Dog trainers and behaviour specialists are frequently called upon by understandably desperate owners who need help and advice on stopping undesirable behaviours in their pet dogs. Although jumping, chewing and barking are innate behaviours in dogs, humans tend to find them intensely annoying and there’s often a potential for danger too.
How to combat bad canine behaviour
Sometimes these issues will go deeper than a simple training plan due to the underlying emotional or physical content of what the dog is experiencing. However, for any dog guardian looking to ‘stop’ an undesirable dog behaviour, first, take a breath and consider the following: In order to ‘stop’ doing something (let’s take a dog who jumps as an example) what does the dog have to do first, that’s right, they have to jump.
Think about and understand canine behaviour
Think about it – If I’m going to stop smoking, I first have to take up the habit. And the thing about habits is – well – they become habitual, so, the more you practise a habit, the better you get at it. The better you get at it, the more you’ll rely on it without thinking and it’s very difficult to unlearn a habit.
Therefore, a better approach would be: How do I prevent my dog from repeating undesirable canine behaviour, while I go about teaching something that I would like my dog to do instead? This is where the frequently overlooked tool called ‘good dog behaviour management’ can play a vital role in dog training and canine behaviour modification. Never underestimate it, you’re not cheating because you haven’t spent hours working on a detailed training plan that you haven’t got time to commit to. Careful and considerate management could be all that you need to reduce your stress and that of your dog. Good management could set you and your dog up for success.
Positive dog behaviour management
Let’s face it, we lead busy and demanding lives which frequently get in the way of our good dog training intentions, and then we feel like we’ve failed. Why put yourself through that when a well-structured canine management option could really help you and your dog. And that’s not to be perceived as a negative – it’s a positive, pro-active approach that you can use long-term (when safe and ethical) or short-term if you have the time to plan and teach your dog an alternative behaviour.
So, what does good dog behaviour management look like?
There are many structural factors that make up good dog behaviour management but don’t put too much pressure on yourself to get it right at the beginning. So, what does good dog behavioural management look like?
Well, let’s start with something very basic
A lead is a management tool that prevents a dog from darting into traffic. A long line attached to a well-fitted ‘Y’ shaped harness (and never to a dog’s collar), could be a great management tool that prevents a young puppy or older dog who hasn’t yet learnt (or is struggling with) poor recall.
And talking of harnesses, a comfortable harness can be a welcome management tool for those of us who don’t have time or are struggling to teach relaxed lead walking. Preventing stress on the dog’s neck from constantly pulling on a collar can prevent tracheal collapse later on in life.
Finding somewhere that is different, and secure
Even hiring a secure field could be a great management solution for a dog who can’t cope with being around other dogs or humans.
How do I start dog behaviour management?
Let’s go back to the time when you initially bring your puppy home and consider how to use appropriate management. We can prevent a puppy wandering from room to room and getting into mischief by puppy-proofing the house with barriers and baby gates. Stress-free management includes putting items that a puppy might chew and possibly choke on, away on a shelf behind closed doors, or in cupboards.
Keep them safe and secure
Gradually introducing your puppy to a crate or puppy pen that will keep them secure and safe will manage their movements if you’re not present. You can get through the puppy teething stage by providing appropriate chews, temporarily covering the bottom of kitchen cabinets or wooden chairs with cardboard, and storing a pricey rug to protect it from being destroyed by a dog who is still being toilet trained. Simply keeping the toilet lid down or shutting the bathroom door can manage a dog’s access to potentially harmful chemicals.
Make their environment more desirable
Other areas where we can easily employ good dog behaviour management to change the dog’s environment and curb undesirable behaviours could be using window coverings to prevent dogs barking at outside movement and keeping the radio on or playing white or brown noise to prevent barking at external noises. For owners of dogs with separation anxiety, good management could come in the form of a dog walker, sitter or professionally run day-care facility, thereby ensuring that the dog is never left alone.
So, let’s shift our perspective away from ‘stopping’ behaviours that we don’t like and move it to the under-estimated, stress-free concept called ‘good management’. Let’s celebrate the benefits of a plan that involves responsible, creative and innovative management to help us live in harmony with our dogs.
There you have it; you’ve made it to the end of our very first authored article. Before you click away, remember you can find all the puppy training tricks, health tips and new puppy must-haves in the Zigzag puppy training app! We’ll guide you and your puppy through this wonderful relationship you’re embarking on together.