Top 3 Mistakes Made By Trainers Using BAT

Top 3 Mistakes Made By Trainers Using BAT

Top 3 Mistakes Made By TrainersUsing BAT-min

This is part 3 of a 3-part series on Behavior Adjustment Training (BAT), created by Grisha Stewart. In the first posting you learned about the basics of BAT and how a “perfect” session should look.  In part 2, you learned why it is so effective for reactive/aggressive dogs.  This final installment is to discuss the three most common mistakes made by trainers utilizing BAT.  Though the technique is simple in theory, perfecting it takes time.  

1. Leading The Dog

11146160_10204142826431254_1751037408_nLetting the dog pick his own direction and speed of movement is probably the hardest thing for trainers and clients to do.  BAT is very calm, and it is easy to slip into the mindset of, “he’s doing really well, so let’s encourage him to go a little closer to his trigger!”  BAT is about empowering the dog and allowing him to make his own correct choices.

When doing BAT, you want the dog to investigate his surroundings and sniff his way around.  Even though it may seem like he is ignoring the trigger/decoy, he knows it is there and is gathering information in his own manner.  As a trainer, you want to encourage your client to stand back and follow the dog’s lead.  Even subtle body shifts on the behalf of the handler can encourage the dog to move faster than he is comfortable doing, so make sure you encourage your clients to remain entirely neutral regarding movement.

2.  Letting The Dog Go Over Threshold

Remember in part one where the lifeguard analogy was used?  It is your job as a trainer to help the client keep the dog from “drowning,” or getting too close to his trigger.  You want the dog close enough that he is aware of the trigger and is gathering information in a very relaxed manner.  If you see him start to tense up, or stare a little longer, or start moving faster, you need to help his owner guide him a little further back up the beach into safe territory.

As stated above, it is too easy to think that the dog is unaware of the trigger.  This is where your expertise in body language becomes critical.  You need to help your clients learn to see that minute changes in the dog’s body that indicate he is starting to get a little over aroused, and then ensure they have the leash skills necessary to gently guide him away.

3.  Guiding The Dog Into “Training Mode”

Since most, if not all, of your BAT clients will be proponents of force free training, their dogs are probably very familiar with what treats mean: TRAINING.  And they love training, because training = TREATS!  Obviously this is not a bad thing by any means.  However, when doing BAT, you want to try to keep the dog out of training mode.  By training mode, I mean that lovely “what do you want me to do next for you, huh huh huh???” attention that the dogs often go into due to their eagerness to work with their owners.  Training mode is a lovely thing to see.  Just not during BAT!

Dogs in training mode often are very good at tuning out many lesser distractions.  This means they may not notice their trigger until they’ve worked their way too close, at which point they rapidly go over threshold.  You want the dog to stay in relaxed leisure mode.  This is why it’s so important that if you are going to “seed” the ground with some treats to encourage sniffing and exploring, that you do so when the dog is not watching you.

Want To Learn More?

BAT is very complex and one little series of blogs does not do it the justice it deserves.  To learn more, you can watch a lovely free BAT Overview video that Grisha offers.

You can also watch a full 2 hour BAT Intro Webinar that Grisha put out.  It is $29 but well worth the money if BAT is something you’d like in your toolbox.

Finally, to get the full immersion and become more proficient and comfortable in its use, you can take an online course called BAT 101.

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3 Reasons To Use BAT With Reactive Dogs

3 Reasons To Use BAT With Reactive Dogs

11146160_10204142826431254_1751037408_nThis is part 2 of a 3-part series on Behavior Adjustment Training (BAT), created by Grisha Stewart. Part 1 can be read here.  In the first part you learned about the basics of BAT and how a “perfect” session should look.  In part 2, you will learn why it is so effective for reactive/aggressive dogs.

1. BAT Respects The Dog

As a modern dog trainer, you know that the dogs on the other end of your leash deserve respect as thinking, feeling creatures.  Too many trainers feel that dogs need to be flooded to help them “get over” their fears or reactivity.  Even the best of intentioned force-free trainers may sometimes keep dogs right at their threshold point for counterconditioning and desensitization purposes.  BAT, however, never forces a dog to get closer to their trigger than they are comfortable doing.

2. BAT Gives The Dog Choices

As stated above, BAT gives the dog the ability to choose whether and how to approach their trigger.  Giving a dog the ability to make choices empowers him.  Empowering a dog can make a fearful dog more confident and help a reactive dog learn other, more appropriate ways of dealing with their triggers.  Letting the dog choose their speed and approach also keeps stress at a minimum, which makes learning easier.

BAT

3. BAT Teaches Dogs They Can Move Away

Though this may sound odd, sometimes dogs haven’t learned that they are capable of moving away from their trigger.  Starting at a safe distance allows them to learn this skill before they reach the point of no return and get magnetized to their trigger.  Teaching dogs that they have the power to retreat can keep a fearful dog from lashing out and give a reactive dog another option.

Want To Learn More?

Though BAT is simple, it is not easy.  If you are interested in learning more, you have the following options:

You can watch a lovely free BAT Overview video that Grisha offers.

You can also watch a full 2 hour BAT Intro Webinar that Grisha put out.  It is $29 but well worth the money if BAT is something you’d like in your toolbox.

Finally, to get the full immersion and become more proficient and comfortable in its use, you can take an online course called BAT 101.

Get Dog Training Business Tips!

Receive valuable dog training business tips and resources every week! Subscribe to The Modern Dog Trainer now by submitting your name and email below.

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Behavior Adjustment Training (BAT) – What Is It?

Behavior Adjustment Training (BAT) – What Is It?

As a modern dog trainer, you most likely enjoy learning about new techniques, or new twists on more classic techniques.  If you have not yet heard of Behavior Adjustment Training (BAT) by Grisha Stewart, you are in for a treat.  This will be the first of a three-part series discussing BAT, its applications, and most common mistakes made by trainers/owners.

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BAT My Dog?  What?

Grisha developed BAT after studying similar techniques and seeing how they could be tweaked to improve upon them.  Her own reactive dog, Peanut, was very fearful of people, and she was seeking a way to help him live his life safely and happily.  She is a firm believer in force-free training and empowering dogs, so she wanted a technique that would teach Peanut to acclimate to and even learn to like people, while always giving him the option of approaching or moving away.

BAT Basics

BAT is, quite simply, allowing your dog to make choices.  Permitting dogs to make choices empowers them, making them more confident.  So often, people want to control every aspect of their dog’s lives, thereby shutting their dogs down because they have learned that communication of their needs will just be ignored.  A conscientious trainer will help people learn where they can offer some leeway to their dogs and allow them to express their needs safely.

BAT can be quite dull to watch to the untrained eye!  In short, what it looks like is a dog wandering around on a long leash in an open area, occasionally glancing at whatever the item of their reactivity is.  It’s much more complex though.  As a trainer, you are teaching your clients to be lifeguards to their dogs.  Let’s consider that the small waves at the beginning of the ocean are a visualization of the dog’s threshold and under threshold means being several yards up on the beach away from the ocean.

When the dog is safely under threshold, owners follow their dogs and allow them to move where they’d like, sniffing what they like, peeing where they like.  In essence, being dogs.  However, at a distance at which your dog is still comfortable is their trigger, what they are fearful of or frustrated towards or aggress towards.  We’ll say it’s another dog for this article.

On The Shore Or Drowning?

So your client’s dog, Fido, notices his trigger, the other dog.  If he glances at it and continues wandering around, that’s great.  You’ve started at a safe distance.  At some point though, Fido is going to meander closer to the other dog.  Your job as a trainer is to help your client keep Fido from getting too close, beyond where he can handle it. Dogs can and will take themselves over threshold without our guidance. Essentially, keep him from drowning.  We want Fido at a distance where he has noticed his trigger and is interested, but can easily disengage on his own.

If Fido starts getting overly interested or too close to the other dog, the lifeguard (his owner) needs to step in and save him.  This is done through a variety of BAT leash skills that encourage Fido to turn away, rather than force him.  What you do not want is to get to the point where your client needs to haul Fido away on a tight leash.

A “perfect” BAT session should consist of Fido being able to explore his area and gather information about the other dog, on a nice loose long line.  Fido will sniff around the ground a little bit and then perhaps air scent the dog.  Because he is not too close, he will return to calm exploration of his area.  When permitted to move freely, you will see Fido approach the other dog in a gentle curve, without anxiety, fear, aggression, etc.  As Fido sniffs his way slowly to the other dog, his handler will get more involved, keeping him from going faster than he can safely and calmly manage.  With the help of his handler, Fido won’t get closer than he can handle, but he does notice his trigger.  Your client will only guide Fido if he starts stepping off the beach and into the water, getting too close to his trigger.

Stay tuned for part two of this three part series on BAT!

Want To Learn More?

BAT is very complex and one little blog does not do it the justice it deserves.  To learn more, you can watch a lovely free BAT Overview video that Grisha offers.

You can also watch a full 2 hour BAT Intro Webinar that Grisha put out.  It is $29 but well worth the money if BAT is something you’d like in your toolbox.

Finally, to get the full immersion and become more proficient and comfortable in its use, you can take an online course called BAT 101.

Get Dog Training Business Tips!

Receive valuable dog training business tips and resources every week! Subscribe to The Modern Dog Trainer now by submitting your name and email below.

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