Teaching the Reactive Dog Class


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What’s It About?

Typically, people with dogs that bark and lunge at strangers or other dogs live in a bubble of fear, hopelessness, and frustration. After years of experience working with countless clients and their reactive dogs, and with Ben, her own aggressive dog, award-winning author Emma Parsons has found a better way to help even more owners and their dogs: by carefully orchestrating controlled exposures to triggers in a class setting.

A whole class full of reactive dogs sounds like a recipe for disaster, but it is precisely the formula of bringing these frazzled owners together with their dogs in one room that makes the class work so well. Emma, her assistants, and her students form a supportive community dedicated to helping each other and keeping everyone safe. Enveloped in empathy, students learn to train their dogs to tolerate progressively greater exposures to their classmates.

Teaching a reactive dog class is not for the inexperienced or the faint of heart; the challenges are many, but the rewards are great. In Teaching the Reactive Dog Class, Emma presents an entire six-week curriculum you can adjust to your needs. This blueprint for instructors and staff and for go-it-alone owners of reactive dogs offers:

  • a week-by-week guide to class goals, key concepts, and crucial exercises
  • practical advice about what to do when things go wrong
  • a set of accompanying weekly student handouts of exercises (also available as downloadable PDFs)
  • background and principles every instructor should know
  • guidelines for recruiting, training, and using class assistants
  • special requirements for students
  • detailed recommendations for continuing training once students have completed the class.

About the Author

When Emma Parsons, canine trainer and behavior consultant, discovered that her own prized golden retriever was aggressive toward other dogs and that traditional remedies took his reactivity to nightmarish levels, she turned to clicker training. In the process, Emma developed innovative and highly effective strategies to calm, alter, and re-shape her dog’s aggressive displays. Her work has since helped many clients successfully reduce and even erase their dogs’ reactivity.

Published- 2014 Karen Pryor Clicker Training


Emma was our biggest cheerleader. Without her classes and help I don’t know where we would be. Once a skeptic, I am now a believer. I only wish I had discovered Emma and clicker training sooner!” —Jen Lihzis, student

Emma helped me learn about thresholds, gave me tools to help heal my dog, encouraged me through the downs, and gave great exercises to have fun with your dog while building your skills to help cope with life.” —Tish Webb, student


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