Obedience is a very powerful tool. But, that is exactly what it is, only a tool. It does not magically transform a dog with issues into one with none. Unfortunately this has been a misconception within our society for quite some time, especially with behavioral issues such as aggression. The go-to solution for a very long time has been, if your dog is acting out, all one needs to do is send it away to obedience school and POOF, all is right!! As many find out, it isn’t that simple. This is why many trainers are starting to try and differentiate themselves as behaviorists instead of obedience trainers and use catch phrases such as “I don’t train dogs, I train people”. That doesn’t solve the problem or help the dogs. All it has done is shift the pendulum from one side and pushed it all the way to the other for the sole purpose of public perception while ignoring a very important piece of the solution. As a successful dog trainer, one needs to have an intimate knowledge of both human and dog psychology along with the skill and understanding on how to apply this knowledge to the real world through the use of scientifically proven systems that make sense to, once again, both the dog and the human owner. Obedience is successful only when it is used in conjunction with an understanding of how and why it is being used in order to accomplish a particular goal.
Obedience, if used properly, is definitely a cornerstone in the upbringing of a new puppy or helping in the transformation of an aggressive dog. The distinction between success and failure lies in the trainer’s ability to come up with a plan which accurately addresses potential genetic markers in younger dogs or in the understanding of the why and the how of an already aggressive dog. When these things are understood and mapped out, the obedience is then a powerful tool which can be used to build upon and create the role of a fair and trusted leader.