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Learning to Learn

Articles of Management


Management is a very important aspect of teaching… it’s important to both deny access to situations which prove to be “too much” for the training/skill level, while providing means of gaining reinforcement for appropriate behaviors. This “denying access” is management. Examples of management tools:


Head collars -- A head collar is like a horse's bridle, without the bit. The Halti head collar is the best one, and it consists of a collar that goes around the dog's neck, with a nose loop attached... the nose loop keeps the dog from dragging you down the street. When the dog pulls, the nose loop causes his head to be pulled down *gently*, so he stops pulling. A head collar reduces the pull of a 170-pound male down to 4.4 pounds... they're wonderful!!

The headcollar isn't intended as a corrective collar -- I tell people that they're a "restraining" collar, rather than a "training" collar. The headcollar is intended simply as a means of controlling the bulk of the dog, while you teach appropriate behavior.






This is a half door at the top of my stairs; it leads down into the finished basement, where our living room, laundry room, bedroom, and master bath are located.  We spend a lot of time down here, so it's gated to keep things safe for the animals.  I built this myself; I cut a full-length door in half, then added a shelf across the top, and painted it.  Baby gates and half-doors – these, of course, simply deny access to parts of the home.


Crates – crates further confine the dog, keeping him and your home safe. Used properly, the crate is probably the single most effective management tool available. Very versatile.  I have several crates in my home, even though my animals aren't routinely crated.  I have crates for the cats, for vetting purposes.  I have a crate in the dining room with a squishy bed in it; Tory and the cats share it.


Muzzles – responsible ownership may require the use of a muzzle… if you think that your dog might bite under certain situations, then I suggest that he be trained to love his muzzle before that situation presents itself!  Even Tory is trained to wear a muzzle, just in case.  You train to a muzzle in much the same fashion as you do to a head collar.

Stationary boards come in various sizes, depending on what you're using it for... the one shown at the left is a 4 ft x 8 ft sheet of plywood, with 2 holes drilled in the center.  Feed the leash down through one hole, and back up through the other hole, then through itself to anchor the leash in the center.  Hook the dog to the leash, and he can't go anywhere but on the board.  The leash has to be short enough that it won't allow him to leave the sheet of board.

 This one can allow you to take the dog to any room big enough to accommodate the size of the board, or even outside.



The stationary board at the left is a 2-foot length of 2" x 4", with the end of the leash wrapped around. Feed the clasp through the handle, pull tight, slide the board behind the door, and CLOSE the door. When you hook the clasp to the dog's collar, he's restrained. ONLY leave appropriate chewing items within reach!

This one allows you to take him to any room with a door in it, so that he can always be within line of sight.


Leashes – leashes and leads come in many lengths, styles, and colors. When you have big pully dogs, those leather leashes are easier on the hands. I like to have these available in 3 lengths, and what I use depends on the situation… the traffic lead is a 1-foot lead that I use for “close-quarter” work, like taking the dog to the vet’s office.  When I bring a foster dog into my home, I leave one of these short leashes attached to the collar as means of getting hold of the dog if I need to.


I also have 4-foot and 6-foot lengths that I use for walking (the 4-foot ones are for my Saints, and the 6-foot ones are for my smaller dogs – the dog’s height dictates which one I use). I put a knot in the leash, about every foot, to help me maintain my grip.


Doggie doors -- doggie doors can either be your saving grace, or the bane of your existence, depending on whether it’s raining, and whether the dog is going out the doggie door, or coming in the doggie door. {grin} If it’s raining, and they’re going out, you’re singing the praises of the doggie door… because you’re not going out into the rain.


Of course, if the dogs are coming in out of the rain… you may feel like you’ll never see the true color of the kitchen floor, again. {grin} All told, though, I recommend them highly, particularly if you’ve got a dog that has trouble with housetraining issues.

Note: remember that when you're teaching the dog to 'potty' outside, you have to MARK the 'potty' behavior and reinforce it... I once taught a dog to go outside through the dog door, turn around on the step, and come back in (where she collected her reward).  I didn't realize what I'd done... she got her reinforcement.  Then she peed on the floor.

Happens to the best of us. lol

Brenda Rushman, CCBC

9.24.21 stationary board.jpg
9.24.21 stationary board 2.jpg

At the left is a picture of the run I installed in a corner of my living room.  It's 8 ft long, 5 ft wide, 5 ft tall.  There's a full-length door in the end, tall enough for a human to walk through.  My cats use it sometimes; my foster dogs hang out there when we're relaxing in the living room, if we're working on stuff like being calm around the cats.  I sit inside with the dog, and the cats come to the kennel for squeezy cheese through the bars.  In addition, there's a crate in the dining room upstairs for my convenience, that I use for teaching purposes throughout the day.


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