House Rules (Part 1)

If we want our dogs to listen to us outside, they first need to listen to us inside. The reality is that the majority of our time with our dogs will be indoors so ensuring they have daily passive expectations to meet prepares them to meet expectations as distractions increase outdoors. Having rules that our dogs practice every day allows them to bolster the concept that their behavioral choices have consequences.

Every dog and human is different. Some dogs will leverage couch time with their human to justify their loss of all self regulation in the home. Other dogs will let it get to their heads and need incredibly timely consequences on the mildest infraction or increased severity of their punishments. Some dogs just enjoy the time but have absolutely no behavioral fallout. What is important is that we identify what privileges, affections, & rewards sets our dogs back behaviorally, what we want out of the relationship and what we are willing to do to facilitate that relationship as we balance our affection and accountability.

Here are some of the house rules we apply to every dog who has full access to our home.

Chewing: Every once in a while we have a dog around who chews on something they shouldn’t. We use the “Out” command for these instances. Then, supervision availability permitting, I will send them to place with something they can chew. Sometimes they just want the endorphin release caused by chewing and not replacing that desire leaves them unfulfilled and more likely to test those expectations again. There is a balance to showing our dogs we understand their needs while upholding boundaries within our home.

Human Furniture:

Griff & Genna on “their” couch.

1.) Furniture Policing. If a dog has broken any of my furniture rules, I simply pick up the leash, engage leash pressure, and tell them “off”. Patience and discomfort are the primary motivators for them to follow the leash tension. Prong collars are most beneficial for this follow-through. But slips and e-collars are a great option for families with little ones. As always, we don’t want ongoing pressure that could damage their windpipe. If on slip only, this is an appropriate time to switch to a transitional fit. If you have the time to let your dog test the boundary, feel free to let them. If you don’t, send them to place or the crate. Access to your home is like access to the club… no sneakers allowed.

2.). Furniture should be used as intended. No one(kids dogs or guests) sit on the back of the couch under any circumstance. Furniture is not a jungle gym or a bath tub. Our dogs should not be launching on and off of furniture during play. They shouldn’t be grooming themselves on it. The arm rest is for arms or maybe a head. Seats go in the seat.

3.) No eating or chewing bones on furniture. Shedding is plenty to clean up, let’s not add slobber to the mix.

4.). Just like taking a seat on a crowded bus, our dogs should for permission to join us on the couch or bed once we are already on it. This skill is especially helpful with guests. Permission looks like the interaction we get with our dogs for thresholds(calm, respectful eye contact). If they don’t ask permission and just jump up, the answer is always “off”.

5.) Your house your rules. Our dogs are allowed on the love seat shown above whenever no one else is using it. They aren’t allowed to use the fabric couch without a blanket on the section they are invited to. They are never on our bed since waking up and shaking out in the middle of the night wakes up the baby. That will likely change when our baby moves into her sisters room. Context is everything.

There is much more to cover but you’ll have to wait for part 2.

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