Setting Boundaries for your Dog

Picture this: your new rescue dog has come from a life on the streets or in the shelter. Desired human contact is a treat. Unconditional love is more than they can imagine. Then, they get rescued, travelled, fostered – lots of changes, but when they get adopted – OH MY – this is the life! New toys, lots of treats, food, walks – they even let me sleep wherever I want – even the human spots! Every day gets better and better and better – this must go on forever, right????? Wrong – and this is where the humans need to step in.
Your new dog is still a DOG. You may love her to bits and want to give her everything. Believe me, you have already given her more than she ever thought possible. What you need to give her, that she has never known – is boundaries. Once you adopt your dog, set up training immediately. Whether it be in-home sessions or at a local pet store – you will know what suits your needs best.

You will know if your dog has confusion over boundaries if:

• He is not respecting the family pecking order (people, people, people, then dog). Going through doors first, or barges ahead of you on steps, is rude to visitors.
• Favouring one person, at the expense of another
• Snarls or snaps when asked to do something
• Sits on the couch, furniture without being invited
• Hoards toys, treats, food

Your role:

• Training / Consistency
• Do not allow “people behaviour” – get them off beds, couches, furniture, laps, etc.
• Have a word for “no” (that isn’t “no”). “Uh uh”, or a noise/word that you never use otherwise.
• Make them work for everything. Toys, treats, affection. You are the boss. They are the dog.
• Provide love and affection and food and shelter – in a person-to-dog kind of way.
• Be realistic. Your dog isn’t perfect. Address any shortcomings – immediately.

Some tips from an online article:

Get back to basics – Basic obedience lays the groundwork for troubleshooting problem behaviour, and basic commands can be incredibly useful in a tense situation. For example, if your dog has a solid “sit-stay,” you can use it to keep her calm in another part of the house when someone knocks on the door. Pet gates and a crate will also help in this regard, as a temporary fix while you are working on mastering the command (to avoid your dog charging the door). Even if you’ve already been through basic obedience training with your dog, a refresher will help both of you focus and bond. Aim for a few five-minute sessions each day, and be sure to make training worth it by offering rewards.

Nothing in life is free – Once your dog has mastered the basics, you can reinforce good behaviour by practicing “Nothing in Life is Free” training. It’s time to re-train your dog (and yourself) that all resources come from you. Again, start small: require your dog to “sit” before you reward him by putting the leash on to take a walk, or sustain a “down” command for a few minutes before being released to eat his dinner. Asking your dog to work for everything he wants is a positive, safe way to remind him that you control the resources, and can greatly reduce guarding behaviour.

No dog is perfect – rescue or breeder –adult or puppy. But your role as their “person” is to provide the tools, resources, and training to help them cope and be happy in the world that you’ve selected for them. A little investment in them at the beginning will go a long way.

And – fret not – this is not forever!!!  Once your dog learns routine and rules, you can deviate if you really really want to.  But – setting a foundation, sets you both up for success.