The reason we train our dog 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.
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:
1. 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.
2. If your dog has to stop at a boundary, they have to think - about you.
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.
3. 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 dog to refrain from destroying your property.
What else do you need to know?
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.
So, what is the problem with owning a doggie door? Boundaries are 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 already have a doggie door, you need to make sure there are times when the door is locked in the closed position, allowing you to work on boundaries with your dog. 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 who listen to you and respects you.
If you need a hand teaching this to your dog - check out our training packages.
All packages include teaching both inside and outside boundaries.