Fearful Fido Resources

Welcome to the resource centre for the Fearful Fido Classes

Fearful Fido Classes – Classes designed to help dogs and people understand aggression, deal with it effectively and reduce reactivity. Sussex County Dog Training only uses kind and effective methods of training. No punishment is used to change how the reactive and fearful dogs in the classes behave. Fearful Fido classes encourage friendship and fun. A sense of humor will really help and keeps us all smiling. Both dogs and humans should enjoy all the training which helps them effectively improve troubling behaviour patterns.

Here is a selection of resources for use when dealing with challenging behaviours from your dog. You may have been directed here by your Sussex County Dog Training instructor or you may have found this resource centre by browsing. 

Here are some video’s which relate to your one to one training for Aggression towards dogs and/or people. The stimuli which makes your dog react is interchangeable so even if they are working with dogs in one of these video’s and your dog reacts to children the theory and basic principles still apply to you.  

Counter Conditioning 

Dr.Yin’s Animal Behaviour and Medicine Video’s – Training Aggression? Counter-conditioning a Dog to like or tolerate something the dog was previously aggressive towards. Counter conditioning changes the dogs emotional state towards the thing or stimuli they were previously aggressive towards, dislike turns to like or at least tolerate. 


Learn more about why dogs perform the behaviours they do and what shapes how dogs learn: 

Four Quadrants of Operant Conditioning 

Opearant and Classical conditioning 

More Reading Material on Counter Conditioning: 


This is a wonderful video on how we should teach dogs different behaviours. It explains it in a flow chart form – although it is a little technical on the language I really like it and if you can digest it and use the steps when teaching your dogs the new things you want them to do (instead of the old things you don’t want them to do) you will progress very quickly. A printable version can be found on www.behaviorworks.org
The Video and resource is by James Fritzler and Susan Friedman, PhD. 


BAT (Behavior Adjustment Training) 

by Grisha Stewart 

Using environmental rewards to treat dog-dog aggression. IOW, the reward for non-aggressive behavior is to allow the dog to have more distance to the other dog. The actual reward it is seeking, since dog-dog aggression is actually the aggressive dog seeking to drive away the dog it’s afraid of creating distance between itself and it’s object of fear. In this case, the reward is to allow the dog (Cassie) to have more distance. 


Joel Walton is posing as our “scary stranger” for more BAT training.  


LAT (Look at That) 

By Leslie McDevitt, Control Unleashed 

Teaching the dog it will receive a reward for looking at the scary stimuli. This counter conditions the dogs fears: for example dogs do not mean to the reactive dog - dog fights and being scared. They now mean treats and nice things happen. Looking at the dog (or what ever stimuli evokes a reaction in your dog) means that the dog does not become more stressed due to being told to simply ignore the other dog – suppressing its behaviour or not knowing where the scary dog is because it must “leave it” and thus not look at it. Looking at the scary dog pairs the rewards with that dog for the reactive patient/dog. More information on counter conditioning can be found below. 

The same as the BAT training, LAT training works only when the dog is kept “below threshold” – this means the distance and intensity the reactive dog is away from the dog they are scared of is such that they do not react. Enough distance to stop the dog reacting and mild enough intensity to stop the dog reacting. These videos are great because they demonstrate so well what happens when you are too close, dog stops listening to handler and almost refuses food….they got too close but no barking etc was seen. It’s still too close because we require the reactive dog to be under no stress if possible.  Check out the Blog Homepage for more details on stress (June 2011)

The problem:    Yoshi Before Control Unleashed: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZSOFsbR4fc
Yoshi Plays “Look At That” (LAT): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tszZFaJvPLA 

Video : Learning “Let’s Go” and how to put it in to real life 

 ”Let’s Go” is a great tool about changing direction with your dog and getting your dog to follow you away from the stimuli that normally makes your dog react or even a tool to use when your dog is reacting towards a dog or person etc. Simply turn away from the stimuli and encourage your dog to come with you. Mark the behaviour either with a click or a marking word such as “yes” when the dog turns its head to follow you. The rest of the dog will follow. Practice without the scary stimuli around so both yourself and your dog become very confident with this move. Make sure you do it regularly not just when there are other dogs or people around so that your do does not learn to associate the “let’s go” cue with “here comes a dog” or similar. 

Great video by Emily Larlham, she explains this tool plus has some nice tips and practical hints with regards to some of the other teqniques you can use on a walk.. Check out her web site www.dogmantics.com 


Video : Teaching “Find it” and “Relax on the Mat” 

As taught in this video by Kim Moeller, “Find It” and “Relax on the Mat” are used as part of Fearful Fido classes every week but also are fantastic tools for any reactive dog. 


Find It 

Find it teaches the dog to keep their head down and search out the tasty treat. It counter conditions by pairing nice treats when scary things are around. It teaches loose lead heel work, making the dog less likely to react if it see’s something scary. It distracts and helps you leave an area where something scary is on a good note without reaction (hopefully).    

“Relax on the Mat” or “Taught Calm” 

Used to prevent reactions “Relax on the Mat” is a useful tool to keep the dog calm in a training environment but also around the house. When trying to alter dog behaviour preventing practice is very important. This means stopping the incidences when the dog may react towards things it doesn’t like. Such as barking out the front window at dogs when they walk by when the dog is reactive to dogs on lead when out. Using relax on the mat we can keep the dog under control in environments where they are not going anywhere (unlike a walk) but might happen to react to something were they not relaxing on their mat. This also teaches the very stressed dogs how to relax – something they may not find very easy. 

Video : Relaxing or capturing calmness by Emily Larlham 

This video is a tutorial on how to teach your puppy or dog to be calm. It is not designed specifically for reactive dogs but is a very thorough video and is excellent for teaching dogs to truly relax. Of course where Emily uses another dog as a distraction would NOT be appropriate if you are taking part in Fearful Fido classes unless it’s a dog your dog really likes.

Some dogs need help to learn how to relax. Calmness does not come naturally to some breeds .By reinforcing your dog for being calm, your dog will start to choose calmer behaviors in the future and actually enjoy being calm.
Tips for teaching a Default Settle:
Don’t drop treats if the dog looks up at your hand as you move to give the dog the treat, instead try again later.
Don’t cue the dog “down”. It works better if the dog figures it out on his own and CHOOSES to lay down.
Use high value treats like real meat or cheese for such a wonderful behavior 

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