In the dog’s world, more space equals more opportunity…..to do the wrong thing, that is. Puppies and young dogs explore the world with their mouths and eliminate here and there along the way. Large spaces – indoor as well as outdoor – are overwhelming with way too many options to sort through. Over arousal behaviors result.
Young dogs spend a lot of time “guessing” about behaviors in our human environments. They assess our responses to their behaviors and whether there is gratification in them or not. Thresholds are typically low in young animals: a simple occurrence such as a family member entering the room causes jumping and nipping, among other behaviors. Limiting access to space in the home facilitates managing these over arousal behaviors. Priority #1 is installing potty and chewing preferences. It is nearly impossible to prevent house soiling and inappropriate chewing when the dog has access to a large space.
Introducing New Spaces
When it’s time to introduce your dog to new rooms in the house, use a structured approach. Most dogs are inclined to blast into a new room, have a sniff, urinate, and run around the space before launching onto the furniture. New spaces are exciting! Make sure your dog has been to the potty place first, attach a leash and take several treats before entering the new room together. After only a few moments of sniffing, ask the dog to lie down as you sit in a chair. Reinforce calm behavior in the new space and keep the visit there short.
Lose the Guilt
Limiting access to space and using containment options, such as crates and gates are effective behavior management strategies. You may not love that your dog is contained while you are working or at school. You may feel guilty limiting his space when you are home. Look upon this situation for what it is. It is a means of teaching your dog what to do when he’s alone, keeping him safe, and avoiding the practice of undesirable and destructive behaviors. Practice makes perfect.
Limiting the dog’s space is intended to be temporary. Many people want their dogs to eventually have free roam of their homes. This is a process and owners who limit and manage space correctly when their dogs are young tend to have trustworthy adult dogs.
Copyright © Kimberly B. Mandel CPDT-KA, 2019 all rights reserved
Kimberly Mandel Canine Behavior and Training LLC