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:
- Acclimate the dog to the presence of humans in his immediate environment
- Teach the dog to experiment by targeting/touching a particular person
- 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.