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  • Courteous K9

Let's Talk about Management

Management is an important tool to use in our training journey, but people often mistake management for training. For example, your dog likes to jump on the counter. Because of this, you make sure to never have food on the counter. This isn't teaching them to not jump on the counter in the first place- instead you are preventing them from being tempted to jump on the counter. This will not teach them to not jump up when there is food up there, but it is certainly better than leaving food out when you aren't there to watch and your dog getting reinforced by being able to eat things from jumping on the counter.

A dog holding a leash which is a common management tool

Management isn't teaching a new behavior, it is just preventing that naughty behavior from happening. Keep in mind, for a lot of nuisance behaviors (chewing on things they aren't supposed to, barking out of windows, grabbing toilet paper, eating plants, etc), it tends to be easier and faster to address these behaviors directly rather than managing them long term.

Management doesn't have to be reactive to inappropriate behaviors, you can proactively use management like we do (or should be doing!) with puppies so they never develop problematic behaviors. Again, it is useful to utilize management a bit at first when you are too busy to be able to be hyper vigilant and train in the moment when they may decide to do an inappropriate behavior, but you need to make sure to start fading out of the management you are using as your dog is progressing in their skills.

Management is very important when we are going through the process of training more desirable behaviors so we don't let them practice the bad ones. If you allow your dog to practice the undesirable behaviors when you are not in a training session, you are often negating your work that you did during the training session. For instance, if you have a reactive dog, it is better to avoid people or dogs at first on the walk to prevent your dog from practicing lunging and barking at others. However, if that is all you do, your dog will continue to lunge and bark when they see people or dogs. In addition to utilizing management, it is important to train new desirable behaviors that make it where they are incapable of practicing the inappropriate behavior. Once they progress with their obedience skills, how to focus around distractions, and to manage their arousal so it is easier to keep under threshold, then you may begin the process of reducing the amount of management now that the dog will be more successful in a given situation. Over time, this will allow you to navigate more successfully past other people or dogs.

There are instances where there is no amount of training that can undo the behaviors we would like to train out (true aggression, severe anxiety, etc.) These generally have to do with the genetic makeup of the dog, where no amount of training can change genetics. When this is the case, management is our only option. This doesn't mean that training can't help the undesirable behaviors, but there is a limit based on the dog's genetic potential. Just be aware that management often fails at some point so having multiple levels of management in place is crucial, especially when dealing with aggression cases.

Click the button below to contact us if you would like help learning the best way to manage AND train your dog!

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