A Teaching Dog has an instinctive desire to guide and support dogs through their social learning; in particular those who are experiencing social difficulties. It is essential to understand that a Teaching Dog is not a dog that can work with aggressive dog. Some Teaching Dogs are comfortable working with aggressive dogs, but many are not.
The majority of Teaching Dogs would not choose to work with aggression, but sadly many are ‘used’ for working with aggressive dogs, just because they can. These dogs are not teachers, they have simply been put in a situation where they have no choice but to ‘deal’ with a situation.
Many dogs can communicate how they feel in the presence of another dog, but often they do engage in conversation. For example, if a dog is running and barking towards another dog, for whatever reason, the other dog may react defensively. The ability to defuse the situation is solely dependent on whether the dogs are able ‘talk’ to each other. To defuse the tension, there needs to be, in effect, an apology from the over-enthusiastic dog and an acknowledgment and acceptance of the apology from the other dog.
A Teaching Dog will consciously use appropriate body language in a situation. They will always maintain control of an interaction but will change their body posture from assertive to more inviting, in accordance to the other dog's behaviour. They teach the dog essential ‘phrases’; such as asking a dog to move away, come closer, invite social games, predatory games and how to ask another dog to stop interacting with them.
Teaching Dogs will assess how the other dog feels and respond accordingly. They keep their distance if the dog is concerned, and approach thoughtfully when the dog relaxes. I say thoughtfully because this is really important to understand; Teaching Dogs actively think about how to interact with a dog. The Teaching Dog should not be controlled by people in anyway. The progression of the dog’s learning is the sole responsibility of the Teaching Dog. People just watch and learn.