Using Behavior Management to Keep Your Canine Listening
By Renea Dahms
Some behavior management, (dog communication style) goes a long way, meaning you control the resources. Resources you can control include food, toys, places (sleeping areas, rooms, and so on), his body (grooming, handling, personal space, restraint), and reproduction.
Ditch the dish: If you feed your dog a commercial kibble you can actually use this as training time treats (at home more so than in a class), by working with your dog on behaviors you like. You can also choose to use his food for mental stimulation and offer him food puzzles or food dispensing toys, play the hide and seek game, or feed him entirely by hand as you run through a slew of manners exercises.
Food is a valuable resource and an excellent way of reinforcing behaviors (more on this next month) you like. Use it wisely.
It is your job to set rules about the use of places. Places include the rooms in your house, your yard, sleeping spaces, furniture and your vehicle (there are more of course but these are the main ones), and you determine what access (if any) your dog has. This can be achieved with management techniques such as crates, gates, fences, tethers, doors and simply setting the ‘no go’ rule from day one. This should then be set in stone —black and white so as to not give your dog mixed messages. Part of this includes making sure your dog cannot access “off limit areas” when you are not home. Anytime your dog can access them when you are away, he learns it is ok when you are gone and not ok when you are there.
Games that put you in control are games like fetch and retrieve and a variation of tug- and – catch. You are the one who controls the game, as the dog must come to you to keep the game going. Retrieve is also a great way to burn up energy if you add obedience commands before throwing the retrieving object. Retrieve can be played virtually anywhere, any time. It helps your dog see you as a benevolent leader, and you will develop a great bond.
©Renea L. Dahms DipCBST
Renea L. Dahms is a professional canine behavior consultant & dog trainer in Central WI. She has been working with dogs and their owners since 1995. She is the founder of Platinum Paw, a shelter dog enrichment program and owner of Pawsitively Unleashed!