Did you know their is a difference between Obedience training and Behaviour modification or training? 

What IS the difference?  In short…Obedience Training teaches a dog to comply with a Verbal Command provided by the owner (as long as the owner is present) where  Behaviour Modification allows a dog to learn how to respond to any given context or situation without the need for Verbal Commands or for the owner to even be present.
Through the behaviour modification processes of Counter Conditioning & Systematic Desensitisation, the dogs underlying emotional feelings (Fear, etc.) that have been “fueling” the Undesirable Behaviors can actually be modified to allow the dog more confidence and to feel safer and more secure.  This is just not possible by teaching a dog to Sit on Verbal Command.

Behaviour Modification provides the dog with the opportunity to learn for themselves, which Behaviours will “work” (Reinforcement) and which Behaviours will “not work” (Punishment) in any given context or situation.

So, how does it make sense to hire an Obedience Trainer or sign up for Obedience Training to solve a Fear-Aggression problem? It doesn’t.  

Will training a door-darting dog to Heel on Command prevent them from running through open doors in the future?  No, it won’t.

However, this does not mean that Obedience Training is a waste of time…it’s not.  It’s a great way to build a solid working bond with your dog built on gentle compliance exercises.  It’s just not the type of Training you would be looking for to provide a successful remedy to your dog’s behavioural issues.

I guess if you worked long enough and in countless different environments, over time a truly accomplished Obedience Trainer could potentially get their dog to Sit on Command BEFORE the dog bites someone…but how does this Modify the dogs underlying emotional feelings that are fueling the actual Fear-Response?  It simply doesn’t.   

Be sure to understand what you are “shopping” for when seeking assistance to help you with your dog’s behaviour. 

  • For dogs WITHOUT Behavioural Issues, Obedience Training can be a great way to enhance the working relationship between owner and dog and build in compliance to Verbal Commands.
  • For dogs WITH Behavioural Issues such as Aggression, Fears/Phobias, Hyper-Arousal, etc. Behaviour Modification is the type of training that will actually change the way the dog views their own behaviour with the eventuality of the dog offering a conditioned Desirable Behaviour in place of the previously displayed Undesirable Behaviour.  

In my experience, when dogs (and humans!) figure out “which Behaviour works best” for them in any given situation – they tend to repeat that same Behaviour each and every time they are in a similar situation in the future.  Happy dog, Behaving dog, happy life!!