Alright y’all- your trainers want you to know that management is essential! Not only is it not cheating, but sometimes it actually *fixes* the problem.
Sometimes folks think training is all about teaching the dog to “do” things (or stop doing them). But sometimes our greatest tool is to manage the environment or the triggers that make behavior happen- we call them “antecedent arrangements” (so you know it’s all sciency!)
Example: your dog barks incessantly at everyone and everything passing by the window. It’s making their reactivity on leash much worse, and causing anxiety. So what are our options?
We could try to train your dog not to bark by rewarding them for other behaviors at the window (like watching quietly!) When it’s only a specific thing they bark at, this is exactly what we do. But the problem is: you have to be able to do this reliably, every single time. So what happens when you aren’t at home?This gets complicated. Can it be done? Yes. Is it a lot of work? Also yes.
Ok, what if you tried to punish the barking at the window? We don’t recommend it for a BUNCH of reasons, but you run into the same problem: you can’t control what happens outside the window and when, so you can’t effectively teach your dog not to bark at it.
So what’s the easiest way to solve the problem? Cover the windows! Use blinds, curtains, or our favorite- window film. If your dog can’t see all the scary things outside, he’s not going to bark at them.
So this is where people ask if they’re “cheating” instead of “fixing” the problem. And the answer: nope!
The root of the problem was that scary things happened outside the window that made the dog react. And if we can’t control those scary things enough to train effectively, we eliminate those scary things.
Are there times when we can’t use management effectively? Sure! Are there times when management is just one part of the solution? Yep! But sometimes, managing the environment is BY FAR the best tool we have to change our dogs’ behavior!
If you need help with management or training, set up a private session!