To answer this question, I like to give my clients a helpful analogy.
Treating reactivity is quite like treating a broken arm. When you’ve broken a bone, the first (and most important) step is to immobilize the limb and to stop using it.
This is because frequent use of a broken bone can prevent proper healing, or even make the break worse! During the healing process, a cast may be applied as the bone takes time to heal. Management, in this case, is functioning as the cast. We apply structure around a dog’s daily routine to provide a break from the frequent proximity of stressors.
Reactive dogs NEED a break from their triggers in order to come into the next steps feeling refreshed and less sensitized. Avoiding triggers during this period also helps to prevent rehearsal of the reactive episodes, weakening the pattern of feelings and behaviors your dog experiences in those moments.
Only AFTER management is added do we begin to add desensitization into the treatment plan!