FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Ellen Naumann
Thought Revolution and Online School Launched by International Dog Training Expert
Anchorage, Alaska. June, 2015 – One of the main controversies of the last several decades in animal training is whether or not to train with aversive force. Grisha Stewart is definitely about minimizing force, but asserts that modern training can do even better. She’s here to start a grass-roots revolution. “Quality animal care is more than training without adding pain or fear,” she said. “As caretakers, we have the opportunity to facilitate two-way communication, empower animals to meet their needs, and teach them how to participate in their own care.”
Stewart, dog aggression expert and author of Behavior Adjustment Training and the Ahimsa Dog Training Manual, has just launched the Animal Building Blocks Academy (ABBA), a unique online learning community with practical lessons for pet owners and professionals.
Benita Raphan is a filmmaker in New York and an ABBA student. She adopted a dog that turned out to have serious behavioral issues. “I have been on a journey researching methods of scientifically proven behavioral care for dogs for several years,” Raphan said. “I feel very lucky to have found Grisha Stewart on that journey. She is a brilliant trainer of people, dogs and of dog trainers. BAT, the method that she developed is groundbreaking for training and living with shy and /or reactive dogs.”
Stewart’s dog training expertise is in high demand worldwide. Despite her grueling international seminar schedule teaching other trainers, she was still limited in her reach. Looking for a way to improve the lives of more pets and their families, Stewart networked with other animal experts to develop structure for her vision. After several years of anticipation and a final flurry of filming and website coding, the go-to spot for behavior and training was born. Over 700 members signed up in the first month, and the site continues to grow.
Animal Building Blocks Academy (ABBA) is named after one of the main features of the site; the short video lessons are “building blocks” from which students can create a stronger relationship with their pets. While Stewart’s main focus is on canines, all species are welcome at the academy, including cats, birds, horses, and even potbellied pigs.
“I’m excited to help people around the globe understand animal behavior. The videos and social network emphasize how we all can create a cooperative relationship with our pets, something I think is really missing in most families. By understanding why animals behave, we can improve how people relate to their companions. Making some key changes in how people treat animals can have an amazing effect on how easy it is to live with one another.”
Canine holistic wellness consultant Andrea Brin has looked high and low for help with her dog’s behavior. She found the missing link for her intense Bernese Mountain Dog in ABBA. “I feel like the world of possibility has opened up to me,” Brin said. “I was in a huge rut, I had exhausted any skills I had since they ceased to work or not given me the results I desired Zen. I need to be adaptive for my body, my age, and her neurological issues. I am excited to be able to learn the
skills presented and try them. No local trainer could have provided me these options. No one where I live is that skilled or desires to work with our issues.”
The site has two levels of paid membership, Student and Pro. Having a variety of features brings premier trainers and behaviorists from around the world together with pet owners, shelters and rescue groups. For students, the site complements working with a local trainer and helps those who are without access to science-based, quality trainers in their area. Students learn through videos, online courses and Stewart’s unique, live video question and answer sessions.
“The live format gives me an opportunity to chat with members and answer questions about their own family pets or challenging cases,” Stewart said. “We are all in the living room together; it’s an aspect of the site that I really enjoy.”
Pro members get all of the student benefits plus other exclusive features. ABBA frequently brings in respected authorities in a variety of disciplines for live interviews, including neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux, Ph.D., Behavior Analyst Susan Friedman, Ph.D. (BehaviorWorks.org) and Australian zookeeper Louise Ginman.
“The advanced sessions give professionals a chance to really geek out about animal and human behavior,” Stewart said. “It’s an opportunity for us to interact with these great minds directly; to have important questions answered without leaving our homes. I feel really honored that we’ve had such amazing experts agree to participate.”
While there are other online pet schools, ABBA has a unique contribution due to Stewart’s experience, practical focus, and interactive learning model. “There can never be too many quality education programs for people seeking to improve the lives of animals in their care,” said Dr. Friedman, who runs her own 8-week online course for professionals in the animal field, called Living and Learning with Animals, as well as a parrot caregiver course. “Under Grisha Stewart’s experienced leadership, Animal Building Blocks is sure to make an invaluable contribution to anyone seeking innovative training in the art and science of humane, effective behavior change.”
Stewart is a staunch supporter of animal rescue. Her first official training experience came from volunteering to socialize shelter dogs in Seattle. She feels that if more tools were available for behavior modification and care, more animals could be saved. To educate and improve the quality of life for animals, she donates ABBA memberships to rescue organizations around the world by request.
- Site address: http://grishastewart.com
- Membership information: http://grishastewart.com/signup/
- Pro Member Q&A (with experts’ bios): http://grishastewart.com/qa-pro/
- High resolution photos linked from http://empoweredanimals.com/about-us/about-grisha/
Bio: Grisha Stewart is Certified Professional Dog Trainer and author specializing in dog reactivity and cooperative care. She is the founder of Ahimsa Dog Training center in Seattle and Empowered Animals, LLC in Alaska. She has a Masters in mathematics with additional graduate coursework in psychology and animal behavior. Stewart has released two books, a dozen DVDs and lectures internationally on the subject of dog behavior and training. She and her husband live in Palmer, Alaska with a sweet lap cat and a spirited old dog.