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What’s the difference between obedience training and behavior modification?

Obedience training teaches your dog to perform specific cued behaviors, while behavior modification addresses your dog’s reaction to a particular person, place, or thing.

How does behavior modification work? 

A common error is to address a presenting behavior without treating the underlying cause. A good comparison would be to treat pneumonia with cough syrup. You’ll get rid of the cough, but the underlying illness would still be there! Furthermore, the pneumonia would likely worsen since the primary presenting behavior (coughing) would be suppressed. Eliminating a dog’s aggressive behavior like growling, lunging or shallow bites will not resolve his aggression – it will only suppress the obvious signals. The dog will still experience the same emotions but loses his ability to communicate through warning signals. This is often the case when a dog “bites out of the blue” – he was previously punished for growling.


Behavior modification investigates why your dog reacts the way he does, as well as what triggers his response. When we know what is triggering your dog to react and why, we can intervene and address the underlying cause.


How do I know whether my dog needs obedience training or behavior modification?

If you’re interested in training your dog to perform cues like Stay, Come, Heel, etc., then obedience training will help you reach your goals. Behavior modification addresses issues like fearfulness or aggression. R+K9 can help whether your dog needs obedience training, behavior modification, or both!

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