How Setting Limitations Help You Train A Well-Behaved Dog
When you’re in the early stages of training your dog, there may be times when the thought of a well-behaved dog can seem like an unachievable goal…
Whether it’s your chewed up shoes, your stained carpets, or your scratched arms and legs, the growing pains that can come along with training your furry best friend can be mentally draining and emotionally taxing.
Are you at this point of mental defeat with your dog?
Then it’s time to draw a line in the sand.
There is likely a VERY important reason why you haven’t yet reached your training goals...
Something that you’ve been afraid to do up until this point.
What is it?
While I don’t know the specifics of your particular situation, my best prediction is that you’re afraid.
“Afraid? I’m not afraid of anything”, you might think. Maybe not in the typical context of fear, BUT I do know something about you.
I know that you’re a HARDCORE dog lover.
How do I know that? Well, since you’ve read this far, you’re obviously the kind of owner that would do anything to give their dog the best life possible.
And that is awesome! Props to you for putting in 100% to give your dog the best life possible. I wish there were more dog owners out there that cared as much as you do.
However, you must wield that compassion wisely.
With that much emotion, it is extremely likely that in the back of your mind, there is the fear that if you’re “too hard” on your dog, or “too strict”, then they won’t like you.
And this where I tell you in the nicest way possible to get over yourself! Seriously!
The truth is that your dog will NEVER become well-behaved and well-trained if you don’t set boundaries and limitations for what is and isn’t appropriate; and consistently enforce those boundaries when they are crossed!
Let me restate that again… this is crucial!
The key to correcting any unwanted behavior is to give the dog you are training limitations, which will help to prevent the behavior from occurring in the first place.
It is actually very easy to restrict a dog and give him limitations, but the problem is typically when owners “feel bad” for restricting their dog.
However, if owners utilized restrictions and limitations, their lives would be much easier and the dog would actually be happier than if they gave them everything they wanted!
For instance, I have many people ask me this question:
“How can I stop my dog from destroying my belongings while I am at work?”
I then ask where the dog is kept when the owner is at work. Chances are pretty high that if the dog is destroying items, he is not being restricted by being confined to a small area such as a crate.
The owner typically responds to me with something along the lines of:
“Well he has a crate, but while I am at work, I just keep him out in my bedroom because I feel bad crating him all day.”
While you may feel for putting your dog in the crate while you’re at work, or not letting him have his way, like we discussed earlier there needs to be a point when you decide that enough is enough!
A dog, much like a child, will not learn to restrict himself on his own. A dog needs to be given limits and restrictions in order to learn boundaries.
Knowing this truth, my answer to people is simple…
If your dog is still getting into things when being left out, he has not learned his boundaries yet and needs to be restricted on his space when you are not there to monitor him and are unable to correct his unwanted behaviors.
Once a dog learns his boundaries and limits, he will learn what is right and wrong.
Once he learns these things, he can slowly be given more and more freedom. However, if he takes advantage of freedom at any given time, you must take it a step backwards and reduce the freedom by reinforcing the limitations.
Many dog owners actually undergo this process the opposite way (and have the opposite result of a well-behaved dog I might add).
They “feel bad” for limiting space and enforcing restrictions on their dog. So, they decide to start out by giving their dog ultimate freedom with no boundaries.
Soon they realize that it is really taking their dog a long time to get over certain unwanted behaviors and that no matter how many times they tell their dog, “NO,” he continues to perform these unwanted behaviors.
This is because although the owner is telling the dog what is wrong, the owner really isn’t enforcing anything when the dog is still being given freedom.
It would be like a telling a dog who is chewing on a slipper “NO” and then leaving the slipper there.
Do you think the dog will really stop chewing on the slipper?
Maybe he will stop while you are there watching if he really understands that he is not supposed to chew on it, but once you leave, of course he will start chewing on it again.
It's the same idea behind continuing to give a dog freedom when he is taking advantage of it. When your puppy is having accidents because he has free roam of the house, you can tell him “NO” and redirect him to where he is supposed to go potty.
But then, you must limit his free roam and set limitations to prevent the accidents from happening.
If you continue to give him free roam, of course he will take advantage of it and go potty whenever he wants and wherever he pleases.
Setting limitations, restrictions, and boundaries for your pup will only make both of your lives easier and happier! Both of you will understand what is expected.
The more you set these limits on your dog, the faster he will be able to gain more freedom WITHOUT misbehaving.
If you would like some advice on setting boundaries on your pup for a specific behavior that he has been performing in your home, sign up for a free phone consultation!