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Mastering Environmental Management for Dogs: 9 Strategies for Positive Behavior | Pupford

January 18th, 2024

Filed under Training

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As a dog owner, you have probably heard the term Environmental Management before. We reference it frequently in our blog posts and it is a common tool used by dog trainers.

Utilizing environmental management techniques cultivates an environment that not only encourages positive behaviors but also mitigates the occurrence of undesirable ones.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the significance of environmental management and the different ways to manage your dog’s environment - from crates and exercise pens to barriers and household management strategies - that will help you achieve your training goals and create a better relationship with your pup.

Table of Contents:

  1. What is Environmental Management for Dogs?
  2. 9 Types of Environmental Management

Let's look at each section below. 👇

What is Environmental Management for Dogs?

At its essence, environmental management in dog training is the deliberate and strategic control of a dog’s physical surroundings to influence its behavior positively. By thoughtfully shaping the environment, you can create conditions that set your dog up for success by making it easier for them to make a desired choice when it comes to behavior. Environmental management strategies align with positive reinforcement and can help support training plans for behavioral challenges.

Environmental management involves creating learning environments that provide context and predictability for our dogs. Dogs, like humans, respond to their surroundings, by altering these surroundings we can help influence their behavior.

One of the key goals of environmental management is to prevent the development or progression of problem behaviors. This proactive approach recognizes that by managing the dog’s environment effectively, the likelihood of them engaging in unwanted behaviors is significantly reduced. Instead of reacting to issues as they arise, you can preemptively set the stage for success by employing environmental management tools.

A dog’s temperament, learning history, genetics, health, and environment all influence behavior. Environmental management techniques can be adapted to fit the individual needs of each dog and can continue to be altered as they grow or their needs change. This personalized approach ensures that the environment is tailored to facilitate learning for the individual dog.

9 Types of Environmental Management

Let's look at some examples of environmental management tools and strategies that you can utilize. Here are some top environmental management tools:

  1. Crates
  2. Exercise pens
  3. Baby gates
  4. Leashes
  5. Window film/blinds
  6. Box fans
  7. Tethering stations
  8. Backyard barriers
  9. Household management

Let's take a deeper look at each one below. 👇

1- Crates

someone crate training their dog | Pupford

For many dogs, crates serve as a safe space where they can escape. When used appropriately, crates become valuable tools for managing a dog's environment by preventing destructive behaviors, aiding in-house training, and providing a retreat during stressful situations.

Crates can be used to keep dogs separated from guests visiting the home or other dogs in the home while working on behaviors such as resource guarding. They are also a great tool to utilize when your dog can’t be supervised or when left home alone.

Learn about how to properly crate train your dog in our Crate Training Guide.

2- Exercise Pens

Exercise pens, or playpens, are portable enclosures that allow controlled movement while offering more freedom than a crate. These are a great tool to use to give dogs access to only a portion of a room, such as in the center of a living room, away from furniture or electronics.

Exercise pens are versatile, providing a balance between freedom and confinement. Unlike crates, they are not as secure, which means for some dogs they may not be ideal when leaving your dog home alone.

🐶 For even more dog training advice and techniques, sign up for our 100% free 14 Day Essential Dog Training Course. Get started here!

3- Baby Gates

a dog gate keeping a puppy out of the laundry room | Pupford

Baby gates are my personal favorite environmental management tool. They are an effective tool for creating physical boundaries within the home but do not confine your dog and can easily be modified by simply leaving the gate open.

You can use them to keep dogs out of specific rooms that may elicit unwanted behaviors such as in a kid’s room with toys on the ground, or the kitchen while you have food out on the counters. They are also a great tool to use to create a second barrier in the home for dogs who are prone to door dashing.

4- Leashes

Of course, you probably already know what a great tool leashes are for managing your dog’s movement outside on walks, but leashes can also be used inside. I typically recommend this environmental management strategy for small dogs or puppies, but you can use this with large dogs as well.

By tethering your dog to you using a leash, you can better supervise them without confining them to one area of the home. This allows you to reward desirable behaviors and prevent unwanted behaviors.

PS- We offer highly-rated 6-foot leashes here!

5- Window Film/Blinds

a dog sitting near a window with blinds to help manage their environment | Pupford

Windows can be a source of excitement and distraction for dogs. Window film or blinds help manage the visual stimuli from the outside world, reducing reactivity to passing people, animals, or vehicles This is particularly beneficial for dogs prone to barking or exhibiting anxiety.

Do you need help reducing barking? Try implementing the Thank You Protocol.

6- Box Fans

Box fans are a great tool to have on hand for dogs with noise phobias or sound sensitivity. Box fans, unlike a normal fan, help to redirect outside noise making it difficult for dogs to pinpoint where a specific noise is coming from, such as neighbors walking down the hallway or fireworks. It also provides white noise which can be soothing for some dogs. Just be sure to not face the fan directly towards your dog.

If your dog is sound-sensitive, check out our sound desensitization blog post!

7- Tethering Stations

If having your dog tethered to you doesn’t work for you or your dog doesn’t like to be confined to a crate, try a tethering station! This is a fixed area where your dog is tethered to limit their movement.

Ideally, your dog should have a bed or blanket to lay on while they are tethered. This is a great alternative for dogs who can’t yet stay in a ‘Place’ cue. Just be sure your dog is tethered safely, ideally to a hook attached to a wall. Putting a leash under chairs or table legs can be dangerous. This should also be for short-term use, not for long periods of time.

🐶 For even more dog training advice and techniques, sign up for our 100% free 14 Day Essential Dog Training Course. Get started here!

8- Backyard Barriers

fence barriers can help reduce barrier agression | Pupford

This type of barrier will vary depending on your dog’s specific needs and the layout and design of your backyard. Here are some examples of backyard barriers based on behavior:

Visual barrier on the fence: If your dog is prone to barking at the fenceline, use something to block their view, such as vinyl slats or attaching a tarp. If they can’t see the stimuli, it will help to prevent the barking behavior.

Coyote Rollers: If you have a dog who can climb or jump your fence, try installing coyote rollers on the top of the fence. This is essentially a tube that spins when touched so dogs (and other animals) can’t jump over it.

9- Household Management

Household management is crucial for preventing access to items that may tempt a dog’s curiosity. This management may look different for every household, but some examples are keeping doors to certain rooms closed and ensuring that items such as shoes, kids' toys, and TV remotes are always picked up and put away out of reach.

This helps keep your dog safe from swallowing potentially hazardous items and prevents you from feeling frustrated when your items get chewed up. Learn more puppy proofing tips here.

Environmental Management for Dogs Recap

dog behind a door to manage their environment | Pupford

Utilizing environmental management techniques cultivates an environment that not only encourages positive behaviors but also mitigates the occurrence of undesirable ones.

Hopefully, these 9 strategies have given you a better understanding of managing your dog's environment!

For even more dog training advice and techniques, sign up for our 100% free 14 Day Essential Dog Training Course. Get started here!


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