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Training vs behavior mod


Well-Known Member
This most excellent explanation of the difference between training and b-mod came across my news feed today. Here's the link to the post and a copy and paste of all but the last sentence and picture.


"It's time to share this information again as I see so many misunderstandings regarding what behavior modification is versus training. They truly are two different things.

Let's talk about training versus effecting behavior change. There is a misunderstanding about what these terms actually mean. The word training is often used where behavior modification is what is actually needed. Let's clarify what each one actually means.

Training means teaching your dog to respond to cues such as sit, down, stay, come, etc., when asked, either with a verbal cue or a hand signal. Of course, there are other aspects of training but training generally involves actions that you are going to ask for, or lack of actions in some cases.

Effecting behavior change (behavior modification) is not the same thing. In a nutshell, what this entails is teaching a sentient being to make better choices on their own, typically environmentally cued, so that they can make these better choices in future scenarios where you have previously reinforced a quality choice.
Neither training or behavior modification exist in a vacuum. What that means is that every sentient being has the ability to make a choice in any given context. Just like humans do, dogs have bad days too. Asking for training cues needs to be realistic and involve common sense. The same with behavior modification.
However with effecting behavior change, what you have is a cumulative process, where you are shaping quality choices, while reinforcing for those quality choices, as well as managing the potential triggering environments to prevent making fewer non-quality choices. Effecting behavior change creates new nerve patterns. It can be compared to something like quitting smoking. It will rarely be a straightforward path, where everything is better each day. Behavior change is more like the tides, with ebbs and flows. But the more that you set up the context for success and consistently reinforce quality choices, the faster you help your dog reach a state of mind where they are making better choices.

Why do I point this out? Because occasionally I get communications where so-and-so has been doing so well and then there was a setback. Your dogs are sentient beings. They get trigger stacked just like humans and they need mental enrichment to keep their cortisol levels at a nice baseline so that they have the mental stability to make better choices.

It's not just a matter of "training". There is no end to behavior change. It's more like how much "money" have you put into the quality choice bank versus the poor choices that you want less of. Fill that quality choice bank up and you're going to get quality choices more often than not.

You cannot send your dog to "get trained" to make quality choices in your environment, to a location outside of your environment, without your intense participation. Additionally, punishing choices you want less of ONLY results in *suppression*, not actual behavior change. Think how you would eventually respond if a choice that you made was continually physically punished. How long would it take before you blew up at your punisher when punished?

Choose kindness and *real* behavior change. And please understand the difference between training and effecting behavior change ... [snipped out picture]"