Welcome to the Dog It Right
Podcast, your podcast for relaxed dog encounters. We want stressful
dog encounters to be history for you from now on , because we are
convinced that relaxed walks are the prerequisite for a happy
and healthy life with your dog. I'm Tine, trainer for people with
dogs and in today's episode you will find out how you
can teach your dog strategies that he can use to make him feel better even in dog encounters
. With the method that you are
getting to know today, you will learn to understand your dog better and create
learning results for both of you that will make future dog encounters much less
stressful. Since today's expert comes from the
USA, the interview will be in English.
But don't worry, you can find the
translation on YouTube and read it comfortably at the same time. Today's guest is a dog trainer, author and international speaker from Oregon, USA. I was lucky enough to be able to attend one of their BAT seminars in 2019 in Berlin. And I am still learning from her about dealing with all sorts of challenges in everyday life with dogs. She specializes in reactivity in dogs. She helps dog owners and trainers with rehabilitation and training with dogs. She has a weakness for fearful and reactive dogs and that's why she developed the BAT concept. BAT stands for Behavior Adjustment Training. Welcome, Grisha Stewart! Thank you, Tine, for letting me be there. Thank you very much for being there! I want to get started on the subject right away. I still remember that you showed videos of your own dogs at the BAT seminar in Berlin. How has BAT changed the behavior of your own dogs in dog encounters? I developed BAT for my own dogs.
I was a dog trainer and have trained with lots of people and dogs. But my own dog Peanut had difficulties with people and dogs of all kinds and I honestly can no longer imagine a life without BAT. And I'm very grateful that I learned this from working with Peanut I wish I had known when he was a puppy, but this is how I had it with my next dog In this case, this is how Peanut turned out to be that in the past he couldn't greet people and dogs at all. And finally he could walk past dogs, be sniffed at and greet people. He was even a therapy dog in a retirement home. And it just changed everything for him. And when I then adopted another dog, I saw it very clearly, because I was then able to train Bean's reactivity when he moved in with us at the age of 5.
And I was able to integrate both dogs together. So it completely changed my world. And I had tried all kinds of positive methods beforehand because I already had them in my tool kit. And BAT has added a completely new level because it works even when the dog is not in work mode. Because I've found that the other methods work when I take really good care and actively help the dog and coach him through the situation.But when he was then on his own, it became difficult for him. That sounds like a wonderful change to you guys. I know that many listeners have different challenges with their dogs when they see another dog. Can you describe how Peanut acted when he saw another dog? It was actually quite embarrassing for me as a dog trainer. When I focused it wasn't a problem. But when he wasn't at his feet or looking at me, he started barking at 35 meters. So he barked at her from a distance. And he jumped a little. And when he was with them and they wanted to sniff him, he growled.
He particularly hated young Labradors. Or was afraid of them and then gasped in the air. Luckily he never hurt a dog, but I work with a lot of dogs that have this type of past. I know this behavior from many dogs that come into our compact training. And it's pretty embarrassing as you said. Because people feel like they're not doing the right thing, not doing enough. And as if you were just not good enough as a dog owner. And it's just very sad to see that you feel like you have failed. Therefore I am glad that we can help such people with their dogs and I am very happy that you are sharing your experiences with us today. You said that you had tried positive training methods before, some of which worked. What things have worked for you before? What worked well before were management methods. For example, if we saw a dog outside. Unfortunately, these were mostly customers who also came to us. They wanted to proudly present their dog and say hello. And I had my dog and just thought, "Oh dear, here we go." But with "Click to Calm" and the preliminary stage of "Look at that" things were already moving forward.
That was around 2003 or 2004, and Control Unleashed wasn't an official method yet. And that worked well. So as long as I clicked when he was looking at people. Then we could also talk. And I clicked when he looked at the dogs and that worked well as long as the other dogs stayed at a distance. He was not yet able to master direct encounters with dogs. But he could sit next to me while the other dog sat a little way away. As long as the other dog did not come into his area. And as long as it was ok. As long as I was paying attention and rewarding him or at least being in training mode, he was calm. But as soon as my attention left him, he started barking. That sounds really exhausting. And it's also what most people prefer to get away from.
When you come to us for compact training, one of your biggest goals is that you don't have to constantly scan the area where the next challenge is lurking. And I don't want to have to be careful all the time. And you were in exactly this mode that you always had to pay close attention. How did that change for you then? What's the next step? Then I got to know CAT. It's a method that I wouldn't use today.
Because with CAT you lead the dog into a situation where he barks and then you wait for him to stop. I definitely wouldn't recommend that. But what I learned from CAT is that distance can be an amplifier. And barking is not just out of fear, we ask ourselves "What is the function? Why is he doing this and how can we help him with a strategy that meets his need but is better accepted in our society?" So then I did something like CAT and filmed it. And that's where BAT 1.0 evolved. What does CAT stand for? Construcional Aggression Treatment. Interestingly enough, CAT today is very similar to BAT 1.0. We are kind of helping each other to make progress. I asked our Instagram community if they knew what BAT is.
And exactly half knew it. At least half of the participants. The one thing a lot of people know about BAT is that it looks super boring. And that's exactly what you said at the seminar. "If it looks boring, then it's right." And that's exactly what I notice in our training sessions. Some are wondering "Nothing happens there." My dog didn't do anything. And then I say, "Yeah, exactly!" And that's exactly what we want! Do you want people in an environment to see how violently your dog behaves or do you just want to be a dog-human team, which just goes through the world. So besides BAT being boring, what else should the audience know about it? Can you give us a very little summary? BAT shouldn't be boring for the dog. The dog should be interested in exploring the environment. He should be able to perceive the other dog without it becoming stressful for him.
He explores the environment and there happens to be a dog and that's perfectly fine from a distance. And gradually the dog can dare to approach a little closer. But man’s job is stress management, like a parachute. So that the dog doesn't approach. But otherwise the dog just explores the area. So if you look at a BAT setup from the outside, it might look as if the dog is simply looking for a place to loosen up or is just looking around. So it is not suitable for an exciting TV show. Although I am currently doing an online course and it works quite well. But when you look at a setup like that, it should look pretty boring. What kind of online course is it? Can you learn BAT from you online? Yes indeed. I have various online courses. The one I was talking about is an advanced course, but I also have a self-study course that participants can take at their own pace. There are lessons, videos and text to read. It is best to go through this course together with a trainer. So if you are a dog owner and don't have a lot of training experience and you have a trainer, then the trainer can do the course with you.
For some listeners, BAT is still brand new and they don't really know what it's all about. Are you starting the course with the basics? Yes, exactly. In the BAT 101 course, the introductory course. So you can start with the basics. I also have a book and a DVD set that are a good introduction to BAT such as body language and leash guidance. We use a 5 meter line for the BAT. So we give the dog a lot of freedom. And for that you need certain skills in guiding the lines. Many people have to learn that first. I still remember that I was very surprised at your seminar that we spent so much time on the subject of leash guidance.
And I actually thought, "I know how to hold a leash." But after that I discovered so many things that dog owners can do better and it would make so many things easier for them and their dog. So for everyone who thinks "Well, it's just a line.": I recommend that you deal with the subject of line guidance, because it can change so many things, because the line is such a powerful tool, because when the line is If something is too tight, it will likely respond to triggers sooner. However, if you can hold the leash in such a way that it does not pull as often, it is very helpful. This is a topic that everyone should look at.
You can find the link for the online course and at Grisha in the show notes and also the link to the book, because this is really a great introduction for anyone who wants to start with BAT. What just occurred to me. The leash is like a dance. If you've ever danced with a partner who didn't know how to do it. Like a wedding where the drunk guy tries to lead you across the dance floor. As opposed to a person who knows exactly what they're doing and guides you. Except that we don't actually lead with the leash. The comparison lags a bit. So you should be aware of the interaction between you and your dog. It's not just the leash, it's where you stand, how you breathe – all of these are very important. And it makes a world of difference in reducing reactivity without the dog excessive learning. It's a great comparison that I haven't heard before. I like to dance salsa and there are really a lot of similarities.
And you also said that the leash is not there for leading, but you talk a lot about how many people lead their dogs without them even realizing it. And that's a big part of BAT and changed a lot for me; how I see dog encounters and how many people lead their dog without actually wanting to. They change the situation in a way that they actually don't want to. And they don't know that there are so many ways to change the situation as they actually want. Because they can even lead the dog without having to pull the leash. Maybe this is even a good starting point for the audience to start with. So what does human position have to do with a dog encounter? Why is it even relevant where I stand when my dog sees another dog? Your dog always knows exactly where you are and where the other dog is. So depending on where you are standing, you can lead him by walking further in the direction of the other dog than up to your dog's shoulder.
So this is how you might lead him to the other dog before he's actually ready. And also during the encounter it is important where you stand so that you don't block the way out for your dog. Because then it can be that the encounter lasts. And if the encounter lasts too long, it usually goes wrong. So it is important that the dog can leave the encounter as quickly as he wants. Provided the encounter is possible at all. We at BAT are working very slowly and carefully towards this. At some point it becomes easier and easier with more and more dogs after you have first practiced it with training partners and their dogs. So don't block the way out, be careful that the lines don't get tangled. So you stand diagonally behind the dog and move with it to enable a safe exit. So on the one hand don't block the way out, but on the other hand maybe even show the dog the way out. Because the dog may not have learned it yet.
Because many stand firmly when two dogs meet. That seems like an instinct. Either you are happy that they greet each other in a friendly manner, you become totally rigid out of fear. And hold your breath. And then you pray to the gods you believe in so that it won't go wrong. So if your dog can already go into the encounter, it is a good way to keep the encounters brief for now. As soon as they sniff each other, you give your marker signal and reward your dog when they leave. So this is a management aspect of the BAT. So there is a transition between following the dog as it slowly walks in the direction of the other dog and actually encountering it. Because at some point there is this magnetic force between two dogs and they are drawn towards each other. And we have to weaken this attraction a little so that they can break away from each other early enough before they show aggressive behavior.
So you can train your dog beforehand with a clicker or callback and then call him back as soon as the encounter begins. Then you move away. And then you can decide whether you want to walk away a little and then go back again. So the dog has the exercise: greeting and leaving, greeting and leaving. Instead of greeting and then a stupid experience, which leads to them being even more fearful or aggressive the next time. So you can use the management methods even if you are not yet a BAT expert. So you can show the dog the way out, even if he wasn't actually ready to say hello. But it just happens sometimes in everyday life. Because you can't always avoid it and the other dog suddenly appears around a corner. But BAT actually starts much further away from the other dog. So if I wanted to start BAT from the very beginning, how would I start? Of course, I cannot give instructions in the podcast.
So the starting point would be to read the book or take the online course. So really to learn the technique. If I were to start with a customer now, the leash would be the starting point. And then I would start in a field or path far away from other dogs. My favorite version is a setup where we have a help dog that the customer's dog can follow. The distance should be chosen so that he is a little interested in the dog in front, but so that he can also show interest in the environment. Or so that he can still pay attention to you. So you follow the dog in front and slowly approach. At the moment when your own heart rate starts to rise, feel free to call your dog back and step aside, because if your heart rate starts to rise, your dog may feel the same way.
Dog trainers often interrupt too early. So if you're a trainer, you can be a little more patient. But dog owners usually wait too long. So if your dog barks or jumps a lot, it is better to play it safe and interrupt if you feel any tension. So try to keep it as boring as possible. And read your dog's body language. Learning to read your dog's body language is an absolutely important basis for actually being able to implement BAT. Because, like you said, sometimes we just wait too long and then it's too late. And that's ok too. You shouldn't let it stress you out when your dog barks. It just happens and you should focus on the positive things. It reminds me of the Dog Journal, which I also gave you when you were in Berlin. At Dog It Right, we've realized the importance of focusing on those positive things because that's how stressful the little things are. And on the one hand that's good because it shows that you really care about your dog and that you want to do everything right and that you want to take care of him and help him.
And you are aware of your challenges. But it also pulls you down and brings the focus on the negative. With our dog journal you can write down every day what you are grateful for. I know you are a huge fan of this too. This is a big thing we all have in common. For all listeners: If you want to focus on the positive. These positive things happen every day. Sometimes we just don't notice it because we're so busy with everyday life. But, if you want that focus and be more patient, then I recommend a daily gratitude routine. If you would like to use our Dog Journal for this, you will find the link to the book in the show notes.
I really like the book! Oh that makes me very happy. I was so happy to give it to you. Because I knew you were a gratitude fan. It's so interesting that trainers * with our kind of training approach and also dog owners * who do our compact training at Dog It Right already have this mindset and apparently it is related to positive dog training. It's just great that it goes hand in hand. Practicing gratitude can help you focus on the positive things in dog training and then reinforce more desirable behaviors as well.
People are often stressed out by their dogs' reactivity. And exactly the other way around. So if we can work on our own despair, it will be very helpful. That's why I have a "How to Human" course. It includes, for example, the gratitude routine, mindfulness, neuroscience. All of these ways we can relax ourselves. Because dogs are tied to us. You are part of the family. We take care of them. Your well-being is very important to us. But if we worry too much, we will enter a downward spiral. Noticing when something is going well and creating good learning experiences with the dog, as with BAT, where he can show good behavior, is very helpful.
I would like to point out again that some people say that you should just relax and then everything will be fine. You didn't say that, but some listeners may think it's their fault for not being relaxed enough. I would like to make it clear again that "just relaxing" is not enough. Just like a scarf can keep us warm in winter, but just the scarf is not enough. So if you can stay relaxed it will help your dog's well being, but just because you're stressed doesn't make your dog reactivity. We talked about body language beforehand. So that you can assess what the next step is. You have just described a BAT setup, which is still brand new for many listeners. A setup is a well-planned training situation in which you use the distance to the other dog in a targeted manner. And you are very aware of what is okay for your dog.
Just like a therapy session for your dog. Instead of a spontaneous walk. You arrange the setup. So you have a helper and can coordinate everything so that the dog has a positive experience. There is a lot of work going into such a BAT setup. So if I wanted to do it, I'd have to find a trainer, a partner, another dog, a suitable place. Why is it worth it and what are the positive effects? Because there are many advantages and many more people should implement it with their dogs. It is definitely worth it. I lived with Peanut and its reactivity for 11 years and we worked with counter conditioning and other methods. I hadn't done any BAT setups with him before. And then I did 10 BAT setups with him and he could walk other dogs without him having these big problems. So you can worry about your dog's reactivity for a lifetime or design complex setups for 4-6 months that have long-term health benefits for your dog because he is less stressed. Your walks are more relaxed and, overall, you care about your dog's wellbeing.
So you're not just saying. "Belle not!" But you say "There is no reason to bark." and you help him figure that out for himself so that the lesson really sticks. But what if somebody thinks, "I can just go out and get started. I'll find the right distance. I can just click when my dog sees the other dog." These are all good things, but what is the difference when you actually get fully involved with BAT compared to other techniques that people are already using and that you've used before. On the one hand there is the philosophical approach. It's a very different way of living with a dog. It's even helpful for interacting with myself. I have a feeling that dogs get a little forgetful when you take them out of the context of click and reward.
That creates that safety signal where the dog knows I know I am safe when we are in work mode. But the responsibility then still rests with the person instead of the dog. And when I work with shelter dogs, for example, or with dogs that live with a large family, then many different people are responsible for walks. Then the dog should know that he is safe and that he can move his own body so that he feels better. Instead of having to rely on the person's constant clicking or signals.
These are great in-between management tools, but with BAT you create a much safer and more autonomous dog. So you get to the root of the problem. Because his entire behavior revolves around the feeling of security or avoidance of arousal. It's very much like meditation. That's boring too. But it's great. And it creates a whole different worldview. So BAT is boring and it doesn't give you a yooooooo effect, but it does make a fundamental difference to the dog. It gives the dog a strategy. Because many dog owners and trainers want to be active and do something in the moment, because it feels like more control. Which is very ironic, because that's exactly what we should allow our dogs to be in control. Control has a very negative connotation.
The dog supposedly wants to control something. He then takes over the house and grabs the keys to the car. Do not worry about it. Control over your own safety means a balance. If I am sitting in a certain position and it is uncomfortable, then I move to remove the uncomfortable. That is control. It doesn't mean that I have to tell another person to do something, but rather that I want to control my own safety. I like to think of control in terms of loss of control.
Because nobody wants their dog to lose control. It's great that BAT gives the dog a strategy to actively do something. And we know that it feels good and we want to make it possible for them. Ultimately, we are still in control because we teach our dog this behavior. We create a situation where our dog is safe, may or may not get to know other dogs. Or if a dog has already killed other dogs before, then we will find another solution, namely to run past them. But we solve the problem. We just don't intervene at the specific moment. Like being the boss of a company. The boss can give instructions all the time and control everything, or she can entrust you with a task. So Boss is in control, but you are still in control of yourself. So control is not like cake. It cannot be empty. Rather, both parties can have control. That's a great comparison. And after all, humans also have control over this first step of finding the right distance. That's a big question that many customers also ask.
I also still find it a challenge. At what distance do you start? In everyday life you don't always have the opportunity to create the right distance, but what tip do you have to find out where the dog is and what the dog can withstand. The distance varies depending on which aspect of BAT you use. With the standard version, the dog learns the most. There are no treats there. There the distance is usually much larger than one might expect.
So I go as far away as possible and then slowly let the dog closer. We want the dog to be interested in the environment, but also to be able to look at the other dog about once a minute, but at least not more often, i.e. every 30 seconds. So if your dog is constantly looking, then you are too close. But if the dog is not looking at all, you are either too far away or too close because some dogs show avoidance behavior when they get too close. That's such a rule of thumb. The dog should look up every one or two minutes to see if the other dog is still there. If you're on a normal walk, then you know roughly how close your dog can be before it explodes. Often times you should then use Mark and Move. So click for a look and then move away from the dog with a food reward. In this case you are closer. That's why it's part of the protocol, because in reality, dogs are walking and you need a tool like Mark and Move.
So you click for behavior that is as close as possible to turning away, for example looking away from the other dog. Then you move a few meters away and the dog gets a treat. And sometimes you can just step away and have a treat, and that's okay too. Just do what works for you. It's interesting to see this method more as management. Because that's exactly what BAT creates. For me it used to be completely ok.
Just click to look at the other dog and that will get you through many situations. But it will make you and your dog dependent. And then it's just like that. So if you want to get away from that and give your dog his own strategies, then you should choose a further distance. I would like to challenge our higher * to rethink distance. Ask yourself when you can tell from your dog's behavior that you are actually too close.
Leave us a comment below the post about this episode on Facebook and Instagram: What distance does your dog get along well? That is of course a very general question, and it depends very much. And sometimes it's hard to see. Sometimes the dog looks away, sometimes he stares for a long time. But I would like to challenge the audience to do so. How many meters does your dog need? Because then you can pay attention on your next walks to see whether this is really true. Distance is a very important tool! Exactly. If you are not sure, it is better to keep a little more distance. Counter conditioning works great with dogs too. But if the dog gets the chance to really feel safe with the other dog at his own pace, that convinces him so that he can go into an encounter really relaxed.
Not the part where we give lots of treats. But when they really learn: dogs are interesting, I like them, they are safe. When they actually make friends. That is the difference. So the BAT process is really about: How can we win dog friends over to our dog. Instead of just having a lot of acquaintances. the dog gets the chance to really make friends. This is a big goal for many dog owners. That's great too. But it might take some time, maybe a little more time than you thought. And maybe then he'll just have five friends, but he's not friends with the whole world yet. Most dogs have a magic number. From 10-15 dog friends they say, "Ok, I am optimistic that the next dog may also be a friend." But every friend starts with the slow process.
A lot has changed for your dogs. Are there still situations today in which your dogs are facing major challenges? BAT is not a miracle pill. It's more of an approach to future challenges. What do challenges look like for you today? With Zuki, it's still a challenge when children visit us and run up and down the stairs. Because I've never specifically trained on it with her. Then it's too much for her and she barks. Part of the reason for this is fear, not just excitement. So I use management and ask the kids not to run around or I take Zuki to another room with a toy. Because part of my job is always to protect them. So I wonder, does she feel safe in this situation? If so, I'll let them learn. If not, then I have to change something so that she feels safe. When was the last time this happened? – Yesterday.
I am currently dating someone who has a child. And he runs up and down my stairs like an elephant. But that's also a nice reassurance that these situations occur again and again. And that your dog was not cured magically, but that you have strategies to cope with difficult situations. I like climbing and I had surgery on my shoulder a few years ago. And I would never say that this operation was a failure because I can no longer perform a certain movement. Instead, I see if it is safe to move my shoulder. And if not, then I won't do it. So we regulate our life so that it is safe and then we can gradually improve. So I don't boulder so much anymore. But now I climb more securely so that I can let go at any time if I have to.
Because then I can be sure that I will never have to rely 100% on my shoulder. So if a dog has already bitten, it may be wearing a muzzle when it meets new dogs. So you adapt the training to the dog and what he can do. Safe not only means safe from injuries but also that the dog feels safe. I know that some of the audience are thinking "My dog is just too aggressive. Because he has already shown a lot of aggression behavior. He is always barking and may even have already bitten. Or you think" Oh my dog is not that big Problems.
He just barks sometimes. But that's okay. " So how can I find out if BAT is right for me and my dog? BAT is very flexible. It works for very reactive dogs that have already bitten. But it also works to socialize a puppy. For For me it is an absolute basic tool that I use in combination with other things. It is actually always part of every training plan for me. Being on the leash. The feeling of freedom for the dog whenever it is possible. And depending on the dog, we create one for him safe situation. Maybe we start with the encounter or we have to plan more distance beforehand. It is really very flexible and everyone should look at it. Of course I say that because I created it. Because I created it because I love it very much. I like things that have many possible uses. You also know that it works for a lot of people and you have a lot of fans. Fans of you and of the technology. And people implement it with their dogs every day. And you can see that it works.
I see it in our compact trainings at Dog It Right and you see it too. So it's not just a technique, it gives people and their dogs a higher quality of life. It's really great and everyone should check it out. Finally, I have one more challenging question: If you could only give the audience one thing about dog encounters, what would it be? I would say pay attention to the emotional response from everyone involved. There has to be an agreement from all parties, from all people and all dogs. So if your dog growls or barks, then you can assume that they are not giving their consent.
Very dear thanks! I think that was really very helpful for everyone in the audience. Thank you for taking the time to share this with us. I liked being there. And if you
would like to try out BAT with your dog, either alone or together with a trainer,
then take a look at Grisha's online course and you can find the link to it in
the show notes and also leave us a comment on Instagram and
Facebook, we want to know How far away does your dog have to be from other
dogs in order to be okay. So at what point is he still
not showing any signs of stress? Is it ten meters, 20 meters or 50 meters. Tell us
on Instagram or Facebook under the current photo of this episode.
If you now want to keep your daily gratitude diary, which
we mentioned earlier, in order to have more energy and also to have more patience with your
dog and also to better deal with the stress that you sometimes have in everyday life with a dog
and to focus on the beautiful things in life with
your dog, then you will also find the link to our dog journal in the show notes.
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relaxed walks are the prerequisite for a happy and
healthy life with your dog.