There is a quick way to change your dog’s behavior!

No time for training?

Training can provide your dog with desirable long-term success, but what if you don’t have time to train or lack the desire? In many situations, management of the behavior can be the answer.

There are ways to improve your dog’s behavior without training. You can accomplish many goals by adjusting your dog’s environment to prevent him from rehearsing poor behaviors and being reinforced for things you don’t like. When you manage the situation or environment, you are preventing your dog from practicing undesirable behaviors. Any pesky behavior that your dog repeats over and over becomes stronger and more ingrained.

If you want a more permanent solution and do want to use training to teach your dog not to perform an inappropriate behavior, management still plays a critical role in success. Management is necessary while your dog is learning new, more appropriate behaviors.

Consider these steps when trying to modify an annoying doggy habit.

  1. Determine the issue: What do you want your dog to be doing instead of what he is currently doing that you don’t like?
  2. Use management: Brainstorm what you can do to keep your dog from being rewarded for the pesky, inappropriate behavior. Less rewarding of bad behavior = less frequent bad behavior.
  3. Train the appropriate behavior. Consistently and generously reinforce your dog for doing the wanted, appropriate behavior.


In the video above, we use the example of jumping on guests, but these steps are appropriate for many situations including potty training, lunging at critters outside, fighting with a housemate, growling when physically moved, and counter-surfing, to name a few.

Step 1: What do you want your dog to do instead? You can create a long-term training solution by teaching your dog to sit for petting instead of jumping.

Step 2: You can manage this annoying habit by using baby gates, crates, a short leash, or confinement in another room to keep your dog away from your visitors. If your jumping dog is no longer getting petted by your guest, he is not being reinforced for the behavior.

Step 3: If you choose to train your dog to be polite, place your dog on a leash so he cannot get close enough to your guest to practice the bad behavior of jumping up. Then consistently and generously reinforce your dog with the highest-value foods only when he sits without pulling or jumping toward your visitor. If he tries to pull or jump, the consequence can be to move away from the visitor, which is the opposite of what your dog desires.

You can see from this example, that Step 2 is a valid and solid solution if long-term training is not in the cards for whatever reason.

Remember, you must consistently apply your management technique to keep from strengthening the behavior. If it is applied sporadically, it will not have the desired effect.

If you are using only management techniques, be sure that it’s not a solution that can fail, such as forgetting to close the baby gate when your young grandchild comes over. If it is a serious issue, please consult a certified trainer or veterinary behaviorist for appropriate solutions.