Training Versus Management

There are five natural outlets for dogs: running, digging, chewing, barking and play (hunting and predatory behavior). These are natural behaviors that all dogs desire, some more than others. It is our job to provide our dogs outlets for those behaviors as there is no way to extinguish these behaviors 100%. Training does NOT change a dog’s personality or desires. 

Training provides us with obedience skills we can use that are incompatible with unwanted behaviors. Training only works if a dog is supervised and under the control of their handler.

Management prevents a dog from being able to perform unwanted behaviors via supervision, limiting freedom, using a crate, barricades, dog runs, etc. as well as using our training skills and tools to control their behavior. 

If your dog is digging in the yard, we cannot train them out of it. We can manage it by supervising them in the yard, correcting digging as it occurs, building a dog run with buried wire or concrete flooring, and/or giving them an appropriate area to dig. The same goes for barking at passer-bys out the window, aggression towards prey animals or other dogs, a desire to run off if given the opportunity (looking at you, huskies!), and other primal desires our dogs are born with. But, a dog cannot jump on your guests if they are on their place cot, and they cannot lunge at passing dogs (or try to visit them) if they are heeling on leash. We can use management techniques to prevent the behavior in the first place; a dog won’t bark out of a window they can’t access or see out of. 

It is important to both respect our dogs for the animals they are, and help them navigate our very human world safely. Learn to think like a dog trainer by asking what your dog DOES know and how that skill could counteract what your dog is trying to do instead. Use incompatible behaviors to eliminate problem behaviors.