There is more to dog training than just the training part. To really set our dogs and ourselves up to succeed I feel there are three vital components:
Management is setting up the antecedents (stuff before a behaviour happens) in such a way that we are making it easier for our dogs to make a correct decision or response. So for example, if we know we have a dog that jumps at people when they come over, we can pop our dog on leash attached to us, put them in a crate, or behind a baby gate so that they can’t jump up at the person. We haven’t changed their emotional state yet but we have stopped them practicing the problem behaviour and getting real good at it.
Training can occur once we have some management in place. Let’s stick with the jumping up example, now the temptation to jump up on the person is taken away we can teach an incompatible behaviour and reinforce that so it’s more valuable than the jumping up. This could be a sit, or a settle on a mat/bed. We keep practicing this with the management still in place to begin with and provide reinforcement for appropriate behaviours.
Finally enrichment. Enrichment is making sure we are fulfilling our dog’s biological needs. It’s more than just a peanut butter stuffed kong, it’s about making their lives meaningful. Are we meeting physical and mental stimulation needs? Are we providing an environment they feel safe and comfortable in? It’s important to consider our dogs breed and genetics when it comes to enrichment too and provide them with appropriate outlets tailored to their needs. A biologically fulfilled dog is less likely to display some of those problem behaviours we may be facing.
When my dog’s have their moments of mischief I stop and think to myself have I provided enough suitable enrichment today? Could I have had better management in place? Have we trained for this scenario?
We do have some limited space for consultations (in person or via video call) and would love to help you and your dog on your path to success. So please do contact us with any questions.
Have a fab weekend team!