Back to School. Back to Basics.
Weeks ago, many headed back to school after a great summer of time off! Without the routine of going to class everyday and doing homework, it takes some time to readjust to the demands of school. They have to get back into the everyday rules, boundaries, and limitations that school naturally gives them.
For us adults, we have our routine set by our jobs, kids, volunteer work, or our hobbies and other commitments. And when we return from vacation, it’s no different – we have to go back to basics. Reestablish boundaries and keep it simple as we readjust.
As we celebrate back to school and back to basics, let’s use it as a lesson in how we can apply reestablishing boundaries, to our dogs. We know dogs need Rules, Boundaries, and Limitations. But what I often see happen is the human gets lazy. The dog is behaving to their satisfaction, so they let some things go. They start allowing the to dog walk out the door first or walk in front of them on the walk, or they give them food while sitting at the dinner table. Sometimes it’s as simple as not following the fulfillment formula – and giving affection and more affection before exercise and discipline. So, you ask – what’s the problem with that?
You’re losing their respect as pack leader because you’re allowing them to get away with behavior that, psychologically, changes the rules, blurs boundaries, and neglects limitations.
Let’s say for example that you’ve let your dog run wild on the beach all summer and now he’s “all of a sudden” not respecting the boundary of your home’s front door, barking when guests arrive, or is running out of the garage to explore the neighborhood (both unsafe and not controlled behavior). What do you do? The leash will be your best friend here. Show your dog that YOU control the environment. Get him to understand proximities again. It’s not that he’s forgotten. He just needs a little refresher course. Just like kids learning their math tables in school. They haven’t “practiced” all summer, so when they return to class, they need to review it. It’s the same with your dog. Practice makes perfect, right?
Here are the basics to reestablishing boundaries:
• Recognize your frustration
• Don’t blame your dog for not understanding – you changed the rules on him, remember?
• Repetition and patience are the keys to your success. Don’t give up!
• Understand what it means to follow through and do that.
• If you want to maintain your dog’s calm-submissive state once he “gets” it, you need to practice repetition and not bend the rules again
• Consistency is discipline!