Dog-dog and dog-human aggression appears to be primarily fear-based as so often diagnosed by successful prevention (socialization and classical conditioning) or treatment of existing problems.

Whereas it comes as no surprise that dogs develop predictable behavior problems such as housesoiling, chewing, digging and barking — these behaviors are quintessential dog; people are always surprised when later in life, their friendly and socialized puppy becomes shy, standoffish, wary, fearful, reactive and aggressive towards people or other dogs, even though developing fear of the unfamiliar later in life is a normal and adaptive development process. Early (very early) super-socialization and ongoing classical conditioning usually prevent these fears from developing.

Many owners slack off from their pup’s intensive socialization program because two-, three- and four-month-old puppies appear to be super-friendly social butterflies. All too often people don’t see the point of socializing an apparently well-socialized puppy. But of course their puppy is friendly and sociable, it’s a puppy. Unfortunately the effects of insufficient early socialization do not become apparent until later in life. Development follows a natural course; fears and phobias do not usually begin to develop until a dog is five to eight months old and by the time owners realize their adolescent dog has a problem, the Critical Period of Socialization is history.

Whereas treatment protocols are virtually identical to prevention protocols (classical and operant conditioning, progressive desensitization and socialization), they are more complicated, take much (MUCH) longer and sometimes, are not without danger. For example, whereas problems of fearfulness or bullying in a two- to three-month-old  puppy may be resolved within a single session, it would take several months to resolve similar problems in a five-month old dog. And successfully rehabilitating an eight-month old dog may take as long as a couple of years.

The rehabilitation of fearful and/or aggressive dogs is often constrained because:

1. Punishment, or more usually aversive NON-punishment, usually exacerbates the problems and

2. Most traditional classical conditioning routines take forever — often exceeding the time or money that owners are willing to spend.

Recently though, new techniques have been developed to accelerate and maximize classical conditioning, progressive desensitization and ultimately, re-socialization.

  •         Differential classical conditioning (DCC) prevents unintentional reinforcement of reactivity when classically conditioning the dog.
  •         Rather than attempting to resolve the problems in the course of everyday life, troubleshooting set-ups accelerate classical conditioning.
  •          Using kibble and tug toys (fairly low-value primary reinforcers) empowered as the highest-value mega-secondary reinforcers maximizes classical conditioning.


 Dog-Human Aggression (Biting) Topics include:

Extremely early, i.e., neonatal, Socialization & Handling and exchanging Valued Objects

Four Stages of Teaching Bite Inhibition

Early Warning Signs that things are going awry

Medical Model (single cause->multiple clinical signs) seldom applies to behavior

Notion of Multiple Subliminal Bite Stimuli (multiple causes->single behavior) makes dog bites Predictable, Preventable and Resolvable

Most “Temperament” Tests assess Reactivity rather than Actual Danger

Ruthless Quantitative Assessment of whether or not the dog is dangerous?

1->6 Bite Scale of Severity based on Wound Pathology (actual damage done)

Quantitative Assessment of Prognosis and Time require to Retrain

Empowering Kibble as Mega-Secondary Reinforcers

Differential Classical Conditioning (DCC) to enable simultaneous Operant and Classical Conditioning

Sit-Touch–Kibble–Go Play to empower kibble, to desensitize bite-triggers and to increase compliance

Treat ‘n Retreat, Come-Sit-Kibble, plus Come-Sit Stay-Retreat to enable Approach

Progressive Desensitization of Collar Grabs and other “Hot” Spots


 Dog-Dog Aggression (Fighting) Topics include:

Early Socialization with other dogs at 12 weeks of age (earlier if a singleton)

Puppy Play for Dogs to teach each other Bite Inhibition

Immediately Resolving Bullying and Fearfulness of Other Puppies/Dogs

Variable-Age Socialization Groups to maintain Confidence and Social Savvy throughout adolescence

Ongoing Classical Conditioning throughout adolescent even though the dog appears to be friendly and confident

One-on-One Classical Conditioning Set-Ups to accelerate the process

Come-Sit-Watch+CC to break stares and decrease tension and threatening behavior

Objectively Assessing Severity of Fighting — based on Fight:Bite Ratio (actual damage done)

Quantitative Assessment of Prognosis and Time require to Retrain

Differential Classical Conditioning (DCC) to enable simultaneous Operant and Classical Conditioning

Empowering Tug Toys as Mega-Secondary Reinforcers

The Jolly Routine — certainly the most underutilized Classical Conditioning routine

Growl Classes