Problem Solving with The Dog Partnership


The Dog Partnership focuses on the Dog's Emotions, not their behvaviour


To understand your dog’s emotions, you need first to understand your own


What is a behaviour? 

A behaviour is what a dog doesWith each behaviour there is an emotion


What is an emotion?

An emotion is how the dog feelsWith each emotion there is a behaviour


How do you change an unsociable behaviour?

Punish unsociable behaviour and reward sociable behaviourIgnore unsociable behaviour and reward sociable behaviourTeach an alternative behaviour 


Changing Behaviour Does Not Necessarily Change Emotion


How can you change an emotion?

You can not.You can influence a dog’s emotions but you cannot change themOnly the dog has control of his emotions.


A Change in Emotion ALWAYS results in a Change in Behaviour


What can influence a dog’s emotions? 

1) Your emotions. e.g. Relaxed body posture and slow rhythmic breathing will encourage relaxation in the dog. 


2) A safe and controlled environment where the dog has the space and freedom to express his feelings and work through them. They then  actively choose the behaviour that creates the positive feeling. Thus the sociable behaviour itself is self-rewarding.


Comunication and Understanding

It is essential that anyone working with aggression issues is skilled in reading dog communication. As the dog learns to control their emotions, their learning ability is enhanced. Situations are presented, in a safe environment, where there are other dogs and people. 


When the dog has learns how to control their emotions, they are able to look at perceived threats in a calmer manner. Therefore, they can learn to overcome, through positive experience, that people and/or other dogs do not pose a threat to them or their family.


It is of paramount importance that they are able to read the very first signals of stress. Situations for learning have to be such that the dog does not become so stressed that they cannot learn. For instance, a dog with aggression towards other dogs may only be able to learn if the other dog is 20 metres away where others can cope if they are only ten metres away. 


An in depth assessment of the dog’s general emotional state is essential before engaging in any rehabilitation programme. Many dogs will need a programme put into practice in the home to build self-confidence and feel more secure before presenting the problem situation.



Whilst history is interesting, it does not influence how you work with the dog today. Why the dog initially became aggressive can be considered during an assessment. But it is more important to assess and understand how they feel about their chosen coping strategy today. 


For instance, if a dog was attacked at fourteen weeks then at that time they were probably terrified. By the time the dog reaches fourteen months, they will have developed their own coping strategy.


Self-Rewarding Behaviour

You can change a dog’s behaviour through training but that does not mean that you have changed how they feel. The dog alone has sole responsibility of their emotions. 

You need to provide situations and environment where they can learn to take this responsibility. Giving the dog time and space to assess a perceived problem situation themselves, without human interference, will allow this to happen.


If they choose to drive the dog away by showing aggression, they will experience a sense of relief. It is the feeling of relief that reinforces this behaviour. There is no need for treats, toys; it is a self-rewarding behaviour.


If provided with the right environment, the dog can learn that not showing aggression is a also self-rewarding behaviour; without the need for toys or treats or praise from the owner. You want your dog to stop any anti-social behaviour of their own volition thus learning how positive they feel for doing so. 


The dog learns that the being aggressive is a negative feeling where as not being aggressive is a positive feeling. On realising this, most dogs choose the behaviour that creates the positive feeling – not being aggressive. 


There are, of course, always exceptions. Some dogs bred for fighting become over aroused the longer they are in an 'aggressive' situation. In this instance, a more structured approach may be needed.


With dog to dog social issues, Angela works with Teaching Dogs. Teaching Dogs will guide and support your dog, initially on one a one to one basis and then in a class environment. Teaching Dogs communicate with other dogs far better than we ever can. My Teaching Dogs will gain your dog's trust and respect in a way they understand. Once trust and respect is established, your dog will learn from the Teaching Dogs how to communicate and therefore relax in a situation that previously they found threatening. 


In time, your dog will learn how to cope with the most difficult situations they would encounter whilst out exercising, in this safe and controlled environment. These could be seeing another dog in the distance and seeing another dog appear suddenly in front of them. Your dog will learn how to cope on and off lead. 


Will your dog be punished?
NO! All my training is reward based and I operate in the spirit of understanding and co-operation. No choke chains, no force.  


Can you can teach an old dog new tricks?
Do not feel that your dog is a hopeless case if he has had a problem for some time, or is an older dog.  A little understanding and training can work wonders. And give you and your dog the freedom to live a happier, fuller life together. 


It's never the dog's fault, always the owner's. True or false?
False! If your dog did not havean issue, you would not be having a problem with your dog. However, even the most caring owners can inadvertently reinforce a dog's anti-social behaviour. But you must not blame yourself for your dog's problem and feel it is all your fault.


Three Steps to Success 


Initial Assessment 

You would attend a shared visit, here in Somerset . Your dog will, of course, be worked individually.  However, you will find that you will learn just as much from watching other people's dogs. It is a very informal day where tea and coffee are provided.  You just need to bring your own lunch. 


Your first visit is primarily to assess your dog and the problem at hand. Then a rehabiitation programme will be  desgned specifically for you and your dog.At the end of the day, you will be given written guidelines of how to begin rehabilitation in the home environment.


A report will follow within a couple of weeks with full details of the assessment and the rehabilitation programme. Start time is 11am and will finish around three if there are two dogs. Telephone and email support is offered for the rest of your dog's life. 


Follow up meeting
At the second meeting, you will begin the initial stages of their rehabilitation programme. Your dog will then be integrated into a Communication Class, if they are ready to do so. If they are not ready to join a group, one to one sessions will continue until such time that they are. 


Communication Classes
At the Communication Classes, your dog will mix with other dogs and learn how to communicate with them. They will meet many other dogs and will learn how to speak to them in a socially acceptable manner. Only a dog can teach another dog canine communication.


What they need to learn from the other dogs is canine etiquette. In time, we will teach your dog how to cope with the most difficult situations they would encounter whilst out exercising, in this safe and controlled environment. These could be seeing another dog in the distance and seeing another dog appear suddenly in front of them. Your dog will be taught how to cope in these situations both on and off lead. In time, they will transfer what they have learnt in the classes to walking in day to day living. 

The Dog Partnership 2011

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