As any dog owner knows, dogs  provide limitless comfort, joy and companionship to their human families.  However, dogs are pack animals and to have a happy and healthy canine companion, boundaries need to be established early for your dog to thrive in your home.  

Psychology of Dogs

To establish boundaries, we must first understand the psychology of dogs.  When puppies are born, their mothers teach them boundaries and limitations.  As they mature, adult dogs continue to look to their pack leaders to set the rules and boundaries, giving them a sense of security and happiness.  When a dog joins your home, you need to secure your position as the pack leader, no matter the age of the dog. The pack leader in the wild always leads in a calm, consistent, and assertive manner, which in turn leads to the other canines responding in a calm, submissive manner.  Once your dog accepts you as the pack leader, they will respect your training and boundaries making for a happier family environment.  

Boundaries in the house

When you bring a dog in to your household, it is important that you already know what is acceptable and not acceptable for your home.  While some people love their pet snuggling on the couch with them, others prefer their dog know that the couch is not a proper place for him to sleep.  There may also be rooms and areas that you want off limit. You need to determine the boundaries and be consistent and calm in enforcing these boundaries so that your dog understands.  Making your boundaries clear and consistent and timely corrections are necessary. Being aware of your dog’s body language and knowing your dog is also extremely important. Use positive praise and reinforcement.   Indoor transmitters and boundary systems are also available.

Boundaries in the yard

Most of us do not live in an area where our dogs can roam free without putting their safety at risk.  Our canine friends need to learn their boundaries when they are let outside to play. It is important for a healthy and happy dog to have lots of exercise, freedom, and room to roam, but they need to know where it is safe for them to be, and so they look to us for direction.  Whether you decide on an unfenced area, a physical fence, or an invisible fence, you still need to train your dog that this is his home turf and the rules. At the beginning, you should use a leash and walk the perimeter of the acceptable area often. Flags can be placed along the boundary and commands or a clicker can be used to teach your pet to respect the boundary.  If you are using an invisible fence, proper training and equipment is also essential, and companies like Dog Watch will install the equipment and make sure you and your pet are properly trained.

Final Recommendations

A safe, happy, and healthy pet is the goal of all dog owners.  Establishing boundaries, both inside and outside the home can help insure this reality.  As the pack leaders, we should work with the natural instincts and behaviours of our canine friends to teach them boundaries and limitations calmly and consistently.  We need to discipline when necessary and show affection as a reward. As in the wild, affection is a reward for a well-behaved member of the pack!
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