Training Your Dog vs. Managing Behavior – What’s the Difference?
Contrary to popular belief, dog training and behavior management are not the same thing. As any well-educated pup parent knows, there’s a distinct difference between the two. The key to a well-rounded and well-behaved dog is actually a combination of behavior management and training. Learning when to deploy each method will lead to a much happier life with your dog.
Training Your Dog
Whether it be basic commands such as sit, down, and stay or more complicated tasks such as navigating an agility course, training involves teaching your dog something new. Training can be used to resolve common issues like teaching your dog not to jump on guests when they come over or to stop relieving himself in the house.
There are various tools that can be used to train your dog, ranging from a standard leash and flat collar to remote collars and more. In our next post, we’ll dive deeper into some of the common tools used for training and behavior management.
Above all other training tools, however, is knowledge – the most important training tool. Learning about your dog’s specific breed, temperament, exercise needs and more will provide you with the necessary knowledge to ensure your pup gets the training and activity he needs.
Although training your dog can address a multitude of behavioral issues, it can’t solve everything – which is where behavior management comes in.
Managing Your Dog’s Behavior
At its core, managing your dog’s behavior entails controlling aspects of your dog’s environment to prevent certain behaviors. Behavior management doesn’t involve teaching your dog something new, but rather avoiding or minimizing exposure to stimuli that trigger the problem behavior.
For example, if your dog is aggressive toward other dogs, you can manage that behavior by avoiding triggering settings like a busy dog park or crowded areas where there’s likely to be other dogs. While you may not be able to completely rid your dog of its aggression, controlling the environment around your dog helps its behavior become much less of an issue.
Similar to tools used for training, there are also various tools that can be used for behavior management. Common behavior management tools include special collars such as headcollars, martingales, and prong collars, no-pull harnesses, and crates. These tools allow you to better control your dog’s behavior and manage the environment around them.
Combining the Two
It’s important to note that training and behavior management are not mutually exclusive. Any well-balanced program includes both training and behavior management techniques, and the line between training and managing behavior often gets a little blurry with the introduction of behavior management tools such as crates and head halters.
Take crate training, for example. In most cases, crate training a dog doesn’t mean you’re teaching them anything new, aside from learning how to adapt to a common tool used to manage behavior. Instead, you’re keeping your dog safe by controlling his environment and managing his behavior until he learns what is acceptable.
The same principle also applies with other behavior management tools such as head halters. Many dog owners use these halters, which are designed to prevent pulling, as a temporary way to bridge the gap when teaching their dog acceptable leash behavior.
As with any behavior management tool, once the dog learns what behavior is and isn’t acceptable, you can begin to slowly wean your dog off the tool. However, not all dog owners choose to employ behavior management tools in this way. Some may decide to rely on these tools as a long-term solution, rather than training the dog to modify its behavior.
Ultimately, setting realistic expectations about what can and cannot be accomplished through training – and when it’s time to turn to behavior management – will result in less frustration and better behavior from your pup. It’s also worth noting that it’s always recommended to first consult a professional when determining what training tools and techniques will work best for your dog. As a pet owner, you can set your pup up for success by recognizing the difference between training and behavior management and knowing when it’s time to employ each method.
Stay tuned for part two, where we dig deeper into the specific tools used for training and behavior management.
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