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Click to Calm: Healing the Aggressive Dog (Karen Pryor Clicker Book) Paperback – December 15, 2004

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Editorial Reviews


"A breath of fresh air. Emma Parsons's presents practical applications gained through years of experience." -- Ken Ramirez, VP for marine mammal programs and animal training, Shedd Aquarium, Chicago

"Clear and easy "recipes" for success make Click to Calm a must read for pet class instructors and owners." -- Fran Masters MEd, CPDT, NADOI, MasterPeace Dog Training

"Here is the soundest, kindest, and most practical advice available." --Karen Pryor, author, Don't Shoot the Dog!

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Product Details

  • Series: Karen Pryor Clicker Book
  • Paperback: 181 pages
  • Publisher: Sunshine Books (December 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1890948209
  • ISBN-13: 978-1890948207
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #43,648 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

149 of 151 people found the following review helpful By John Buginas on October 9, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book contains excellent descriptions of techniques that helped me make noticeable progress with my own difficult dog.

If you carefully apply techniques from this book, and have access to 'bomb proof' dogs you could have similar success. You must have patience and access to appropriate dogs for the techniques to work. The book is clear that things take time and must be taken in tiny increments. Don't rush things!

Some of the techniques are covered in other books, but the way this book is organized in 'Recipes', makes this book one of the more valuable in my collection. Also, Parsons really gets into the way things need to change on both ends of the leash.

Two years ago a difficult dog landed in my life. I have been working with her for two years and made noticeable progress using the techniques in this book; I wish I had found it earlier.

Very recently we graduated to using Parson's drills where you have your dog approach and touch a bomb-proof dog. We practiced this many, many times ... progress has been amazing. She now can approach many other dogs, touch, and returns to me.

She still has a long way to go and I doubt she'll be a dog-park diva, but I've started taking her to fun matches in rally and agility and both she (and I) can now cope with the crowds and make it through the events.
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141 of 148 people found the following review helpful By Mary K. Woodward on February 4, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was recommended to me by a student at my obedience school and I believe that anyone who is knowledgeable with clicker training (and who has taken the time to read the entire book) will find it to be extremely valuable. The author first shares her own experiences, which are humbling yet very interesting, then proceeds to give incredibly valuable advice. Her "recipes" are clear and concise - refreshing for us experienced trainers and lifesavers for inexperienced dog owners. She covers so many topics relating to inappropriate aggression in dogs, including general dog-dog and dog-people (including children) aggression, resource guarding, and multiple dog households. She gives solid advice for managing the household and for training new behaviors. One of the best chapters is near the end, where she describes what some people in the dog world refer to as NILIF (or, Nothing In Life Is Free). This program, in which a dog learns that humans really do control everything important to him, and therefore he had better start complying, is proven and very, very effective. Yet the dog is never hurt... instead the dog-human bond is strengthened (or created!). Although most of what she wrote was familiar to me, I found myself really appreciating some of her insights.

My only criticism is that I didn't see mention of the importance of having a dog thoroughly checked by a vet for possible medical reasons for aggression, nor was there information on proper nutrition which can play a part in a dog's behavior.

Thanks, Emma Parsons, for adding to the growing list of books designed for people dedicated to working with our beloved canines in only positive ways. Since punishment only ever suppresses behavior, never actually extinguishing the desire for it, positive reinforcement is the only way to go if you are committed to working with your aggressive dog.

Mary Woodward, APDT

Greenwood Dog Training School


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82 of 84 people found the following review helpful By Rob B on February 14, 2005
Format: Paperback
I've been training dogs for several years now and work with many clients that have aggressive dogs. Unfortunately the number of aggression cases seems to be on the increase amongst the dog public. Fortunately Emma Parsons has come along and written a book that is easy to follow and extremely informative, regardless of the reader's training experience or knowledge.

People and trainers that are still mired in the techniques and beliefs of 20 years ago may scoff at the ideas presented, but there is a difference between a trainer with 20 years experience and a trainer with 1 year of experience repeated for 20 years. Being a professional dog trainer means keeping up on current research, technique, and theory and not holding on to the same old out-dated theories and techniques such as dominance and leash corrections because they worked "back in the day". Scientific studies have shown that dogs trained with a mechanical event marker (what we call a clicker) learn up to 4 times faster than dogs who are told "Yes" or "Good Dog!" when they do something right. As an owner and a trainer I would want to give my dog every advantage possible, especially when dealing with aggression. For some trainers to discount clicker training as a fad or only good for "some dogs" shows just how uninformed and out-of-date those people are.

Emma presents a compelling narrative history with her dog Ben and shows the mistakes that novice dog owners make. She shares in an honest manner the trainers she came across and the advice she was given, both good and bad. Working with Ben was a journey. "Click to Calm" takes the reader on that journey and shows that even a new dog owner can work through these issues with the right guidance and supervision.
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237 of 263 people found the following review helpful By A reader on July 1, 2005
Format: Paperback
"Click to Calm" begins by describing the history of Emma Parson's own dog Ben. The author describes a typical puppy who started to display aggressive and pushy behaviour as he entered adolescence. Ms Parson booked a lesson with a "traditional" trainer who punished Ben severely with a prong collar, which only escalated his problem. In "Click to Calm" Ms Parsons describes the purely positive methods she used to cure Ben of this learned fear.

The author describes how to use a clicker to teach several basic "groundwork" behaviours, such as focus and recall. She suggests way that readers can use classical conditioning to improve a dogs' emotional reaction to the presence of other dogs, and describes ways to reduce aggression by clicking appropriate behaviour. There is a section on managing a multi-dog house hold, and a chapter on aggression towards humans.

My main disapointment with this book was the fact that it focuses almost entirely on fear aggressive dogs. The author does not address health issues that can lead to aggression, and spends little time discussing dogs who are rank aggressive with other dogs, or who attack small dogs out of misplaced prey drive.

I realise this focus does make sense for a "purely positive" book, since purely positive training probably does work better for dogs who would rather not be fighting as opposed to dogs who have learned to find fighting rewarding. However I do wish the promotional material had admitted that the book was mainly about fearful dogs, instead of somewhat dishonestly promising "answers for anyone facing this most challenging behaviour problem".

I would recommend this book to anyone with a FEAR aggressive dog. The theory is sensible, and the exercises are laid out in logical and easy to understand format. The author's knowledge of learning theory and experience with fear aggressive dogs would make this a valuable reference book for owners of many dogs.
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