[00:00:00] Lori: When I think of movement work, I think of deliberate movement that keeps my dog functional in all movement patterns. I want her to be able to back up and, uh, in a curved pattern, back up straight. I want her to be able to move forward different ways. I want her to be able to lift both legs on one side if she needs to get through something that’s high up on one side and low on another. I want her to have as much control as she can physically have over her own body to benefit her in her everyday life, wherever she is.
[00:00:40] Allie: Welcome to Enrichment for the Real World, the podcast devoted to improving the quality of life of pets and their people through enrichment. We are your hosts, Allie Bender…
[00:00:58] Emily: …and I’m Emily Strong…
[00:00:59] Allie: …and we are here to challenge and expand your view of what enrichment is, what enrichment can be and what enrichment can do for you and the animals in your lives. Let’s get started. Thank you for joining us for today’s episode of Enrichment for the Real World, and I want to thank you for rating, reviewing, and subscribing wherever you listen to podcasts.
The voice you heard at the beginning of today’s episode was Lori Stevens. Lori Stevens, CPDTKA, SAMP, SPBC, CCFT, is a professional dog trainer, an animal behavior consultant, a canine fitness trainer, and an animal massage practitioner. Lori continually studies the interactions among animal behavior, movement, learning, and health.
She uses intimidation free, scientific, and innovative methods in an educational environment to improve the behavior, performance, and health, and fitness of animals. Lori gives workshops, presents at conferences, e.g. Clicker Expo, teaches online courses e.g. BehaviorWorks.org and Karen Pryor Academy and gives webinars. Y’all, I’m so thrilled that Lori agreed to come on the podcast.
I’ve learned so much from her over the years and so I’m really excited for you to learn from her too. The intersection of physical health and behavioral health is one that I love learning about, and I like that Lori is approaching it from the angle of movement, which is a different angle than we often think of when we think of that intersection.
In this episode, you’re going to hear Emily and Lori talk about what exercise is and isn’t about, assessing what types of exercise are ideal for an animal, cheap and free exercise options, and the difference between canine fitness and movement work. All right, here it is, today’s episode, Lori Stevens Movement and Exercise as Behavioral Therapy.
[00:02:45] Emily: All right. Tell us your name, pronouns, and pets.
[00:02:49] Lori: I’m Lori Stevens. My pronouns are she, her, hers. And my third family member, which is furry, is, besides my husband, there’s me, my husband, and my dog, Mai, or Maise, but we call her Mai or Mai Mai.
[00:03:06] Emily: Excellent. And I adore Mai, she’s very cute.
[00:03:10] Lori: She’s a sweetheart.
[00:03:12] Emily: Yes. Yeah. So tell us your story and how you got to where you are.
[00:03:16] Lori: I don’t know. I would say I got to where I am just by luck. I had a dog, Emmy, who had a lot of health issues. And she was lovely, and she had a little bit of fear. And I just immersed myself and everything I could read to help her. And I did help her, and then that encouraged me to learn more. And then every dog since has been a learning adventure, especially Mai, I just keep growing and I’ll just stop when I quit growing.
[00:03:53] Emily: I love that. And same, right? You can be in this field for decades, and then you meet an animal who reminds you that you actually don’t actually know everything or even close. There’s so much you don’t know. So, learning is a lifetime endeavor for sure.
There’s so many things that I wanted to talk to you about and ask you about today, but I want to start with the basics because I think that’s a good place to start, to start with the foundations.
And it’s interesting to me how physical exercise is a component of enrichment that is on one hand, most commonly thought of and reached for when people are trying to enrich their dog’s lives.
And on the other hand, most commonly misunderstood and misapplied. And I think that stems from that old adage, a tired dog is a good dog, which fosters a kind of more is better mindset when it comes to exercise, where if a dog is struggling to adapt to their environment or their routine, you just got to take them on more walks, or longer walks, or run them more, or put them on a treadmill.
And of course, as always. I honor the intentions of anyone who has been there, done that, got that t shirt because it also me. There was certainly a time in my past when I genuinely believed that was the best way to care for the dogs in my life. But can you share with us how you think of physical exercise and how it fits into an enrichment plan?
In other words, what should we be focusing on and what should we care about? How can we assess what types of exercise are most appropriate for the animal in front of us, and how can we assess that we’re providing enough exercise?
And I know that’s a lot of questions to throw at you at once, so we can break them down one by one if you’d like. But I would love to hear your thoughts on those questions.
[00:05:36] Lori: Sure, so I have a two-year-old athlete dog. Okay. So, the last thing I want to do is deprive her of physical exercise. However, I will say that our morning routine is we get up, she has breakfast, goes outside, then has breakfast. And then we go down to the playroom, the basement, and which is rubber flooring, and we do some play.
She has a big jolly ball, and I roll that. And she has a holy roller ball, you know what those are, and we play with that. But then we do more focused movement most days, and it’s the focused movement, deliberate, slower movement that exercises her brain as well as her body. I don’t really think she uses a lot of brain power in chasing after the holy roller ball or tugging, but if I pull out a platform, which also she loves, and ask her to back up to it, and stand in balance, meaning not shifted to one side, not one foot in front of the other. When I start asking her to do that kind of work, she’s very happily engaged in the work, but you can see her brain working in a way that you don’t see with just throwing a ball. If, so it’s a different kind of exercise that I think moves the, I want to move her body in different ways. I want her to be confident and functional in all sorts of movement patterns. And so, there, therefore, I tend to always focus on that flexible, flexible body, flexible mind philosophy, and so moving my dog in different ways and making sure she’s comfortable with that. And I think that adds to her flexible mindset, when she’s flexible. She’s not always flexible. Her nickname is I’m the boss of you, but never mind.
[00:07:33] Emily: I think that’s great. I love that so much. And also, I definitely live with some animals who also have that mindset. So, can you I want to pull that thread a little more and ask you more what does that look like when she’s having these moments of ” No, it must be this way.” How do you guide her towards more flexibility? What does that look like?
[00:07:56] Lori: We were just having this discussion last night because Lee, who I am married to was pushing her, he’s a guy and he’s not a dog person and he’s pushing her into a position and she was just like, she just resists, “No, I’m not doing that.” And I said, “Why don’t you just ask her for a touch where you want her to be?” He’s “Oh, duh.” You know, and then she moves over there. So, that’s what it looks like. It looks like not pushing our dogs, or forcing our dogs into a position, or into a spot, but asking them and of course, reinforcing helps as well. I can only go so far with him, my pockets full of reinforcement.
[00:08:34] Emily: Yeah, sure. And I would say too, that a lot of times, at least for from me, I don’t know if this is true for you, but a lot of times I can get away with not having pockets full of food because there are so many other things that they want that I can use instead. Every animal is different, and I have definitely met animals that are like, food is all that matters. I don’t care what else you think you have to offer me, but if food’s not in it, I’m not in it. But that’s not the case for most learners.
[00:08:58] Lori: No, it’s not the case for her either, there are all sorts of reinforcers, food was an appropriate uh, reinforcer for that situation. But they’re, I often don’t use food when we’re playing with toys, and the toy is a reinforcer, and the engagement is the reinforcer, and the environment, out walking, there’s so many things, sniffing.
The environment is full of reinforcers and they are reinforcers for her. She’s a learner who definitely has a variety of reinforcers that we utilize. Sometimes in those situations with my husband where he’s after a particular thing though, I’ll just toss her a treat because I have one usually in my pocket.
[00:09:36] Emily: And in that situation, you’re managing two learners, and so you need to find the reinforcer that is the most accessible for the human learner and also still really valuable to the non-human learner. So, it sounds to me like in that situation, that’s a go to strategy. Is look, I don’t expect you to know everything that I know, but I do know that, you know, how to give a piece of food. I know that, you know, how to ask for a target. And I know that Mai is going to love that. So that’s what I’m taking away from what you’re saying.
[00:10:04] Lori: You are spot on!
[00:10:06] Emily: Yeah. I mean, same right with my partner and my friends, I’ve got to set everybody up for success. So, I’m looking at what can they do well? Like handing treats is a pretty easy skill that most people have. And what will my dogs and my birds work for? And that’s it.
Another thing that I’m hearing from that particular discussion is that is one of the tools that people can add to their toolbox for assessing what their particular animal, whatever species that may be needs or would thrive on for exercise.
Cause if we’re looking at different animals, they’re not all going to want to do the same activities, or the same amount of time, the same frequency, the same routine. Part of figuring out what would work best for the learner in front of you is figuring out what they care about and what they’ll work for, and that would probably give us some information about what kind of activities they would do best with. First of all, do you agree with that statement?
[00:11:00] Lori: Oh my gosh, isn’t that what we do? Like we meet a parrot for the first time, or a horse, or a goat, or a donkey, or whatever, and the first thing we want to do is, will they take food from me, for example? Or will they let me approach from the side? Or will they approach me? Or, you know, all depending on the situation. If they’re up against a fence and you’re on the other side, then is it okay if I walk to the fence but not walking straight at them?
[00:11:26] Emily: I just wanted to make sure that, that we’re, I’m not making any assumptions as we move forward. What else can people do to assess what types of physical exercise are going to meet the needs of the learner in front of them that their learner is going to thrive best with?
[00:11:42] Lori: So, my answer may be different for a parrot, than for a dog, than for a horse. With the parrot, I’m going to see if the parrot will follow a target, and open their wings, and put their head down, or turn around on a perch, or that, go from perch to perch, all sorts of things like that.
But for a dog, I’m not going to ask a pug to do what a border collie does. Or a super overweight dog to do what a thin athlete does in terms of dogs. It’s so dependent on so many things.
Usually when I saw private clients, the first thing I would do when somebody brought their dog or cat to me, but I’ll say dog in this case, one parrot came. Is that I would just ask the dog, I would ask them to walk their dog, not on a leash, but just walk back and forth, then walk around some cones. I want to see how their dog turned each direction. Were they able to turn to the left as easily as they were able to turn to the right? Did they limp at all? What does it look like when they trot? you know, First, I just want to see if I see any limitations in the learner in the first place.
And also, at the beginning of my courses, or if I was going to work with somebody on movement work, I would ask that they see a veterinarian first, um, and get the okay. Because the last thing I want to do is find out on the second or third session that they’ve been having some problem, and that I didn’t know about it, and that they are doing this instead of seeing a veterinarian. That kind of thing is really important in the upfront work.
And the assessment is just, is this besides, you know, can they walk pretty well without, can they walk well without a limp? Now I saw a lot of older dogs, so arthritis does tend to slow our dogs down. And I find as they get stronger around those joints, they move better. But I also want them to be on arthritis drugs with their vet, or pain drugs with their vet, anti inflammatory, whatever. So, the assessment is watching them walk, watching them turn, knowing their background, knowing they’ve seen a veterinarian. And then what their goals are and are their goal, do their goals match their breed and what I’m seeing in front of me?
Because if they don’t, then I’m probably not their person, and I want them to know that I see a problem between what their goals are and the learner I’m looking at. I don’t know if that helps, but.
[00:14:13] Emily: Yeah, it does. I think there’s, there’s multiple components, like you said. So, the first is we’re not veterinarians. So, we have to make sure that first the health and pain aspects are being addressed by a medical professional. The asterisk being, I would say, that’s the gold standard because I understand that people all over the world have different levels of access to veterinary care. So, anytime we’re talking about these steps or these processes, we’re talking about this is the gold standard. And also, when that’s not accessible to you, do the best you can with whatever resources you have, because that’s just true of all of us. We’re all doing the best we can with the resources we have, but ideally veterinary care is on board first.
And then we’re looking at the morphology and the physical reality of the animal. What are you built to do? A bird with wings is gonna, we need to focus on opening those wings, whereas dogs don’t have wings. So that’s not even something that we would consider for them.
And then so like morphology definitely plays into it. Cause yeah, I would not expect a pug to move the way a border collie does. And then we’re looking at a condition of that animal. We’re talking about weight, age, all that stuff.
And then we’re looking at breed tendencies. Like what is this breed bred to do? Is this an individual who was purpose bred and comes from a lineage where they really want to do the job they were bred to do? Or is this a dog who never necessarily got the memo that they were, their breed was supposed to do a specific job?
And in that case, what do they like to do instead? So that’s what I, when I, as I was listening to you talk, that was how my brain was categorizing what you were saying. Is there anything that I missed in that? Is there anything you would add to that kind of order of, of events?
[00:15:56] Lori: Yes, just 1 thing, I don’t know if this is an addition or a clarification or what, but I have had a couple of dogs come into my practice when I was seeing clients that were so out of their minds, so hyperactive that they really couldn’t focus on the task at hand. So, my job was really for a while just to see if I could get them, give them some focus. And, and sometimes, not to call out labs or anything, but sometimes food gets in the way, as you said earlier, not everything’s reinforced with food. And that’s absolutely the truth, and, and really, I just want to know, where this, who this dog is, or who this learner is.
I’m going to stick with dogs for now. If we want to go to another species, we certainly can. But I, I’m definitely not going to, I don’t want to pick on any breed because I’ve seen it, totally athletic, and totally nonathletic of almost every breed. But a non-athletic dog that isn’t in the best shape, I’m not going to ask them to do a lot. I’m just not. A border collie that’s doing agility regularly and competes, I’m going to slow them down and ask them for more deliberate movement and look at the quality of movement. And so, it’s just a different approach depending on who’s in front of me, really.
[00:17:18] Emily: I love that so much. I love adding into the considerations, which as behavior consultants, we should, any you know, maladaptive behaviors that an animal is struggling with. How do we address those unmet needs that are causing the, you know, hyperactivity or lack of focus or, over fixation on food, or whatever we’re dealing with that is getting, the animal is getting in their own way. The learner is getting in their own way.
[00:17:41] Lori: Or can’t take food and so finding a reinforcer in this environment they’re suddenly in that you can work with.
[00:17:48] Emily: Exactly. Yeah. And then looking at them and saying, what else do you need in addition to physical exercise to help you with that? Do you need to learn how to rest? Do you need to learn how to slow down, and improve the quality of your movement? I love that. So many times, when we’re trying to reach a goal we forget that fluency is speed plus accuracy, and it’s often helpful to work on the accuracy component first and then let the speed come afterwards. And so, I loved hearing you say that a lot of times with these really focused individuals, you are saying, okay, let’s slow down and let’s work on accuracy, and then we can build back up to the speed that you want to run at. That made me grin. I love that so much.
[00:18:34] Lori: And let me just say that very thing is harder for some of the people competing with their dogs in sports than it is for the dog. It’s hard for them to watch me slow their dog down.
[00:18:46] Emily: Yes. Yeah. I’m not surprised to hear that. I’m not from the dog sports world, but just working with clients, at home on other things. I see that the learner doesn’t know or the non-human learner doesn’t know what our agenda is. So, they’re just rolling with it. And the human is but we’ve got this goal to get to, we got to get there. And we’re like, okay, we were going to get there, but we have to start here before we get there.
[00:19:09] Lori: ” You’re slowing my dog down!” No, I’m not. I swear we’ll speed back up. They’re not going to go to their agility competition and start walking and deliberately.
[00:19:18] Emily: You have to have the tortoise and the hare conversation with them like, slow and steady wins the race, my friend. I love that so much.
Excellent. Okay. Another component of what you talked about. I’m going to go all the way back to what you were talking about with Mai, your athlete, who doesn’t just, you don’t just kind of like run her. You mentioned doing things like, core work, flexibility work, precision work with things like platforms.
And I, I love that. And also, I’m always keeping an eye out for people who don’t have access to things like platforms, and playrooms, and all of those things that you and I both have enormous privilege that we can have those things. So, what are some, and I don’t expect you to like give a whole course away, but what are some kind of free things in the environment that people can utilize? When they don’t have access to things like that.
[00:20:10] Lori: Yeah, so by platform, you know what, and what I mean by that is 1 to 3 inches. A lot of books will do just fine, thank you. But the book needs to have anti slip or shelving material wrapped around it, so it’s not slippery. If we were on video, I would hold up a book with anti-slip material around it and say something like this.
[00:20:30] Emily: Maybe we can get a photo from you and put it in the show notes later.
[00:20:34] Lori: it doesn’t have to be anything fancy. I have platforms because, I’m in this field, but I also have books wrapped in anti-slip material in my basement to show people what they can do. And I still use that book, because sometimes I want that size.
I don’t want a big platform. And then in terms of, if they’re having their dog walk over Cavalettis, they can use some kind of low diameter, small diameter, PVC pipe. On tape down to the floor with painter’s tape, not with duct tape, or something comes up really easily.
Sometimes people put their poles on crushed soda cans to raise them up a little bit, cones with holes are pretty cheap, you can get cones cheap at Home Depot or some place like that, depending on the word, where in the world you are, a home improvement center. And so, I don’t really think you need to buy anything, you just need to be creative. And sometimes people go to the foam store and they just buy hard foam in a certain thickness and width, and that’s their platform that works as well, there are really inexpensive options.
[00:21:47] Emily: For people who have to work with their dogs outside, would it be okay for them to use things like the curb of a sidewalk, or a log, or something like it? How much, because I’m not an expert in what you do. So, I’m just thinking about people who have to work with their dogs outside. Say they live in an efficiency apartment or something, or where they live, the dog has to live outside.
Is something like that an acceptable analog for the ideas that you’ve already listed?
[00:22:13] Lori: It’s like you were just in my course, so my How Movement Works course just ended and in there I show using a curb. And I show using a log.
[00:22:22] Emily: I love that. love that we’re on the same page here. That’s great.
[00:22:25] Lori: I also show using a rock if it’s not slippery. So, a big rock, really, look in your environment and depending on how athletic your dog is, a park bench might even be okay, but that can be slippery, and it can be too tall. So, it all depends on them, on the bench. But there, I take Mai for walks in Seattle, our urban environment, and at the very least, I have some areas that have hills. So, now, natural slopes or hills, and I have curbs. So, that’s at the very least, but I also have a park with all sorts of other stuff like rocks and, and park benches, and trees, and going tree to tree figure eights. There’s so many things everywhere. The whole outside is a gym.
[00:23:14] Emily: I love that so much because it’s not only helping the dog. to gain this flexibility, mental and physical flexibility, and strength, and all of that. But also, I think it’s helping the human to be more mindful about what’s in their environment.
And it’s probably really helpful to just stop and say, “What, what space am I living in? What am I moving through? What resources are available to me?” So it’s really a mindfulness exercise for the human as well as good physical exercise for the non-human.
[00:23:45] Lori: It’s also good, I’ll add mental exercise for the dog because then they can see their environment is something they can interact with, they don’t just have to walk. I’m like I said, I’m in an urban environment. They don’t just have to walk on their lead near me within the length of the lead. But they can also ask, can I put my front feet up on this, or I can stop and say, my front feet up, or four feet up, or do you want to figure it around this tree depending on where I am, I might let them drag the leash or take off the leash for a minute and put it back on.
You know, I mean, there’s things I can do. I don’t take a ball with me. I don’t throw balls. I roll balls in the basement. Jolly balls, but sometimes another ball, but there’s so many things that once you start looking at the environment that way there’s, there are, it’s just it’s a gym out there. And also, I find that if you do deliberate work inside with platforms, and you start generalizing it to outside, it can also really help you if your dog is reactive. To other dogs, say, to, say you see a dog way down the road, you can ask them, paws up, you can ask them to do some simple movement exercises, and suddenly they’re focused on you, and doing the movement rather than focused on what’s ahead. I find it’s often really helpful for dog reactivity, being worried about their environment, etc.
[00:25:12] Emily: I love that because I see what happens a lot with dogs who are really reactive to their environment. It’s that so much of their brain is being consumed by this hypervigilance and just constantly scanning the environment to look for threats, or for triggers of whatever kind it could be, eustress triggers too, that they’re not really getting to use their brain in other ways that it was actually meant to be used for. We’re focusing on how do we replace the reactivity with giving the dog ways to engage in their environment that actually meet their needs and let them do doggy things.
[00:25:49] Lori: Yeah, I mean, sometimes I’ll throw a few treats in grass in somebody’s yard, or garden, much to their dismay.
[00:25:56] Emily: As long as your dogs aren’t digging in other people’s gardens, folks, feel free to use the environment for scent work.
[00:26:03] Lori: Yeah, you can’t really tell that she’s been in their garden. I’m not letting her crush plants, I’m not throwing treats into the plants, but there’s usually space. And if there’s not space, we don’t use it. It’s just I live in a neighborhood full of gardens. And so, there’s some grass, but very little compared to gardens.
[00:26:20] Emily: I love that. This has all been a really good kind of focus on the foundation, and this is also your background is canine fitness. Can you talk to us about the difference between canine fitness and movement work?
[00:26:35] Lori: Yes. And I really don’t know if, if anybody else calls it that, but I wanted to distinguish because when I think of canine fitness, I think of, we’re trying to strengthen muscles or improve something about the animal’s physical fitness. Instead of one tuck sit, we might do six to ten, six tuck sits and work up to ten or something. And how many sets and all that. That’s more of like a fitness, going to the gym. I’m going to lift eight bicep curls and then that’s a set. So that’s what I think of canine fitness.
When I think of movement work, I think of deliberate movement that keeps my dog functional in all movement patterns. I want her to be able to back up and, uh, in a curved pattern, back up straight. I want her to be able to move forward different ways. I want her to be able to lift both legs on one side if she needs to get through something that’s high up on one side and low on another. I want her to have as much control as she can physically have over her own body to benefit her in her everyday life, wherever she is.
And also, I want her to be able to go to a pub and lie on a mat. I don’t want her to lie on a mat outside. You know, I don’t want her to think that everywhere we go, we’re going to be doing all this work, activity. So, I want her to do both. Let me be clear about that. I want to both work her body, make sure she can use her body to the best of her ability. And I also focus on behavior with that.
[00:28:17] Emily: Love that. That’s what we’re all about, right? Is looking at the whole animal and not just the whole animal, but their context, looking at the people that they live with and the environment that they live in and taking all of that into account. So, let’s talk a little bit more about movement work and, and the context in which you’re doing it. Cause I know that you have a background of things like TTouch, and massage, and obviously canine fitness, and all of those are ways of helping to alleviate pain and improve mobility.
How does all of that fit into movement work? Are they parallel, or can they be a component of the movement work that you’re now focusing on? And how do you incorporate those things into your enrichment plan or your behavior consulting plan for your clients?
[00:28:58] Lori: Okay, so I have to talk about in the past when I had clients because I have quit seeing private clients, but I do still teach. When I teach movement work, I’m, I’m really pretty much just teaching movement. And getting people, helping people improve their observation skills, helping them see proper alignment in their dogs, and helping them ask them into a position like a sit, or a down, or doing things, but like that, but seeing that they’re being done in alignment rather than sitting way off to the side, or looking maybe they can’t get a better sit, or down, and maybe they need to go get some medical help.
TTouch and massage, I mainly do on my own dog, but in the KPA class I have that coming up, Aged and Engaged class I include body work. I do some sort of massage with every week. So, some level of fitness, and some level of some level of movement or fitness, and some level of bodywork which is the massage or TTouch, some, Tellington TTouch and massage overlap.
Some of the bodywork in TTouch is called something like, Noah’s March or some animal name, in a massage it’s called something else. So, they’re the same thing. They’re just not all of it’s the same, but a lot of it’s the same just with a different name. And it’s all, massage basically. It’s just you’re not going over, and over one little place and one muscle and trying to work out a knot, which I wouldn’t teach anyway. It’s just I have taught it, but
[00:30:27] Emily: Yeah. So, I’m hearing there’s like in the Venn diagram of different ways that you can use touch to improve wellness. There’s a lot of overlap between T Touch and massage, but they’re not necessarily the same thing. And that they’re in parallel to what your focus and movement work is.
[00:30:46] Lori: Correct, and when I teach movement work, I will generally say something like if you want to turn this into fitness, do so many reps, right? But you need to watch your dog because for some dogs, three reps may be a lot, for others ten may be a lot.
You have to get to the point of being able to observe what proper movement is first. The foundations first, and then you can tell if you want to ask for more asking your dog to stand in balance, which would be standing with the front legs under the shoulders, and the hind legs under the hips, and the, and the top line nice, and the neck. And the spine in a neutral position, not curved either way. You might be able to ask for that position for five seconds, but you might want to work up to 30 seconds eventually, and that might take weeks.
Because standing is hard. So, it, and I don’t think we appreciate that coming out of the gate, that asking your dog to stand still is a very hard exercise. And one way to know that is to, for you to stand up and put your legs under your hips, hip width apart and stand and don’t move for 30 seconds, it’s harder than it sounds.
[00:32:01] Emily: It is incredibly hard. And when I was learning to become a yoga teacher, there’s a pose called Tadasan, which means mountain pose, and it’s literally just standing in alignment and it was one of my, the hardest poses for me because being still in a standing position, it’s really hard for me. So, I do empathize with dogs in that way.
[00:32:23] Lori: And so, you can imagine you’re asking this, little dog that’s super active all the time or asleep, to suddenly stand in this perfect stance, right? Or close to perfect stance. Don’t move, you know? Mai is really good at it. But she wasn’t good at it day one.
[00:32:42] Emily: When I met her and she was just a weebab she didn’t stand still at all. There was no standing for little weebab Mai it was delightful. And also she’s, she was like a shark at the time, she has to move to stay alive, she’s got to just keep moving.
[00:32:58] Lori: Yeah, she’s into movement for sure. But she’s also a beautiful stander. She can stand and she’ll do a chin rest, look up at me and just like, how am I doing? She’s so good. She’s really good.
[00:33:10] Emily: So, can you, do you have any cases that you can share where the kind of movement work that you’re focusing on now has made a profound impact on the dog’s behavior.
[00:33:25] Lori: Yeah, I’ll give, I will give a dog example actually, although I do love to work with parrots too, and donkeys, and goats. There was a dog that I saw as, when I was seeing private clients, that was being fostered. And he was so fearful that if you looked at him, he would lose his bowels or his bladder. He would, while in a crate, he would stay at the very back of the crate, and just be all hunched over and curled up in the back of the crate. Very fearful dog. He had only been used for breeding. He was a rat terrier.
I don’t remember how many sessions. I want to say she came once a week, I want to say it was like three or four sessions of just letting him sit in the room with me, and we would just chat, and I wouldn’t look at him, and just let him move around, and every once in a while, I’d roll a treat across the floor or something.
It was really, he was a, an extreme case. And eventually, he started looking at me, and coming over closer to me, no touching or anything, but I would put down a little short platform and just roll the treat over it, and he started walking over things. He started walking over poles, and he started walking over platforms, and then one day, you know, he just came and pushed himself into me. Just put your hands on me, and he just became a real, I’ll call it a massage hog, just put your hands on me. I want to do that now. Okay. Now I want to move. Now I want you to put your hands on me.
And he just, and he became, he just changed completely. He came out of his shell. He liked to lure course after that. I mean, he’s just he was the most dramatic case. That I’ve ever worked with, and he also improved them up the most, and his foster parents adopted him, of course.
Someone else who I’ve worked with quite a bit, her one of her dogs wouldn’t go down a certain trail because there had been a traumatic event on that trail, and she started doing movement work with him, and he started generalizing stepping up to platforms to rocks. And he was able, he initiated it, he started going down the trail, he wouldn’t go down by going rock to rock and putting his front feet up, makes you want to cry, really.
[00:35:41] Emily: That is so sweet. I love that so much. Thanks, thanks so much for sharing those stories because I have similarly seen some really profound changes from just helping animals learn how to move through their environment and how to engage with it, but this is not my area of expertise. So, I had a feeling that you would have some pretty touching stories to share.
[00:36:06] Lori: Yeah. The first dog, the one that was so fearful of everything, watching him come out of his shell, and then take on life with so much zeal was just incredible. Really incredible.
[00:36:19] Emily: Yeah, it gives you goosebumps. So, you mentioned it earlier, but I want to circle back to what you just sort of casually mentioned in passing that you’re teaching a course called Aged and Engaged. Tell me more about that. What are some kind of teasers that you can give us, or take home points that you can share that you’re going to be covering in that course, and what skills will people be able to take away? How will they be able to help their own dogs or client’s dogs? This is it. This is your opportunity to give us a sales pitch, cause I want to go, I want to take the course and I want to learn more about it.
[00:36:54] Lori: This is through Karen Pryor Academy, and anyone can take it, you don’t have to be a KPA CTP, and you don’t have to be a professional dog trainer. Every week we’ll do, we’ll talk about its four weeks long and we’ll talk about things you can adapt to help your aging dog or as they age, for example, getting in and out of cars, and slippery floors what you can do. So, we’ll talk about that sort of thing, just adapting to aging, having aging dogs. And we’ll also do some sort of movement work every week. The very first week, we just, I just want to make sure people know how to target and get movement via following a target, or following their hand, and, and or touching the hand with their nose. And then we go from there. And also, every week I’ll do some body work because with the aging dogs the bodywork feels really nice. So, I’ll do body work that’s appropriate for aging dogs. And so, that’s that course and it’s only four weeks long. And yeah, and there are working spots and auditing spots.
[00:38:03] Emily: Excellent. We’ll be sure to put a link for that in the show notes. For every interview that we have, we give the members of our PETPro program for professionals an opportunity to ask questions of our guests. And this time around, the most popular question was, for dogs who are in pain or wary of touch at all, what is the first step before touching?
[00:38:25] Lori: The first step, if you think they’re in pain, is to go to your veterinarian. You knew I was going to say that, right? Okay. Now, we think the veterinarian has said, all clear. You can start practicing touch. Then, I would start with, are you able to feed your dog? Will your dog come up to you? And then how you touch, and where you touch on the dog matter a lot. So, if the dog is wary of touch, you can start, I would start with near the shoulder with the back of my hand, a short stroke with the back of my hand, not tickly, not too much pressure, but just a short hello with the back of my hand, the back of the hand is less threatening than the front, the palm side of the hand, palmer side.
If that’s too much for the dog, using the back of your hand. You can um, stuff a small towel or ace bandage or two inside of a sock and touch with the sock. Instead of with your actual hand, and then work your way up to gaining trust, and being able to use your hand. Dogs that are seriously wary of touch, it’s a big deal. And, and you don’t want there to be fear. And also, you want to protect yourself, but more than anything, besides protecting yourself, you want to make sure that the dog or the cat is comfortable.
And that is that, to build trust of a dog that is wary of touch, you really do have to use tools and be super mindful. It’s not a matter of just going up and touching them with the back of your hand. Same thing, using the back of your hand, maybe at their shoulder or a some sort of an extension of your arm, or your hand with something soft on the end so that they’re just feeling that. And maybe just for a second at first and then gradually building.
[00:40:10] Emily: Thank you so much for answering that question. That’s lovely. All right. At the end of every interview, I like to ask the same set of questions because I’m always curious to hear everybody’s answers. And the first one is, what is one thing you wish people knew about either this topic, your profession or enrichment? Your choice?
[00:40:27] Lori: I, I would really like people to learn about how their, whatever species they’re working with, so let’s say dog, how what it looks like to stand nicely, or in balance. What it looks like to move without a lot of effort, and so just to have better observation skills around what their dog looks like or is manifesting in their movement, and in their posture, and in their ability to stand. And sometimes I think we see dogs that just want to play and they’re all over the place and we think they’re fine because they’re doing that, but we know that’s not the case all the time.
[00:41:07] Emily: Yes. Yeah, for sure. What is one thing you’d love to see improved in your field?
[00:41:12] Lori: Oh gosh, I love every bit of it. I love teaching it. I love because I, it’s, for me, it’s like the hope that more animals are going to experience it. I love seeing every animal that I work with change for the better. It’s just a, it’s so reinforcing. That’s what I love about what I do is that I get reinforced, but I also see, lovely changes, and what could be more reinforcing than that?
[00:41:39] Emily: Yes, absolutely. I feel those feels deep down in my soul. Aside from the aging dogs course, which you’re about to do, what are you currently working on? If people want to work more with, or learn from you, where can they find you?
[00:41:52] Lori: I need to update my website. I think it might be a little bit behind, but I’ll put any events up there. Besides Clicker Expo in January and April, and the four-week Karen Pyror Academy course in February. Oh, and I’m doing an ATA webinar or Q and A. I’m doing a, an Animal Training Academy Q and A with Ryan sometime soon. So, if you’re a member of ATA, you can watch that. And that’s really all I have on my docket right now.
[00:42:26] Emily: Lovely. Okay. Thank you so much for joining us. And I just want to say as a quick aside, thank you for the balance harness, Lori. Thank you so much for the balance harness. I have to tell you a win from the harness that you designed. Because my dog Brie, she’s 11 now, she’s getting up there in age, and she’s starting to have back problems because she’s my heart dog, and we just apparently have parallel health issues.
And um, we have a very tall bed and we were trying to brainstorm how to not have her jump off the bed that was realistic and sustainable, and it was surprisingly difficult. All of the typical strategies wouldn’t work for us for one reason or another. And our vet, Micaela Young, who has been on the podcast before and I know you know her, she’s like, well, what about leashing Brie to the bed? And I was like she’s gonna hate that, but I can work with this. So, I got Brie, a balance harness and a swivel bolt snap. And she lives in the harness now, and we fit it mostly correctly, but I have the top strap just a little bit loose, so it pudges out like a handle.
We put the swivel bolt snap on the harness and then we attach the leash that’s on attached to our bed on the swivel bolt snap. So, at night, she can get up and she can spin around and lay down and it doesn’t the leash doesn’t get twisted up around her because, the swivels.
The leash is only three feet because longer than that, she can jump off the bed, and then she would just be suspended in midair, and we don’t want that. We have a California King bed and we measured and three feet in any direction still keeps her on the bed. So, she’s got a three-foot radius. She usually likes to be my little spoon.
Our setup allows her to do that, and now she’s got a handle, and so we just grab her by her handle and we scoop our other arm under her hips to support her hips and we let her down. And she very quickly learned that it doesn’t hurt. When she jumps off of things anymore, because we’re setting her down hind end first and then front end.
And so, she, when she goes to the edge of something, she just waits for us to grab her handle. So that is our, every day I grabbed that handle, the balance harness handle, and I’m like. Thank you, Lori Stevens.
[00:44:41] Lori: I love that so much. You have no idea. You have no idea. That harness, I don’t know it. It’s also given me a lot of reinforcement, and I wouldn’t use anything else with my dogs.
[00:44:53] Emily: Yeah, I just had to have that as a sendoff thank you for being on the podcast and also thank you so much for the balance harness because it is saving our lives right now.
[00:45:02] Lori: Thank you so much. I’m so glad. And that is available for blue dash 9. com.
[00:45:08] Emily: We’ll have a link for that as well. It’s my commercial for your harness.
[00:45:12] Lori: Yeah. Thank you so much.
[00:45:13] Emily: Yeah. All right. I’ll speak to you soon.
[00:45:15] Lori: Bye.
[00:45:16] Allie: Lori’s approach of considering all aspects of an animal’s well-being in order to improve their behavioral health is just so deeply aligned with what we do and how we think of enrichment. I love her careful observation of movement to assess whether the animal needs help with core strength, or balance, or flexibility, or pain reduction, and overall freedom of movement.
And I think it’s such a wonderful example of taking a descriptive approach even when you’re considering movement, not just when you’re considering behavior like we typically talk about. Next week, we’ll be talking about creative solutions for physical exercise.
Thank you for listening. You can find us at petharmonytraining.com and @petharmonytraining on Facebook and Instagram, and also @petharmonypro on Instagram for those of you who are behavioral professionals. As always links to everything we discussed in this episode are in the show notes and a reminder to please rate, review and subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts a special thank you to Ellen Yoakum for editing this episode, our intro music is from Penguin Music on Pixabay.
Thank you for listening and happy training.