CHARLOTTE – Whenever a client brings me a problem they face with their dog, I always approach these challenges in a similar way. First, we have to manage the problem. Second, we train a different behavior that the dog can do instead of the “problem” behavior in that same situation.
Management is used so that the dog can no longer practice the behavior that the client doesn’t want. If we went straight to training and the pup is still practicing the behavior, it’s a bit like taking 3 steps forward and 2 backward. The more the dog practices the behavior, the more he reinforces himself and makes the behavior stronger and the harder it is for us to train the new behavior. Management can include various things such as:
- A baby gate
- Closing a door
- Covering a window
- Removing access to parts of the house
- Limiting walks
- Putting away toys when another dog is present
Think of management as the first line of defense. The more we practice something, the stronger that habit becomes. If you’re dog is urinating in the dining room, first cut off access to the dining room. If your dog is jumping on guests, have your dog on leash until the excitement of the new person dies down a little. If your dog is resource guarding food (a very natural behavior), make sure that he eats away from other people and dogs for safety.
Come back next week for the important second half of the solution: Training!
Sit, Stay, Play Dog Training & Behavior (704) 641-1042