The importance of teaching your pup boundaries.
...or al least not yet.
The reason we train our puppies is so they are well behaved and fun to live with. A well trained dog is a dog you can take anywhere. A well trained dog is a dog that defers to you for leadership. They look to you for guidance when making behavioural decisions.
Your five week course at the Vet Clinic will help you develop a leadership model which is easy for you to continue with once the five weeks is up.
Part of teaching your dog that you are the leader and getting them to defer their behavioural choices to you is done through teaching and then enforcing boundaries in the home.
Boundaries are vital in teaching your dog to accept your leadership because:
- If you are the gatekeeper, your dog needs you. If you teach your dog that there are certain areas they need to halt until they are invited through, your dog needs you allow them to enter. When a dog needs you they are more likely to pay attention to you under distraction and acknowledge your commands.
- If your dog has to stop at a boundary, they have to think. In making a dog halt at the boundary, they have to take a moment to consider the command. In doing so, you are interrupting their thought process with leadership. Instead of focusing on distractions, they are having to focus on your boundary. They are thinking about what you want, rather than reacting to a distraction.
- If you control the environment you control the dog. By teaching your dog boundaries your dog is more likely to respect your house. If your dog has an all access pass throughout your house and garden they are less likely to respect your property. If they have complete access, they think they own it. Teaching boundaries will also help you teach your puppy to refrain from destroying your property.
How is it done?
We use the same pattern of praise if the dog gets the activity right (in this case, halts at the boundary), of warning if the dog is about to make a mistake (moving towards the boundary) and a ‘no’ and circle if the dog makes the mistake (goes through the boundary.) If the dog gets a correction, we need to re set and re try – in this case take the dog back over the boundary and try it until they get it right. When they get it right praise, praise, praise.
Not every doorway should be a boundary. But the doorways you decide to make a boundary need to be maintained and policed by you in the early days to make sure your dog isn’t sneaking through when you are not looking. There should be boundaries which stop the dog going inside, until they are invited and a few boundaries inside the house which make the dog halt, in high traffic areas. Good examples of inside boundaries are between the living room and the kitchen and between the living room and the hallway. Do not choose a boundary you cannot keep an eye on. If your dog can wander through when you are not looking, all you are doing is teaching your dog to be sneaky and wait until your head is turned.
You should not be asking your dog to sit to stop them going through the boundary, nor should you be doing this exercise on lead and holding the dog back from the boundary. Like with all of our training, mistakes are good. Mistakes help us show the dog exactly what they got wrong, and gives us an opportunity to re set the exercise, to help them get it right next time. At first your dog will make a great deal of mistakes when it comes to boundaries. At first they won’t understand, later on they will be distracted and won’t remember, at other times they might not even care. It is your job to monitor the boundary and directly teach your dog.
So, what is the problem with owning a doggie door? From puppy classes and this fact sheet it should become clear that teaching your puppy boundaries is important! If you have an open all times access past your boundaries then it is defeating the purpose of enforcing boundaries in the first place. Remember, if the dog thinks they can go in and out of the house without your permission it will be more likely to act as though they own your house (and anything delightfully chew-worthy inside). If you have a doggie door, you need to make sure there are times when the door is locked in the closed position.
If you must have a doggie door, try to put it in the laundry where you are still able to deny access to the main living areas by closing the laundry door. That way, at least your dog isn’t able to ignore the boundaries you put in place. Boundaries are difficult to maintain at first and require a great deal of policing and repetition – but if you are able to teach this to your dog, you are well on your way to having a well behaved dog.
If you are looking for private dog training click here for more information.
or contact us and we can help you directly.