have a few others in there, but I basically have two kinds of students in my Nose Work classes. One is the average pet owner never done competition before in their lives, but they've ended up with this reactive dog. And now they come to this fun class because they can't do the dog parks or the birthday parties or whatever it is that they thought they were going to be able to do with their dogs. So now they have an out and they have an extra thing they can do. And the other kind, probably more than half of my students right now are people who are very competitive and have been competitive in various sports with other dogs.

And now they have this reactive dog who, like you say, some of them just aren't going to be competitive dogs. My little American Eskimo, it's not ethical for me to compete with him in novel environments. I can do Cyber Scent Work with him. I can do Nose Work at home. I can go out on field trips. I can do so many things. It's not ethical for me to trial him because of his deep rooted anxieties. And he's doing amazing. He doesn't need the ribbons. Ribbons are for us. So those people that really want that do the Cyber Scent Work, that's great. It was really cool. We just did three different little mini trials after my classes and we had so much fun and everybody had fun and the dogs were successful. My pass rate is ridiculously high because we don't put the dogs in until they're ready. And everyone leaves feeling great about their dogs. Some of them are just searching for paired odors. Some were searching for primary, some were searching for just odor, and we can tailor it to what your dog needs now. And I love that. I love the different options in the Cyber Scent Work. It just makes it so everybody can be competitive in the way that sets their dog up for success. It's just been the greatest thing for my reactive clients. So I started, I went on a rant there.

Dianna L. Santos (29:49):
No, that's fine. That's wonderful. And I love hearing that feedback because really why we did it and the fact that it can be so helpful to so many different teams and the way that you're leveraging it is the exact way that we wanted it to be used. We want instructors, evaluators to be able to identify what it is that teams would need to better test where they are in their training and to promote them to customize their own approach. So that's why we have all these different hide options that you can actually compete, finding primary, finding paired odor, potentially. You want to find toys, you can choose all these different levels. You're not required to do anything. You can pick and choose so that it works for you and your dog. And that was really the whole goal is that everyone is customizing this for what they need. So I love the fact that you're doing that. That makes me very happy.

Christina Young (30:38):
And I also, I didn't tell people what I thought they should do as their Instructor. I have feelings, I have opinions, but I went in, I said, I would like you to tell me what you would like to do to set your dog up for success. So empowering people and letting them think about that. And I was really, really impressed with some people who are quite competitive or have dogs that are quite skilled and they still chose the easier route just to make sure that their dog was set up for success. And it was really fun to see.

Dianna L. Santos (31:09):
And that's another amazing thing, and I commend your students for doing that because it is a thing when suddenly we are now being tested and the added pressure from the handler to the dog of my person's blood pressure went up, are you okay? What's going on here? So I love the fact that they made those decisions, and that's a testament to what you have done as an Instructor to really build that up. And we recommend that everyone do that as instructors, really give our clients the breadth and the ability to make these choices so that they can make good choices that they don't feel that they have to. I have to do the hardest thing. It doesn't mean you can't get there. Of course you can, but you can have the journey be so it's filled with lots of success so that you and your dog aren't constantly digging yourselves out of a hole. Instead it's like, oh, this is really fun and great and empowering and great. That's what it's supposed to be. It's supposed to be fun. We're finding Birch or Wintergreen. We're not finding fugitives or guns or something. It's just a Q-tip.

Christina Young (32:12):
Yep. It's not cadavers and bombs. Exactly. It's just a Q-tip.

Dianna L. Santos (32:16):
Exactly. So is there anything else that you wanted to share with everyone, maybe a little bit more detail about the programs that you offer?

Christina Young (32:22):
I am running around like a chicken with my head cut off. I think we have some things in common where we tend to take on a lot of things right now. I am so excited. I am in the middle of launching my eight week virtual deep dive for just leash reactivity, just that kind of reactivity right now. That's going to be opening April 1st that I've got a bunch of free resources on my website for reactive dogs. And I do have some online virtual on-demand paid courses as well, more for tricks and Nose Work and things that support reactive dogs. A lot of my reactive dog stuff is free online. And yeah, I think that's it. I've also got a bunch of horse stuff coming up too, so

Dianna L. Santos (33:14):

Christina Young (33:15):
I'm going to do Nose Work with my horses. It's going to be so much fun.

Dianna L. Santos (33:17):
That is amazing. And I love the fact that there are more people getting into that because in my first career was with horses, and of course they have amazing senses of smell. Oh yes. They'd be able to tell like, oh look, someone just pulled in. It is something They could hear the car. They're like, no, I can smell them.

Christina Young (33:35):
What? I watched a video of a horse doing a container search, and it was really cool. Oh, I was going to actually ask you about that. Can horses compete in Cyber Scent Work?

Dianna L. Santos (33:44):
It's something we can absolutely think about. We've actually had some people, we've had clients who by mistake were doing a Scent Work with their cats where they've set it up with their dogs and they film it and their cat comes up and they find this stuff too. So we may very well actually have a multi-species type of Scent Work set up coming up soon. So I have to double check with Sean and see how we would be able to do that. But it's definitely something that I'm definitely interested myself. Awesome. So what I'll do is I'll touch base with you all, make sure I get links for all of your programs. We'll have that on our replay page as well, so people be able to check all that out. And if someone had a specific question, maybe they're like, you know what? This was a really great episode. I love the way that Christina approaches this. Do you do any kind of virtual consultations with people?

Christina Young (34:27):
Absolutely. I'm about 25% virtual right now. So I do a lot of stuff. I use Google Meet, which is a nice kind of like a Zoom kind of thing. And you can reach out to me. My website is www.positive.dog or email me at christina@positive.dog. You can find me on Instagram, on Facebook, on TikTok, on all the places.

Dianna L. Santos (34:50):
Awesome. So we'll make sure that we have all those links. Was there anything else that you wanted to add before we wrapped up?

Christina Young (34:55):
That was great. Thank you very much for having me.

Dianna L. Santos (34:57):
So as you can see, Christina is extraordinarily experienced when it comes to working with reactive dogs and also her experience in Scent Work really helps as far as how she's designing her programs and helping her clients. If you are dealing with a reactive dog right now, I definitely encourage you to check out the resources that Christina has put together. We'll make certain that we have links for all of those in our replay page for this episode on our website as well as our social media. Additionally, I want to just give a big shout out to anyone who is working with currently a reactive dog, a sensitive dog or a dog with any kind of behavioral challenges. Having these kinds of dogs can be very trying on us as owners and handlers. And I want to commend you for all the hard work that you have done with your dog.

It is not easy, and the fact that you are working with an instructor or a trainer to figure out what that behavior modification program is, is going to help your dog to determine the type of training and skills that both yourself and your dog need to be more successful, that you're looking into activities and doing activities such as set work to provide them with these engagement opportunities to enrich their lives. All of this is a big deal because as Christina was explaining in this episode, sometimes every single time you leash up your dog, it's hard. And I want you to really just take a moment and just think of all of the time that you have put in, pat yourself on the back, and then also keep a journal of the wins that you and your dog have day by day. It doesn't matter how small they are. Reflect on those because that sometimes is what can get you through a day. Lean on the people that you're working with, make certain that you're taking care of yourself, and just know that this can be a journey, but you should be very proud of both yourself and your dog for all the work that you've put in so far and all the work you're going to continue to do. So I tip my hat to all of you. I know it's not easy, but you are amazing.

All right guys, thank you so much for listening. I hope you found this episode helpful. Happy training. We look forward to seeing you soon.

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