So we met with Teddi and Cathy on Sunday to work some BAT protocols with dogs Sagan knows: Kwest and Kleo. Things were 98% good.... I pushed a bit on nose-to-nose introduction and got a little snark.
The idea of BAT is that you give the dog the reward they need/want (to be removed from scary situation) when they give you any kind of calming signal (turn to you, lip lick, shake, etc.). The idea being that the dog learns to offer you a signal when they need to retreat from a situation. They learn to self-police the situation.
This worked well, though granted, we were with 2 dogs Sagan has seen for many months, though not granted access to.
Want to continue this work, but also was looking around online, and found some information from Nicole Wilde, who wrote wrote a great book about helping your fearful dog. One thing she tried was to let her dog encounter the dog off leash, and then leash for protocols.
This really clicked with me for a couple of reasons....Sagan exists in doggie daycare fine, and can figure out dogs just fine off leash. He *does* show signs of nervousness, but he doesn't NARC on dogs off-leash. So I am wondering if I could use a few really safe dogs off leash.... let Sagan meet and figure them out, and then work the on-leash protocols. I keep feeling that this would accomplish a few goals:
1) Trust Sagan's abililty to figure out other dogs on his own. I've seen him do it at daycare. He isn't a dog to wrestle and tustle with other dogs at daycare, but he does figure out a variety of dog approaches just fine.
2) Break the "meeting strange dog on leash equals stress" cycle. Yes, I need to him to deal with on-leash dog sitings OK, but want to break the emotional chain of stress.
3) Speed up the success of working on-leash protocols. We're trying to establish a pattern of "encountering dog on-leash doesn't mean scary and doesn't mean that you have to meet other dog." This goal would be more likely achieved if he doesn't HAVE to figure out the other dog first.
So I am planning on working BAT in 2 different ways: classically and by introducting off-leash and then working on leash protocols.
Wish us luck!