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Management: The Quickest Route to Behavior Change

At the core of every successful training program lies a crucial element: management. Management in dog training is like the foundation of a sturdy house; it provides structure, safety, and the framework for learning. Essentially, management means that we are making modifications to the environment to prevent unwanted behaviors from happening. In this blog post, we'll delve into why management is essential in dog training and how it benefits both you and your dog.

puppy rolling on grass with toilet paper roll

Safety First

One of the foremost reasons why management is crucial in dog training is safety. Safety applies to your dog, other people, and even property. Uncontrolled, undesirable behaviors can lead to accidents and injuries. By using tools like leashes, crates, and baby gates, you can prevent dangerous situations from occurring. For instance, a leash ensures your dog can't dart into traffic or approach unfamiliar dogs unpredictably, reducing the risk of accidents.

Preventing Unwanted Behaviors

Contrary to popular belief, dogs are amoral. This simply means that they will perform a behavior because it serves a function for them. Whether your dog is meeting their need for enrichment by chewing shoes or is communicating a need for space by barking and lunging, the behavior serves a function. When we manage a dogs environment we reduce the need to perform these behaviors. So we can put our shoes out of reach and give our dogs an appropriate chew toy. We can also alter our walk schedule or environment to meet our dogs need for space. Preventing the unwanted behaviors from occurring in the first place allows us prevent these undesirable behaviors from becoming entrenched habits.

Focus on Training and Enrichment

When we utilize management successfully it allows us to make faster progress in training. For example, we will have a harder time teaching an enthusiastic puppy not to jump if he is practicing that behavior every time a person comes in and out of the home, even if we work on training at other times. But even before we dive into training we want to make sure that we are meeting our dogs needs through proper enrichment. Enrichment gives our dogs opportunities to engage in species normal behaviors to meet their needs. Enrichment could have a post all unto itself however some major areas to consider are exercise, chewing, sniffing, licking, digging, play and mental stimulation like puzzles and training. Combining solid management with plenty of enrichment for your dog ensures that any training you do will be successful.

Gradual Exposure

Management also plays a significant role when working with dogs that have fear or anxiety issues. For instance, if your dog is scared of strangers, gradual exposure to them in a controlled environment can help desensitize your dog and build confidence over time. Management tools, like leashes and muzzles, can ensure safe interactions during this process.

Reinforcement of Desired Behaviors

Management can reinforce the behaviors you want to encourage in your dog. For example, using a crate during housebreaking helps your puppy learn to hold their bladder, promoting cleanliness. When your dog practices good behavior, it becomes a habit that they are more likely to repeat.

a doodle puppy sitting on a hardwood floor

Preventing Regression

Once your dog has learned a new behavior, it's essential to maintain it. Management can help you keep your dogs new and improved behavior intact. In the case of dogs who have sensitized to the visuals of people and dogs passing by the house, using visual barriers long term may prevent them them to re-sensitizing to triggers and barking.

Reducing Stress

Dogs can become stressed or overwhelmed when faced with challenging situations. Much like humans, dogs experience cortisol spikes when they are stressed. Proper management helps avoid stress and anxiety. For example, when introducing a new dog to your household, using baby gates or crates can provide a gradual and stress-free introduction, reducing the likelihood of conflicts.

Management is training

The wonderful thing about management is that it provides instant relief for dog guardians and often times for their dogs as well. We live in a world where most of us are busy and have limited resources to invest in training. I always stress to my clients "Not everything needs to be trained!" I think a lot of dog guardians feel shame around their dog's behavior, and feel it is a reflection on them as guardians. Sometimes it can bring everyone involved a lot of relief to just accept that your dog doesn't need to go to the dog park, interact with children, or join their humans at the brewery. It doesn't mean that the dog doesn't have a full life, and often times just removing them from stressful environments improves their quality of life greatly.

In the world of dog training, management is the unsung hero that makes it all possible. It ensures safety, prevents unwanted behaviors, allows for focused training, and builds trust between you and your dog. So, whether you're teaching basic obedience or addressing behavioral issues, remember that effective management is the key to a successful training journey that both you and your dog will cherish.

Want to learn more about how management and training could work for you and your dog? Work one on one with me!


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