Using a Leash in BAT

News: Grisha is teaching a webinar on Leash Skills June 10, 2014. Register today!

BAT should be a dance between the dog and the person. The human is the one who knows the plan for the dance, but the dog is the one who has the understanding of rhythm. Your job is to read your dog and know when to cue him run away, or when to stand your ground so the dog can gather info. Importantly, you need to note signs of increasing arousal, like the dog focusing on the trigger, so that you know when to stop moving forward.

The leash is a force field, not a correction tool. Your leash is there for safety and fluttery communication to the person. It should be attached to a harness, preferably the back of a harness for set-ups (possibly the front of a harness on walks). This physical connection to your dog is a back-up for your mental connection, not a replacement. It should not be used for leash pops or sudden stops, whenever possible. slide your hand along the leash so that your dog gets the feeling of brakes being applied versus hitting a wall.

I find it helpful to use a 15 foot (5 meter) long leash for BAT. I don’t recommend much longer than that, or it just gets awkward and tangled. In a pinch, I’ll do that by clipping two leashes together (like the Halti leashes, which you can clip twice) but I prefer to have one solid leash. I use my right hand to gather up loops of the leash and my left hand to dole out or gather up the leash.

For a BAT set-up and on walks, there is a time when you stop the dog so you are not going too close to the trigger.  Body language and slow, soft braking with the leash go a long way. After you stop the dog, you will then wait for the dog to decide what to do at the “Choice Point.” Whenever you are done braking, the leash should be a little loose, as if it is the smile in a smiley face. Putting a smile in the leash is important! (thanks to Claire Goyer, CBATI for the smile phrasing)

As you run/jog/walk away in the reward phase, keep the leash loose, even letting out some line if you have to, so that your dog can jog away at her own pace.

These longer leashes may take some practice to use on walks, but they are pretty cool. Only do so if you feel that you have control over your dog’s safety and the safety of others. For example, never let your dog go around a corner without you!

For a handout with more information on leash skills, please visit our Handouts page. Feel free to use this with your clients.

4 Responses to Using a Leash in BAT

  1. Pingback: New! BAT 2.0 Information | Empowered Animals

  2. Sara says:

    Would you be able to better show examples of miming and the slow stops, from the handler’s perspective, in videos? The ideas are great but I can’t seem to coordinate myself in order to implement them, or am not understanding correctly! I have a husky mix so she loves to pull regardless of if there is a trigger or not so the idea of a slow stop is wonderful but I have no idea how I could work that with her.

    • Ellen Naumann says:

      Hi Sara,

      Thanks for your comment and suggestion. It’s a good idea, thank you! Have you considering registering for the Leash Skills Webinar taking place June 10th? The webinar will use video AND live demonstration! It might be an excellent way for you to get a better understanding of leash skills, not only for use in BAT, but for walks in general. You can register for it here using Firefox or Google Chrome (Safari will not work): https://www.anymeeting.com/AccountManager/RegEv.aspx?PIID=EA53DE8380493B We hope you can join us!

  3. Katie says:

    This has worked wonderfully for my sweet little people reactive guy when I walk him by himself. However, I don’t find it very practical in my daily life to spend 2-3 hours walking my two dogs separately instead of 1-1.5 hours walking them together. I have tried but most days it is just too hard. Any ideas for walking with two dogs at once using this method? My big guy is not reactive to people, but is occasionally to other dogs.