6 House rules of well behaved dogs
The wrong house rules train your dog to be disobedient. The right ones give them clarity and safety so they prefer obedience.
The most important rules to teach your dog are:
- Don’t demand things, ask instead.
- Mom and dad decide the schedule for the day.
- Sleep more, lots more, like 18 hours per day.
- Freedom is earned with good behavior.
- When my human is relaxing, I relax.
- I cannot out stubborn my human.
Is your dog asking or demanding? Not knowing the difference makes it impossible to have a well behaved dog.
If demanding something works, demanding behaviors will increase. If demands don’t work they will decrease. Dogs are smart, they do what works.
What’s the difference between asking and demanding?
It’s a vibe shift, an attitude adjustment. To the average dog owner it’s a subtle shift in demeanor, but it will become more and more obvious as you go; once you know what to look for it will be as obvious as night and day.
How do you get them to ask more and demand less? Reward asking behaviors quickly when you notice them, and do NOT respond when your dog gets demanding.
This lack of attention can be a powerful punishment to your dog. If ignoring naughty behavior isn’t enough there are gentle ways to punish your dog with a tether or a leash that show them that life gets really boring if they are rowdy in the house. By enrolling your dog in our dog behavior boot camp in Salt Lake City, you’ll provide them with the structure, guidance, and training they need to become well-behaved companions.
Your dog has an off switch; I’ll teach you how to use it.
Letting your dog interrupt your schedule is killing your training results. Of course, you should always fit time in your day for your dog, but your dog should wait for you to let them know when it’s going to happen.
Your dog’s default mode should be, “how hyper does my human want me to be right now?” and act accordingly. Yes, your dog can do this; all dogs can.
Your dog’s default should be to follow your lead, this is not an optional rule to teach your dog.
When I watch a movie my dogs nap. When I sit at the computer my dogs curl up and sleep. When I walk over to their leashes, they get happy and wiggly. My dogs don’t bark at me or sprint through the house as if to say, “hurry up! Put the leash on faster!”
How do you teach this?
You must teach them that demanding makes the process of getting on a walk take longer or might even get the walk canceled. Once they learn to let you decide the schedule and the pace of the interaction you’ll see a weight lifted off your dog’s shoulders.
Your dog is freed of anxiety about when the walk is going to happen, and the stress of how to get you to do it faster.
“When is fetch going to happen? Is it now? How about now? Could it be now? What if I bark could that make it happen? What if I run over to the leash 100 times a day, does that make it happen?”
Your dog is stressed out! They’re constantly switched on and it’s burning them out. So you need to switch them off so they can relax. They will sleep more and enjoy their life of comfort and leisure.
If they are sleeping less than 18 hours per day, having a calm, obedient dog is nearly impossible.
For real? That sounds like too much sleep? Are you sure? I’m sure. Your dog is exhausted and it’s leading to bad decisions.
Have you ever been around a toddler around bedtime? They are HYPER! Dogs are like toddlers for life, they MUST have their nap time to be their best selves.
Your dog simply cannot make good decisions if they are alert from sunup to sun down.
In theory, this is the easiest part of training because you literally put your dog down for a nap and you get a break!
In practice, you might struggle with this one because you want your dog to be free. I want your dog to be free too, but you’ve given your dog too much freedom too soon and it’s making their behavior worse.
Ignore this rule at your peril, training will take much longer if you skip this one.
How will I know when they are ready for more freedom in the house?
Your dog will tell you by their behavior. If you give them more freedom and they handle it gracefully they get to keep it; it’s as simple as that.
Freedom is earned with good behavior.
If I have to keep reminding a dog about simple house rules then I know I need to go back a step. Said another way, if I have to repeat myself often the dog isn’t ready for the current level of freedom I’m giving them.
When they finally get it though… what a joyful occasion it is to give your dog the next level of freedom and have them ace the test! It’s the best feeling about training your dog in my opinion.
It says you communicated clearly and consistently with your dog, your dog formed good habits of thought and action, you’re both on the same page, and now you can enjoy your time together! You can stop micromanaging and start enjoying your relationship!
You are stuck at home with your dog because they can’t relax when appropriate. This is a lose-lose scenario.
Your dog should default to the question, “what is my human doing?” If they are active then maybe I should be, if they are relaxed I definitely should be napping or chewing on a bone.
This is the balance that we’re looking for. A dog who knows when it’s time for action and when it’s time to chill. Can you imagine a farm dog who always rushes into the herd without checking in with the farmer first? That would get really messy really fast.
Dogs naturally default to “follow my human’s lead” when they are sleeping enough, getting enough mental and physical exercise, and are on a healthy diet. Read that again, it is TRUTH!
If your dog doesn’t default to this mode of living then something is definitely off and you should have a professional trainer help you diagnose the issue.
Your dog’s behavior will improve dramatically when they believe this statement: “I cannot out-stubborn my human.”
Your dog is stubborn because it works. If your dog believes trying one more time might get the payoff they are looking for, they will keep trying. It’s like a gambling addiction!
They will keep trying even if it only pays off 1 out of 10 times. In fact, some dogs try harder when it rarely pays off. They are like a gambler in Las Vegas hoping to hit that jackpot again. They can feel it’s just around the corner, “mom will surely give in if I try one more time”.
You’ve got to get the correct message across 10 out of 10 times to start seeing progress. Do this for enough repetitions and the behavior goes away because they can’t remember the last time it paid off so why bother? That’s where the magic kicks in; when your dog’s needs (sleep, exercise, diet) are consistently met and the rules are consistently enforced.
I hope these rules give you some clarity and help you understand how to get on the same page with your dog. When you’re ready, here’s how you can work with us: