The Audax Protocol For Rehabbing Reactive and Aggressive Dogs
Edelweiss is an adult German Shepherd female that has had serious dog aggression to the point of injuring other dogs and has been restrained from biting humans who have put her into a reactive/aggressive state. In this video her owners discuss their experience after just a few short sessions of the Audax Protocol. Work is ongoing but early results are very promising.
Audax Protocol is a low-punishment method of counter conditioning/rehabbing reactive and or aggressive dogs that stems from our work with protection dogs and our understanding of both environmental cuing and environmental reinforcement of behavior.
In the Audax Protocol, we aim to replace aggressive behavior with a pre-planned behavior chain and cause the dog's stress to become a cue for this new behavior rather than the behavior that has been naturally reinforced throughout the dog's life to this point. It is slow methodical work and requires patience and care. We are essentially teaching the dog that the world works a different way than they thought and a different way than has been reinforced by circumstance throughout the dog's life.
Why do we say The Audax Protocol is a "low-punishment" method? This is specifically because we use as little punishment as possible while still using appropriate correction as needed. We have also identified that the stressors or "noxious stimuli," that the dog experiences as triggers for aggression, are (to the dog) many times more punishing than traditional dog training punishments. Because of this, removal of these stimuli or lessening their intensity, when the correct behavior is demonstrated, can yield even better results than punishing bad behaviors.
Does the low-punishment phase of The Audax Protocol finish this work? In some cases yes but perhaps not all cases. What this method does allow us to do is skip over much of the punishment involved in traditional rehab programs and preserve both the dog's sensitivity and drive without the damaging side effects of punishment-intensive methods. If punishment is required to finish the work we find it is far less punishment than would have been needed if the process were started with punishment intensive methods.
Remember: ALWAYS ADVOCATE FOR YOUR DOG!