Behavior Vs. Obedience

To Do or Not To Do? That Is the Question

Many people have come to us unsure or confused about the differences between obedience training and behavior training. No worries. We at 2SpeakDog can help you understand the differences, as we use both methods in our approach to training. Understanding the nuances of obedience and behavior can help you and your pooch develop a productive dialogue. Learning “2SpeakDog,” builds the foundation for wagging tails and a happy household.

Generally, obedience involves teaching your dog to do something while behavior is about teaching your dog not to do something. While obedience and behavior training look the same, the goal, outcome and reward structure are very different. Let's take a closer look at these two approaches, as both are important.

Do This

Obedience training uses commands that we teach our dogs when we want them to do something quickly when prompted by a verbal command or hand signal. These are basics like: sit, down, stay. This is typically taught in a classroom setting such as our AKC Star Puppy classes, intermediate classes or even one-on-one during a home visit. Obedience should start as soon as you adopt your new puppy or dog. This is the foundation you both will work from moving forward. While coaching your pup to focus his attention on you with obedience training, it is also teaching you the first steps of how “2SpeakDog.” By learning to speak your dog’s language as they are learning to speak yours, you will create a strong, lasting bond.

Don't Do That (And Why'd You Do That?!)

Behavior modification differs from obedience in that it alters the physiological and psychological state of the dog that obedience training cannot address. It seeks to identify the root cause of unwanted behavior. Once you understand this, you can move on to teaching them not to engage in unwanted behavior in the first place. For example, if your dog bolts out of the door every time you open it, you can use your “come” command to get him back. However, the real issue that needs to be addressed is why your pooch is making a mad dash through the door in the first place. Sometimes we have a tendency to ignore the root cause of behavior opportunities, simply because the end result “isn't that big of a deal.” We at 2SpeakDog encourage you to understand and control the root cause of undesirable behavior through modification. Obedience combined with behavior modification results in a well-balanced dog that begins to think for itself and make the right choices without commands.

Be the Change

Once you understand the basics of obedience and behavior modification, you are ready to take your ability “2SpeakDog” up a level. Typically, a dog will mirror your behavior, so using body language and neutral energy to create calm for your dog is a critical factor in their behavioral and obedience success. You should also work to identify any underlining medical and environmental issues as well as potential breed predispositions. Should they be present, a behavior specialist has the ability to step in and help change the emotions producing problematic behavior as well as the behavior itself. It's important to understand that behaviors can be triggered by a multitude of factors. Acknowledging them and exploring new ways to interact with your dog ultimately determines how they behave. Pet owners tend to foster unwanted behaviors without even knowing it, so awareness is key. Sometimes, unfortunate relationship dynamics are to blame and it's up to the owner to engage the appropriate resources to work out communication kinks. We've all been known to spoil our pups or treat them like humans occasionally, but too much of this can be detrimental for their development. Knowing when and how to show your dog affection can greatly impact their behavior.

As you can see, a big part of your dog’s obedience and behavior modification can mean altering your behavior too. It's important to keep in mind as you move through the journey 2SpeakDog, that you are a student not only preparing for the current challenges you and your dog are facing, but also for those that may present themselves in the future. You should open yourself to learning with your pup and experience positive changes together. There are no quick fixes and you can prepare for lots of hard work. The good news is that the payoff is a well-balance, happy dog and happy household.