Are you an emotional type person? I am; and because of that I pay strict attention to my emotions, especially when working with dogs. Lots of dogs are emotional as well; some are not. It is of utmost importance when working with dogs to use and control your emotions. I have often stormed into a room looking for something when I noticed my dogs were acting very wary of me. Once I stopped and watched them for a while I realized then what was going on; they thought I was mad.
So how you use your emotions means a whole lot to your dog. And you can use your emotions to your benefit; as we can pretend. Dogs are not good pretenders nor are they liers so what you see is what is going on. I have worked with dogs who displayed emotions from severe fear to pure guarding aggression and everything in between; and I do my best to monitor my emotions accordingly.
There was one time several years back that I had a real issue with a dog. I was in Kelowna, BC and while my husband attended a conference I strolled the beach with my camera. On the way back I noticed that a large black chow mix was chasing and lunging at a jogger; she was having quite a time when the dog noticed me and charged. Knowing full well what my options were I tried the calm approach and turned sideways and it came at me so at the last minute I turned and stood my ground.
I was really left with a stare down, moving towards the dog kept it at a distance of about 5 feet; no further. If I tried to move away in any manner it came at me; so there was definitely a degree of fear but not enough to make it run away. There I stayed at a stare down literally until it's owner came by and screamed at it. Stupid people; honestly.
But any other time I've had to deal with a dog with issues I've been prepared or able to defuse the situation with some tactic. It really takes an understanding of dog behavior to know what your best move is. Some dogs react in very strange ways to things that are very basic; this can sometimes throw you. This is when you must sit and think; then alter your plan of attack so to speak.
Building confidence is very important; it can be the difference between learning and not. A dog who is constantly fearful can't learn; you must work through the fear and build trust and confidence, only then can a dog relax and understand. A dog who is easily excitable can have a difficult time learning as well; so keeping yourself in a zen like state really helps. Most dogs who are the easily excitable type also deal with a complete hands off method of traububg better than any touching being involved.
Working with aggressive dogs is tricky; even though it is scarey you have to portray yourself as confident and unshaken, it is a must. Many dogs who display aggressively have the wind taken out of their sails when you show no reaction or ignore the behavior. But some aggressive dogs do not stop their aggression except with a similar display and this is where you don't want to go. That is why outsmarting an aggressive dog is truly the only way to do it safely. Challenge a dangerous challenger and you could end up on the loosing end.