Using BAT to Help a St Bernard Get Over His Tough Act with Strangers

By: David Codr

Published Date: November 28, 2018

For this Omaha dog training session we worked with Hank, a 1 year old St. Bernard who is barking, charging and acting aggressively towards guests and people he doesn’t know.

Hank’s guardians had set up a pet fence between the living room and kitchen so I was able to observe his behavior and demeanor. While he made it clear he disagreed with my presence at times with some barking outbursts, I was able to build a positive association using positive reinforcement and soft body language.

I started off by sharing a number of small dog behavior tips that will help flip the leader follower dynamic. This transition will be necessary as its really the root of this behavior. This dog was confused about his role in the home and acted aggressively in an attempt to move people away.

But there is another way to accomplish this goal. The dog can move away on its own. As a dog behaviorist I have researched many different methods to stop dogs from acting aggressively. My preferred method is to use Behavior Adjustment Training or BAT when working with aggressive dogs. BAT is a way of helping a dog learn a replacement behavior by creating a safe situation where the dog practices acting non aggressively.

I asked one of the guardians to help me call Hank away or provide a mild distraction so the dog could start learning how to stop acting aggressively around new people.

It was great to see how quickly Hank responded to the BAT training. Id like to see the guardians inviting a new person over once a day (or more) so they can repeat this technique to stop dog aggression. If the humans practice at Hanks pace and don’t push too far too fast, the dog should stop acting aggressive around strangers.

Many people think you have to specialize as a St Bernard trainer to work with the breed, but that isnt true. I have shown guardians of dogs of all breeds how to use BAT to stop dog aggression.

Hank’s guardian had left him at his parents home due to his aggressive behavior while he moved out of state. His guardian lives with a few room mates and everyone was concerned that the new location may not be ideal situation for a dog displaying some aggressive behaviors. After observing Hank’s behavior and getting more information on that living situation, I advised the guardians that Id recommend they keep the dog at the parents home while they worked on his human aggression.

To help the guardians remember all the dog psychology tips I shared in this in home dog training session, we recorded a roadmap to success video that you can check out below.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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