Dog Behaviorist Toronto

Fear, Aggression, and Anxiety – Behavior Modification for Dogs

We apply the same scientifically sound principles and methods used in obedience training for helping dogs with behavior issues.  We’ll help you help your dog overcome fear, aggression, hyperactivity, and destructive behavior without the use of force, intimidation, or pain.

Common Behaviour Issues

  • Reactivity, fear and aggression towards other dogs
  • Reactivity, fear and aggression towards strangers, children, or inanimate objects
  • Separation Anxiety
  • Handling Sensitivity (grooming, touching, nail trimming, touching)
  • Resource Guarding (protectiveness towards toys, bones, or stolen objects)
  • Territorial Behaviour (barking at the doorbell)

What We Help You With

  • Understanding why your dog is behaving the way it does
  • Teaching you the underlying principles of how to humanely and effectively treat the issue
  • Training you to implement the exercises and protocols required to help your dog over the long-term

Key Principles

  • Focus on the dog’s emotional attitude, not its behaviour – Helping an animal overcome fear and aggression requires slowly teaching the dog to tolerate, and eventually like what it currently is afraid of or hates.  Punishing a dog using a choke or shock collar may stop barking and lunging but it does not change the dog’s emotional attitude towards whatever it doesn’t like.
  • Set the dog up for success – Don’t put the dog in a situation where it rehearses bad behavior, and reward the dog for making good choices.
  • Manage the environment – Don’t put the dog in an environment where its triggers are too intense for it to handle
  • Empower owners – Long-term behavioral modification requires consistency and patience.  Our goal is to train owners so they become as good at behavioral modification as we are.
  • Approaches used:  Classical Counter-Conditioning, Systematic Desensitization, Differential Reinforcement of Alternative Behavior, Operant Conditioning with Functional Rewards
Pavlovian Conditioning

Pavlovian Conditioning

Systematic Desensitization

Systematic Desensitization

Operant Conditioning

Operant Conditioning

The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior recommends the following:

AVSAB’s position is that punishment (e.g. choke chains, pinch collars, and electronic collars) should not be used as a first-line or early-use treatment for behavior problems. This is due to the potential adverse effects which include but are not limited to: inhibition of learning, increased fear-related and aggressive behaviors, and injury to animals and people interacting with animals.

AVSAB recommends that training should focus on reinforcing desired behaviors, removing the reinforcer for inappropriate behaviors, and addressing the emotional state and environmental conditions driving the undesirable behavior.

Click Here for the full AVSAB position statement on the use of Punishment in Behavior Modification.


What We Do Not Use

  • Leash corrections – on any collar – flat, martingale, choke, pinch/prong, shock, citronella collars
  • Physical violence – hitting the dog, shaking the dog, kicking the dog, flipping the dog on its back
  • Intimidation – yelling at the dog, throw-chains in bags, pop cans full of pennies
  • Approaches we do not use:  Flooding, physical or psychological forms of punishment, suppression

Examples of Behavior Modification

Good behavior modification:  Tucker learns to love getting his nails clipped




Next Steps:

Behaviour consults are done on a private-lesson basis either in-school or in-home (or in the environment where the behaviour manifests itself).  If you have questions please email, but please note that it would be irresponsible of us to provide specific advice without establishing a client relationship and conducting a full review of the dog’s history. If you are ready to move ahead, take a look at the details under our Private Training page.

Ready to Start?

Please take a look at our rates/requirements for Private Lessons by clicking the button to the right.