Behavior Adjustment Training

So, most of the people that are reading this blog, and fur sure almost all of the people interested in our services, have dogs that are aggressive/reactive. There is an interesting method called:

Behavior Adjustment Training.

I’ve seen a number of different methods for dealing with this. But this method is interesting because, it deals with this problem in a way that doesn’t seem detrimental to your relationship wit your dog. Obviously, go check out their site for more details. But the gist of it looks like this:

Now, it seems on the surface to be pretty straightforward. The more you do something, the more your dog is accustomed to it. But, if you read the Skinner post, you’ll see there can be a lot of science under the surface of dog training. The cool thing about this scheme is the use of “escape training” in a positive light.

See, this technique is “approved” by the “purely positive” crowd. But the theory that it uses is generally looked at as downright abusive by those same people. And the way it is typically employed….. It kinda is.

Escape training is defined as applying a punishment as a constant until the dog performs an action. When the action is performed the punishment is stopped. They learn to “escape” the punishment, by performing the action.

Most times someone uses “escape training” it’s kind of hard to watch. People put an electric collar on, say “Sparky, come!”, and start the shock. The dog flips out and runs around, and at some point happens to head in your general direction. Kind of like playing “Warmer/Colder” when you were a kid, you turn the shock off when they are getting “warmer”, and you turn it back on when they are “colder”. They learn that the way to turn off the collar is to get to you. It’s a quick way to get a reliable recall. But like I said, it’s hard to watch. And so, most people just write off escape training as a “cruel”, or “unfair” method.

But when you look at this BAT method, you realize that they are using escape training. The dog is learning how to off the discomfort of proximity to something by showing “calming signals”. The reward is the removal of the “pressure” of the trigger.

Kind of cool to look at training methods a little deeper, and try to understand how they tick.  And very cool to realize that it’s never the “theory” that’s screwed up…… Just how people apply them.

Keep your eye out for an article on a kind of “reverse” BAT method I’ve been playing with on a couple of our dogs. Needs a little more work, but I think it’ll be pretty interesting.

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