Grisha’s Monthly Challenge! Making Lives Better, Together

_MG_0277Each month in ABBA helps you focus on making one specific thing better in terms of your pets’ behavior or your relationship with them.

My monthly challenges are suggestions for what to focus on and what I will highlight throughout the month in the office hours and other places.

If you have your own burning interest, you are always welcome to focus on that instead or in addition to our monthly challenges. We’re here to support you. And of course, if you have a puppy or other young animal, keep focusing on socialization too!

How it works:

  1. Set a reasonable, measurable goal to achieve in 1 month with 1 individual dog or other animal, and think of a good reinforcer for yourself if you achieve that goal. Example: work on it every day, get 10 seconds of heeling, 90% response rate for Mime Pulling, etc.
  2. Post your goal and plan in the Facebook group – document what things are like right now and what your plan is (or ask for help coming up with a plan). Include the hashtag for that month in your post so we can find them all. For example: #ABBAjune2015
  3. Update us on your progress and ask questions (reply to your original post or keep using the hashtag). Reassess your goal if needed.
  4. When you achieve your goal, reinforce your awesome behavior!
  5. Each month a prize will be given to one randomly-selected participant. Note: to be eligible for the prize, you must add at least two updates to your Facebook post (see #2 above) demonstrating progress towards your goal. Pictures/videos are encouraged!

2016 Challenges:

  • January: Polite greetings (for example, four paws on the floor, only greeting with permission, educating human family members on how to politely greet a dog, etc.) Hashtag: #ABBAjanuary2016 (Prizes: $20 gift certificates from
  • February: Untangle the Leash (either dog stepping over leash himself or you working on it, either way, do it without touching the dog). Hashtag: #ABBAfebruary2016 (Prizes: $20 gift certificates from
  • March: Sound desensitization – Fireworks, thunder, etc. Hashtag: #ABBAmarch2016 (Prizes: $20 gift certificates from
  • April: Go Around cue (go around some object, like a pole. Especially useful when on leash to prevent the dog wrapping around the pole). Hashtag: #ABBAapril2016 (Prizes: $20 gift certificates from
  • May: Reliable Recall (add distraction or distance, out of sight, etc. If your recall is already reliable, focus on an additional emergency recall cue). Hashtag: #ABBAmay2016 (Prizes: SqueakNSnap photo toys)
  • June: Public Access (work on something that makes your dog better in public, from lying down in a restaurant to heel to anti-jump). Hashtag: #ABBAjune2016 (Prizes: $20 gift certificates from
  • August: Chin Rest (teach your dog to rest his chin on your hand, lap, or other stationary target for use with cooperative care procedures such as teeth/ear/eye cleaning, body handling, grooming, etc.). Hashtag: #ABBAaugust2016 (Prize: SqueakNSnap photo toy)
  • September: Go to Mat (teach your dog to go to a mat, bed, or other specific place. This targeting exercise has a variety of uses! Already have a Go to Mat cue? Increase fluency by building generalization! Can your dog go to his mat using only a verbal cue and no hand signal? What about if you are facing away from him? Sitting in a chair? Lying on the floor? What if his bed is on another object? Around the corner? Show us what you’ve got!). Hashtag: #ABBAseptember2016 (Prize: SqueakNSnap photo toy)

2015 Challenges:

  • June: Nails, claws, etc. Hashtag: #ABBAjune2015 (Prizes: $20 gift certificates from
  • July: Walking on a leash (Loose leash walking, heel, or BAT leash skills) Hashtag: #ABBAjuly2015 (Prizes: $20 gift certificates from
  • August: Cooperative blood draw Hashtag: #ABBAaugust2015 (Prizes: $20 gift certificates from
  • September: Reliable recall – coming when called Hashtag: #ABBAseptember2015 (Prizes: gift certificates from
  • October: Tooth brushing Hashtag: #ABBAOctober2015 (Prizes: $20 gift certificates from
  • November: Rock solid stay #ABBANovember2015 (Prizes: $20 gift certificates from
  • December: Brushing or bathing #ABBADecember2015 (Prizes: $20 gift certificates from


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