House Rules for an Easier Life with Your Dog

Dogs thrive on consistency, and besides having a basic daily schedule to count on, your dog needs to know what you expect of him. Setting a few reasonable but firm rules can help establish good manners, set boundaries and clear expectations, provide structure, and facilitate a respectful relationship between you and your dog.

What the rules will be in your house is up to you. What works for us may not work for you. The rules we suggest generally fall into 4 categories: Use of Space, Eating, Greeting and Walking. Examples of such rules are:

Rules that determine use of space:

  • Wait at all doors/thresholds until released.
  • Never race you up/down the stairs or past you in a hallway. Wait until you call.
  • Sit to Say Please for everything he wants (Demo Part One and Part Two)
  • Not allowed on furniture or beds for 30 days, and never without being invited
  • Crate time even while you’re at home
  • At least 30 minutes a day restricted to his “Spot” (crate, mat, bed, etc.) (controlled freedom)
  • Time Outs for unwanted behavior you cannot redirect
  • Not allowed in at least two rooms in the house (to restrict space and freedom and give the humans access to resources the dog cannot have)

Rules for eating:

  • Go to mat/place/spot or in crate, and stay there, for human meals
  • Down or Sit before being released to eat
  • Meals by hand feeding or puzzle toys or as training rewards or some combination of all of those

Rules for greeting and other human interaction:

  • Four on the floor at all times
  • Carry/hold a toy if he is being mouthy
  • Not allowed to paw at, jump on, stare at or otherwise be pushy with his body

Rules for walking:

  • Sit for leashing
  • Wait at all thresholds
  • No pulling (from dog or human) and walk on a loose leash
  • Respond to verbal or visual cues