Message Us

Dog Training Philosophies: Medical Model, Behavioral Model and Knee-Jerk Reactions

By DaphneRobertHamilton. | Dog Training

Most of our dog pet owners are not aware that there are different philosophies/approaches to "training" a dog and more so how to approach solving behavior problems.

  Training Tips for Your Dogs to Properly Communicate With You There are two main veins of approach even though I titled with three; two of them go together.

Medical Model see "problem behavior" as if it's a disease.

  The "trainer", "counselor" or "veterinary behaviorist" may take a history of your dog and come up with a diagnosis for the behavior and label it something like "dominance aggression". This approach focuses too heavily on the "symptoms" presented and do little to address the underlying cause of the undesired behavior(s). Addressing only the symptom can lead to more undesirable side effects. Labeling behavior can also open the door to ill training practices. Once a diagnosis is given, then a treatment can be outlined. Treatment can include medications and protocols based on mis-understood and mis-applied knowledge about dog behavior. Medical terms such as "diagnosis" and "treatment" should be avoided as they would imply that the "trainer" is practicing medicine without a license. This sort of approach of using a medical diagnosis to control or change a problem behavior often leads owners down one path. Either their veterinarian shows/tells them what to do when "x" undesired behavior happens or the dog owner seeks out a "trainer" to stop/fix unwanted behavior(s). After the fact knee-jerk reactions to a behavior we don't desire occurs anytime someone recommends you to "pin the dog to the ground until they submit," "show them who's boss," "put them in their place," "escalate your efforts until you get the result," pop the choke chain or prong collar or to use shock are all. By focusing on the "˜symptom' you are putting a Band-Aid on the true issue AND you are not teaching your dog what to do instead. This approach of using intimidation, force, fear, pain, coercion to get compliance is a very slippery slope. Other behaviors can emerge such as increased fear, increased avoidance, increased aggression, increased health conditions, and increased distrust between dog and owner(s). Book: Principles of Behavior: Seventh Edition / Richard Malott, Joseph T. Shane: Pg 29 Circular reasoning and the medical model Murray Sidman: Coercion And Its Fallout "the use of punishment leads inevitably to the conclusion that punishment is a most unwise, undesirable, and fundamentally destructive method of controlling conduct."

Behavioral Model approach is a modern method of solving behavior problems focusing on creating positive actions.

  I prefer a functional assessment approach. A comprehensive history is taken to form a hypothesis for the expression on target behavior. Everything is considered: the dog's learning history, medical history, biological innate behaviors for that breed, environmental stimuli, social interactions ,intra-pet dynamics, and any other factors associated with the occurrence (and non-occurrence) of the target behavior. We collect data, we observe concerning behaviors and we generate a checklist that help to generate a hypothesis. Two big questions asked are:
  1. What are the setting events that make the occurrence of the behavior more likely? (Antecedents / Triggers)
  2. What function does the behavior seem to serve for the animal? (Consequences)
Once we define the function for the behavior then we can generate a behavior change program. The ultimate goal is to teach a replacement behavior or behaviors and to change the conditioned emotional response to a stimulus or a cluster of stimuli. This is a more pro-active approach to changing unwanted behaviors. Once we understand what triggers the unwanted behaviors we can manage the dog and/or environment. We can decrease problem behavior and increase more desired alternative behaviors and teach new skills. Functional Assessment: Hypothesizing Predictors And Purposes of Problem Behaviors To Improve Behavior-Change Plans "“ Dr. Susan Friedman, PhD

Punishment can temporarily "˜stop' a behavior but usually it really is just suppressed.

  Punishment can also diminish or remove your dog's ability to communicate with you when they are in an unpleasant situation. But there is no instruction on how you would rather they behave. It's a void leading to behavioral fallout. When you take the time to understand dog behavior and by being more pro-active with their environment and teaching them the appropriate way to behave, it's a far more instructive and humane approach. You simply can't go with the "As long as it works for now" approach. Effectiveness of approach to solving problem behaviors isn't enough. As Dr. Susan Friedman points in in her article, "WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE? EFFECTIVENESS IS NOT ENOUGH "“ Dr Susan Friedman, PhD," that both ethical and feasible ways to change behavior should be in the best interest of the animal, their owners and the professionals working with them. By selecting the least intrusive approach using positive reinforcement based learning increases the humaneness of the interventions. Think before you act. Training Tips for Your Dogs and Dog Seat Covers: Cargo, Dog Bed Liner, Bed Cover: 30% Off Premium Seat Covers

Daphne Robert-HamiltonDaphne Robert-Hamilton, CPDT-KA

Daphne Robert-Hamilton is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer- Knowledge Assessed by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. She was a Certified Equestrian Coach by the Canadian Equestrian Federation before moving into the dog training world. She competed extensively with her two Doberman Pinschers from 1997-2002 and achieved being a finalist in the Top 20 Obedience in 2000 and 2002 with the Doberman Pinscher Club of America. In 2002 Daphne graduated from the SFSPCA Academy for Dog Trainers, which is now defunked. She went on to intern at the SFSPCA Academy and graduated with honors in dog aggression. Daphne became the go-to trainer in the SF Bay Area for aggression cases. Daphne has done webinars, been interviewed in several dog magazines and has written a two part article on "sibling rivalry" for The Chronicle of The Dog. Daphne was the Head Trainer for Washington state for Pets for Vets for about two years. She has fostered many dogs helping them find loving forever homes. Daphne is a member of The Pet Professional Guild. Daphne has been married for 24yrs and currently lives with her two Rhodesian Ridgebacks in Washington State. Facebook: Youtube: Yelp: Website is under construction - k9partnership


Signup/Login to post a reply


Reviews From 4Knines Customers VIEW MORE »

The best evaluations of our products come from the people who’ve bought them.


We liked the first cover so much that a few days later we purchased a second one. The cover installs very, very easily, fits and covers the rear seat and the back of the front seats of our Subaru Tribeca perfectly, has flaps that cover the door-side edges of the rear seat, and stays perfectly in place. Spilled or tracked water beads up on the material and can be easily wiped off. At first our dog did tend to slide just a little on the new cover, but he soon learned to stand, sit, and lay just as well as he did before on the uncovered seat. The hammock portion seems like it might provide some little bit of protection in a sudden stop (our guy will chew apart any "doggie seat belt" type of restraint in very short order - so that option is out of the question for us). As to keeping him out of the car front-area - well, our long-legged Standard Poodle has no problem in still looking closely out the front windshield by putting his front feet on the center console - straddling the hammock - with no problem whatsoever. But we did discover that having the hammock in place does allow us to safely keep his water bottle and dish, his leash, and an old towel on the floor under the hammock - where he can no longer get at them (especially the leash and towel) to chew on them. All in all, an excellent seat cover.


My furbabies don't like leather seats!!!! But they love this seat cover!!!

Very hard to find a split bench seat cover at a reasonable price, this one fit the bill. Easy to install, very durable and looks to be easy to clean. Wanted something that would protect the leather seats and was pet friendly (hate it when the material of regular seat covers snags toenails and collars). I don't think I will have to buy another for many years!!!

Jackie Carter

My Doodle approves!

Received on time, fits great and easy to install. Color is a great match. So far, so good. Durability? Time will tell. It appears to be well constructed.

Donald Fish

Fits my 2018 VW Tiguan perfectly

Very happy with our purchase. Fits perfectly, was easy to install and keeps the leather seats in our brand new vehicle perfectly clean.

Chris Campbell

great cover

This is actually a replacement for my original 4 knines cover which was 4 years old. I used it daily (bringing my pup to work with me) and washed it weekly, so the backing finally started to flake apart and come off. This newer version is easier to put over the headrests, great improvement in the strap and closures. Also the best improvement is the side flaps, the old cover didn't have these. These flaps help to catch the dirt from dogs feet when they are jumping up into the car, instead of it going on the side of the seat.

Diane Breland


This is my 2nd seat cover from 4knines and love them both. The product and service were both fantastic.


Repeat customer VERY satisfied.

We have made several purchases from 4Knines and are VERY satisfied with products (cargo liner, back seat cover, bucket front seat cover...). I volunteer at a shelter and take dogs offsite daily. Always a Pleasure doing business with 4Knines. Highly recommend.

Cristina Jones

Split Rear Dog Seat Cover - Fitted - No Hammock

I had ordered this item from an on-line site and was extremely disappointed when I received the wrong item. I was impressed with the quality of the seat cover and decided to contact 4Knines directly. I placed my order with Maggie and received the Split Rear Dog Seat Cover within three days. The seat cover fits nicely in my new Honda CR-V and as stated by 4Knines, is very easy to install and remove. My 8-month old labradoodle Brodie likes the comfort, and friends agree with him. Great quality item, reasonably priced, and outstanding customer service. Thanks 4Knines.


For all general inquiries, please call or email us
Phone: 888.602.2509

Sign Up to Our Newsletter

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Nothing but the best for your best friend!
© 4Knines. 2017. All rights reserved | Terms | Privacy