Fearful, Reactive and Aggressive Dog Coaching

Aggressive Dog Training
“You can’t train a behavior at the time that you need it.” ~ Julie Flannery

Family Dog Mediation® and Coaching for Fearful, Reactive and Aggressive Dogs

A “fearful, reactive or aggressive dog” is just a dog who is having “big feelings” and needs help learning how to cope.

Most dogs labeled as reactive or aggressive are experiencing some level of fear, frustration, anxiety, or stress. A small percentage of others are simply performing the instinctual behaviors that they were selectively bred to do.

These programs are best suited for dogs who:
  • Bark and lunge at dogs, people or moving objects during walks
  • Bark, growl or cower when greeting strangers
  • Guard food, toys, people or spaces
  • Fight with other dogs &/or pets in your home
  • Act out when left home alone
  • Have issues with being handled
  • Are scared or fearful when introduced to new environments
  • Fence fight with other dogs

Don’t see your particular issue on this list? That’s okay. We can customize one of the programs described below to meet your needs. Email me to discuss your situation.

What will my journey with Crimson Hound look like?

Crimson Hound “training” plans go BEYOND dog training. Your plan will include management protocols, muzzle training, communication, games, enrichment and, often, teaching new behaviors. The solution will involve a bit of learning and compromise on your part. We will use your list of wants and desires, as well as your dog’s need, to develop a realistic set of goals.

I use only modern, ethical reward-based methods that follow LIMA training principles  and do not rely on the use of force, coercion or intimidation. Your training plan will NOT include the application of aversive techniques and quick fixes such as squirt bottles, choke collars, slip leads, prong collars, or e-collars (AKA bark collar, vibration collar, training collar, shock collar) to address unwanted behaviors.  

In order to fully support you and your dog, I may recommend consulting a veterinarian and/or a veterinary behaviorist. If necessary, I may refer you to another trusted trainer who may be better able address your dog’s needs.

Crimson Hound does NOT use “corrections” with aversive tools in response to so-called “bad” behaviors. Why not?

Humans have spent hundreds, even thousands, of years selectively breeding for specific traits in dogs. These are often the traits that are now referred to as “bad behaviors”. You can’t punish away these instinctual behaviors without causing mental distress to the dog. We can, however, teach the dog alternative behaviors that the owner finds acceptable.

As has been noted, the vast majority of dogs who display fearful, reactive and aggressive behaviors do so out of fear, anxiety (chronic fear) and distress. Punishing a dog for trying to communicate his feelings is not only unethical, but it generally has long-term fallout without long-term gain.

Instead, we will work together determine what is causing your dog’s behaviors and build a training plan using ethical, rewards-based training methods.

AVSAB Statement on Humane Dog Training

“Based on current scientific evidence, AVSAB recommends that only reward-based training methods are used for all dog training, including the treatment of behavior problems. Aversive training methods have a damaging effect on both animal welfare and the human-animal bond. There is no evidence that aversive methods are more effective than reward-based methods in any context. AVSAB therefore advises that aversive methods should not be used in animal training or for the treatment of behavior disorders.”

Read the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior’s full position statement here.

“Leadership is not about being in charge. Leadership is about taking care of those in your charge. ~ Simon Sink

Training Package Options
for Fearful, Reactive or Aggressive Dogs

Everyone is in a different place with regard to knowledge, training experience and time to train. For this reason, Crimson Hound offers two styles of coaching programs for fearful, reactive or aggressive dogs that are grounded in Family Dog Mediation®.

Which one is right for you?
Are you new to dog training? Do you have the time and want to take on the challenge with the support of a dog trainer to guide you on every step of the journey?

The Complete Reactive Program is perfect for you. This program includes the Initial Mediation Session plus 4 or 6 coaching sessions. In addition, every program includes coaching support between sessions, customized notes and homework after each session, video tutorials plus much more.

Do you have a full schedule? Are you struggling to find the time for dog training?

The Reactive Safe At Home Day Program is designed to accommodate your busy lifestyle. After outlining your goals during our Initial Mediation Session, I will come into your home three times a week and teach your dog. The length of this program will vary depending on your goals and where your dog is currently sitting along the pathway to success.

Which program is best for a dog with Separation Anxiety?

First, let me differentiate between separation-related behaviors (e.g., “fear of missing out” behaviors, boredom, etc.) and true separation anxiety.

Does your dog bark, whine or howl for a short while when left alone? Does he destroy items when left alone – chews up shoes, rips up a pillow, gets into the garbage, etc.? If you answered yes to either question, your dog is most likely performing separation-related behaviors. With my Complete Reactive Program, I can help you teach him how to spend time alone. Behaviors that only take place at home are not a good fit for any type of group or day training or board-and-train program – regardless of what you may have been told.

True Separation Anxiety is a panic disorder and cannot be “trained” away.

A dog with SA panics when left alone and will not settle until the owner returns. The dog may bark and howl and work himself up into a frenzy. He will likely also drool excessively and urinate and/or defecate (even though house trained). In his frenzied efforts to escape the confines of the home, the dog may destroy doors, windows or trim and may injure himself trying to break out of his crate or get out through a window.

For this reason, these dogs need the support of a Veterinarian or Veterinary Behaviorist, who can prescribe an anti-anxiety medication, and a Certified Separation Anxiety Trainer (CSAT). A CSAT is a professional dog trainer who specializes in working with separation anxiety. The road to recovery is a very long, slow process involving virtual training with a CSAT and supporting your dog by not leaving him alone until he is able to cope.

I can help you with separation-related behaviors, but will refer you to a CSAT if your dog has separation anxiety.

What happens during the Family Dog Mediation® Session?

Every client begins his/her journey with a virtual Initial Mediation Session.  During this 90-minute session, we will use the lens of Family Dog Mediation® to look at your dog’s L.E.G.S.®. I will help you understand why your dog does what he does and explain why many of the “bad behaviors” that you are seeing may just be your dog being the dog he was designed to be.

Your initial session will include suggestions for muzzle training, management and safety techniques, as well as starting some foundations skills work.

We will review your goals and look at areas where your dog shines and places where there might be misunderstanding and/or miscommunication between you and your dog. With this in mind, we will develop a plan that will meet the needs of both you and your dog. Your “training” plan will go BEYOND dog training. The solution will involve a bit of learning and compromise on your part as we take your list of wants and desires and develop a realistic set of goals that will also meet your dog’s needs.

Why is the first session virtual rather than in-person?

The vast majority of fearful, reactive and aggressive dogs are more vigilant and stressed outside the safety of their home or when a stranger is present inside their home. This can lead to a dog that is over threshold; thus, not in a mental state where he can learn. In addition, my presence, without any practiced plan in place, simply leads to the dog practicing the unwanted behavior and further solidifying that pathway.

We conduct our first session virtually in order to eliminate the rehearsal of unwanted behaviors and to allow the client time to get management and safety protocols, but some foundational skills in place. This makes for a much easier in-person visit since everyone has a better idea of what to expect.

Why happens between coaching sessions?

  • Homework.  After each session, you will receive a list of things to work on.
  • Practice … Practice … Practice.  Behaviors do not just happen overnight.  It takes a lot of practice to teach a skill or modify a behavior.  Set aside time for several short training sessions each day – no more than 5-10 minutes.   
  • Set your dog up for success. Be sure to end sessions while your dog is still having fun so that she will want to come back for another training session.  If you or your dog is getting frustrated, take a short break and regroup.  
  • Distance, Duration and Distraction. When working on any new behavior, add and increase each of these, one at a time and in small increments.
  • Remember …. baby steps.  Take small steps in advancing behaviors.  If you take too big a step and your dog is unsuccessful, reel yourself back a bit.
  • Help your dog generalize new skills.  Just because he knows how to ‘sit’ in the living room, it does not mean that he will immediately know how to ‘sit’ in the kitchen or out in the yard.  Be patient and practice in different locations to help your dog to transfer and generalize behaviors.
  • Keep a training journal.  Sometimes, it can feel like you are making little to no progress. But, if you keep a daily training journal, you can look back and see just how far you have come. This is also a great place to keep track of questions that you want to ask during your next session.

Why doesn’t Crimson Hound offer single sessions?

While the Initial Family Dog Mediation® Session is an extremely informative and integral part of my programs, it is NOT a complete training plan in and of itself. It is simply the jumping-off point for your journey with your dog. In order to be successful, additional coaching sessions are needed to help you incorporate what you are learning into daily life with your dog.

Learning a new skill or changing an old habit is not an overnight process. Depending on how long the dog has been practicing the behavior, it can take a significant amount of time to create a new replacement behavior. This requires time, patience, repetition and consistency. Crimson Hound’s coaching program options provide flexibility, while still providing support for you and your dog throughout your journey.

“It takes as long as it takes. There is no time limit on behavior change.”

~ Deb Jones, Ph.D.

Complete Reactive Program

The Complete Reactive Program provides you with all of the training and coaching support necessary to set you up for success – coaching sessions in the privacy of your own home, coaching support between sessions, customized notes and homework after each session, video tutorials, and much more.

We know that your dog is struggling, but what about you? I know from experience that living with a fearful, reactive or aggressive dog can take a huge toll on the entire household. Teaching your dog new skills, modifying maladaptive behaviors and changing negative associations is only a portion of the equation.  I will be with you along every step of your journey.

In general, the fewer coaching sessions you choose, the less likely you are to reach the goals that you have established for you and your dog.

We will build upon foundational skills throughout the program. A minimum commitment of four weeks is required for all aggressive dog programs. Dogs with severe behavior problems or with a long history of these behaviors will require more time. Therefore, I recommend that these clients start with 6 sessions.

The Complete Reactive Program Includes:
  • Initial Family Dog Mediation®  VIRTUAL Session* (1.5 hours)
  • Four or six 60-minute coaching sessions
  • Custom homework plan after each coaching session
  • Your New Dog booklet
  • Canine Body Language for Pet Parents webinar
  • Relevant handouts &/or reading material
  • Video tutorials
  • Coaching support between sessions
  • **This program can be extended in 2-week packs as needed.

Coaching topics include: muzzle acclimation, leash handling skills, how to break up a dog fight, causes of leash reactivity, resource guarding and/or aggression, management and enrichment protocols, communication, new skill building, and more, Topics will vary as every program is customized for the client’s unique needs.

** A 2-week Extension can be purchased within 5 days of completion of purchased program.

Group Practice Sessions:

Clients are eligible for these sessions after completing the Initial Family Dog Mediation®  Session PLUS at least two (2) Coaching Sessions. These 45-minute sessions provide opportunities to practice skills within small groups of two or three.

Reactive Safe at Home Day Program

Feeling overwhelmed about your dog’s training or behavior issues? Is it hard to find time in your schedule to teach your dog? Worried about sending your dog away for a board-and-train program? Let Crimson Hound do the heavy lifting with a fully-customized program right in your own home!

The Reactive Safe at Home Day Program is the perfect alternative to a board-and-train program. When you enroll in this program, I will visit three times each week to work one-on-one with your dog – in your home and around your neighborhood.  

Your dog stays in your home for the entire program while being trained using reward-based methods. I do not use aversive methods that involve fear, intimidation or pain.

During the Initial Family Dog Mediation® Session, we will discuss your goals and your dog’s needs. Then, we will develop a customized training plan that will guide you through the program. This training plan will be a living document and we will expect to makes changes as we move through the process.

Teaching your dog new skills and changing old habits is only a portion of the equation when it comes to modifying behaviors and learning new skills! When thinking about which program to choose, keep in mind that the fewer coaching sessions you choose, the lower the probability of reaching the goals that you have established for you and your dog. 

This program includes the necessary dog training, but, more importantly, includes tons of support for YOU.  For example, you will receive post-session updates and short videos to help you with the skills that we are working on. To demonstrate the skills we are working on, we will schedule a weekly skills transfer session. During this session, I will coach you through each step so that you can continue to work with your dog throughout the week.

The Reactive Safe At Home Program Includes:
  • Initial Family Dog Mediation®  Session (1.5 hours)
  • Minimum of 4 weeks of in-home sessions (3 times per week)
  • Weekly skills transfer session with owners
  • Video updates and homework after each session
  • Custom homework plan after each coaching session
  • Your New Dog booklet
  • Canine Body Language for Pet Parents webinar
  • Relevant handouts &/or reading material
  • Video tutorials
  • Coaching support between sessions
  • Enrichment activities at the end of every session
  • ** This program can be extended in 2-week packs as needed.
Day Training is perfect for:
  • Muzzle acclimation
  • Leash manners and reactivity
  • Inability to relax
  • Impulse control issues around food, toys and doorways
  • Confidence building
  • Cooperative care techniques for handling difficulty
Day Training is NOT a good option for:
  • Dogs that are fearful of humans
  • Any type of human-directed aggression
  • Any type of behaviors directed towards specific people
  • Separation anxiety

** A 2-week Extension can be purchased within 5 days of completion of purchased program.

Group Practice Sessions:

Clients are eligible for these sessions after completing the Initial Family Dog Mediation®  Session PLUS at least two (2) Coaching Sessions in most cases. These 45-minute sessions provide opportunities to practice skills within small groups of two or three.

Sessions are dependent upon weather conditions and enrollment.

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