When a canine behavior change is in order, there is a choice. Do we manage the “undesirable” or do we teach the dog incompatible and desirable behaviors to replace those that we don’t like? Behavior change training programs always include management, because it provides a means of preventing the dog from continued practice of behaviors we don’t want in his repertoire
Training gives dogs life skills and provides owners with a toolbox. Dogs don’t land with a large capacity to cope with our human “rules”. As responsible owners, we teach them, and they learn to look to us for directives. These directives take the form of learned obedience cues and relevant phrases, such as “ready to go for a walk?”
What do most dogs do when guests enter the house? Many bark at the doorbell and jump on people as they come inside. Training in a life skill would entail the owner asking the dog to sit or lie down and stay there until the guests enter and the owner releases the dog to say hello with four feet on the floor.
Many dogs pull on leash and are inattentive to their owners while out for a walk. Great leash skills require a lot of practice to maintain slack in the leash and the dog’s willing attention. This is best started as soon as possible…..in the driveway or on the patio. There are loads of choices by way of equipment, but nothing really works if the dog doesn’t care about the human at the end of the leash.
Management is necessary during a behavior change program. It limits the dog’s opportunities to continue practicing undesirable behaviors. Make no mistake, though. Management is not training. With management, the dog is not learning life skills. Managing a jumping dog means that the dog is always prevented from interacting with arriving guests. His owner doesn’t teach him an alternative set of greeting skills, so he never learns appropriate greeting behaviors.
Pulling on leash is often managed with certain types of equipment or a pulling contest between dog and handler. Holding the dog in place with leash and harness or yanking a choke chain isn’t training. It’s only physical management and/or the dog avoiding the pain of being choked. This demonstrates no skill on the part of the dog. Who is teaching him to walk on a loose leash beside his handler?
Whether training or management becomes the solution…..that is a matter of personal preference. Management can be easier for the owner, but training is forever, engages the dog’s learning ability and greatly improves everyone’s quality of life.
Copyright © Kimberly B. Mandel CPDT-KA, 2019 all rights reserved
Kimberly Mandel Canine Behavior and Training LLC