What is LAT?
LAT lessons are Look At That.
LAT training has superseded BAT in the dog training world and not something readily offered by many dog trainers. It is not just about obedience but about how the brain works, behaviour modification, rerouting the undesired behaviours and helping the dog cope with its fears and anxieties. LAT requires commitment but shouldn’t be stressful and the dog shouldn’t constantly be pushed beyond its limits. My aim is to stop the dog reacting and practising inappropriate behaviour and to help it feel safer and more in control in stressful situations.
The LAT principal (training in the presence of the trigger) is not intense, not overly stressful and the dog is not pushed over its threshold. Desensitisation is also added to the program so that with each lesson, the dog is gradually exposed further and further giving it every opportunity to come away and be encouraged to do so on its own accord. This is not flooding because it has that option and we only progress further when the dog clearly shows it is coping.
There is no forcing or pushing the dog but gentle guidance, clear instruction, loads of reinforcement and an emphasis on calmness and redirecting the behaviour to either the owner or the ground.
Who is LAT for?
These sessions are for dogs that react, bark, lunge, growl, bark and even try to bite other dogs or people, especially when on leash and out walking. Most often these dogs are labelled as aggressive and out of control when really they are either nervous, frustrated, overwhelmed or simply do not know how else to behave in that situation. So LAT sessions teach them how to!
Can it work for all dogs?
For the dogs that are anxious or highly stressed when out walking, a referral to a Veterinary Behaviourist may be recommended as drug therapy combined with training works best. During your first lesson, an assessment is carried out to see if anxiety is the underlying cause of the behaviour. If the dog is too stressed, training just won’t work on its own as the dog will be too busy worrying about everything around it and the behaviour could get worse. So reducing the anxiety by using the correct medication makes a huge difference.
If the behaviour is learned or a habit gone wrong, then training can start immediately.
If over a few sessions the behaviour is not improving and you have not been to see the Veterinary Behaviourist, then that would be the next step.
For dogs that have been on their anti-anxiety medication already, we need to wait 6 weeks before starting sessions as it takes a while for the drug to settle into the system and be fully effective.
How do we set it up?
The hardest part about this training is finding the triggers on the street in a steady stream and ensuring they are on leash, managed by their owners and in a spacious environment. Unfortunately this is just unrealistic and quite often you would be lucky to see one dog in one hour and it would pass quickly.
I set the session up at our venue in Hoppers Crossing, and I use well trained and well behaved dogs that I have worked before as my props or ‘dummy dogs’. If we are dealing with a fear of people, we use the surrounding area as there are lots of people moving about and we have space to reduce stress.
By doing this, I have a regular source or trigger present. In that hour, I teach you and your dog how to walk by, how to get your dog to focus on you, how to get your dog to come away on its own, how to handle sudden and unpredictable situations, how to keep your dog calm, how to recognise your dog’s body language and how to start making your dog walk less stressful in general.
These sessions are not about making your dog more sociable so it can play with other dogs or people, it is about how to help your dog cope when out walking on the street or in the park. The rest, if it happens, is a bonus.
When are sessions run?
Sessions are run Wednesday and Thursday from 9am -1pm with one hour slots allocated and are run outdoors.
The sessions are held in our venue at 4/399-401 Old Geelong Road in Hoppers Crossing. See our Training Venues page for more details.
Sessions can be weekly, fortnightly or whenever you can make it but it is recommended that you try to do the first 3-4 weekly, tapering off slowly as you see general improvement and can cope on your own.
Sessions can go for weeks to months to a year, depending on the severity of the issue but more often, within 6 lessons, there is a noticeable difference in the behaviour. I work at the dog’s pace so there is no speeding up the process if your dog cannot cope.
Once I feel the dog is ready to be challenged further, we set up sessions in a dog park or public place where everything is a lot less controllable but more realistic. This is after the foundations have been laid!