Episode #14: Human Behavior Change with Grisha Stewart

Marissa MartinoPaws & Reward Podcast

In today’s episode, Grisha Stewart, known for developing Behavior Adjustment Training (BAT), and I sat down to discuss how human behavior impacts dog behavior.

Many of my clients make statements like, “I need training just as much as the dog does” and they are 100% accurate! This topic is really important.

While we often start by thinking about behavior modification training for dogs, we actually need to start exploring how human behavior impacts dog behavior first. So how can we work on human behavior change, and what kinds of dog training behavior should we be working on?

Positive dog training habits we encourage pet parents to develop:

  • Noticing good choices – Most of the time we are focused on the bad choices or behaviors our dogs are making and we overlook the good ones. Taking time to switch gears and make a list of the good behaviors your dog is offering throughout the day can help you notice these choices. And, better yet, notice AND reinforce them. When we understand how human behavior impacts dog behavior, it becomes clear how valuable this positive reinforcement really is. 

  • Rewarding behavior in the moment – Reinforcement drives behavior. If we want certain behaviors to continue we must reinforce them! Having access to treats throughout the day can make this task easy. A few ideas include scattering treat bins around the house, wearing a treat bag out on walks, and having enrichment activities ready for you to give your dog when they’re exhibiting the behaviors you want.

  • Having the right reinforcers – This is critical for success with behavior modification for dogs. What you find reinforcing and what I find reinforcing may be too different things. It’s important to observe what your dog finds reinforcing and avoid making assumptions about what you might think he or she likes. The best way to know if your dog finds a specific consequence reinforcing is to ask yourself, “Is the behavior increasing?” If so, then the reinforcer is working! This is one of the key examples of how human behavior impacts dog behavior.

  • Notice when you are not consistent and make different choices – Our emotional bandwidth and current state can have a major effect on how we react to our dogs – this is one example of how human behavior impacts dog behavior. If we are resourced and have more patience, we can respond with grace. On the other hand, if we are stressed and overwhelmed we might get frustrated with the dog. These inconsistent messages can be challenging for our dogs to navigate. If you find yourself being inconsistent in certain areas, first, forgive yourself, no one is perfect. But, second, make a new plan to work on your own human behavior change. How can you alter the environment to make it easy for your dog to make good choices and then how can you notice those choices and reinforce them? Win-win! 
a couple and their dog sit by a river, discussing how human behavior impacts dog behavior

Resourcing ourselves and our human relationships to nurture positive dog training:

In the episode, in addition to exploring how human behavior impacts dog behavior, Grisha and I explore what healthy human behavior is in regards to our relationships with ourselves and others. Grisha also shares a variety of ways she keeps herself resourced in order to support thriving relationships where everyone’s needs are properly met. 

A few examples include:

  • Meditation
  • A gratitude journal
  • Mindset shifts, such as utilizing hard experiences as opportunities for growth 

When we make sure to prioritize our own needs as much as we prioritize other’s needs, we often find human behavior change easier and find ourselves showing up with more grace, patience, and the ability to co-create solutions with everyone involved, including our dogs. 

Listen to the full episode for the rest of the amazing insight Grisha shares with us! 

Learn More About How Human Behavior Impacts Dog Behavior with These Resources:

Resources mentioned in the episode:

Where to find Grisha Stewart online:

Learn More About How Human Behavior Impacts Dog Behavior:

Get notified when new episodes drop so you don’t miss a thing!