I truly believe that management is one of the major keys to success in dog training. Whether you have an adult dog or an impressionable little puppy, managing your dog’s environment so that you prevent them from practicing unwanted behaviors is a much better strategy than correcting bad ones.
I have worked with countless puppy owners who have complained about their dogs eating their socks, underwear, and expensive pairs of shoes. I’ve also encountered people with dogs who had more serious behavioral issues, for instance, holding guests hostage by biting them when they tried to leave. Although active training to teach your dog more appropriate behaviors is crucial, having control over their environment so that the dogs don’t have the opportunities to eat those Prada shoes or bite Aunt Martha in the rear as she leaves is also critical.
When you have a young puppy, it’s essential to puppy proof the house. Get down on your hands and knees and crawl around at dog level. What do you see? Do you think that’s something Sadie will want to nibble on? If so, the item should come off the ground. Will Ruff have a heyday with your socks? I bet and therefore you should put them in your dresser. Is there a way to stow away electrical cords so that it doesn’t become Fido’s next chew toy? Hardware stores sell covers so you can hide your cables.
Refusing to let guests leave is a more serious behavior issue and can cause great harm to those near the dog. This is even more reason to manage Rocky’s environment so that he doesn’t find himself in a compromising situation. Rather than letting Rocky charge the door every time, it would be better and safer to have him on leash when guests are present and hold onto it when people leave. Confinement to a crate or simply another room would also work well.
The moral of the story is, there’s almost always a way to help your dog to succeed. Actively training your dog to perform behaviors that are incompatible to those you don’t want them engaging in is fantastic, but I think a concerted effort also needs to be made to prevent them from picking up or exercising already learned bad habits.
I think people believe that dog training is difficult, which is not always the case. They forget that sometimes there is actually a simple solution.