There are Dog Trainers in the world who specialize in dog aggression. I am not one of them. But... that doesn't mean, I do not want to be knowledgeable on safety, behavior change strategies, defensive handling and risk assessment when it comes to the bitey end of any canine! Whether I am volunteering at the SPCA Cincinnati or working with a client whose dog is struggling with behavior that is trending towards aggressive, I want to be prepared. I also want to ensure during my client consultations that I can properly assess a dog's level of aggression and determine if it's a case I feel comfortable taking on or if it's best to refer to a specialist.
I recently completed the Aggression in Dogs Master Course for Trainers and Behavior Consultants. Taught by world renowned aggression expert, Michael Shikashio, CDBC, this is the most comprehensive course on dog aggression available anywhere in the world. The course included expert instruction from various other veterinarians and dog behavior consultants as well.
It was self-paced and included over 19 hours of video instruction, quizzes and case studies. The material built upon much of the training psychology background I already have (e.g. differential reinforcement strategies, desentization and counterconditioning), but it emphasized on how to use the techniques specifically to work through aggressive behavior. It also provided valuable coaching on supporting the human-side of the cases, with Dog Guardians.
Now that I have successfully completed the 23 required modules, the learning doesn't end. A huge benefit to this course is the ongoing support and education on aggression through weekly online mentor sessions with Michael as well as a Facebook group where I am able to seek advice and input from other experts in the private community as needed.
Dog training is often complex and when it comes to animals struggling with issues, such as aggression, there are many components from safety, canine health, environment management, client involvement and expectations that all need to be a part of the plan. This course has really helped me to further my understanding of many of these not just in theory, but in actual practice. I am pleased I dedicated both time and money into this course and it feels good to know that it was investment that will further help me to help dogs and their Guardians.