What is management in dog training, and why should you care?
When you read about dog training, you’ll often see the word “management” used in conjunction with training. This and our next blog posts will be about what management is, why we need to use it, and how to implement good management systems!
So, what is management? Management is anything that can be used to prevent a dog from practicing or rehearsing a behavior. Examples of management include closing your blinds to prevent barking at people walking by, crating your puppy to prevent them from chewing wires, and leashing your dog to prevent them from running off.
In truth, management is training’s less exciting and sexy cousin. It’s another tool we have to change behavior, but it’s nowhere near as flashy as training so people tend to be less excited about it. But using proper management is critical to training and should be looked at as equally or even more important than the training itself, ESPECIALLY when you are just getting started with your dog's training.
So why care about management? While training CHANGES behavior, management prevents behavior from happening in the first place. When you are undertaking any behavior change program, it’s very important that the dog finds the goal behavior to be the most reinforcing choice, and that they are prevented from practicing the undesired behavior while learning takes place. If you do not set up management, and you try to train a new behavior/habit while still allowing your dog to constantly rehearse the undesired behavior, it’s like trying to push a boulder up a hill. You’re fighting yourself!
So, simply put, in order to effect behavior change efficiently you must have effective, easy to use management systems in place or else you will not see the behavior change as quickly as you’d like (or potentially won’t see the behavior change at all!) because your dog will continue to practice the undesired behavior! Good management strategies are a critical, uncompromising piece of the behavior change puzzle!
In our next post we’ll discuss a multitude of different management systems and how they relate to typical behavior problems like leash reactivity, counter surfing, watch dog barking, and more!