Types of Dog Behavior Modification: Part 1 of 2

Dog Intelligence

In dogs, behavior modification refers to the process of changing the way an animal acts under certain circumstances. Dog behavior modification can take on many different forms, and more than one technique might be needed to correct a particular problem. Here are some common types of behavior modification your canine might undergo during training.


This method of behavior modification involves acclimating your dog to a certain stimulus so that his response is eliminated or diminished. For example, your canine may learn to adapt to certain noises to avoid becoming alarmed by them.

Spontaneous recovery-

Happens whenever a dog has completed the habituation process and a lengthy period of time has elapsed since the last exposure. In these cases, the animal may forget his training and once again react in a negative way to a stimulus. Reinforcement training could be needed to allow your canine to revert to his previous state.


Has to do with an association between a stimulus and behavior. Pavlov was the first to associate conditioning with animal behavior during the 1880s. An example from his studies involves dogs salivating when offered food. Later he noticed the dogs began salivating when they heard footsteps coming, because they associated it with food being brought. Next, he sounded a bell before bringing the food, and noticed the dogs began salivating when they heard it ringing.


Can be positive or negative, and is used to increase the odds of certain behavior happening or not happening. Giving rewards increases the odds of positive behavior, while negative reinforcement decreases the odds of bad behavior.

Second-order Reinforcers-

Are related to reinforcement, and are used to let a dog know that a reward is coming. A common example is verbal praise or affection that is given just before a treat.

In our next post, we’ll discuss a few other methods commonly used to modify dog behavior. One of our professional trainers can visit your home and get to know you and your dog personally so precisely the right methods can be chosen. To schedule an appointment, contact us.