Modification vs. Management

There are two main approaches to handling aggressive problems. A behaviorist can implement a management program or they can design a modification program.

In simple terms, a management program teaches owners how to avoid triggering the dog’s aggression, where a modification program changes the way the dog reacts when exposed to a situation or alters
their association towards a particular trigger.

While there is a time and place for both approaches, many people utilize management programs without incorporating a modification program into the equation. The problem with this approach is that it does not teach the dog a different reaction. As an example, if a dog has food aggression a management program may involve feeding the dog in another room; but what happens when someone accidentally drops something on the floor and goes to pick it up; often a bite occurs. This is not a failure on the dog’s part but on the human’s part since they never taught the dog to react differently. A modification program should determine what type of aggression the dog has (there are many different types), design a program to safely start having the owners teach the dog a different association with the situation / trigger and finally have the dog not display aggression when exposed to the trigger.