Originally posted on 1/4/19.
Did you know there is a difference between dog training and behavior management? Dog training is teaching a specific behavior to be used at a specific time. It helps to improve communication and gives guidance to the dog. These are your obedience or trick training skills like sit, stay, shake etc. You can use these as alternative behaviors to help with some of those problem behaviors but it may not address the underlying behavioral issue. For example, teaching a “quiet” cue can teach your dog to be quiet but if they are over threshold and are barking at another dog or person, you may as well be talking to a brick wall.
As for behavior management, it is setting your dog up for success. It is creating an environment to allow your dog to reinforce those behaviors.
About once or twice a week I get a call or message about a dog that jumps on people too much. For medium to large dogs, it can be dangerous so it is important to be addressed immediately. Sometimes a simple sit for greetings can alleviate the issues but then again, it doesn’t address the underlying issue of overexcitement during greetings and the dog may only only hold the behavior for a short while.
So, what if the dog has learned a sit and all of a sudden a person comes running up to your dog excited and ready to give lots of love? You know, the excited pet lover type. (Guilty) That excitement could cause them to get up. It’s more rewarding to get lots of pets than to sit politely. Am I right?
As a guardian, manage the situation. Remember, you can still talk to someone at 10ft as you can at 5ft. If someone wants to pet your dog and he’s too excited, it’s okay to say no. Consider walking away if your dog is over-aroused. These decisions can help create a more appropriate interaction for your dog. Sometimes managing behavior can fix those basic, yet frustrating behaviors to allow them to be successful. Toss in a little obedience and true learning can happen.
Just today I read an awesome quote from Mark Qureshi who is a professional dog trainer that states, “Training is not an “emergency”. Training a dog is a lifestyle. Everything you do or do not do IS training.” Think about that for a second. We are all trainers, whether we think we are. Are you reinforcing something appropriate or inappropriate? Are you allowing your dog to rehearse those behaviors that are appropriate or inappropriate?