Lesson 3: “Click to Calm” Basics

81U+3QnzixLClick to calm is a method developed by Emma Parsons – a professional dog clicker trainer who travels the world teaching how this method can help reactive dogs. This method can help any level of reactivity – from dogs who react to gunshots – to dogs who react to thunderstorms – to dogs who react to the sight of cats!

We highly recommend purchasing Emma’s book, Click to Calm: Healing the Aggressive Dog, for a comprehensive understanding, and we put together a short video showing the early steps of the method.

**This video is to demonstrate the method — it does not contain enough information to teach it!**

Our overall goal is to turn the presence of a stimuli such as our barn cat Chelsea (and eventually other cats) into a cue for our dog Britta to come find us and show us a calm behavior. When we began, the sight of Chelsea was a cue for Britta to bark wildly – running from window to window trying to get a better look and ignoring us entirely.

Here is Britta’s progression after around three months:

  1. When Britta sees Chelsea, she barks once or twice then runs to find us.
  2. We grab the box clicker, follow Britta to the window where she saw Chelsea, and start by clicking Britta when she looks out a Chelsea.
  3. As you see in the video, we are soon able to progress. We then click Britta when she looks at Chelsea but then looks back at us.
  4. The final progression we have at this point (there’s more – but it will take some time) is this: Britta looks at Chelsea, looks back at us, we ask for a simple behavior, and then we click and treat.

The first step can take a long time – so don’t despair if you find yourself clicking your dog right after a stimuli happens (visual or auditory) for many months before your dog offers a “look back.” You’ll find more information about this method in Emma’s book – and we’re available to teach this in a lesson.


Click to Calm Chelsea the Cat from Kinna Ohman-Leone on Vimeo.