'Aggressive behaviour can be sculpted like any other behaviour. The only difference is that, in treating aggression, we need to lower the frequency of the aggressive behaviour and increase the frequency of the appropriate incompatible behaviours that we have previously taught our dogs. ... We can click a behaviour into extinction by gradually shaping its absence, which is why clicker training is so powerful for treating aggression.' (p69)
'Desensitisation training is a form of counterconditioning that reduces an inappropriate response to an event. The process involves first working with the dog at the lowest levels of arousal and then gradually increasing the distractions as success is achieved at each level. We can begin this process by clicking and feeding the dog at the lowest points of intensity of the aggressive behaviour, or if your dog is not that highly reactive, in the absence of the behaviour that we would like to see disappear.' (p70)
'Aggressive behaviour is challenging to modify, in part because it usually evokes an emotional response in the handler. Though aggression is a perfectly normal canine behaviour, it frightens and embarrasses humans. ... Our responsibility for our animals' lives never feels quite so acute as when faced with chronic aggression.' (p72)
'Punishment can damage the relationships we have with our dogs. You want your dog to feel safe near you, not threatened. Fear stops the learning process in both dogs and humans. If the threat comes from the source of learning (the handler), the decrease in learning is compounded. The most serious danger with punishment, however, is that it very often feels good to the punisher. Punishment is reinforcing to the punisher. ... Not only is punishment risky, but it also fails to teach the dog an acceptable alternate behaviour. The dog does not learn what to do the next time he is in the same situation. He only learns to fear the situation.' (p73)
'When your dog is under stress, he may be unable to perform trained behaviours. If he is reacting intensely to the stressor, he may not even hear your cues. You can, however, teach your dog to be calm in environments that he usually finds aversive. I call this "clicking for a peaceful state of mind." Your dog needs to remain calm in a stressful situation before he has the ability to make choices while under stress.' (p74)
'Training Recipes: Reducing Aggression
- Extinguishing Cues to Aggression in Highly Reactive Dogs
- Clicking for the Absence of the Aggressive Behaviour
- Selective Reacitivity
[In-depth information on the recipes found p74-p81]
'Clicking for the Absence of the Aggressive Behaviour [...]
3. Click and feed your dog for looking at another dog.
4. Click and feed your dog for listening to another dog in the environment, for example when other dogs pant, bark, whine, growl, and so on.
5. Click and feed your dog for allowing another dog to look at him.
6. Click and feed your dog if another dog moves his body toward him in any way.
7. Click and feed your dog if he happens to glance up at you.
8. Click and feed your dog for any type of self-calming behaviour that he might display, ...
9. Click and feed for any appropriate response that the reactive dog offers that is not aggressive in nature.' (p77)
'Your dog's aggressive tendencies may not be a result of anything you've done; neverhteless, they're bound to produce a behavioural response in you. Rarely are handlers advised to pay attention to their own emotional responses and expressions of fear. This is unfortunate because your own fear and stress may be your dog's first and clearest cue that something in the environment is terribly wrong; picking up those signals from you puts the dog in aggressive mode.' (p82)
'While we do need to learn to control our responses as much as possible, much of our body language is involuntary. No matter how much we reduce our body language, our dogs are so finely attuned to it that they will still pick up some signals. But what would happen if we were to change the meaning of the words and phrases in our body language? ... Just as we can clicker train any behaviour, we can change the meaning of any cue.' (p82)
'The process of changing our stress cues to cues for behaviour is in part desensitization--getting our dogs used to the handling we do under stress. It also requires operant conditioning, or teaching new behaviours in response to cues. You can teach your dog to move into the leash when he feels it pulled tight, to turn and look at you when you sharply draw in your breath, and to love to have your hands on his muzzle and collar.
The process also requires you to become acutely aware of your physical responses to stress. When you've identified the elements of your own physical behaviour, and begun using them in training as cues for your dog's behaviour, you too can begin to practice self-control in tense situations. If your dog is taught to remain calm while you are exhibiting stress cues, then encounters that were previously punishing to you will become positively reinforcing, and your stress behaviour will lessen in intensity.' (p83)
'When training an aggressive dog, a training journal gives you a place to reflect on your own emotions and behaviour.' (p84)
'If your dog is highly reactive toward other dogs, the reason may be simply because he doesn't speak their language. Dogs who are not fluent in "Dog" are unable to read canine body postures and gestures. They lack the ability to express their intentions accurately with their own body language.' (p97)
'While emotions drive behaviour, the reverse is also true: emotions follow physical expression, or behaviour. ... We can teach our dogs to perform seperate social behaviours on cue while interacting with other dogs.' (p98)
'Training Recipes: Using Calming Signals
Sniffing the Ground
Freeze in a Sit
Lift a Front Paw
Turning His Back While in the Kennel
Get Close' (p122-p131)