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Schritt für Pfote

This article was written by TOBALIE in cooperation with Schritt für Pfote

Borders make free! Borders make free? Borders make living together with your dog much easier. But you have to introduce sensible rules, make them clear to your dog and then keep them. Part of dog training is to teach the dog what he is not allowed to do.

Your dog does what he wants?

Borders are not negative, they are not always prohibitions with penalties for non-compliance.

Anyway, we already determine predominantly the dog’s life. We decide when and where we go for a walk, with whom our dog may play, when and what he eats, where he sleeps, what he plays with and much more. So why do we resist rules so much?

We should set rules so that the dog does not bother anyone, so that everyone can have fun without danger and so that we can have a pleasant daily routine. These rules also enable the integration into our society.

Rules, routine and a clear structure also give your darling security in everyday life. If everything is allowed to him, we are in the end mostly dissatisfied with one or the other behaviour, which he inevitably adopts, and discontented towards the dog. The dog has the feeling of being on its own and develops solution strategies (escape or fight) for itself in everyday life.

Every dog owner sets up individual rules for his dog. It is his house or apartment where he determines what the dog is allowed to do and what not. However, the dog does not automatically understand which rules apply. These you have to show him first.

Setting limits, but fair

This is very easy! If the dog does something that he is not allowed to do, we offer him something that he is allowed to do. And this desired behavior is then rewarded. This is how you create alternatives and not prohibitions. Because bans without alternatives lead to frustration, discomfort and stress.

An example: The dog is not allowed to beg. What can you offer him that he does not beg? Instead, he gets a long-lasting chewing article that he can eat in his basket. Or you can use a signal that he has already learned, such as “Go to your basket” or “Go to your box”. These are alternatives so that the dog does not beg. If the dog comes to the table anyway, you send him away in a friendly manner and point out his chewing bar once again.

Be consistent – not unfriendly

In close connection with rules is consistency. Consistency does not mean being strict or even unfair. Consistency means to teach the dog the rules through training and then to enforce them in everyday life. The rules apply always and with every family member!

If rules were valid today and not tomorrow, the dog would not be able to understand or follow the rules. Because he never knows whether he is allowed to or not. This can also lead to the dog becoming insecure, fearful or even aggressive.

Rules bring freedom within the borders. The dog learns to accept the limits easily by showing him alternatives.

Which rules make sense in dog training?

Make a list with everyone involved of the things that are really important to you. Once you have established the rules, an alternative behaviour is sought and taught to the dog. Then you have to stick to them! What is important to you depends entirely on your circumstances. In principle, a dog can learn everything as long as you communicate clearly with him.

Meaningful rules and possible alternatives in the dog education can be:

  • The dog must not stand near the stove (risk of injury).
    Alternative: Wait in another area or outside.
  • He may not run to other dogs or people without your “Ok”.
    Alternative: He comes to you.
  • It may eat found food only after release (poisonous).
    Alternative: He should display found food.
  • He should not lick my face.
    Alternative: He is allowed to lick my hand or just contact lying.
  • He should not jump at anybody.
    Alternative: Four paws on the ground or sitting if someone comes.
  • He is not allowed to go to bed.
    Alternative: He is allowed on the couch.
  • He is not allowed to dig holes in the garden.
    Alternative: Digging in the dog meadow is allowed.
  • If a door opens (including the trunk) he is not allowed to jump out immediately.
    Alternative: He sits and waits for your signal.

And vice versa?

Your dog also has the right to set limits. He will show you these boundaries through avoidance behavior and calming signals. Take your dog’s needs seriously and accept when he doesn’t want something. For example, he has the right to rest undisturbed and does not have to put up with everything that is unpleasant for him. Check the reasons why he doesn’t like it and train in a friendly way if you want something from him.

Stopp sagen hund


Rules and limits make absolute sense in dog training. They have nothing to do with hardship or injustice but help dog and human to live together in a relaxed way. Make yourself aware of what is important to you and practice lovingly but consistently the desired behavior with your dog.