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How to Set Boundaries For Your Dog

How to Set Boundaries For Your Dog

Unless you're looking for a third wheel to invite into your bed, or you're planning on setting up your dog's food and water bowls at the dining table, it's important to establish boundaries from day one. The two main reasons to set boundaries for your dog are: for the sake of your own personal space and for your dog's own safety.

Getting a dog means, in many cases, saying goodbye to your personal space. Hope you hated privacy when you took a shit, because now you've got a bathroom buddy for life. Not into threesomes? Have fun planning sexytime around the cute little goofball in the middle of your bed.

Teaching your dog certain behaviors means being consistent with your expectations from the day you bring your dog home.* What boundaries you choose to set for your household will be entirely up to you, but here are some to get you started and help you prepare to bring your newest family member home.

No dogs allowed on the bed

Operation Take Back The Bed! This is a hotly debated one, but nobody's wrongit's just personal preference. But by having no dogs on the bed, it's kind of nice to sleep on a pillow that's not covered in dog hair. Not to mention if your dog is big, you will definitely find yourself sleeping on the edge of the bed on multiple occasions.

Dogs are allowed on the couch

Keep in mind that if your dog is allowed on your couch, your dog is allowed on ALL couches. Which you might not realize until you go over to a friend's house for New Year's Eve and your pup tries to climb on every single couch in the house so you end up keeping him leashed by your side the entire night. I'm definitely speaking from personal experience because this is a true story.

No dogs allowed in the guest bedroom

This falls under both the "claiming personal space" and "for my dog's safety" categories. My guest bedroom is my Zen room, the place I go to escape from Kono when I just need a break. Sometimes I'll read in there, or do some work. As much as I love (most of the time) that Kono loves being wherever I am, it's nice that the guest bedroom is one place he's not allowed to follow me into.

I also keep Kono's destroyed toys (that I've been meaning to sew up and fix, if I ever learn to sew) in there, so for his own safety, he's not allowed to go into the guest bedroom to get them. I know he's waiting for the day when he can sneak in, find his brontosaurus, and eat all its stuffing.

No jumping on people

This is a good lesson in not only respecting other people's boundaries, but looking out for the safety of children if your dog likes to jump and doesn't know how big she is. Be consistent from the beginning. No jumping means no jumping on anyone, not just no jumping on some people.

This can be a bit harder to train because it requires the help of other people. Ask friends or family to help out by turning their backs when your dog jumps on them and ignoring your pup until she is sitting nicely. Also be consistent with the word you use to discourage jumping. If you use "Down" to get your dog to lie down, don't use it to get her to stop jumping. Instead, try using "Off" for no jumping.

No feeding your dog from the table

It's incredibly hard to resist those big puppy dog eyes staring up at you as you you're digging into your meal. Never mind the fact that your dog always eats first and it's finally your turn. You can do it, though! You can resist! As soon as you give in and "accidentally drop some chicken on the floor," all mealtimes are fair game and you may never eat in peace again. It's okay to get help from friends and family here too and ask them not to feed your pup, no matter how tempting it may be.

Ask your dog to sit and wait before going out the door

This is 100% a safety-related boundary. And 100% not easy to enforce. Some dogs are just waiting for a chance to dash out the door and get a taste of freedom. From the first day I brought him home, I've taught Kono to sit and wait before I give the okay to follow me out a door, whether it's my front door, the door to my backyard, or even when we're leaving a coffeeshop. Consistency is key, and teaching your dog to sit and wait in front of an open door can be life-saving.

Pooping is only allowed in one part of your yard

Some people might not use their backyard, and are okay with the entire yard being fair game for poops and pees. But if you enjoy entertaining guests in your backyard, it's kind of nice if they can sit by your fire pit and not be right next to a pile of poop that you forgot to pick up.

Designate one part of your yard as your dog's own private restroom. Training might include using your body to block her from going to another part of your yard to do her business. It might mean going out with your dog every time she has to go so you can herd her to the right spot. And it will definitely mean giving lots of praise when she does poop where you want her to poop. Like, encourage and literally praise the shit out of her.

Again, there are no right or wrong boundaries to establish. Think about your lifestyle and what makes sense for you. And if you have questions or comments on the examples we provided, feel free to reach out. It takes a village and we've got your back!

*if you set certain boundaries for your dog on day two, or day thirty, or day ninety, that's okay too! Just because you don't start setting expectations on day one doesn't mean your dog can't learn boundaries.

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