Episode 15: Billie Groom – UPWARD Dogology

Billie Groom

Billie Groom

UPWARD Dogology is a scientifically proven formula grounded in cognitive behavioral therapy (C.B.T.) which addresses behaviors associated with anxiety, aggression, the adolescent stage, and rescued dogs.

The UPWARD Dogology formula is proven to decrease surrenders and euthanasia due to behavioral reasons and has improved the lives of thousands of dogs and saved the sanity of hundreds of people for three decades. Scientific studies prove dogs have cognitive abilities and psychologists confirm that the UPWARD Dogology formula adheres to the practices and principles of C.B.T.

UPWARD Dogology is non-aversive, non-physical, and is endorsed by veterinarians and animal experts.

 

Want to hear more from UPWARD Dogology?

Visit their website at www.upwarddogology.com.

Buy their book entitled “The Art of Urban People with Adopted and Rescued Dogs Methodology” at https://www.amazon.ca/Urban-People-Adopted-Rescued-Methodology/dp/1525547283.

 

Follow UPWARD Dogology on social media!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/upwarddogology

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/upwarddogology

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/billie-groom-b6964037/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/UDogology


I’m Billie Groom and you’re tuned in to The Animal Innovations show.

You’ve tuned into the Animal innovation show where we feature people, products, services and ideas that are helping animals and the people who care for them live better lives if it’s innovative and if it helps animals, you can find it here first. So get ready. Here comes this week’s newest innovation for animals.

Oh, I love it. I’m gonna have you do all my introductions. That was great, Billie! So, welcome…glad to have you here. So, tell us a little bit about who you are and how you’re innovating to help animals?

Well, thanks Chris! I’m glad to be here. I am the creator of UPWARD Dogology, which is a scientifically proven formula or methodology that adheres to the principles and policies of cognitive behavioral therapy. So it addresses anxiety, aggression behaviors associated with the adolescent stage, and as well as adopted dogs, rescued dogs behaviors that are common with that. And in just by virtue of doing that, it decreases surrenders, decreases euthanasia that are due to behavioral reasons. And it also increases successful adoptions and it also decreases frustration, which can lead to abuse, interesting.

So, unpack that a little bit for me. So, cognitive behavior sounds very scientific and how that is different from what I know is a traditional dog trainer?

That’s a really good question. Cognitive behavioral therapy works off a completely different platform than ah print conditioning. So standard methods, positive reinforcement training, balance training. They work off the opera conditioning which is reactive in nature, whereas cognitive behavioral therapy, it has different elements in different components and so UPWARD Dogology adheres to those components, one of the major ones being that operate conditioning teaches behaviors so that it teaches expected behavior and discourages unwanted behavior. And that’s why it’s particularly good with puppies. So opera condition is really good with puppies and it’s also really good with older dogs as well. And it’s just like children, you know, somechildren you have to change how you parent when they sort of become three years old to four years old. You need to change how you work. You know how you parent, I guess into the word as you can tell I’m not a parent. But so it’s the same with dogs and other dogs. You don’t need to, you could just continue to use operate conditioning and it works really well. But at some point is very common for dogs at around the age of six months to have some of those methods that were working before just not work as well and they’re blocked. And the reason for that is cognitive behavioral therapy works on a proactive approach and it changes perception to change behavior. So it’s not reacting. It works under the assumption that for lack of a term that the subject, whether that’s a dog or whatever it is, already has preconceived ideas. They have a perception that they have to do a behavior to achieve their goal. So you’re changing their perception to change that behavior. And that’s why I can’t answer that ever so popular question, What do you do when the dog does the unwanted behavior? We go back and we build the platform skills and those platform skills change the perception which changes the behavior and we bridge the gap. So it’s just completely different and there’s no one right way to work with a dog. That’s also why it’s really I only work with dogs over the age of six months because that’s when their cognitive abilities click in. That’s when animal scientists and veterinarians that I’ve talked to and worked with and collaborated with. that’s when that side of the brain clicks in.

So if you take a street dog and they’ve been surviving on the street, they’re probably using their cognitive skills. So we need to harness that when they come into our homes. That’s why sometimes standard positive reinforcement training will fall short and then you don’t want to be going over to negative reinforcement. You can do positive punishment or positive correction. I mean, there’s different ways of doing it. And those trainers are very good and they know what they’re doing it. But the method can fall short simply because it doesn’t harness the cognitive side of the brain.

Interesting. So once the dogs had their adolescent years, right, it’s a different way to get them to learn. So maybe give us an example of how how is different, like how the technique is different than what we would think is a standard risk and reward, right? Like you’re rewarding them for doing good behavior and you’re scolding them for doing bad behavior. How do you approach it differently when you’re dealing with cognitive behavior and the clients and that that you’re working with?

Okay, so we build a platform and that platform consists of skills and those skills are what changes. First and foremost, the perception of us, our ability to understand what’s important to them and our ability to perceive us differently and we recognize what’s important to them. So it is reward-based. But on my podcast and in my book I talk about how the rewards are not contrived like a treat which works well with puppies. There’s a lot of methods that work really well. So I should say that, you know, like destruction training. So one of the components of cognitive behavioral therapy is repetition. Well, repetition works with a lot of methods. So you have repetition with positive reinforcement training and your repetition with counter conditioning. But with positive reinforcement training, it would be positive reinforcement that is repeated as you go to these increasingly difficult, difficult for each individual dog situation. For example, counter conditioning their repetition is what is actually difficult. So say a bicycle or a dog behind a fence. So your repetition is there with cognitive behavioral therapy and this is just one example. But your repetition is your skill set and you build that skill set and it’s the skill set that goes to these different situations. And so it changes the dogs perception of our ability to calmly manage them in those situations. And if we can’t, it’s just not working. We go back to our platform skills and we build them so there’s no trying to tell a dog that their behavior is wrong, what they think and how they perceive a situation is never wrong. We just need to build those skills and that’s what I teach people to do. And that’s what this formula actually does. And if you follow this formula which is, you know, cognitive, I didn’t invent cognitive behavioral therapy, it’s its own scientifically proven methodology UPWARD Dogology adheres to that.

Whereas as I was saying earlier, other methods are scientifically proven because they adhere to the policies of opera conditioning and opera conditioning is scientifically proven. And then from there I applied it to 100 to 150 clients per year for, you know, the last decade. But I started this three decades ago, I didn’t study cognitive behavioral therapy and say, hey, I’m going to create a backwards, right. I did it backwards where I was starting to work with dogs and take in dogs.

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So, UPWARD Dogology is almost like your specific methodology that is based upon the cognitive behavioral therapy, right? So you said it’s not just saying, hey, this is what the principles do, I do that, but there’s a lot more that goes into this, right? It actually is taking it and applying it to working with dogs and I teach it to people every day. But essentially, so if someone wanted to do agility with their dog or someone had a puppy and wanted standard house training, I address house training, but I address it using cognitive behavioral therapy, not positive reinforcement training. So if they were to call me with their puppy and it’s not what I do. So I’m not technically by virtue I am a behaviorist and a trainer, but only because people hire me to help them with their problems with their dog or help them prevent behavior is common to rescue dogs are adopted dogs as they’re bringing that dog into their home or to prevent the changes that commonly occur with adolescents. But I only use UPWARD Dogology. I literally walk them through that formula.

So, it’s not as though I’m a trainer behaviorist in the same sense and my business model actually is very different. And it always has been for almost three decades because it works under the platform of cognitive-behavioral therapy, which requires application and feedback. And again, that’s, that’s part of cognitive-behavioral therapy. You need to apply the skills and see the changes because the changes determine the next steps and then you need feedback. So this is a very interesting thing about what I’ve done as well is when I’m working with my clients, it’s not me just sending out online courses or it’s not just me telling them what they have to do. It’s very communicative. They’re sending me videos were on zoom. So they’re telling me what is what’s happening, what’s working, what isn’t why? And this is part of scientifically proving it. Working with these people hundreds a year for decades. And if people don’t want it, I don’t sell it. You know, people, you know, that’s that’s the number one rule with entrepreneur, right? Your product has to be wanted, right? So if people weren’t referring me, I mean, I have clients who are veterinarians have clients who are psychologists who use CBT I have clients who are, you know, they’re rescuers, they’ve had 56 dogs. They know positive reinforcement training. They’ve had very good trainers, they’ve had very good certified positive reinforcement trainers. It’s simply the method that they don’t know.

Yeah. Now have you had to pivot to do things differently? Now that we’re in the global pandemic, everything’s remote. I’m guessing there’s five levels meetings than in person.

 

Yeah. I have been doing more resume. I mean I’ve always done soon because I have clients across Canada and I do work a lot with rescue organizations in particular. I I have a soft spot for the mexican dogs and the spanish and Costa Rican and the korean I guess it kind of goes on and on. But so I do work with with them as well. And so those have always been zoom for obvious reasons. Although I have gone down I do go down and work with the rescue organizations in different countries and of course I’m learning from the dogs and I’m learning from them. It’s a two-way, so zoom has been really interesting because it does require the people to really think about what they’re doing. Although they always have, I find people are really interested in it, they’re very interested in why it works and how it works. And the conversations that we have are very, you know, they get they get science-based and they get, but they’re also really fun. They have a lot of fun with my clients is very, there are real people with their dogs and what’s happening is happening and it’s my responsibility to explain to them why it is and what they need to do. And changing their mindset is really interesting because as soon as you start looking into working with your dog, the first things that come up are going to be positive reinforcement training and it is really ingrained in people. So to change that mindset from what do I do when my dog does X behavior to do, I have the skills in my platform that I can apply creatively to change my dogs perception, to change the behavior. So it’s one thing for me to say that, and what upper dog ology does is actually funnels that right down so that they can do that and they can learn how to do that on their own, and they’re just changing their brain. It’s amazing to see this in there. You know, they see they see the change in the dog, it’s like, oh my God, I see my dog is different, right? Because your dog’s perceiving you differently and then it just goes from there and it’s this amazing, beautiful thanks.

I know you said you didn’t go to school for CBT. And so what was your background then?

It was an unconventional journey For sure. I started out just like anyone else. I just was interested in dogs and I took in some foster dogs and I was in British Columbia, Canada and just my boyfriend at the time was from texas. So we renovated a bus, which sounds far more romantic than it actually was. We went down and on the way down to texas. We just picked up these dogs and I never really learned how to work with them and it wasn’t sort of a fairy disconnecting with him. It wasn’t an aura. I actually, I guess by nature, what I’ve learned is I like cognitive behavioral therapy. Also, I just relate to it. It’s not uptight it’s not right versus wrong. People are and dogs are who they are and their experiences shape them and you need to respect that and you need to harness it and you need to give them a reason to change how they’re thinking. And again, I didn’t know that back then. I didn’t know about cognitive behavioral therapy. It’s just the way my brain works. So Then I ended up coming, I had 24 acres in North Carolina after that. And lots of dogs just came around and then I ended up, so then he and I split and I came back up to Ontario Canada where is originally from. And I started a small business dog walking and daycare just because I needed a job. And that just seemed to I had a bunch of dogs anyway and grew incredibly quickly and I only accepted dogs over six months. For some reason, I just connected with them. I worked well with them and people were saying to me, you know, I don’t know what you’re doing because I’m struggling. I’m challenged and rescue organizations, This is still, you know, early mid nineties before Internet.

So there were organizations, there were rescue organizations and there were puppy training schools, but a little bit different. So I realized that the way I’m working with these dogs that are over six months is different than the way people are working with puppies, but I didn’t understand why or what I was doing. So I saw that business and I started to really take in rescue dogs and work with rescue dogs. And I got recognized Toronto Humane Society awarded me. And I got, you know, I realized what I was doing was different and it was working and people were asking me to teach it to them, but I really didn’t know what I was doing and I didn’t have a formula, I’m just sort of hippie by nature and I’m not really big on terminology and rules, so it’s hard to teach things to people. So I took some time to actually write a book. Emmanuel and it never got published, was ahead of its time, never got published. But it did allow me to formulate what I was doing into ways in which I could teach it to people and then you know, the cesar Milan and the positive reinforcement training hit the scene which made dog training very popular, it made it accepted and normal. So you weren’t sort of this quirky, weird person did this, you know, weird sort of profession, right? So what I did was I moved to where I am now Regina Saskatchewan Canada and I wanted to have hundreds of dogs by that point and traveled to different countries and worked with different dogs. I really wanted to practice teaching it to people and having them learn it because that’s really a big part of scientifically proving, which more for me it was just of interest because it was going to save more dogs lives. That’s really where I was going with that. So as much as these people technically became clients, they were test subjects, you know, what was working, what wasn’t I was keeping notes. You know, this dog came from this background and this dog came from this and this dog was this age and this was male and female. And what’s the difference and why are other techniques not working and why is what I’m doing and they do and again other techniques do work. And sometimes you can incorporate when you think of it as a whole and you really understand how to work with dogs and you really understand different scientific methodologies and how they work. You can be so creative and work with the way that it works with the dog. Then psychologists and psychiatrists and social workers start to get a hold of me and talk to me about what I do. And that’s when I realized, you know, they were telling me it’s cognitive behavioral therapy, that’s what you do, that’s what your platform, you know what it was you were doing it because that’s what was natural.

Yeah, yeah. So I need a completely backwards which interested me. So then how did this evolve them into UPWARD Dogology? Like how did it evolve into your methodology based upon the science?

That’s a good question. Well, UPWARD is an acronym for urban people with or working with adopted and rescued dogs or adolescent or adult. Or the arc could be rambunctious or rebellious, you know, the guy at the party with the lamp shade on his head, right? So as long as that dog is over six months, so that’s actually what upward is because that’s exactly who it’s for. That is exactly what it is all about. And I guess it probably took far longer than it should have to realize that what I have is an actual methodology. And when you follow it, it works and, and by teaching it 200-150 people a year. And like I said, these are, these are dog experienced people and some aren’t, some are totally green. You know, it really made no difference. So that’s when I was able to package it and trademark and applying for patent, but it is actually a formula that people apply. And it was people saying that to me, this is what you’re doing. And then I continue to to connect with those people cause I found it interesting. And so did they, social workers, you know, people that work with dogs. There was one woman in particular who has her PhD, she had some social work program at a university and she takes the dogs from the shelter into the prison. And she wanted to connect with me and talk because it’s interesting how that the prisoners, they use cognitive behavioral therapy to rehabilitate their anxiety, their aggression, their addictions change their perception.

You know, that’s one way of working children. I do a lot of comparisons with my clients with children as well because they hit these stages and their brain develops and their brain changes, but again, it can be trying to quit smoking. There’s lots of there’s lots of ways you can use it, but you stay with that platform. And they were she was saying that that the prisoners actually, they were doing positive reinforcement with the dog, but they were also using some of their cognitive behavioral therapy with the dogs and they found it really bonding and really effective and they were really proud of themselves. Unfortunately, it was just before Covid, so hopefully maybe we would have continued to work together on that would have been really interesting. So then yes, literally now it is, it is a packaged formula. Yeah, that anyone can really learn. I think scientists would benefit a lot from it.

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So what’s next Billie? Where do you want to take this?

I have to say that’s been a bit of a struggle because right now I am pigeonholed into being a behaviorist or a trainer because my number one market is people that are are frustrated or they’re they have a dog and what they’re doing isn’t working. And so they hire me and those would be termed clients, which by virtue makes me a train or a behaviorist. But I would really like to be able to get UPWARD Dogology on platforms that have a lot of influence in the dog world. So trainers that are influential over trainers, so you know, ones that are influential over the dog world as well more. So what I would really love is, I do have connections with rescue organizations a lot and we have very, very good mutually beneficial because if people call them wanting to give up their dog, they can say no, you know, and then they never see the dog. I work with the person, the person gets to keep their dog, the dog gets to stay in the same home. This is a fantastic relationship. And I think the biggest thing is that, you know, rescue organizations can be worried that someone’s going to come in and tell them what they should do or how they should run their rescue organization, which I don’t, you know, it’s very flexible, very adaptable, it’s not rule oriented at all. The other would be scientists, I think it would be great. You know, right now, they are trying to learn about dog cognition, there’s canine enrichment, they’re trying to learn about how why the adolescent stage occurs, you know, how to address aggression and anxiety, because that’s that’s really a big reason for surrender and euthanasia, which is highly unfortunate. You know, there’s people that will be more patient with anxiety, but it’s not always really that fair to the dog, if there’s a faster way that the dog likes and they connect with it better, and then they’re not going to see dogs back. Because it’s one thing to say to people. You have to be patient productive patients is human nature needs productive patients, you need to see things working and you can only blame, you know, that trainer wasn’t good enough for that, that person wasn’t patient enough at some point, it is the method.

So if scientists are still using op print conditioning in their test studies, they’re limiting themselves. They need to leave the umbrella of operating conditioning and move over to the umbrella of cognitive behavioral therapy in order to study cognitive behavioral therapy. So they wouldn’t have to learn it to the same extent. You know, they’re not trainers, they’re not going to teach it to people, but by understanding the platform of what I work off of and how it is different and why it works and how it reaches that cognitive side of their brain and what it does, they’re going to be able to understand their do different studies that actually reached the cognitive side of the brain because if you remain under that operate conditioning umbrella, you just can’t get there from here. That’s why a lot of the trainers are struggling because their remaining under the opera conditioning umbrella, but they don’t want to do any form of negative reinforcement. They want to do proactive and prevention, but technically it doesn’t work that way. You can do distraction or avoidance, but those are not methodologies, they’re not methods, they’re just, you know, sort of fixing the problem in the moment to be proactive. You have to switch over to cognitive behavioral therapy. That’s just the way their platforms work, my personality. I’d love to work with rescue organizations and celebrities who who are just fun and they love dogs and they’re really big on animal rescue and you know, work with them and get them to under understand it and enjoy because it’s fun, It is really great and I think that would just be really fun and that would be a way of really getting it out there, sit down, have a couple of beers with Ricky Gervais and talk about, you know,

Yeah, yeah, what a great, but you know, because really it it just, it just has to get out there, but there’s always that block because of the perception, you know, if you’re not a positive reinforcement trainer and I’m not so if people want to learn more, I mean, I know you’ve got a website to book a podcast me where can they go tell them where they can go to learn more? Sure, Chris, thanks.

So my website is www.upwarddogology.com. And Twitter and Facebook and Instagram is @upwarddogology. LinkedIn is Billie Groom and the links to the book with the books on amazon, it’s called the Art of urban people with adopted and rescue dogs methodology. It’s very long name and and it’s actually doing better in the animal welfare and an animal rescue categories than in training because it’s not a training manual. So I like to make that clear, it’s not a training manual and the podcast is also UPWARD Dogology and the first one is who the hell is Billie Groom and it goes through my learning journey. Yeah, so that that one is probably the most popular, so yeah, I’m pretty easy to find. That’s for sure.

Yeah, I’m really glad that you came on today to talk about this. Is there anything else you want to mention Billie before wrap things up?

I just want to say thank you, thank you so much for having an open mind for what you do and for caring about the animals and for being interested in innovations and being open-minded to them. It’s really so important. Thanks, Billie. Really excited that you came on today and we’ll remind our viewers and listeners if you’ve got an idea for something innovative that’s helping animals or if you know if somebody that we should talk to, just go to innovations.show and let us know. So, thanks again. Billie was great to talk to you.

Thank you so much. Chris. Have a great day. Thanks, thanks for joining us for the Animal Innovations Show.

If you want to volunteer to help animals check out doobert.com where you can join tens of thousands of duper tears, supporting rescues and shelters around the world to help animals. And if you know if something or someone innovative that’s helping animals, let us know by going to www.innovations.show.

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