Stopping an Aliso Viejo Dog’s Aggression Using BAT

By: David Codr

Published Date: August 3, 2018

For this Aliso Viejo dog training session, we helped 6 year-old Australian Shepherd Niko (pictured here on the right with his roommate, 7 year-old Poodle Cocker mix Bentley) stop acting aggressive towards other dogs using BAT.

When I sat down to discuss the dog behavior problems the guardian wanted help with, the dogs took turns invading the guardian’s personal space; nudging, jumping up on or pawing for attention.

It wasn’t hard to see why, each time they asked for their guardian’s attention, she dutifully gave it to them. The problem with this is it can sometimes confuse the dog into thinking that they have more authority than they actually do or that they need to guard and protect or be possessive the human. When they tell the human to pet them, the human complies out of an intention of being nice. But the dog often thinks this means that since the human follows their direction, they are responsible for the human.

This is even more of the case with Niko who had destroyed the pull down blinds that over look the passageway outside of the home. I recommended the guardian cover the lower part of the window to prevent Niko from being able to see anyone outside and help him stop engaging in this unwanted behavior.

I suggested number of rules as well as ways to enforce them to help the dog start to see themselves as being in the follower position as their human starts to act like a leader, at least in their eyes. Dogs are all about what they see us do through our actions. Failure to have rules that are consistently enforced could easily be a confusing interaction for dogs.

Next I showed the guardian how she can add a little bit of structure to petting the dogs to help them respect her even more. I also recommended that she start teaching the dogs new tricks or commands using funny command words. This will engender more respect for the human as she is the one who is responsible for them learning these new skills. It will also boost the dog’s self-esteem and give the guardian a number of new ways to redirect the dog’s attention.

After that I suggested number of creative ways to exercise the dogs. Because of Niko’s reactivity, his guardian had limited his outdoor exercise to prevent him from reacting to other dogs. While this can help the dog avoid conflicts, it’s not going to help him develop new habits and in fact can often impact and enhance the unwanted behavior because the dog does not have the ability to burn off their excess energy. This often causes dogs to act out in other ways humans dont like.

To help the guardian better redirect the dog’s attention away from things that might get them into trouble, I showed her how to train her dogs to focus. It was great to see how quickly the dogs caught on to this positive dog training exercise.

If the guardian practices this with each dog twice a day for the next week, she should be able to get up to the 15 second delay of the second movement. Then she’ll need to practice outside on the porch and then the outside of the apartment with no other dogs around. If she does this completely, she will have a powerful tool to redirect the dog’s attention away from things that might get them into trouble, provided she gives the command as soon as she notices the dog is starting to get out of balance. Once a dog is reacting, the best thing to do is increase distance until it stops. At that point you can use redirect exercises like the focus.

To address Niko’s aggressive behavior towards dogs on walks, I asked the guardian to arrange for a friend with the dog to meet us at a local park.

After giving the friend some instruction, I showed the guardian how she can use a 20 foot long lead to give her dog the illusion of being free. Once the guardian was comfortable using the lead, I handed her my camera so that I could show her how she could help her dog stop acting aggressive towards other dogs using Behavior Adjustment Training or BAT.

Seeing this formally dog aggressive dog learn to be calm and relaxed around another dog was awesome. Additionally, Sam the helper dog, was ideal for the situation as he was lower energy, smaller than Niko and followed instructions wonderfully.

After showing the guardian how to reduce and eliminate her dogs aggressive behavior through BAT, I handed her the leash and coached her up as she walked Niko around the helper dog. After a few minutes of walking around we took a break and the dogs laid down with Niko only a foot away from Sam while completely relaxed and at ease.

The guardian commented on how wonderful it was to see her dog around another dog without showing any aggression whatsoever. This is the beauty of BAT as the dog learns to practice being calm around the other dog through natural behaviors and a little bit of structure provided by the human. But most importantly, we put the dog into a position to learn on its own instead of micromanaging them.

I’d like to see the guardian look for parks that are empty so that she can practice walking Niko around with a long lead and build up her leash handling skills. This will also have the added benefit of burning off excess energy, helping Niko practice coming back to his guardian when called and providing a positively distracting stimulation for Niko which is badly needed.

Once the guardian is comfortable with the long lead and has practice calling Niko back to her with no other dogs around, she should arrange to meet up with friends who have dogs in different parks so she can continue his BAT training at least twice a week.

If she is unable to find a friend to help, finding a park where dogs will be walking around on leash may be another good option. I’ve helped clients in the past conduct BAT by simply having them follow dogs who are wondering around the park on a normal walk. When doing so, the guardian will need to make sure that she maintains enough distance between Niko and the other dogs so doe doesn’t react to them at all.

When we headed back to the guardians house, we shot a roadmap to success video so that the guardian can remember all of the dog behavior suggestions I made during this in a home dog training session.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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