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Emma Parsons, KPA CTP, APDT, CDBC has been training dogs for more than 20 years, and is currently the Canine Behavior Training Consultant for the VCA Rotherwood Animal Hospital in Newton, MA.

She specializes in managing and rehabilitating the reactive and aggressive dog.

Emma is a faculty member of Karen Pryor Academy for Animal Training & Behavior as well as of the Karen Pryor ClickerExpo conferences.

She gives "Click to Calm" seminars around the world, teaching others how to manage and rehabilitate reactive and aggressive dogs.

She is a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC).

Emma holds a BA degree from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, and shares her life with her husband, Greg, and their four clicker-trained dogs—three Goldens, Lizzie-Taylor, Kayden-Blue, Austyn-Roque, and a Papillion, Wylie-Rae.

clicktocalm 256aThe “Click to Calm” methodology teaches the handler how to communicate and interact with her dog safely in a formerly challenging environment. In turn, the dog learns how to keep himself safe by maintaining emotional self-control. Instead of the dog reacting at the end of his leash, he remains a thinking dog and gives his attention directly to the handler. Once this happens, the handler can then insert alternate or incompatible behaviors for him to perform. Eventually the cue of the aversive stimulus (commonly strangers and other dogs) becomes the cue, in and of itself, to give the handler voluntary eye contact.


Karen Pryor Academy Certified Trainer Partner (KPA-CTP)

International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (CDBC)


The Animal Welfare Management Alliance 2004


Click to Calm: Healing the Aggressive Dog

Teaching a Reactive Dog Class: The Journey From Reactivity to Reliability

TACTA Training Program for Dogs that Are Fearful or Reactive Toward People

Clean Run Magazine


Warner Brothers 56

New England Cable News

Boston Neighborhood Network

Creatively Speaking, Animal Talk Radio

Animal Corner Radio, TX


Clicker Expo from 2003 to present

Tufts Canine Behavior Symposium

New England Federation of Humane Societies

Interdisciplinary Forum for Applied Animal Behaviorists

Midwest Veterinary Conference

Tails U Win

Surefire Dog Training

Masterpeace Dog Training

Association of Pet Dog Trainers



  Alaska Calgary
  Connecticut England
  Massachusetts Paris, France 
  Missouri Holland
  Maine Barcelona and Madrid, Spain
  North Carolina Sweden
Ohio Prague, Czech Republic
Pennsylvania Sao Paulo, Brazil
  Rhode Island  



VCA Rotherwood Animal Hospital, Veterinary Technician

Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue, Adoption Intake Coordinator

New England Dog Training Club, Beginner Obedience Instructor


Courses Starting January 2015 (starting: January, July, & October).

For more details, contact Karen Pryor Academy at


Teaching Reactive Dog & Control Unleashed Classes at Masterpeace Dog Training in Franklin, MA since 2005

Teaching "Calming Your Canine" & Control Unleashed Classes at the MSPCA in Methuen, MA

Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts: Clicker Training Classes for Graduate Students


Golden Retriever Club of America

Yankee Golden Retriever Club

Association of Pet Dog Trainers

International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants

Dog Writer’s Association of America

The Animal Behavior Management Alliance


New England Dog Training Club, President, Training Director

American Kennel Club Delegate for NEDTC

Eastern Bayside Cluster Committee Show Trial Chairperson

Massachusetts Federation of Dog Owners, Treasurer

Heritage Trail Keeshond Club, President


Mystic Charmed Lizzie-Taylor, NA, NAJ, OA, OAJ, AX, AXJ, CGC, BN, CD, USDAA Starters

Performance Jumper, CD-C

Golden Retriever Club of America Agility Nationals, First Place Winner Excellent Standard Division, October 2013

Bittersweet Chocolate’s Lickety-Split, NA, NAJ

Darcroft Casey-Lynn, CD, CGC, ThDx

Just in the Nick of Time, CD, CGC  

Participated in the Eastern Regional Dog Obedience Championship, July 1999

  Zens Austyn This Boy's Got Drive, NA, NAJ, OA, OAJ, AX, AXJ




1)             What is the training method used?

a.  Clicker training: This is a positive reinforcement training system where a marker signal is used (the click) to tell the dog precisely what it is doing right at that exact moment in time.

2)             Why is clicker training preferred?

a.  It is preferred because it is very important to have the ability to mark the pieces of the behavior that are desired. The sound of the clicker calms the amygdala of the brain as well as possibly interrupting the impending explosive reaction.

3)             Will the over-reactivity/aggression be cured?

a. Although reactivity/aggression can be greatly improved, it is never cured. The dog may choose to not partake in those behaviors again but like all living beings his behavior is never guaranteed.

4)             How can the dog progress in his training?

a.  The dog progresses by constantly learning new skills and by being exposed to new challenging environments.

5)             What are Foundation behaviors and how are they used?

a.  Foundation behaviors are those behaviors that will be inserted into the space where the dog formerly lunged and barked. Examples are name recognition, eye contact, heeling, get behind the handler, etc… All will be put on cue before the handler needs to actually use them.

6)             Do I have to use a clicker forever?

a.  No, just until the behavior becomes a habit in several different environments. 

7)             What if I don’t want to use food?

a.  You need to find out what your dog will happily and willingly work for. Food is popular because it is easy to carry and is a primary reinforcement. Play and petting can also be used very effectively.

8)             How long will this take? How many lessons?

a.  Impossible to know. The more complicated the behavior issue, the more lessons might be required. Most dogs respond immediately to clicker training while others take a bit longer.

9)             What type of equipment should be used?

a.  Collar of some kind. Prong and choke collars are not permitted.

                                               i.  Preferably buckle, harness (front clip), head collar and/or Martingale

b. Leash: No Flexi’s please!!!!

c.  Treat pouch

                                               i.  Something as simple as a nail apron from Home Depot will do.

d.  Your dog’s favorite treats!

10)          What if I still want to use my prong collar?

a.  Still make the appointment. No client will be turned away.

11)          Can I still walk in the woods or hike with my dog?

a.  Initially you will not want to expose your dog to environments where dogs or strangers will come up to your dogs randomly. We are trying to teach the dogs to trust us, and if dogs or strangers are constantly badgering your dog, your dog will never trust you. Your role is to protect.

12)          If I want to pursue this type of training, but my family is not on board, can my dog still learn?

a.  Your dog can still learn as long as none of the family members will sabotage the effort.

13)          Why is positive punishment contraindicated?

a.  Positive punishment carries the risk of potentially causing several side effects: hyper-vigilance, 
irrational fear, impulsive/explosive behavior, hyperactivitysocial avoidance, aggression with slight provocation, loss of sensitivity, and 
depressed mood.

14)          Why do you prefer to meet at a training facility the first time?

a.  The initial consult is done at SureFire Dogs in Westborough or Masterpeace Dog Training in Franklin, because it is an easier place for the client to focus on the lessons. After the initial consult, it will be determined whether or not it will be helpful to go to the home for the next appointment.