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Management Tools

This week I’m focusing on a few of the many tools that you can use to shape your dog's space, reduce stimuli in your dog's environment, and keep your dog and others safe.

Crates, baby gates, and exercise pens allow you to arrange your dog's space, giving you the option to contain him and prevent a number of behaviors. For puppies, crates can help in potty training while your older dog may like having a crate as a safe place to go when kids or younger dogs are around. Baby gates and exercise pens allow your puppy more room to move even as they keep her in one area when you can't supervise her, preventing surprise potty accidents, furniture chewing, and other destruction. With a well-placed baby gate, you can also thwart your escape-artist dog's attempts to dash out the door whenever it opens. And your exercise pen can preserve your record recollection when you leave your dog home alone.

For dogs who react to people, dogs, or other animals passing your house, you can close your curtains or try using removable opaque film to limit your dog's view outside. A box fan, a radio, or the television (or any of these in combination) may help mask sounds coming from outside or elsewhere in the house, making it easier for your dog to remain calm. If you have a chain link fence, cover it with slats or fabric to reduce your dog's temptation to rush the fence as the world walks by.

Muzzles can prevent your dog from biting someone or inhibit them from eating off the ground. Leashes and long-lines curb your dog's ability to run off on walks. Long-lines can help with recall training, too, or give your dog more freedom to sniff in the park. If you have a dog who pulls hard on leash, a harness will protect his neck while you teach him to walk with a loose leash (it won’t teach him not to pull, however). If you're worried about your dog slipping out of her harness, you can get a clip that connects the harness to her collar.

Some tools, like muzzles and crates (and harnesses for some dogs), require acclimation. In the final post of this month I'll include resources to help you put these tools in place. If you have management tools that I didn't mention or use the ones I listed in different ways, let us know in the comments!

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