Category: BAT in Practice

BAT Even Helps Service Dog Teams Walk Better!

Guest blogger Kate Rehman

Guest post by Kate Rehman of K9 Triumph Training

I am disabled young lady who has a service dog to mitigate my disabilities in my every day life. I do tons of charity volunteer training sessions which are private one on one with rescues, pets, fosters and service dogs.

When you at me, you won't see my disabilities; they're invisible.  Rest assured they do exist. I am Deaf; a rare genetic disease is to blame, amongst other disabling issues. I do not hear at all. My service dog alerts me for fire alarms, knocking, my name, dropped items that hit the floor, and other sounds that I might not notice.

I am owner/trainer of K9 Triumph Training, which focuses on empowered canine partnership.
Allow dogs to sniff when possible

I have had the pleasure of implementing Grisha's BAT techniques/protocols with service dogs.

At K9 Triumph, I frequently have had disabled handlers who have had traumatic experiences with their service dogs on or off duty or their service dogs have picked up some unwanted behaviors.

By law, service animals must be under control when working. That means we have to figure out ways to reestablish training, and 'empowered partnership' means we do it in a way that also meets the dogs' emotional needs.

This is where Grisha's BAT leash protocols come in. Within 2-3 sessions of BAT leash skills, their dogs are relaxed, calmer and walking loosely without pulling. They are checking in with their handlers and stopping waiting for to catch up (hence before they would just pull).

I go through the handler's stance by gliding my hands over their shoulders (with permission). I go over their arms, their wrists and hands. I tell them what their body is showing, their energy, and what I see with their body language. Dogs responds to this.

When we walk I watch the handler and how they walk. I stop them, ask questions and get in their minds/what they are feeling?

My questions are, 'Are you in the moment?' and 'Can you look at how you holding the leash?' I slide my hands gently down the leash and pull a tad (this is where you are creating tension).  I remind them, 'Remember to be in the moment with your partner.'

 I physically move their arm, gently guide their hands, I tell them to relax.

[Grisha's note - touching the client can be distracting or it can be really useful. Please use your best judgement when working with clients and always get their consent, verbally and by observing their body language! Just as with the dogs, we need to respect their boundaries.]

 Communication goes down this leash. I role play the motions and slightly coach them by physically showing them how to walk with their service dogs. Not the dog walking them, or us walking the dog. It's a unified skill. Togetherness. Partnership. After all these are working dogs, not pets. They go above and beyond the call of duty. These service dogs save our lives every day.

Usually the handlers are almost paranoid, edgy and worried about judgement when we start; trying to correct their dog every move they make.

I tell them the vest is off, they are with me to learn and no judgement here. Only good things.
I am here to help and empower them as a team.
As take my harness out and properly fit it onto a dog (whichever breed I have that's in service). We treat and reward for acceptance of the harness. Then we walk. No expectations, no tension and we walk with 12 feet of leash.

We let them sniff and as they start to pull I slowly and gently stop the leash and turn/bend and make kissing sounds; as the dog immediately comes, I reward and smile. Usually we continue this one way. We allow the dog to be busy and sniff again, but if they pull we turn a different direction: bend, turn, kissing sounds and again the dog comes immediately and is rewarded. As I am finishing, reeling the leash in without tension, I treat and give a friendly smile.
Power is the dog's choosing to come. We start with the dog taking an entire slack with the lead wanting to pull.
On the way back from one way walking; the dog is voluntarily looking at me and walking beside me on a loose on the leash.

It takes no time for them to figure out and we have communicated clearly what we would like.

 After we are done a few rounds I pass the dog off to the disabled owner/handler. I get shocks of laughter, surprise and their dismay. Is this my dog? What have you done with my service dog?
Their dog is relaxed, no tension and choosing to walk nicely with their handler.

No fighting, no pulling back and no frustration.

The team's energy shifts. Walking is now enjoyable. Working or not.
I get a ton of pullers as clients. They all cannot believe the change. That's what BAT is about. Behavior Adjustment Training.

Even though some don't have fearful or aggressive issues, the BAT leash protocols work excellent for unwanted behaviors and habits that have formed.

 I continue to enjoy seeing these service dogs be in sync with their handlers and being able to master leash walking skills by their choices. All we do is show them and they follow through. They give so much to us with serving.

We need to give respect and empathy to these amazing working dogs. BAT is one great way to help these dogs, whether it's maintenance BAT leash protocols or BAT aggressive and fearful adjustment training.

Things happen on the job, but there is a solution, and if handlers are willing to find a professional trainer that does BAT things could definitely turn around for all.

Thank you for reading!
Kate Rehman
'Empowered Canine Partnership'

Related article: BAT = BRILLIANT + AWESOME + TREMENDOUS! about using BAT to train assistance dogs in Canada

To learn more about BAT, visit Grisha's Campus Store for a self-paced online courses, streaming videos, and the BAT book.

BAT 2.0 Videos by CBATIs

Here's a great BAT 2.0 session by Jennie Murphy, CBATI, CGN, DN-FSG from Newfoundland. What do you see? Pay special attention to the suggestions that Jennie gives her client during this first session.

Here is an older video by Jennie. (One change: the leash drags on the ground, but it's mostly really well done).

See the video below by Dennis Fehling, CBATI from Oregon. Note that this is a great session, but there's always a little room for improvement! I love that he stops to just play with that stick a few times. Slow and steady wins the race. Unfortunately, there's one point after he changes position where he's alerting, changes direction, then the group sort of pushes him toward the trigger, but he's mostly free to do what he wants (except for go straight forward).there, it will be a good way to find a trainer near you.


 

BAT = Brilliant + Awesome + Tremendous!

Guest post from Margaret Hicks and Tara Dong of Pacific Assistance Dogs

Behaviour Adjustment Training it may be, but Brilliant+Awesome+Tremendous is what I want to answer whenever a new puppy-raiser asks what BAT stands for.

PADS (Pacific Assistance Dogs Society) raises and trains highly skilled Assistance Dogs for those with physical disabilities or who are deaf/hard-of-hearing. In addition, we train Canine Assisted Intervention (CAI) Dogs for placement in intervention settings with community professionals such as RCMP, counselors, therapists and teachers. It goes without saying that our dogs—who will eventually accompany their partners everywhere they go—must be confident, and well in control of their behaviour and emotions.

Some think that assistance dogs are a “super breed” that never bark, bounce or really even breathe… the reality is a success rate of roughly 50% (industry wide). This means 50% of our dogs are too “enthusiastic”, or too fearful, or too calm/passive, or have health issues) to be successful as working dogs.

As a member of Assistance Dogs International, our staff and trainers are exposed to some of the best knowledge and trainers in the industry. Collaboration is rich and the sharing of knowledge and experience is abundant. So it was the most fortuitous discovery when one day, our training manager stumbled upon BAT on YouTube while searching for something that demonstrated a technique she’d seen at a recent conference. Her reaction was instant: “This is BRILLIANT!”

As a result, when our school offered to host the 2013 ADI trainers conference, it was a natural fit to invite Grisha Stewart. She arranged for Joey Iversen to conduct a workshop for conference attendees as well as our own volunteers. It took our initial excitement and firmly grounded it into our program.

Now, we’ve integrated BAT into our volunteer puppy-raising program. These volunteers range from stay-at-home moms and retirees to singles living in downtown skyscrapers — they raise our young pups for roughly 14-16 months, attending weekly puppy classes, socializing and teaching them foundational skills.

While BAT is an amazing tool to empower reactive dogs that have existing issues, we have integrated as a foundational skill for our program. We have the privilege many do not in that we have our pups from birth, so are able to use BAT as a foundational tool to allow our volunteers to be successful and empower our dogs to build trust in their handler and confidence in their environment as they grow.

To illustrate the evolution that has taken place we introduce you to 3 of our dogs, pre-BAT “Ruby”, BAT-1.0 “Merlot” and our latest BAT 2.0 pup “Seven”.

Ruby | 2007

A sweet black lab named Ruby entered our program about 8 years ago (pre BAT). She was a push button dog, you showed her, she learned it. You asked for it she did it. Her willingness and smarts were rockstar material. She was biddable and silly, intelligent and willing. But what we couldn’t seem to give her was confidence. She crumbled under the pressures of public places, stress-forging on leash, losing control of her bladder when startled by strangers and shutting down and digging in her heels when we’d attempt to help her overcome fear with lures and rewards. Belugas to bearded men, waterfalls to car alarms, Ruby was a worrier. Her fears didn’t start out big, at first they were just a sideways look. But looking back knowing what I know now, I wonder who she would have become if those initial sideways looks had been given the time and space to build confidence. At nine months she was released from the program for generalized suspicion. A heartbreaking decision, she was a dog with so much ability and who was otherwise so well suited for a working career.

Merlot | 2013

Fast forward a few years, and Merlot, another black lab arrives. She’s an enthusiastic girl with a natural off switch, equally happy laying at your feet for hours on end or outrunning every dog at the park. In public she pads along, shuffling her feet like an old soul. She accompanies her raisers everywhere—whether it’s the mall, fireworks, concerts and sporting events. Like Ruby, she encounters things that cause her to pause, but her raisers are now familiar with BAT and see the subtle changes in her body language in new environments -- a hesitation -- her ears flattening slightly or and her “old man shuffle” turning into a bouncy prance. One such outing was to the PNE, an exhibition in Vancouver, BC with lots of large farm animals, crowds, a midway and strange sights and smells. There in the barns she met “Big Bob” a 3500lb bull. As she approached he stormed up to the edge of his pen snorting at her in protest. Merlot hit the opposite end of her leash, tail tucked, visibly shaken.

It was time for BAT. This was a girl at her most fearful. She was shut down, tail tucked, feet firmly planted, eyes fixed on “Big Bob” and unwilling to take her eyes away even for food. Her handler moved towards her gently and waited for any indication she was calming. Within a few moments she dropped her ears and turned her head. They moved away. She took in the environment. Approached. Retreated. Within 10 minutes Merlot was nose to nose with Bob. It all happened in the quiet and calm…

As the months went on, there would often be things that would give Merlot reason to pause. A statue, a piece of heavy equipment, even a particularly high frequency hair dryer at a salon … each time the BAT sessions would get shorter. Today she’s a self-assured two-year old that moderates her own worries and concerns with ease and rarely needs assistance to do so.

Seven | 2014

This spunky little yellow Labrador, from our “Star Trek” litter is named for the character Seven of Nine (though rumour has it that it’s also because she channels the energy of 7 puppies in one tiny body). Very early Seven showed us that what she lacked in size, she made up for in spunk. Even at 4 weeks old she was smart and feisty and took great pleasure in using her sibling’s tails as tug toys and zooming with glee. A leash was a force to be reckoned with and her off switch was non-existent. Seven is naturally a high arousal (lunging/barking) pup, particularly around other dogs and cats…or food or leaves or people or anything that was exciting to her in the moment. She would wake at 7:30 in the morning and often not close her eyes for more than a minute or two until 10pm at night.

And then BAT began to “happen”. Nothing prepared us for the remarkable power it would have in this young girl. We began using BAT with her off and on at roughly 6 weeks old (when she was still in the whelping home and obsessing over the resident cat). But in her first two weeks of puppy-raising she's gone from a roughly 25' threshold around other animals to being calm, cool and collected within 2 feet of stimuli at just 10 weeks old. This remarkable transformation in her self- regulation seems to have extended into all aspects of her training.

Why does this matter so much?

Our Volunteers | High-energy/arousal dogs are exhausting, challenging puppies, so providing volunteer raisers with positive, effective solutions and tools is essential. Clicker training will reward desirable behaviour, but more often than not our raisers would say “This puppy gives me nothing to click” – BAT resolved that. Even when there was opportunity to click, the timing was challenging for a lot of new raisers. BAT gives the dogs (and their people) the tools they need to shine and to experience success at a very young age; simple, easy to understand and use tools. This creates calm not just in the puppy, but their handler as well.

Our clients / We walk a tightrope in breeding dogs, we want dogs with a good off switch but enough drive that they want to work. More often than not we get dogs that are so much drive that they can’t shut off or so soft that they are fearful or lack persistence and working drive. BAT helps both. It increases our margins of success. With a 2-3 year wait list that recently had to be closed to application, every dog matters. Increasing our success rates by even one dog a year means that one less client is waiting for life-changing independence.

We are in absolute awe of the work that Grisha’s done and so grateful to both her and Joey for their willingness to share knowledge and empowering not only our organization, but our dogs like Seven and Merlot to move more confidently towards those that are patiently waiting for the day they’ll receive their leashes.

 

The Wastebasket Challenge (or “Changing a Habit is Hard!”)

Guest post by Joey Iversen, BAT seminar presenter

Original location - under the sink
Original location - under the sink

I recently moved to a new house because it is much better for my senior dog, Pirate. In setting up the kitchen, I started with the garbage in a cardboard box under the sink. It’s a logical spot. In my search for a permanent waste bin for the spot, I couldn’t find one that fit.

So I found a wastebasket that fit in one of the pantries in the kitchen, instead of having the trash under the sink.

Even though I have only been in my new house for a couple weeks, after moving the wastebasket I quickly realized I was locked into a habit that was so powerful, the only prompt I had to take a piece of trash to the pantry to dispose of was opening the cupboard under the sink to see the empty space. That is, I couldn’t remember to take the trash to the pantry until I had run through the old behavior of taking the trash to the kitchen and opening the cupboard under the sink. Only then could I change my behavior.

IMG_1977
The Pantry

This went on for the next 5 days. I was experiencing increased frustration with each “duh” moment of trying an outdated behavior that didn’t work. My behavior challenges and frustration in the wastebasket location did not involve any fear or lack of safety as most of the client dogs I work with on behavior change. I thought a lot about how significantly increased my distress would be if it did involve fear.

That week, as I worked with clients and their dog with reactive responses to situations, I was keenly reminded of my personal experience with creating a new response and the intense challenge I am having with a simple relocation of a wastebasket.

The more I thought about my challenge in changing behavior I considered the immense challenge our dogs who have resorted to rehearsed aggressive behavior responses to situations that they find scary, stressful or confusing.

I had occasionally made a bit of progress that week, where I would catch myself before opening the cupboard but only if I was thinking about throwing something away. If I were thinking of what I would be doing next or pondering something else I would immediately go back to my old habit. I kept having to open the cupboard before I realized I was at the wrong spot. I was surprised at how irritating this cycle was becoming.

I decided to use TAGteach to get out of the sequence of going to the cupboard under the sink to recall the wastebasket is in the panty. The process of deciding what behavior to tag gave me some interesting insights. Recalling a session in a tennis lesson where my coach and I worked through finding the best tag point with the help of Theresa Mckeon.

In my kitchen, I used the same strategy Theresa helped us work through with tennis to find a reinforcable tag point for the wastebasket dilemma.

A tag point is the answer the question “what move/action causes the desired position, choice, or muscle movement”? I had to change an action before I started in the direction of the cupboard under the sink.

I tried a couple different tag points until I realized I needed to get much further back in the sequence. I ended up with the tag point of “say pantry.”

In TAGteach language:

  • The instructions are: When you pick up an item to throw away (trigger), before moving “say pantry”
  • The tag point is: Say Pantry
IMG_2005
Tagulator

Each time I successfully do the tag point, I pull down a bead using the “tagulator” shown here. I can measure success by the number of beads I have pulled in a day. Adding a tag point has sped up my behavior change in efficient trash dispensing. (Ok, I didn’t collect data so I don’t really know the degree of change). As well there is less frustration every time I don’t go through the extra steps of going first to the sink.

What does this have to do with dogs and behavior and BAT?” you might wonder. It has broadened my observation of where might I need to begin to focus in setting up a situation to promote a new behavior response to a rehearsed behavior response to a trigger. Experiencing at what point I needed new thinking in order to make a change in my pattern was enlightening as it was much further back in the sequence than I would have thought.

In BAT, especially BAT 2.0, we emphasize setting up the environment with adequate distance from the trigger and interesting landscape for exploring (and much more). That distance is often much more than people would expect. But closer in, the dog is already headed to the cabinet under the sink, so to speak, and we need to be working at a distance where the dog is really comfortable and not locked into his old habitual behavior.

As I evaluate current and future client dogs and where I start in the sequence, I will be assessing and then looking further back. From my personal experience, I am amazed at how many steps back I needed to go to actually set up for the desired response.

IMG_2004
Tagulator the pantry

Follow-Up. Here’s an interesting insight that I’ve noted over these last two days since first writing my experience. My frustration is even more reduced since adding the tag point. My success rate, i.e., the number of times I go to the panty without first heading to the sink has greatly improved.

Yeah! The most interesting is that my emotional response to a “duh wrong spot” event is to giggle. Really! Its now easy to find humor in that ‘oops’ empowered by the plan I have in place for change, the success I have been experiencing and I feel in control of the outcome. This empowerment, success and control are what I deeply desire to bring to both the clients and their dogs with whom I have the honor to work.

I'm well on my way to unconscious competence. Cheers!

We are what we repeatedly do.

Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

-Aristotle

When and How to Use BAT in Puppy Class

Written by Carly Loyer, CBATI

Any trainer that’s taught puppy classes has seen what a broad range of confidence and sociability 8 week old puppies can display, from the happy-go-lucky, “everyone’s my VERY best friend and we should all chew on each other” bruisers, to the puppies who seem traumatized by the hint that another dog or person might interact with them. Those wallflower puppies are in dire need of socialization and confidence building, but they are also at the highest risk for a long-term setback if a negative experience occurs. Continue reading When and How to Use BAT in Puppy Class

Peanut’s Got a Girlfriend!

Here's an update on where we are at with Peanut's dog issues. I started focusing on them late last fall and have done about 7 set-ups since then. I think I've done about 4 or 5 set-ups over the years, mostly just to get the videos.

Since we moved to Alaska, Peanut had been barking at dogs at about 30-40 feet away with bigger reactions toward off-leash dogs that came up to him: growling with his fur and tail up. He air-snapped one time with a dog that was really in his face, but otherwise has only done the growling. I didn't work on this for his first 11 years because most of the time that he encountered dogs, I could keep him in working mode so he didn't have any big reactions. But now I'm not the only one walking him - my fiancee walks Peanut when I travel. I also imagine that even when I micromanaged him, Peanut would still experience some stress and a lack of control. I'd rather he were able to handle this on his own, especially since I am not always home to manage him. Besides, I had a new version of BAT to work out!

BAT 2.0 and BAT 1.0: What’s Different?

One of the most important aspects of a humane training protocol is that it is minimally intrusive. One way to think of minimally intrusive is that the animal has maximal control over significant events. BAT 2.0 shifts forward to focus even more on allowing the dog to have control of the process within a safe setting. As Dr. Susan Friedman wrote, “The degree to which a behavior reduction procedure preserves learner control is essential to developing a standard of humane, effective practice.”

Here's an example of a video by Canadian dog trainer Jennie Murphy, CBATI, CGN, DN-FSG that demonstrates a change in BAT from 1.0 to 2.0: we make sure to let the dog choose where to go, as long as that movement wouldn't put the dog in too stressful of a place.

My first book, Behavior Adjustment Training, came out in 2010. My third book, BAT 2.0 came out in 2016. I developed BAT primarily for the rehabilitation of reactivity with dogs caused by fear, frustration, or anger. In the first book and in my videos, handlers were taught to observe and mark certain behavior and/or body language and to reinforce that behavior by moving away from the Scary Monster and (sometimes) add “bonus rewards” of food, toys, etc.

While the core philosophy of BAT is still the same, BAT is no longer primarily a procedure in which the trainer marks and reinforces social behavior. BAT is now more naturalistic and the trainer’s main task is to arrange the situation to let the dog learn in a way that is similar to how well socialized dogs learned about other dogs, people, and other stimuli as puppies.

We do have a BAT 2.0 procedure called Mark and Move that reinforces social behavior with distance plus tangible reinforcers in certain situations, so some parts of it look a little bit like BAT 1.0. However, and this is important, even with Mark and Move, we do not lead the dog directly toward the trigger as we did in BAT 1.0.

In the first book, I mentioned that BAT is, and will always be, a work in progress, based on the best information available at the time. I have fine-tuned BAT over the years and I have decided that it’s time to officially announce some changes that simplify the process and make it even less stressful and more pleasant for the dogs.

Please click here to get started learning about BAT 2.0, or look for one of our upcoming seminars or online learning opportunities.

NOTE: All articles published before January 2014 are about the older (1.0) version of BAT.

Three main aspects of the original BAT still form the foundation of the new BAT:

  1. Give the dog control over their exposure to the trigger
  2. Continually assess stress and strive to reduce it
  3. Use management tools to lower stress outside of training to reduce setbacks

Here are some of the differences:

BAT 2.0 BAT in 2010 (DVD & Book)
  1. Naturally occurring reinforcers (antecedent arrangements, most reinforcers are naturally occurring, focus on respondent learning)
  2. Very dog-centered (follow the dog)
  3. Controllability due to interaction with trigger and movement in space
  4. Specific leash skills to keep handler out of the way
  5. Simpler: No stages, just a flow of how much we need to prompt
  1. Reinforcement provided by trainer (theorized walking away as R-)
  2. Moderately dog-centered (still followed the dog, but did more encouragement to approach)
  3. Controllability due to trainer marking and theoretically reinforcing behavior
  4. Minimal focus on handler leash skills 
  5. Specific Stages 1, 2, and 3, which took time to explain & learn

Here's another video example, by Dutch trainer Liselot Boersma, PgDip CABW:

Please click here to get started learning about BAT 2.0, or look for one of our upcoming seminars or online learning opportunities (Books, streaming videos, DVDs, online courses, etc).

“Lunging Lucy” & “Growly Gus”

Guest post by Jody Epstein, CPDT-KA

Picture this: You and Polly are walking together in your neighborhood. She’s showing off just how good her leash skills are. And then . . . you see it. Down the street . . . another dog is coming. Suddenly your Perfect Polly does a full-blown Jekyll & Hyde, and suddenly she’s a Lunging Lucy! Barking, pulling, growling, snarling, and you’re at a loss for how to stop it. After the strange dog disappears around the corner, Lucy does a big shake, yawns and reverts to her Perfect-Polly self.

Continue reading “Lunging Lucy” & “Growly Gus”

BAT Tip: Training should look like the dog is off leash

BAT should ideally look and feel like the dog is off leash, except that you are keeping things at enough of a distance that your dog can't accidentally go so close that he gets scared. The dog is the gas and you are the brakes.

Generally speaking, we avoid walking the dog toward the trigger. Our movements should be in a neutral direction or away from the trigger. You might very occasionally ask your dog, "hey, do you want to go this way?" with your body language, but pay close attention to the answer. If your dog is hesitant or doesn't want to go, that's absolutely his choice.

Film your session so you can watch to see if there are ways to help your dog feel more free during the training.

The level of stress should be kind of like a puppy play time with two dogs that enjoy each other's company. In a play time, sometimes one accidentally gets too close, but the other can give a cut-off signal and move away, or the other guy does.

Dogs learn this communication naturally through negative reinforcement (the dog giving the cut off signal gets a break) and positive reinforcement (the dog allowing the other dog to have a break gets rewarded by resuming the interaction) in puppy classes and play times. Puppy play times need to be set up to be safe, so they can learn to be more and more confident.

But even with that, puppies are learning through negative reinforcement in your puppy class. Don't worry. That's naturally occurring reinforcement, not kind of negative reinforcement that we definitely want to avoid, like leaning toward the dog to get a sit or pinching their ears to get them to take hold of a fetch dummy. You aren't adding any aversive stimuli beyond what's already out there, and you've set it up to be as safe as possible - it's a natural learning process about how the world works.

When working with fear or aggression, BAT is very similar to the early socialization for puppies. In both, we use some treats when necessary, but not too many, because the dog can learn more from the situation itself than from us. One major difference is that when we are doing BAT with a dog who is afraid, we can't allow the dog to run up and get into trouble, so we slow them down at a distance to let them engage with the trigger from a (mentally & physically) safe spot.

BAT gives the animal a chance to learn and practice communication. This allows them to desensitize to the trigger and also change their emotional response.

Over time, they gradually get closer and closer to other dogs, people, etc. and start to get positive reinforcement from the social interaction. That's why it's important to do multiple sessions with the same decoy, if you can, so the dogs can end up engaging in a friendly social way (which may just be exploring the same smells together, not wrestling, etc.). That's true for issues with people as well.

If this isn't what your sessions feel like, focus on learning how to handle a long line. Click here for a PDf with some tips.

New Video: Training Up Close

I just made a short video demonstrating BAT for dog-to-dog issues with my dog, Peanut. In this session, we work up close, which is the part of training that has the most risk.

Click here to check out the video on this site and learn more about BAT. I have also posted a Facebook post about this below, so you can comment on it there.

Take the Hint: How to Use the 5-Second Rule for Petting Dogs

Do you love to pet your dog? Does she love it too? Are you sure? Don't be the guy who can't take a hint! Part of BAT is understanding your dog's cut-off signals, and if you are constantly petting her or him, it's hard to see them.

Here's a way to ask your dog if he or she likes the way you are petting. I call it the 5-second rule, and every person who interacts with a dog, cat, or even horse should know it, because it's excellent bite prevention and also just basic polite manners!

Continue reading Take the Hint: How to Use the 5-Second Rule for Petting Dogs

BAT Empowers Choices

BAT is a systematic desensitization protocol that reinforces behavior as well. The core idea of BAT is to empower dogs to make better choices. This works for all sorts of reactivity issues, but let's look at BAT for a dog whose behavior indicates fear. For this dog, we would set up multiple situations where the dog can calmly look at the 'scary monster' (trigger) and decide that it is not a threat. We let the dog walk toward the trigger and then stop him just at the point where he begins to focus on it. Then we watch for behavior like turning the head away, turning the body, shaking off, etc.

It's not quite just that, however. There are head turns and there are head turns. There is a small head turn (head only) that seems to be a sort of way to assess the situation, "if I turn my head, what do you do?" and then there is the sort where the dog's body curves and the head turns, and you can tell that the dog is really 'done' looking and gathering information. Usually there is a big blink before this sort of turn.
Continue reading BAT Empowers Choices

Question: Can you use BAT for a fearful/nonaggressive dog?

I was asked this question on Facebook today.

The answer?

Yes, definitely! The protocol is exactly the same for fearful dogs who are not barking as those who are barking/biting. One change is that you can also reward approach behaviors some of the time. But I like to let the dog still check things out fully, so I often still wait until the dog disengages before saying "yes" and walking away.

Continue reading Question: Can you use BAT for a fearful/nonaggressive dog?

Halloween BAT Tips

Guest blog by Charmaine Anthony, CPDT-KA, CBATI (Blue Line Dog Training)

Halloween is in full swing in many neighborhoods where yards can be filled with monsters, webs, and fences that were not there the day before. This is a perfect opportunity to practice BAT set ups! First and foremost, walk past the decorations from many angles without your dog, if that is possible. Some of the decorations may have mechanical movements, sounds or flashing lights. Continue reading Halloween BAT Tips

New interview on BAT

Naturally Happy Dogs, a video magazine based in the UK, has published some interviews of me talking about BAT. I thought I'd share the links in my blog, in case you wanted to check them out!

  • Introduction: a free video that introduces you to BAT--what BAT is, how and when it started, and more.
  • BAT for the Vacuum Cleaner. This is a 15-minute demo of using BAT for a dog who was attacking the vacuum cleaner. Requires a paid subscription to Naturally Happy Dogs.

Dog is Afraid of My Husband

A person posted this problem on my blog. Her foster dog had become slightly used to her husband using classical counterconditioning and systematic desensitization. But unless the husband was seated or lying down, the foster dog would bark, growl, and lunge. She wanted ideas on applying BAT to this situation. Here was my suggestion.

The benefit of living with the Scary Monster (your husband) is that you can do lots of short set-ups. In between, let your dog rest well - with a chew bone or whatever in another room (separate from hubby, ideally not alone unless the dog prefers that). I think you might be able to make a lot of progress this weekend if you strictly kept them apart except for multiple 5-30 minute sessions. Take 1-2 hours in between, longer if you went over threshold, shorter if it was fun.

You've already gotten him used to sitting and lying down with CC/DS. I would still do some BAT set-ups in those positions, as an easy way to get started. There may be some conflict because of the lack of balogna. If so, do Stage 2 BAT at first. Make a list of all the scary things your husband might do in real life and work on the more common ones first, at a distance. Ex: standing up, talking, moving arms, walking toward , hugging a child or you, putting shoes on, wearing a hat, carrying a box...

Work outside if any of these things are too challenging in a Stage 3 set-up indoors. Use Stages 1 or 2 (food plus retreat as rewards) if you have to.

Question: Can BAT be done with a deaf dog?

BAT (and 'regular' clicker training) can easily be adapted to use with a deaf dog. Just use a hand flash (5-fist-5 toward your dog) in place of the verbal marker or clicker. You may need a tactile (touch) signal to click when your dog is not looking at you.

With BAT, that means you'll be using the hand flash for stage 2 and 3 or set-ups and a tactile signal (like a touch to the tail or rump) in place of the clicker in stage 1.

Short BAT Clip – Fear of an Object

This BAT video was taken by Rachel Bowman of Bowman's Canine in San Diego, who's kindly given me permission to share it with you. She's using BAT to help her foster dog, Theo, get used to the scary things out in the world.

Note that the talking during much of the training was this trainer's choice for this dog, not officially part of BAT. I usually recommend being fairly quiet at the 'choice point' while the dog gathers info and then usually chooses to disengage. Praise is highly recommended after the YES marker!

Direct link: http://youtu.be/RnSYmCngByc

Question: BAT in a car?

Question: I’m curious how BAT could (or maybe it can’t?) be used for dogs that bark at people and/or dogs while riding in the car? Obvioulsy crating the dog up to reduce visual stimulus wouuld be ideal, but for situations where this is not possible, any ideas???

Grisha's Answer: BAT can definitely be used for issues in the car. You do want to block the view for times when you're not training, as you mentioned, via a crate, curtains, or a calming cap. The functional reward is still distance, which can be done by the other person/dog walking away or by letting the dog out of the car to walk away. I've done it both ways and I think they prefer the latter.

Visual barriers are important to keep the dog from rehearsing the stress and behavior of barking. If a visual barrier is really not possible, then you might want to do counterconditioning while driving (passenger feeds dog or use the remote on a Manners Minder to feed the dog in the back seat). Thundershirts, Anxiety Wraps, or home-made wraps using tight t-shirts or ace bandages are also great for calming dogs down in the car. But training or a visual barrier is the only 'foolproof' solution.