While emotions drive behavior, the reverse is also true: emotions follow physical expression, or behavior. In psychology, the practice of "smile therapy" advises clients to hold a smile on their faces, whether they feel like it or not. The theory is that even a forced smile washes away the emotions that prevent you from smiling, increasing your motivation and confidence. In other words, if you want to be happy, act happy. In addition, changing the consequences of a behavior can alter an emotional state. While the psychologists are concerned with human behavior, clicker training accomplishes both objectives for our dogs. We can teach our dogs to perform separate social behaviors on cue while interacting with other dogs. If these behaviors are solidly on cue, they can help them relax, and spark spontaneous appropriate interactions.
Click to Calm: Healing the Aggressive Dog
In her new book Click to Calm: Healing the Aggressive Dog, Emma Parsons presents several groundbreaking concepts in treating canine aggression through clickertraining. One of her remarkable new ideas recognizes the impact of the handler's body language on a dog's aggressive responses. She describes the moment in which she realized her own signs of stress were cueing her Golden Retriever Ben's aggressive display:
Emma has been featured on the Boston Neighborhood Network, WB56, and New England Cable News discussing various topics on canine behavior, including how to manage and reduce canine aggression and how to successfully integrate second-hand dogs into new households. Emma has also taught clicker training classes in conjunction with Tufts Veterinary School of Medicine and Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue. Emma runs her own dog training business called The Creative Canine which specializes in canine aggression issues.
When Emma Parsons, professional trainer and canine behavior consultant, discovered that her own prized golden retriever, Ben, was aggressive toward other dogs, and that traditional remedies took his reactivity to nightmarish levels, she turned to clicker training. In the process, Parsons developed innovative and effective strategies to calm, alter, and re-shape Ben's aggressive displays. Her clicker-based strategies have since helped many of her clients successfully reduce—and even erase—their dogs' reactivity to both dogs and humans.