The 4 most important house rules for your dog

House rule

“If you don’t know your place at home, you won’t know it outside or in conflicts.” - Vitomalia

The house rules form the foundation of dog training. As the head of the house, you decide which house rules and rules apply. Rules make living together easier and create respect and acceptance. Every household needs its own house rules for its dog in order to ensure harmonious and respectful coexistence. Every dog ​​household is different, lives under different conditions, has different experiences and consists of different personalities. Adapt the house rules with dogs to your needs. When it comes to dog training, house rules form the foundation for all further behavior. If you can't do the basics inside the house, there's no need to start with behavioral problems outside. You can imagine the dog-human team as a team where the dog is the employee and you are the team leader. As a team leader, you define tasks and responsibilities. As a dog person, you are responsible for safety - your dog does not have to and may not do that. The cooperative work between you and your dog arises when each team member knows their distribution of tasks and their responsibilities. You, as a human being, are responsible for the distribution of resources, for security and team building, i.e. building relationships. Rules are particularly necessary in multi-dog households and households with children. If the dog person does not take the aspect of safety and leadership seriously, the dog will bark loudly to ensure safety and leadership. In a multi-dog household, this can lead to a very unpleasant and restless dynamic. The dog's house rules ensure a clear distribution of resources. Your dog is simply not entitled to use resources independently. In households with children, this can lead to unpleasant encounters with children's toys. We advise you to establish house rules for your dog early on and enforce them. 

Territory and patrol area

Every dog ​​has an innate territorial behavior that is completely natural. Our dogs inhabit their territory, they guard it and they protect it. When it comes to dogs, we differentiate between territory (core area) and patrol area (activity area). The dog defends the territory and the dog stays in the patrol area or activity area but does not defend it. The areas where your dog's important resources are located, such as his sleeping place or food, are particularly intensively defended. This is the core territory. Territories are important to our dogs because:

The territory is also visited regularly. You can think of it like a patrol. Dogs also mark their territory. Marking refers to the release of feces or urine, pawing or growling and barking. Your dog's territory may include:

  • the apartment/house (but possibly not all rooms)
  • the garden
  • the car
  • the walk
  • other places where the dog is regularly (dog park, dog daycare center, walking area, etc.)

Rule 1: Create core territory

Many dog ​​people miss the opportunity to build peace and relaxation at home when training their dog. The dog is allowed to go anywhere and at any time at home, can make decisions independently and take up space or run after its human. The constant running is very stressful for your dog and can lead to psychological and health problems if the stress continues. Depending on the dog's personality or character, a stress-free life is not a given. As dog people, it is our job to promote relaxation in our dog. You can offer relaxation and peace through boundaries, rules and defined house rules. Prepare a special core territory for your dog, which will be your dog's main place of residence. The core territory is the place where your dog can retreat in exciting, unfamiliar or stressful situations. In situations that don't involve the dog, you can also lead your dog to his core territory. Are well suited KennelsDog crates or cave-like dog parks. If you don't have that, submit Dog place with wall mounting option out of. Every dog ​​has different preferences when it comes to their dog space. The core territory plays an important role in the dog's house rules. Design the core territory according to your dog's preferences instead of just paying attention to your own ideas! 
So that your dog actively learns to come down, you can use a dog harness or collar with a leash over the next 21 days to always lead your dog back to its place when it's time to rest. 

Use the core territory for rest and relaxation

  • when you are eating,
  • as long as you prepare food for your dog,
  • when you get visitors,
  • as soon as you leave the room,
  • or in any situation where your dog becomes restless.
This restriction will be stupid for your dog at first and he will probably complain. Your dog has to learn to tolerate this frustration because frustration tolerance is a core skill that is needed for an infinite number of areas in dog training (e.g. recall training). It is also completely legitimate for your dog to learn that your entire day does not always revolve around him and that he is not always the focus. If you establish good blanket training with sufficient frustration tolerance, your dog will find it easier to stay alone. You are doing your dog good in many ways with blanket training in the core territory. 
Borders offer security and security offers relaxation. - Vitomalia

House rules – core territory for peace and relaxation

Adult and healthy dogs need around 80-90% of the day to snooze. That’s about 16-20 hours of the entire day. A dog that is constantly under tension both outside and in the house cannot actively calm down and process what it has learned. Hyperactive dogs in particular need to learn to rest. Sleep is important for your dog to deal with stress. The hormone cortisol decreases during sleep. Cortisol is known as a stress hormone and is released increasingly into your dog's body in stressful situations. Your dog can reduce cortisol through sufficient periods of rest. If your dog doesn't get enough sleep, cortisol levels will remain high. As a result, your dog feels increased stress. Exercise also reduces the stress hormone cortisol. Stressed dogs that don't get enough rest then compensate for their stress through exercise. The vicious circle begins and a stressed dog becomes a hyperactive dog that is stressed.

Let sleeping dogs lie! - saying

Calmness must and can be learned. If your dog cannot find peace on his own, you can use the house rules to guide your dog to rest. Actively building up and using the core territory and consciously guiding the dog in its dog park will ensure a balanced and stress-free everyday life with your dog. Only if you, as a dog person, are aware of how important rest is for your dog and how much damage you cause by too little rest, can you consistently enforce the core territory - without exception.

Rule 2: Define and enforce taboo zones

Taboo zones are rooms, areas or objects where the dog has no business being. Our dogs live in the same household as us. This does not mean that our dog can completely take over our home. Your dog does not have to be the center of your attention endlessly and it is permissible to define spatial boundaries. 

Taboo zones can be: 
  • the kitchen, 
  • the sofa, 
  • the bed, 
  • the children's room, 
  • Objects such as children's toys or shoes, 
  • the area around the fireplace,
  • etc.

A taboo zone in the dog's house rules can either be fixed and permanent or variable and limited. You can define a room as a no-go zone for just a certain day or just for a few minutes because you have just wet mopped that room. It is important that you always and without exception stick to a taboo zone. If you define the kitchen as a fixed taboo zone, then the kitchen will always remain a taboo zone. Whether you introduce one, several or no taboo zones is up to you. The same applies to objects or areas. You can make certain objects or areas taboo in the house rules or for a specific time frame. It is recommended to practice taboo zones in the household so that you can practice your body language communication and thus restrictions with your dog. If your assertiveness in body language is clear at home and your dog accepts your boundaries, it will be easier for you to set new boundaries outside. Your dog must first learn to accept boundaries and you must learn to implement them through your energy.

Violence ends where respect begins. - Unknown

You create the taboo zone through physical boundaries by pushing your dog away with body language or leading him to his core territory on a house leash. Your dog learns what not to do and what to do instead. Body language is to your dog what words are to humans. Your dog's communication also includes room management in the house rules. For our dogs, space is a resource that must be managed by you as a human. Dogs react very sensitively to spatial boundaries. Your job is to allocate the resource space or, if necessary, deny it. By continually demanding boundaries, your dog will quickly understand and learn to respect them. You can find out more about this in the blog post"Can my dog go on the sofa and on the bed?"

Take your taboo areas seriously. Only if you radiate the right attitude will your dog understand and accept your limits. If you don't create the right energetic and physical limits, your dog may perceive your reaction as a game.


Rule 3: Build a quiet room

In addition to the core territory, there is the possibility of building a relaxation area. A relaxation room is not a dog bed, a kennel or the core territory, but an entire room in which the dog can stay for several hours. The relaxation room can be used as management for stressful situations, such as when visitors come. In such situations, it is better for your dog to take him to his rest room, where there is a dog bed and drinking water. This gives the dog the opportunity to move around, notice the visitor, but not be overwhelmed by the stimulus of the visit. The quiet room serves as a management measure to de-stress your dog or to help visitors who are afraid of dogs. Management in dog training prevents dogs from making mistakes because you set ideal conditions through the external circumstances. Management does not replace training and must therefore be developed and practiced separately.  The relaxation room can be used if:

Rule 4: Divide feeding

You should structure feeding your dog as a ritual. No matter what you feed, Food must not be constantly available in the food bowl. Having dog food constantly available is one of the biggest mistakes in dog nutrition. Clear house rules define that you, as a dog person, allocate the dog food. Permanently accessible dog food can promote your dog's resource defense. Your dog will be under constant stress and will always be aware of who is near his food. Your dog's main focus will be on his food and defending it. Resource defense can lead to aggression towards other members of the same species in the house, children and you as a dog person. In addition to the resource problem, constantly available food can lead to the dog becoming very overweight. Being overweight leads to joint problems and other health problems. When training dogs, it makes sense to motivate and entice with food. As soon as your dog constantly has food freely available, this possibility of precise reinforcement through food motivation no longer applies. Food can be an excellent and precise reinforcement when learning new behavior. An adult dog should be fed twice a day. If your dog has problems with his stomach and digestion, it is recommended to feed the dog three times a day or offer an afternoon snack. Regular feeding prevents excessive stomach acid production and thus stomach pain. If there is food left in the bowl, put the bowl away and offer the rest at the next feeding or in between. If your dog doesn't eat anything or eats little for several days, you can contact a veterinarian to be on the safe side. The type of food can also be a reason why your dog refuses food. Although dogs only have one sixth as many taste buds as humans, they can still enjoy food more or less. This is because your dog absorbs the aromas of the food through his nose. Before feeding, have your dog calm down briefly by making eye contact or sitting down. Dogs are eaters, but your dog shouldn't jump on the bowl as soon as you put it down. You can find out how you can structure this training in Impulse control training for beginners. The key word is impulse control. Your dog should neither perform tricks in front of his food nor other wild exercises. Before eating, your dog should simply stand back for a moment and wait for your approval. As a human, you divide up the resources – including the food. Let your dog wait a moment and then release the food. If your dog is an impatient type with no self-control, you can hold the food bowl with your hand until your dog takes a step back or looks at you briefly. While your dog waits for you to release the food, he is practicing his impulse control. Once released, let your dog eat in peace and at his own pace. 


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