Fading out Management




When it comes to effectively changing behaviour, preventing your dog practicing unwanted habits by implementing management such as barriers or putting them on a lead plays a huge part.

But it isn’t always the end goal. Eventually you might want to remove the barriers and know your dog can make good choices even with more freedom.

But how do you know if you’re ready to begin phasing out management?

The first step is to teach your dog a reliable alternative behaviour to the activity you’re preventing. This should be something that makes doing the unwanted activity impossible at the same time as the trained behaviour.

Let’s look at the example of teaching your dog to settle instead of counter surfing.

First practice with management in place so that they can’t jump up at any point during training, and continue to use management throughout the rest of the day so they don’t practice the unwanted behaviour when you’re not around.

When it is going well, do training sessions without management in place to get your dog making excellent choices even when they have more freedom.

At this stage you’ll want to leave the management in place any time you are not actively training together.

With practice you will find your dog becomes very reliable at doing the trained behaviour. You can begin to allow supervised access to areas you have been training in for longer during the day outside of set training sessions. Make sure to reward your dog any time they make good choices and offer the trained action throughout the day.

When this is going well you can begin to set up short periods of unsupervised time without management in place. Leave the room for tiny periods before coming back and rewarding your dog for making good choices while you were gone.

In time you can lengthen these periods, perhaps setting up a camera so you can watch your dog while you’re out of sight.

Eventually you can remove the management completely, but only when you have been through each of these steps.

If in doubt, play it safe and set your dog up to succeed by keeping management in place for a longer period.

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