Stranger Danger! Dogs that are Reactive to People

Dogs that are reactive or aggressive to people can pose a serious risk, not only to family members, but to the public. Often these dogs are hidden in the home, never exercised for fear of a biting incident. If the dog is aggressive to specific family members, those “questionable” individuals tread carefully. It is not unusual for certain family members to disagree on how to proceed. That disagreement changes the formerly peaceful home into one of frustration and angst.

Emma Parsons’ Click to Calm rehabilitation program is designed to change this unfortunate situation. The goals of the program are:

  1. Acclimate the dog to the presence of humans in his immediate environment
  2. Teach the dog to experiment by targeting/touching a particular person
  3. Introduce the dog to a stranger if he is willing do so

Each of these levels of behavior is contingent upon the success of the previous level. Safety is paramount! (Teaching a dog to accept a muzzle will also be demonstrated in this Session.)

It is also extremely important that the dog/handler relationship be built on love and trust, not fear and disdain. In the real world, it is the handler’s responsibility to keep the dog safe. The handler must advocate for the dog by making quick decisions on his behalf, in many challenging environments. At the same time, through various clicker trained foundation behaviors, the dog will learn to trust his handler and allow this communication to take place.

Although not every dog will be comfortable meeting strangers, using this particular methodology can greatly increase the quality of the dog’s life (as well as the handler’s or family’s). It can mean the difference between life and death.

Emma Parsons

Emma Parsons has been training dogs for more than 20 years and specializes in managing and rehabilitating the reactive and aggressive dog. Emma is a faculty member of Karen Pryor Academy for Animal Training & Behavior (KPA), as well as a ClickerExpo faculty member. She gives Click to Calm seminars around the world, teaching others how to manage and rehabilitate reactive and aggressive dogs. Emma is the author of Click to Calm: Healing the Aggressive Dog and Teaching the Reactive Dog Class, as well as some best-selling DVDs. She is a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC).

Emma holds a B.A. degree from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, and shares her life with her husband, Greg, and their four clicker-trained dogs: three Goldens, Lizzie-Taylor, Kayden-Blue, Austyn-Roque; and a Papillon, Wylie-Rae.