When you bring a dog into your life, you’ve probably spent plenty of time imagining delightful walks in the park, games of frisbee in the backyard, and naps together in front of the fire. Many of us also want a dog who will play well with kids and get along with guests, while still alerting us to the presence of intruders or other dangers.
These dreams fall short when our new pet struggles with anxiety, fear or aggression. While a lack of basic skills and poor impulse control can contribute to undesirable behavior, the problems sometimes go deeper than that. Most aggression stems from fear and, just as with humans, some dogs are naturally more anxious. Understanding when your pet needs behavior modification vs. obedience training is key to a happy and harmonious life with man’s best friend.
Behavior Modification vs. Obedience
Obedience training (learning basic commands such as “sit”’ and “stay”) is essential for the safety and happiness of any dog. Obedience training should ideally begin during puppyhood, but dogs of any age can learn basic commands with time, patience, and dedication.
The differences between behavior modification vs. obedience training become apparent when issues go beyond simply needing to learn commands. The following behaviors may indicate that your dog is a candidate for behavior modification but please consult a professional before labeling your dog:
- Refusing to take a favorite treat
- Pinned back ears
- Tucked tail
- Stiff posture
The Fear Factor
Regardless of whether a dog has come from a loving or abusive background, they can still fall victim to fear and anxiety, which can lead to undesirable behaviors such as aggression, hiding, and avoidance of people. Dealing with an animal’s fears should be a top priority when it comes to correcting these behaviors.
Behavior modification is designed to address underlying issues through counter-conditioning, desensitization, and positive reinforcement, all of which are based on the latest scientific studies. Dogs in need of behavior modification benefit from an individualized approach and plan to help them transition to being confident and happy.
It’s important to note that some of a dog’s undesirable behaviors may be the result of an underlying health or environmental issue. We recommend seeing a veterinarian for a wellness exam to rule out any physical problems prior to beginning any new training or behavior modification program.
ULPS Can Help!
At Union Lake Pet Services, our goal is to bridge the gap between people and their pets! Rebecca Lane, KPA-CTP, CPDT-KPA, one of our certified trainers, focuses on helping anxious, fearful or aggressive dogs, and she will work with you to get to the root of the problem and get your pet back on track and enjoying life once again.
Rebecca has been a part of the Union Lake training team since 2012. Her passion for dogs with behavioral problems is fueled by her own quirky Jack Russell Terrier, Leo. When she saw that Leo had issues, she sought out the advice and expertise of Union Lake’s training team and veterinary staff for help. After working with Leo and seeing how many other owners were dealing with similar issues, she began studying options for dogs with behavioral problems.
Rebecca is a certified Professional Trainer through the Karen Pryor Clicker Training Academy. In 2017, Rebecca also became certified through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers as a Certified Professional Dog Trainer.
Rebecca currently runs our behavior training department which includes the following services: Quirky K9s class, private in-home behavior modification, private in-facility behavior modification, and drop-off training services. She takes pride in using positive training techniques that are based on modern scientific studies and that are completely force free. Her personal goal in any of these programs is to improve the quality of life for the dog and therefore improving the quality of life for the owner.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to Rebecca or our staff with questions or to set up an appointment.