- Limited territory: Certain areas of the house are off limits, such as the
kitchen and the bedroom. This establishes physical boundaries. Close doors
or use baby gates.
- Dog is not to be allowed on furniture, especially the bed. This is a power
position. Furniture is a desirable place to be. Using a leash or physical
barriers may be needed initially.
Nothing In Life Is Free
This is in no way intended to replace formal obedience training or professional help from
an animal behaviorist. Basic obedience training is the foundation of the
dog-human relationship. If your dog has bitten, threatened to bite, or you suspect
it may be inclined to bite, then seek professional help immediately. Do not put your
dog in a situation that may provoke it to bite.
Being your dogs leader is not accomplished with violence or force. It involves quiet
confidence and being gentle, firm and fair. Body language is important in communicating
with dogs. Stand tall. Use a deep, firm voice to give commands, but you should never
need to raise your voice to be heard. It should sound like a command, not a request.
Your dog needs to learn to trust you and understand that you will treat
it fairly. When it complies with your requests, there will be something
good that follows. This involves training with consistency and a reward
basis. You are to be the provider and controller of all things good. Many
privileges the dog has enjoyed up to now need to be removed until order is
These restrictions may seem militant and cruel, but if your dog does not understand how
to appropriately interact with humans then this can lead to serious consequences. A dog
that knows what to expect and what is expected of it, is more relaxed and happy to fill
its role as a "dog." When your dog has accepted and follows your rules, then privileges
may be returned. You still need to maintain your role as leader and continue with
obedience exercises. When order is established you and your dog are free to enjoy each
It is important to avoid any physical or threatening interactions.
Wrestling and tug-of-war games should not be played. Should
your dog show aggressive behavior towards you, do NOT react
with aggressive behavior. You must use your brain to defuse the
- Dogs are not to rush through doorways. This may be prevented by turning and
facing into a dog, or it may require a leash to prevent this from happening. A "sit-
stay" then release command can be incorporated.
- Any pushy demands for attention (pawing, nudging, whining, etc) will be ignored.
You decide when the dog is deserving of attention. First though, the dog must
obey a command.
- No leaning or jumping on people. This is pushy and disrespectful behavior. Try
walking into the dog or turning away. Tell the dog to sit, and then calmly pet if
it complies. Later, jumping up can be permitted, but by invitation only.
- Practice basic obedience exercises 10 minutes a day. Use praise and
treat rewards for correct behaviors. Long down-stays are very good
exercises to establish calm behavior. The reward for the "down-stay"
is the freedom to get up and move around. Obedience training must
continue and be incorporated into daily routine.
New House Rules:
- No free-choice feeding. Meals will be provided 2-3 times a day, away from other
animals in a quiet, stress-free area. As described above, the dog will be given a
command once. If any food is not eaten it should be put away after the dog leaves
the eating area.
- Begging while people have food is not allowed. Feeding a dog your food will also
encourage this behavior, sending mixed signals to the dog. Initially the dog should not
be in the room when food is out, if begging is a problem. Later a "down-stay" can be
Sandra Statter, DVM
- All things desirable are provided by the owner.
- The owner is the initiator of all activities (meals, attention, play, going
inside/outside) as well as the ender. Make sure to end a play session before your
dog gets bored. Do not chase a dog to get something back. Ignore it or offer a
trade (a toy or treat) if necessary.
- The dog must obey a command before any and all rewards (meals, treats, petting,
toy). The command will be given only once. There will be no reward or
punishment for non-compliance. After 5 minutes, or so, it can be tried again.
This requires that your dog know basic obedience commands. If not, then you
should enroll with a trainer, as basic obedience skills are a foundation for a human-
The scenario may look like this: it's feeding time and the dog has been placed in a quiet
area with no other animals or children. The owner says in a firm but quiet voice "sit."
If the dog does not sit, then the owner quietly turns away and puts the food in an
unaccessible area. After waiting 5 minutes, the owner retrieves the food bowl and goes
back to the feeding area with the dog. Once again the "sit" command is given. If the
dog does not comply then repeat as above. If the dog sits, then calmly place the food
down and give the dog it's release command.