The concept of management is very easy, and it's something that'll keep you from losing your mind. Bringing an animal into your home can be overwhelming. If you're getting (or already have) a puppy or kitten or a toy breed of dog, it's easier: when there's a problem, you pick them up, if you just need them corralled for a few minutes... but an hour can be more of a challenge, if your dog or cat isn't used to being managed. But if you get an adult cat or dog, it can be a different story... it often just isn't feasible to pick them up, but you need a way to keep them safe, or just keep them from rehearsing behaviors that you don't want them to rehearse, or just can't handle them being underfoot right now.
Think about these scenarios:
* You have a 5-month old Siberian husky (he's very "chewy"), and you have to pee. What do you do with him while you're in the bathroom? What do you do with him while you're at work for 8 hours?
* Your son and his girlfriend have a 5 year old 50-pound mix, and they want you to dog-sit while they take a weekend trip... you have a 12-yr-old mix, and a cat. How do you keep everyone safe? Do you know what has to happen at feeding time, to keep everyone in their own bowls? What about when you go to work?
* You've just adopted a 4-yr-old female cat at the shelter, and you already have an 8-yr-old female shepherd mix at home... how do you make introductions without anyone losing a limb or an eye? Do you have a way to keep the cat safe if you need to leave the house for an hour or 2?
*You're considering fostering a 3-yr-old Great Dane male, and you haven't had a dog in your home for a few years... you've been home for an hour, the dog is happily lying under the dining room table chewing on a chewy, and someone knocks on the door... do you know how to handle the ensuing bark fest at the door, and how to safely set things up so that you can actually answer the door without having your visitor mauled, jumped on, or just scared into screaming down the sidewalk?
This is where management comes in handy. Very simply, management is just a way of dealing with situations in a way that won't cause negative fallout or allow the animal to engage in behaviors that you don't want him to engage in. Basically, management techniques are ways of thinking ahead and using tried-and-true methods (or your imagination) to devise ways to allow you to be able to do what needs done until you can teach alternative ways of handling these situations. Teaching takes a lot more time, and repetition... management takes a minimum of time and teaching (but still takes some time and teaching), and acts as a bridge of sorts until you get the actual teaching in place. A lot of what I do with my animals is what I'd call management... because certain scenarios don't present themselves often enough for me to actually use training methodology. Tory knows how to behave if I take her to the door on-leash when someone rings the doorbell. She has no idea how to behave off-leash in the same scenario, so she mugs people, and it's hard to get her attention.
Items used to set up management for your animal might include a pet-proofed room, a crate, an exercise pen, a baby gate, a half door, a full door, a leash & collar, a tie-out line (tether), a 2-foot section of 2" x 4" or a section of plywood (to make a stationary board)... your imagination is the limit here. Basically, these items help to keep your sanity when you're devising ways to teach appropriate behavior (because animals aren't born knowing this stuff). These devices enable you to function day-to-day while teaching more desirable behaviors.
See Articles of Management for ideas on the specifics of how to set things up while you and your animal are learning companionship. It will really help.
If you have questions about situations like the ones outlined above, feel free to request a text chat, below right. There are also lots of other ways to get my help -- click here!
Brenda Rushman CCBC