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Getting to Know Crystal Wing

Today, Stacy and Robin chat with fellow co-host Crystal Wing, who has been training dogs since 2006 and has been involved in protection sports over the years. She is the Training Director for the Evolution Working Dog Club located in St. Louis, Mo. and a certified trial helper through GSDCA for IGP and training decoy for Mondioring.

Our conversation centers around Crystal’s focus on engagement as being foundational when it comes to dog training of any kind, alongside her conviction that imagination is your most powerful tool as a trainer.

“Training is simple,” says Crystal, “but it’s not easy. Good training is good training and it doesn't matter what sport or what area. It’s all about having clear criteria. It’s about the foundation of engagement. [...] With engagement as that bottom relationship piece that builds everything else, it doesn’t matter what I’m doing with my dog. That’s where it all starts.”

Asked about the secret to successfully incorporating play into dog training, Crystal says that it’s important to read the dog and go with what they want to do, not what the handler wants to do.

“All of the play that we create, creates all of our obedience. It’s all started through play which creates engagement which then channels right into obedience. Play is work. Work is play. It’s all the same thing.”

Key Topics:

• About Crystal’s four dogs and her foray into dog training (1:12)

• What to know about dog bites (8:03)

• Why the “introverted” Crystal acts as a decoy for dogs (11:12)

• Decoys versus helpers (13:24)

• What Crystal applies her search and rescue work from her protection background (21:20)

• Defining “IGP,” “Obedience,” “Protection Phase,” “Mondioring” and “PDC” (24:10)

• Learning from the best (29:45)

• Crystal’s “creative bank account” and the art of dog training (38:32)

• “Without great rewards, what’s my only option? I have to go to punishment.” (46:33)

• Crystal’s advice for those who want to incorporate more play into their dog training (48:45)

• The biggest mistake people make when playing with their dogs (53:00)

• Crystal’s closing thoughts (56:29)

Learn more about Crystal at

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