The value of good management is often overlooked and underestimated. Management involves baby gates, keeping the kitchen counter free of food, and crates. It prevents the dog from practicing a bad behavior, often a behavior that, while not “good” in human eyes, can be highly rewarding to a dog. For example, if a dog chases the cat through the house, he has practiced “bad” behavior and had a grand time doing so. However, if you utilize baby gates in the house or keep the dog on lead when he is getting accustomed to living with a cat, he is prevented from discovering how fun being “bad” can be. Successful management of dog-cat interactions will increase your chances of him learning to behave in a calm and gentle manner with your cats. Management keeps the cat safe and protects the dog from making an undesirable choice of action.
If you keep your kitchen counter free of food, the dog never learns the joy of jumping up to counter-surf and the amazing discoveries to be made on the counter. On the other hand, if you have a few goodies within reach of a large dog, he will be wonderfully rewarded (and remember, behavior that is rewarded will be repeated) each time he counter-surfs and finds something yummy to eat. Yelling at him hours later, when you walk in the house at the end of the day, is, at best, pointless and ineffective. At worst, your dog is confused and scared upon your re-entering the house, not knowing why you get angry, definitely not understanding that your yelling is because he ate the food on the counter hours ago.
Life with dogs is extremely rewarding and can be even more so when using a combination of training AND management. Help your dog make the right choices. Set him or her up for success by removing temptations and preventing inappropriate choices. Doing so is much more pleasant for both of you, as well as more effective. Management helps make your efforts spent training more successful, and you will achieve the desired results even sooner. Prevent him from making mistakes and help him to succeed. Simple as that.