Management is utilized a great deal in the beginning of a training program, especially when really changing behavior in dogs, because it sets the dog up to succeed. It's like the alcoholic that's decided to stop drinking. They cannot successfully do this by going to the bar, even if just once a week. They have to manage themselves and set themselves up for success so that the long term result is the person no longer drinking. This means attending AA meetings and getting rid of all alcohol in the home, not going to bars, etc. It's a whole new system they have to adopt if they want to change. There is no easy way around it. Either they do these things and manage themselves tightly in the beginning (so hopefully when further into their program they can actually go to a bar with a friend and use self discipline) or they will fail. It's just that simple.
We must do the same with our dogs. When we want to change their behavior we have to find ways to set them up for success while we are working toward the bigger goal or end goal. If your dog is barking viciously out of the windows at home then gets out on a leash and is very reactive (or aggressive) toward other dogs then we need to change something. Management here would include blocking the window (so not to practice and get amped up) and not walk the dog --for now-- so that he cannot practice these behaviors. This is not fixing the problem but it's putting forth a management protocol that will aid in the success of all the other training we will be doing to help in the long run.
While most people clearly can see the situation with the alcoholic and respect it, they cannot seem to do this with their dogs when it comes down to it. I find a lot of resistance to management protocols with dogs. As humans we seemingly so often just find that dogs are here to do what we say when we say it and if they can't we'll force them into the scenario to make them understand what's wrong and why.
Fido lunges on a leash? Well by golly then I'll slap this correction collar on him and yank it really hard when he does that! He'll learn not to do that again! ... Hmmm ... Is that really setting the dog up to succeed? Is this actually teaching the dog what he should be doing instead of lunging on the leash?
|puppy in a safe area: management!|
This could be as simple as putting a puppy in a crate so that he cannot chew your things while you're out to quitting your daily walks if your dog is reactive on a leash. Neither are a life sentence, but a management protocol that can be eventually totally changed to something different.
So just remember, setting your dog up for success and managing your dog isn't a failure, it's a step in the right direction. I have a client right now that's doing an amazing job with her very leash reactive dog. We are to the point where I've suggested she can now start short walks. She knows what to do and how to help the dog when she sees other dogs. So she says to me, "I feel like I really chickened out the other day walking Fluffy. I saw another dog and I wasn't ready so I jumped behind the closest car and hid there with Fluffy until the dog was gone. I know I should have worked on her and done something else." I said, "Are you kidding?! That's great! If you knew you weren't mentally ready to handle that then you did the right thing. You set her up for success. She was not able to see the dog to react and you stuck it out until it was safe and she wasn't put in a position to react! I call that a success and good thinking!"
Don't ever feel like you're failing if you set your dog up to succeed, even if in that moment it's not actually "training". If your dog is put in a position to make a good choice, or at least not make a bad one, then you're winning!
Happy training ... and keep on working with your dog to set her up to succeed!
Sunshine Dog Training & Behavior, LLC