Chris Shaughness

author, speaker, animal lover

Obedience,  All Articles

Training or Management

Is there always a training solution to problems your dogs present to you? I would like to say “yes!” but realistically the answer is “not always.” While it is certainly possible to train your dog to be a robot, sitting absolutely still unless you give a command, but who has that kind of time to devote to achieve this perfection? Besides, I prefer my dogs to have choices; I’ve trained them to make the right ones. But sometimes, a training solution is not always possible. Let’s look at a collection of common scenarios where management of your dog’s environment is really the best choice.

The garbage can: Like a treasure chest for some dogs, the wastebasket holds temptations beyond compare. Paper products, scraps of food, and other tasty morsels can injure, make your dog sick or worse. You can try teaching your dog the “leave it” command but some dogs are very persistent. And “leave it” won’t help if you are not in the same room as your dog. That’s when management is necessary. Cover the garbage can or place it in a closet where the dog cannot access it.

Stealing food off of the counter: The larger of our furry friends can take anything from counters and tables. After all, it’s within nose-view. Counter surfing is quite a sport for some dogs. Again, the “leave it” command may work but the better answer is to keep temptation away from reach. If you know your dog is prone to this behavior, keep items in cabinets, on top of the fridge or in the fridge. If you need to leave something out, remove your dog from the area if you cannot be there.

Fights within multiple dog households: Let’s face facts, just like people, not all dogs will like each other and get along peaceably. The more dogs in the household, the greater the likelihood that fights may break out. If you are aware that problems exist, efforts can be made to keep the miscreants separated. Learn what situations trigger disagreements and ensure that they are kept apart.

Running out the door: One of my clients complained that his dog always runs out the front door behind him when he leaves for work. Upon examination, I noted that his storm door has a pneumatic closer that prevents the door from slamming. Therefore, the door closes slowly, allowing the dog to slip out. Of course, teaching the dog to “stay” is the preferable solution, but we had just begun to work on training the dog. The interim solution was obvious – close the door behind you!

Another client was very disturbed because her dog had run out the door when she was not in the room and, sadly, attacked a dog on the street. This dog had a history of dog aggression and running out the door. These attacks could have been prevented if they had ensured their door was properly shut.

I’m sure there are plenty of other scenarios where management and common sense prevent problem behaviors. Let me know your solutions!