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Rules, Limits, and Expectations, Oh My! – Curbing Behavioral Problems

Proper handling and consistently holding to standards of behavior can lead to a well balanced dog.

Proper handling and consistently holding to standards of behavior can lead to a well balanced dog.

We live in a highly structured society. It imposes upon us laws, limitations, and guidelines that easily spell out what is allowed and what isn’t. But what happens when we go beyond the guidelines, when we break those laws? Well, consequences of course.

Follow the rules and you’re allowed to keep your freedom. Break the rules and you face consequences. Sometimes extremely harsh consequences. But within those limitations lay our freedoms.

Sounds like a paradox or contradiction? It isn’t really.

There are some that will complain endlessly about all the laws that are imposed upon them. Yet the cold hard truth is that we need laws. Not only does any given social structure require clear laws but the entire human race as a whole needs them. Without rules societies quickly dissolves into chaos.

Simply put, we humans require structure and guidelines. We require a system that tells us what is allowed and what isn’t.

Rules lend themselves to consistency, fairness, and a sense of normalcy. They thus provide us with a sense of security, and this in turn adds to our feelings of safety and comfort. There’s reassurance in the realization that our lives will be the same tomorrow as it is today. This adds to the ease with which we were allowed to live our lives.

Without laws and rules we humans begin to take matters into our own hands. And that’s because there are no established plan and system to lead the way.

A good parent takes joy and happiness in seeing their child play and enjoy life. But a good parent fully understands that the child can only do so within the confines of the rules and established structure that the parent has set in place. Without them the child has no boundaries. Often this unleashes upon society a person with a strong feeling of entitlement as well as one who learns to make very poor choices.

Once again, all this relates to your dogs.

Roughly 80% of the dogs that I’m called to work with have problems and challenges that were brought on by a humans failure to establish clear behavioral standards of acceptable conduct.

If there are no standards for getting into the trash, then that is what the dog will do. No limits on how much counter surfing the dog can do, so the dog will do it indefinitely. No guidelines for how to walk on leash or wait patiently at the door, then the dog will make his or her own rules.

The more drastic implications fall upon the already fearful and anxious dog. The dog that almost cries out for guidance and security. These can, and often do, develop intense behavioral problems such as full blown dog aggression or aggression towards humans.

So what’s the take away from all this? Very simply:

Having strong expectations and clear rules is essential and a necessary component for raising a well-behaved and balanced dog.

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