Ep. 3: Management...What is That?

Feb 14, 2019

Maybe your dog chews your shoes or gets into the garbage or goes potty in the house. You reach out to a professional trainer or instructor and implore for them to give you a training solution and stat! However, many of these problems can be solved, or greatly improved, by simply using good management techniques.


Dianna L. Santos


Welcome to the It's Time to Train Your Dog Podcast. In this podcast, we talk about all things dog training, ways you'd be able to help your dog be a more successful canine companion management tips and much more. In this episode, I want to talk about what management actually is when we're talking about dog training.

Before we start diving into the episode itself, lemme just do a very quick introduction of myself. My name is Dianna Santos. I'm the Owner and Lead Instructor for Family Dog University, Dog Sport University, and Scent Work University. These are online dog training platforms where we focus on helping you achieve your dog training goals For Family Dog University, we have a couple of different training paths. We have our Perfect Puppies program, our family dog program, our real life skills program, canine good citizen prep, class prep, as well as shaping behavior program. We also offer private video lessons where you can work one-on-one with an instructor for 30 minutes, 45 minutes or 60 minute intervals. We also offer webinars, seminars, a regularly updated blog and also this podcast. So I urge you to check out Family Dog University because we can just find something there that you would be interested in. As far as myself, I'm a professional dog trainer and I've been training dogs professionally since 2011. I used to specialize in working with dogs that were reactive, aggressive, or fearful. I've also specialized in working within the dog sport of set mark. I'm a trial official and I've also worked for a competition organization. It's nice to know a little bit more about me. Let's dive into the podcast.

So when people first reach out to a trainer, a lot of the things that they're looking for are things such as, my dog steals my shoes, or my dog chews everything around the house, or my dog will go and they'll potty in the corner, oh, help me. And when you break it down, a lot of these things would actually be helped by having good management techniques. But then when you first start talking to people about it, they go, well, I thought I needed to train my dog. What's the training thing that I need to do to help my dog not do these things? And you start talking about actual management techniques and they're like, no, no, no, but what's the training thing I have to do? So what I wanted to talk about in this podcast was what management actually is and how it's actually different from training.

But that doesn't mean that it supersedes training or that it can replace training. They really should be done side by side or they should be done simultaneously. So basically management is a way that you can help set your dog up to succeed, whether they be a tiny little puppy, a brand new dog that you just adopted and brought into your household, or a dog that you've been living with for a while. Management is a way that you can help your dog be successful in any situation. The most common way that we describe it when we're talking about people living with their dogs is obviously within the house, but you could also use management when you're driving your dog from point A to point B. When you have your dog out in the world, when you bring your dog to different places, management isn't something that should be on or off.

It should be happening all the time. And a lot of people will hear about some of the suggestions that we offer as trainers or instructors of different management techniques and they go, Ooh, I don't know. That sounds kind of yucky. And the point is that management is supposed to A, help your dogs remain successful in any given situation, and B, oftentimes it's to help keep them safe. It's never supposed to be used as a punishment. It's never supposed to be used as something that your dog will dread, your dog will be fearful of, or your dog will look as though it's something that's really either painful or scary or really negative. That's not what management is. If something that you're doing falls into one of those categories, then it's not management, it's something else. And we should probably reevaluate and do something else. So I want to talk about in this episode is what management really is.

Give you a couple of examples and then just help you kind of reevaluate the way that you may be doing things. So management is something that, again, every single dog owner, regardless of what your goals are with your dog, whether it's I simply just want to have a nice family companion, we can go out every now and again for a walk or to play some ball, but I just want someone, a little tiny dog or a large dog, any size dog that's a part of my family. It's there as part of my family unit, whether it's that situation or I want to be competing with my dog, going from one part of the country to another, doing shows and doing all this craziness, no matter your situation, you have to use management if you're going to be successful in living with your dog. And at this point you're like, okay lady, what is management?

So management is a catchall term that professionals use to try and describe ways that you can interact with your dog to help set them up to succeed. So a really common example of a thing for management is limiting your dog's access to different parts of your house. And there are a couple of different ways you can do that. You can have it where you just close certain doors to certain rooms. You could have maybe baby gates up to block off certain pathways to certain parts of the house, or you could have your dog on a leash so that they're always connected to you at least in the beginning. Maybe when you first adopt your dog or you first bring your puppy home, then you also have things such as X pens where you be able to have the dog inside the X pen or you can have a crate or you have the dog inside of a crate.

But all of these things, the common thread is that you are limiting where it is that your dog can go within a given space and right out of the gate, a lot of people say, but that sounds so mean. And I think we have to remember that our dogs are very small and our homes are very large to a dog. A house isn't really the way that we see a house. The way that you and I see our house, whether it be an actual house or an apartment, is it's all within one contained area, meaning that we know the entire living space is the inside, meaning that it's all the same, even though there is a kitchen and a bathroom and a living room and everything else. Those are all still parts of our living space. There's not one part that is deemed not to be part of where we live.

It's not as though, sure, I think that my living room is my living space, but I don't think that my kitchen is my living space. If it's inside where you live, it's your home, it's your house. But that's not the same for your dog. Your dog goes into this giant space and they say, okay, well my food, my water bowl are over here. My toys are over there and my bed is here. Now 90% of the space that's left is free reign, meaning that maybe those would be good places for me to potty. Maybe there'll be good places for me to find things to chew on and entertain myself. Maybe there'd be good things for me to explore, maybe climb up on something and rummage around and see what I can find. And it's not that your dog is trying to be naughty. It's not that your dog is trying to make your life difficult.

There's simply being a dog, and particularly when we're talking about house training, this is why it could be really difficult for people because they go, I don't understand why the dog keeps potting in the house. It's because the dog doesn't understand that the entire house is actually your house. They just think that, okay, this is the place where I eat. This is the place where I sleep. This is the place where I play. Everything else is potty up for grabs. Basically I can potty anywhere else in this space. It's really far away from where I do all this other stuff. So we're good. We have to help our dogs understand the difference. And one of the ways that we can do that on top of a good potty routine is to actually have it so that our dogs are limited as far as where it is that they can be within the given space.

And one of the ways that we can do this again, is by using these different barriers, whether it just be simply closing a door to a certain room using baby gates, using X pens, using crates. And it's not that these things are meant to be bad, it's simply preventing your dog from going into areas that they quite frankly just don't really need access to begin with. And also so you can keep them under supervision, particularly when you first bring them into your home. They don't need to have full range to a 800 to 2000 square foot space. That's crazy. They don't need that much space. You can absolutely give them a little bit more free reign when you're out maybe in your yard with them still under supervision. Ideally it's fenced in so that you can ensure that they're safe. But here's another example of management would be having a fenced in yard is ensuring that your dog is indeed safe.

That if they happen to see a squirrel, they don't run through your yard the next yard, the other yard, and then get into a busy street where there's traffic. That would be horrible. We don't want your dog to be hit by a car. So I think when we start explaining what management is in those terms, where it doesn't quite seem so limiting to the dog in what people think is a negative way, in a way that the dog would somehow be really upset by it makes a little bit more sense. But I think it also helps, we put this in human terms. If you had a toddler, you wouldn't just simply have them walk around your house or investigate your entire house, particularly if you were doing construction in part of your house, you would absolutely have a baby gate up. That's why they're called baby gates.

You would ensure that that toddler was under supervision most of the time, as often as possible. Whenever they were up and they were moving around where they could possibly hurt themselves, somebody would be watching them. It's the same thing with your dog, particularly when you first bring them into your home. And whether it is you buy a dog, you adopt a dog, whatever. When soon as you bring them into your space, you need to help them understand what the rules are and you want to set them up to succeed. This is where management can make a really big difference. Lemme just give you another example to try to help this make a little bit more sense. Let's say that you have a dog and you may have had them for a while even, and you know that they like to chew your shoes. This is a common thing that professionals get, oh, my dog chews my shoes.

What can I do training wise to fix that? And my first answer is, well, why don't you just limit your dog's access to your shoes and the people look at you and they go, what? It's like, well, couldn't you put your shoes somewhere that your dog doesn't have access to? Meaning, if you're going to have your shoes in your room, could you just put your shoes up on the top shelf so that your dog wouldn't be able to get them maybe inside a closed closet? And they say, I guess I'm like, okay, problem solved. No training necessary. Dog cannot get shoes. Shoes are up really high behind a closed door. You're good. And they go, really? That's it? It's like, yeah, it's the same thing with your child. Again, talking about toddlers. If you're like, oh, my toddler is always breaking my dishes, okay, but why does your toddler have access to your dishes?

Why does your toddler have access to your priceless china? Maybe have it so that the toddler isn't anywhere near the place where you store your precious China. It's a really easy solution. It's not as though we have to go into this whole teaching moment with the child who's not going to understand it anyway, I think it's really fun. I pick this shiny thing up, I throw it on the floor, it shatters into a lot of pieces and mommy and daddy go, that seems kind of fun. It's the same thing with our dogs, particularly when they're going after things that have our smell on it. A lot of time they're doing it because they're bored or they're doing it because they may be a little stressed or they may be a little bit lonely if we aren't home when they're doing these things. So they may actually be trying to self-soothe.

There are other things obviously that you can do and you should be doing in order to help them feel a bit better to help them feel a little bit more secure to help keep them a little bit more occupied. But the easiest thing to do right out of the gate is to just limit their access to those things that they tend to get in trouble in doing. So, if they like to chew your shoes, just simply avoid them having access to your shoes. And then you can work on the other things as far as in training, maybe implementing a training program where your dog is actually using their brain is working themselves out both mentally and physically because a tire dog is a good dog. That adage is absolutely true. And also having other things in place where maybe your dog feels a little bit better about you leaving them if you had to go to work or if you even just had to go to the store.

Maybe you just had to go down the road really quick in order to do an errand. You want your dog to be comfortable enough in those moments so that they don't feel like they have to self-soothe by being destructive. So people will ask, okay, I'm kind of understanding this, but I still feel bad. I feel like I'm being mean. I don't want to be mean to my dog. And management isn't mean. Again, it all matters in how you use it and how it is that you implement it. But management is a way of keeping your dog safe. And it actually is a way of helping your dog stay happy. Because if your dog, first of all safe, they're obviously going to be a lot happier than if they're not safe or if they're hurt. But it's also going to help make things really clear for them and to help set them up for success so that they don't get themselves into a situation where they're either hurt or they get themselves into trouble.

That's not going to be a happy dog, and that's not going to be a happy you either. So the most common type of management that people kind of struggle with are crates. And the one thing that I would try to stress to anyone who I work with is that crates are a management tool. They should never be used as a punishment. And if you use crate training correctly, your dog will love their crate. They will actually choose to go into their crate. They will enjoy being in their crate. Their crate is a safe place, but their crate should not take the, of you actually spending time with your dog. The crate should not be the place that your dog spends the majority of their time. That's not what a crate is for. A crate is there to help your dog feel safe, to keep your dog safe, and to be a place where they can rest.

So I'll give you an example of what I did with my own dog. When I purchased the doorman that I have now, I purchased him from a breeder. He was returned by his previous owner who had gotten ill. And I was very fortunate enough to be selected by the breeder to be able to bring him into my life. So he was already a year and a half old. He had lots of good behaviors on him already. He had already gone through house training. He was past the puppy stage, but he's still brand new to me and he's still brand new to my house. We still, we limited where he could go and we don't live in a large house at all. It's actually fairly small, but we wouldn't let him into all the rooms. And if I had to go somewhere, I was working as a professional trainer at the time and there wasn't going to be anyone home, I would have him inside of a crate.

And we obviously worked on that as soon as I got him to make sure that he enjoyed his crate, that it was a safe place for him to be. And I would give him oftentimes a chew, either a stuffed Kong or maybe a bully stick or something like that along with some bedding. And in the beginning, I would make certain that he wasn't going to be alone very long. So maybe a half hour at the absolute most. And then we would stretch it out. The longer that I had him, how long was I using a crate with him? When I would leave? Honestly, for the first year and a half, anytime that there was not going to be anyone home, he went inside of his crate and he was completely fine with that. You could just say the word he would run on in, he would lay down, he'd get his treats, and he was good.

He would just sleep. But it was a way that I can ensure that when he was home alone, he was safe. And then when we started making the transition of where he'd be able to be out and alone, we did it sporadically. We did it where we were only going to be away for maybe 10 minutes, maybe we had to do a really quick errand, then it was a half hour, then we would use the crate again. So it would come and go in that transition period of sometimes he'd be out and sometimes he would be in the crate. We probably did that for another month, maybe two. And then we just went straight to, okay, we're not going to use the crate anymore. And he's never been destructive. He's never gotten himself into trouble. And he has full range of the entire house except for one room that we keep closed all the time, just because it's really a storage room.

And he just sleeps when we're not home. He doesn't do anything. He doesn't destroy anything. It's fine. But the point being that we had spent so much time showing him what it was that we were expecting, and we had set him up to succeed so that he had the opportunity to be successful. He still loves his crate. He has multiple crates. He has his crate that we used to use in the house that's actually all folded up. It's not even in use at all. But another crate that he has is our travel crate. So if we go to a show or if we're going to a class or a seminar or something, or even if we're just training with a friend or if we're going to a park, I can set up his travel crate. He goes right into it. He loves it. And that's what you want.

You want your dog to say, oh, that's home base. That's a safe place for me to be. And a lot of people view crates as this really negative gross thing. And it's not supposed to be. Crates are supposed to be a way to keep your dog safe. It's not supposed to be punishment. So just to wrap up, I wanted to put a fine point on where management fits in with training. And I think that a lot of people miss the mark in that once they understand management, they think that's all they need. Or there are other people who think all you need is training when in reality you need both and you need both all the time. And it shouldn't be something that you think about. It's not going to be something that you really think about consciously all the time. So just as an example, you're probably using little forms of management right now.

You just don't even think about it. Anytime that you use a collar or a harness and a leash, you're using management because you're limiting where it is that your dog can go. You're keeping them safe. It's like holding your child's hand when you're in the parking lot. That's management. You're not allowing them to just run around all amuck, potentially getting hit by cars. It's the same thing with our dogs. We don't want them just running around where they could potentially get hit by a car. They can get into a potential dog fight with another dog. They could trip someone who was maybe running or jogging down our street. They could run into a bike and have that person go flying. That would be really bad. So these are just natural things that we do. But that is indeed management is using those tools in order to help our dog stay with us.

But here's the important part. When we use a collar or harness and a leash, that's a management tool. But we then need to use training to help our dog understand how it is. We want them to conduct themselves on leash. In other words, teaching them how to walk nicely on leash, to walk on our sides, to not pull, to not constantly zigzag in front of us, to not run in between our legs as we're walking, all these different things. So that's training, but you're using both at the same time. So I hope that makes a little bit more sense that these aren't completely separate paths that you're on. It's not as though it's an all or nothing thing. You either do management or you do training. You should be doing both, and you should be doing both all time. So if you want to have a little bit more information about management, the different types of management options that are out there, some ways that we have found that utilizing management for people who own dogs can be very helpful, I urge you to check out one of the webinars we actually have on the Family Dog University website.

It's called Mighty Management for Dog Owners. And in this presentation, we go through some very simple ways that people are able to utilize management and go through the various types of tools that would be available for you to help your dog be more successful. I think that webinar will be really helpful for you and can help you have a better idea of how management can be so incredibly useful when you have a dog living in your home. And then it can also open your mind to, okay, there are ways that I can implement management, and there are ways that I can use training and then I can meld the two together, and then me and my dog will be living in wonderful doggy zen. And that's always our goal, is to ensure that we're having a better life with our dogs, where things aren't quite so stressful and adversarial in our relationship where it's actually everything is kind of flowing along pretty nicely. And we have an expectation for our dogs. Our dogs know what the expectations are of them as far as the rules and the ways to be successful. And everyone just gets along a lot better. So I hope you find this podcast helpful again, having a good understanding of what management is and how it can interplay in our lives when we're living with our dogs could be a very helpful skill to have. Happy training, and we look forward to seeing you soon.