Updated: Sep 12
I know, "Dogs should be dogs", right? Here's the deal, disagree with me if you like; but as a pet professional and a mother, raising dogs and raising tiny humans is very similar. One of the biggest parallels, yet the one most over looked, is management vs freedoms. Its fairly easy for *most* parents to accept that freedoms and privileges are earned. However with our dogs we seem to allot them unlimited freedom and scratch our heads when they get into trouble. Your dog will still love you if you set rules, I promise! Here's an overview of ways to do it.
Crates. Some people have the wrong idea about crates. And of course there are instances of abuse with crates (the back yard breeders where dogs live in crates that are not the right size and are never cleaned and they never get out). However used properly they are like your child having their own room. Dogs learn to LOVE their crates, and to seek time in them on their own. Where most owners misstep is they put their dog in a crate with no conditioning and expect them to just "get over it". (If you are unsure of the ways to condition your dog to their crate we'd love to help) Be careful of anything left in crates, toys and blankets are also earned. Our dog Stella is 1.5 years old and still is not allowed a crate blanket because she chews them. The only thing shes allowed is a frozen kong because she has proven to not destroy them (we only use the black original kongs, not the red ones or knock offs)
Exercise Pens. Want your dog to be closer to the action? Exercise pens can be a great option! Start by conditioning your dog to it in a quiet, low traffic room. Reward them for keeping 4 on the floor and not jumping up on the sides. Do not leave them alone in the pen until you are confident they will not jump on the sides or jump out. Even large dogs can be trained to enjoy time in ex-pens.
Leashes. So your dog wants to hang out "free". Well if they are a puppy or are new to your home we highly suggest attaching leash to them while free in the house. You can use a long line to tether them to you so they do not get to be alone in the house. This will help prevent chewing things they shouldn't and potty accidents. Even adult dogs that are new to your home can benefit from learning the ropes being tethered to you for a bit. Its also much easier to rush your puppy outside if you can catch a leash rather than the dog. Keep an eye out though that they aren't chewing the leash. Also puppies and new dogs should be taken out in the yard on leash, even if fully fenced, to learn their boundaries and to work on their recall in the yard.
Gates. Baby gates are not my favorite management tool for areas you need to get to often, but they are effective. Remember to reward your dog for respecting the gate and keeping 4 on the floor. These can help around stairs, kitchens, rooms with no doors, etc.
Invisible fences. These are an option, and many people like them. These fences are not a substitute for training recalls and keeping an eye on your dog. Some dogs will run through the shock it gives and then not want to come back. Even these units need some training, call a professional to help you with proper boundary training and teaching your dog that your side is the "cool" side of the fence.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This is also true with dogs. If you set them up for success; making sure as best you can they don't get into trouble in the first place and rewarding good behavior, your life with your dog will be so much more pleasant. You can give them small amounts of more and more freedom as your relationship grows, reeling back in if their behavior starts to slide backwards. Your dog wants you to give them structure, they are happier when they know what is expected and how to act.
For the Dogs,