Some behaviors with dogs work best with constant training. If you want your dog to sit or lay down, for example, practicing these behaviors over and over will likely get you the behaviors that you want from your dog. However, in some cases, you need to do more, like management.
Management Training Your Dog
Management means keeping your dog from getting or doing things he is not supposed to have or do. Let’s imagine that it’s Thanksgiving. While the whole family is in another room, the dog successfully gets the turkey and has a feast for himself. He doesn’t make any noise and eats until he can’t. This is the best day of your dog’s life—by far. Because he’s had this enormous jackpot, he will be very inclined to check out the kitchen counters all of the time. He may even have minor successes. A paper towel or toast scraps, who knows what treasures await. However, the more success he has the more he will go back to the source of his wins.
Think about what would be different if he never got anything from the counter. He’d lose interest pretty quickly. He’d check it out but without a reward, he’ll lose interest. Keeping him out of the kitchen when he’s on his own, or keeping him on a leash that you can step on, or even crating him if necessary can all help teach him that counter surfing is not something he can do. The same things apply to toys or other items you don’t want your dog to get. The less often your dog gets children’s toys, socks, the remote, the more success you’ll have.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
If your dog does get something he shouldn’t have, be prepared to trade him for a treat. By playing the trading game when he does get something he can’t have – a shoe—he’ll be ready to drop it because he’s so used to being traded.
Restricting your dog from certain areas of the house, like the kitchen, with a baby gate is a great idea. Just make sure the gate is large enough if you have a bigger breed or they might hop right over it.
Try and be diligent in keeping your counters and floors free from stuff that your dog can reach. Try to leave food off the counters, keep paper towels pushed back and pick up shoes. This isn’t easy but it can be a big step forward.
In conclusion, it’s a combination of diligence and practice on your part. Your dog’s job is to learn boundaries (that’s where crates or baby gates come in handy) and to learn to the “drop it” command.
Jaime Migdal, CPDT KA, is the founder and CEO of Fetchfind, a talent recruitment and services organization dedicated to the pet industry.