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 human behavior change. 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, especially if our goal is to modify our dog’s behavior. We often need to start with our own behavior first.   

Behavior 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. 
  • 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. 
  • Having the right reinforcers – This is critical. 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!
  • 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. 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. 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! 

Resourcing ourselves and our human relationships:

In the episode, 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 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! 

Resources mentioned in the episode:

Where to find Grisha Stewart online:

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