Does My Dog Need Boundaries?

Boundaries are not only important with the human members of our families, but with the four-legged ones, too! Dogs need to be taught what they are allowed to do and what is off-limits. Heather Loenser, DVM, an Emergency Veterinarian at Crown Veterinary Specialists in Lebanon, N.J., says that the essential key to maintaining boundaries is to be consistent.

When to Set New Boundaries With Your Dog

Starting is always the most challenging part. The best time to set boundaries for your dog is when he is introduced to a new environment, like when you bring home your new puppy.

Of course, even if you’ve already set up some boundaries with your dog, any changes in your environment may confuse your dog, and you may need to set some new ones. Dr. Loenser recommends being consistent with correcting your dog as soon as he enters an area where he’s not meant to be and being firm but not too frightening. Choose specific words, sounds, or a tone of your voice that you only use to convey to your dog that you are serious about a command. Always praise the dog when he leaves the forbidden area.

Pick the Right Training Method for the Situation

Physical Boundaries

If you have a specific room in your home that you would prefer your dog not enter, baby gates are a good option. “Just like toddlers, dogs can be kept safe and confined behind baby gates to segment the house into dog-free zones,” said Dr. Loenser. Remember that, like smart toddlers, these barriers can be overcome by determined and athletic canines who are willing to climb or jump over them to get out. Be sure to securely attach gates, especially near stairs, as your dog’s safety is paramount.

Another option to help teach your dog boundaries is an electronic barrier. This method uses a collar that sends slight electric signals to your dog if he attempts to enter an off-limits area of your home or yard. “If they venture too close, they are consistently given a warning ‘beep’ and then a static correction,” said Dr. Loenser. “Similarly, if they cross a boundary, like a predetermined spot in the yard, they will be corrected as well. In both scenarios, the dogs are trained to move away from the boundary and toward the owner to receive a reward.”

There’s no need to worry about harming your dog with an electric collar either, says Dr. Loenser. “With reputable products, the correction feels similar to the tingle you receive when you are exposed to static electricity, so it is a surprise to a dog, but it doesn’t cause any serious harm,” she said. “Speak with your veterinarian to determine which type of product they would recommend specifically for your dog.”

Keep Your Dog Off Furniture

Another simple way to discourage your dog from jumping up onto your furniture is to use an empty soup can, coins, and duct tape. Fill the can with the coins and tape it closed. “When your dog jumps on your bed, throw the can near — but not on — him so that he is scared or shocked by the loud noise,” says Dr. Loenser.  “The key to these measures is to be consistent, so he feels like whenever he jumps on the couch, the couch always makes 

this scary noise. You want him to associate this sound with the couch, not you, so he does not begin to fear you.”

Repetition of the sound every time your dog attempts to get onto your couch or bed will teach him that it is off-limits.

An alternative technique is to line the edge of your bed or couch with sticky tape. Your dog will not like the feeling of stickiness on his paws or fur and will avoid the areas with sticky surfaces.

Using these measures isn’t cruel, and they’re an easy way to ensure all members of your household — both human and canine — stay safe and happy.

Article written by Author: Stacey Brecher

How to Set and Maintain Boundaries With Your Dog

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