Behaviour Adjustment Training 2.0 – Grisha Stewart


Many people in the behaviour and training world are familiar with Behaviour Adjustment Training, and have achieved great results with it.

In this book, Grisha Stewart, a widely acclaimed trainer and popular seminar presenter around the world, has completely overhauled this already highly successful method to create a new and more effective approach for dealing with dog reactivity.

The key to her approach remains to empower the dog to gain confidence and social skills, with the key differences in BAT 2.0 being

  • The dog directs when to approach the trigger and move on, as long as it’s safe (under threshold). By contrast, in BAT 1.0, the handler led more, both on approach and retreat, and sometimes had a goal in mind of how close to get to the trigger.
  • You will learn specific leash skills.
  • The caregiver is not specifically reinforcing behavior in set-ups—but will do so in certain situations.
  • The protocol reduces stress even more than in the original version.
  • The focus is on arranging the environment (antecedent arrangements) for the learner’s emotional safety so that desired behavior can occur and be reinforced naturally.

In this new approach Stewart brings us a clearer and more refined approach to helping reactive dogs overcome their frustration, fear or aggression. It is refreshing to find a trainer who is determined to continually better themselves and keep developing her method and approach.

In chapter one Stewart looks at understanding the key concepts of BAT. She explains that her mission is to help dogs have a voice, and BAT does that by giving dogs more control over their own safety. Stewart then details the key concepts that you need to grasp for BAT, these being:

  • Control and empowerment
  • Behaviour change using BAT
  • Staying below threshold
  • Set ups
  • Clicker/Marker Training

Chapter two, BAT Dog Returns, shares the story of Stewart’s own rescue dog, Peanut, who inspired her to create BAT, as well as her experiences of using BAT with him. She also adds how it has now evolved since inception.
In chapter three, Stewart takes us through safety and management essentials. She explains management as a trainer buzzword for changing your dog’s environment to make it impossible, or unlikely, he will be triggered to do behaviour you’re trying to stop. She also discusses the following management solutions:

  • Reducing visual stimulation
  • Preventing accidental close encounters
  • Avoiding problems on walks
  • Distractions
  • Muzzles
  • Reactive dog checklist

Chapter four shows us how to see trouble before it starts. Stewart shares how to determine whether a reaction is coming as a result of fear, anger or frustration. She introduces us to the concept of magnetic power, in that a dog is drawn into reacting and cannot help itself. She shows us how we can set boundaries using the dog’s cut off signals, detailing how we can recognise these. Stewart then teaches us graduated prompts, which are moves the handler can make to prevent escalation. She also explains trigger stacking which is when a series of events that trigger a reaction from your dog happen in swift succession and send your dog way over threshold, and what to do to overcome this.

In chapter five, Stewart focuses on leash skills. As the majority of BAT is done on lead, it is important to teach leash skills that give the dog a sense of freedom whilst still maintaining safety. Stewart teaches us three key skills; safety, freedom and control.

Chapter 6 looks at BAT set ups for reactivity. Stewart explains that all BAT work must be done with the dog under threshold, showing us how to work out when the dog is below threshold versus when he is over. She also examines choice points, a situation in which a dog has a decision to make, along with detailed advice and information on how to make sets ups a success.

In chapter 7, we move on to the mark and move technique. Stewart gives us a list of ways to change a dog’s behaviour at a choice point, explaining that the mark and moves helps to empower, which is the least intrusive approach. She also shows us how to use the mark and move in a number of different scenarios such as frustrated greetings, as well as looking at parallel play.

Chapter eight continues with trouble shooting for BAT set-ups. Stewart provides us with some tips for when the overall training is not quite going to plan, giving us solutions to a variety of common problems encountered, including dog being distracted by play, and dog being drawn to the helper.

In chapter nine, Stewart explains what sudden environmental contrast is, describing it as a change in surroundings that happens quickly, like a child popping out from around a corner. She adds that because dogs do not generalise, SEC needs specific work.

Chapter ten considers BAT on everyday walks, and how to apply mark and move in order to avoid any regression.

In chapter eleven, Stewart shows us how to prevent and manage fence fighting, using active training, lazy bones BAT and active training.

Chapter twelve looks at how we can use BAT to help dogs enjoy welcoming visitors to the home.

Chapter thirteen continues with BAT for puppy socialisation. Stewart examines how we can apply BAT to help puppies through the socialisation process, including meeting people, dogs and other animals, and exposing them to surfaces, crates, noises, etc.

inally, she concludes that BAT will always remain a work in progress, urging us all to continually keep looking at how we can makes things better.

Also included are five appendixes on:

  • Clicker training foundation
  • Other training techniques that use functional reinforcers
  • Geek speak’ on terms and quadrants
  • Trainer and client BAT experiences