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There is a new approach to treating aggression problems of all kinds that is making good headway in the training world. And the very best thing is that it's not harsh in the treatment process. It's called Constructional Aggression Treatment. The following is a brief description:
Constructional Aggression Treatment
Until recently, aggression therapies have focused on the pathology of aggressive behavior. In this model, dog aggression is seen as an instinctive response usually identified by the type of trigger; fear aggression, territorial aggression, dominant aggression and so forth. The premise is, that if the dog is exposed to a certain trigger, the response is always the same: trigger > attack, the dog cannot help it. In this pathological approach, the behavior, regardless of how it was established, developed or maintained is to be eliminated using any reduction technique, including punishment.

The Constructional approach, as presented by Dr. Jesús Rosales-Ruiz, Associate Professor, Behavior Analysis, University of North Texas and Kellie Snider, BS, MS, Board Certified Behavior Analyst, at a recent seminar, maintains that aggression is a learned behavior and it is persistent because it has worked in the past. In other words, if you have a dog that is fearful of other dogs and the dog has discovered that acting aggressively makes other dogs go away, that aggressive behavior becomes very reinforcing. The dog learns that aggressive behavior pays off. So, what would happen if the aggressive behavior didn’t pay off?

Since the function of most aggression is to achieve distance from the icky thing (other dogs, humans, skateboards), if you can manipulate the consequences (the icky thing DOESN’T go away when the dog aggresses) then the dog will start to experiment with which behaviors actually will make the icky thing go away. Initially the behaviors may be very small; a sideways glance, blinking the eyes, or a head turn. The dog learns that THOSE behaviors WILL make the icky thing go away. As the treatment progresses the dog begins to feel more comfortable, he will offer more and more alternative behaviors, building a repertoire that is more social and friendlier. All of this is done under carefully controlled circumstances with the trainer, the client and his or her dog. In the cases of dog to people aggression a series of humans are used as decoys to work with the aggressive dog so that the dog can take these alternative social behaviors and begin to apply them across the board. The same technique is used with dogs who are aggressive to other dogs. Decoy dogs work just below the dog’s trigger threshold and move ever closer as the dog softens and becomes more accepting. The end goal for all types of aggression using these techniques is total interaction not just tolerance.


If you Google "Constructional Aggression Treatment" using the quotes in your search, you find lots of hits that speak about it. Behavior Logic is the link for the seminar information and DVDs. http://www.behaviorlogic.com/id160.html You might want to ask your trainer if they are aware of this treatment and/or do some investigation yourselves. I've attended a seminar and viewed the DVDs and seen first hand how effective this is.

Hope this helps.
 

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I've seen this technique in action. It does work, but, in my eyes, with a big caveat...the trainers using the technique need a deep understanding of how and why they are using it.And some experience!! Timing is important. IMHO, if you don't have a strong, well orchestrated team, you could do more damage. It can also be emotionally painful for the owner and is very emotionally charged for all involved.
That said, it is another tool in the tool box...
 
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