Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Article: Somehow I Manage

Somehow I Manage
by Brianne Statz, CPDT-KA

We spend time in our classes working on a variety of different skills with our dogs.  Sit, down, stay, off, come, etc. – the advantage to your dog having a solid set of skills is you can ask your dog for the behavior that you want. Your dog completing the behavior you want means you can avoid the behaviors you don’t want.  For example, when my dog gets excited about going for a walk, he wants to jump all over me and lick my face, making shoe-tying attempts challenging.  Asking for a sit or down stay while I tie my shoes is an easy solution.  Training a variety of behaviors that you can ask your dog for solves a lot of behaviors you don’t like so much.

Sometimes, there are easy fixes to problem behaviors that don’t require training.  In dog trainer speak, this is referred to as “management.”  Management means taking steps to prevent the unwanted behavior from happening.  Usually management relies on tools, like a crate, a baby gate, or a leash/harness.  Here are a few examples of behaviors that can benefit from management:

·         Pulling on leash – Using a front clip harness or head collar can prevent your dog from pulling. This means you can go for a walk without having to spend much time training your dog not to pull.

·         Destructiveness when left alone – Crating your dog when you’re away prevents your dog from being able to chew up your shoes, furniture, or garbage can.  Keep in mind that your dog should be comfortable in the crate. If s/he is not, then this is not the best option for you.  Most dogs don’t need to be crated forever, but you especially don’t want young dogs or dogs new to your house developing bad habits.

·         Jumping up on visitors – Keeping your dog behind a baby gate when guests arrive can manage jumping behavior.  Many dogs settle down after the initial arrival, and then will have a better chance of sitting politely for greetings once that excitement dies down a bit.

Remember, though: Management is not training.  Walking your dog on a head collar doesn’t train your dog to walk without pulling, and having your dog behind a baby gate doesn’t teach your dog not to jump.  However, while you work on training the behavior you do want, like sitting politely for greetings, it is important to set your dog up for success by not letting your dog practice those unwanted behaviors.  So, next time you’re faced with an unwanted behavior, first think about ways to manage the behavior. From there, you can think of what to train your dog to do instead, so you eventually won’t need that management anymore.

Happy Training,
Teacher’s Pet

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