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.
Why is this important? Just last week I had a fine BAT session with a Walk and Train client. All was going wonderfully and we were able to walk right through the middle of the decorations. Unfortunately one of the gravestones repeatedly hollered "Get me out of here!" as we walked past. The good news is that the dog was able to recover, but I made a quick note to myself about walking the perimeters alone first.
Keep in mind the decorations will also take on a different view for the dog when it is darker outside or if the wind is blowing. Leaves on the ground can also add to trigger stacking, which is when more than one trigger happens at the same time or close in time, causing the dog to be more stressed. For dogs with more sensitivity, avoiding Halloween-decorated homes altogether can be good management.
You may get many looks from neighbors as you walk back and forth. This can be a great opportunity to talk about BAT, as long as the dog does not lunge at people. If your dog is sensitive about people approaching, you may want to have a plan in advance. Prepare yourself to say something like, "I can't chat, he's in training" and walk away.
Today's BAT set up was with a giant blow up cat and I was chuckling inside. Who would think?