It is often said the best way in which to ‘love’ a dog is with boundaries.
I frequently encounter clients, whom, by their own admission have done a good job of totally spoiling their dog by indulging its every whim and fancy, with scant regard for sensible boundaries or limitations. For it is the absence of these same boundaries which has undoubtedly in some way contributed towards the behavioural problems they’re now facing.
Human love and emotions are fairly abstract concepts to the canine brain, which has little understanding of the peculiarities in the human world, and prefers instead to occupy itself with the instincts for survival. The reasons we find ourselves going all gushy and gooey-eyed over our furry companions have more to do with satisfying our own emotional needs and fulfilling our nurturing instincts, than necessarily benefitting our dogs, which is why I am keen to stress to my clients, the importance of striking a happy balance between meeting our desires and the needs of the dog.
At home, we set arbitrary boundaries for our children, such as; Do your homework, take your shoes off, eat your vegetables or don’t stay out late, none of which the children particularly like or enjoy, but we do so for their own benefit and future development. Yet often, the same can’t be said with regard to setting sensible house rules and boundaries for our four-legged friends to whom we often afford a totally free reign, particularly the smaller varieties.
Start from the beginning as you mean to go on, whether it’s a new puppy or a rehomed dog that you’re bringing into the home, by setting the rules and being consistent in their application, because blurred margins or changeable rules can be confusing for a dog and may cause stress.