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"Training" versus "Management": How do they contribute to behavioural change?

"Training" is a repeated exercise that changes over time to develop a skill or set of skills.

"Management" is the set of all things we must do as owners to promote the health, longevity, and contentedness of our dogs. This includes:

  • how we teach safety, security, confidence and trust,

  • how we discipline,

  • how we care for veterinary needs,

  • how and what we feed,

  • how we groom,

  • how we play,

  • how we exercise, rest, sleep and snuggle, and;

  • how we use equipment, tools and resources.

Both/either management or training can be intentional and/or unintentional, but the dog is learning whether we try to teach it or not. Better to be intentional and deliberate.

At the beginning of a behaviour change process, management rules and takes the majority of your time and energy. Most of the human emotional and procedural change happens here as you learn to manage and respond to your dog's undesirable behaviour differently than you did before. You must begin to actively change your routines and preferred equipment in order to limit, or eliminate opportunities for the undesired behaviour - and the context within which - it occurs in the first place. (see my article on how to get rid of any behaviour problem)

Even though management rules at the beginning, training is also essential, in that you must begin to train core skills needed for more advanced training later on. Although training at this stage has a lesser impact on your daily routine, it is equally important in moving forward because, over time, the dog must be given more responsibility to manage its own behaviour. This is almost always a multi-step process requiring multiple conversations and feedback between me, you, and the dog.

Most significant behavioural change processes (including getting rid of undesirable behaviour) are at least three or four steps. Each step includes multiple processes as well as details about how and when to react that change over time. Most of the time it's too much detail for the average dog owner to keep all the steps and details in mind at the same time. I therefore try to keep some kinds of information back because it is "on a need-to-know basis", and you don't need to know yet. The beginning is usually the most important time to be sure you're understanding and getting things right.

Remember, everything works according to the broccoli principle. The way to dessert is via broccoli! If a dog is having trouble behaving appropriately when it has the freedom to do so, you definitely need to look into different options in managing how that freedom is applied.

If you're having trouble managing or training any aspect of your dog's behaviour, please


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