Dogs rely on the structure which we provide for them. They need it to live in our world properly and successfully. When they are given no instructions, no boundaries, they experiment with their behaviour to find out what will happen.
Much like kids when you leave them home alone for the first time.
If a consequence comes or not, that’s what they are trying to find out. We would do the same. If we go somewhere unknown, like a different country surrounded by a language you don’t speak, you try and find out information so you can understand what is going on.
Imagine for a moment you go somewhere new for the first time. Say a new gym. Imagine you go to the sport club for the first time and when you arrive you sign in at the admin desk. No one greets you. No one tells you where the change rooms are, which equipment to use, what time the class starts. You’re not sure where you’re supposed to go for your class. You walk into to wrong changing room, people roll their eyes at you. No one comes up and helps, except one of the employees that impatiently points at the right door. You enter a room that’s already started, you’re not sure what to do and your anxiety is just mounting and mounting!
Now, how would you feel if you got to the new gym and when you sign in you get greeted by a receptionist. She welcomes you and gives you a quick 10 min tour of the new gym. Points out the changing rooms, toilets, different spaces to do different workouts. Explains how and where to clean equipment and then shows you where your class starts and introduces you to the instructor.
How would that make you feel?
I would bet $1000 you’d prefer the gym that gives you structure and the information you need to feel confident, welcomed and successful.
Unfortunately, dogs most often end up in the first scenario. They come into a new house, either as a pup or a rescue. They don’t know the rules, the language or know what their task is. Dogs are not born knowing how to live in a human household. They need to be shown appropriate behaviour in a way they understand. They need structure and information in order to be successful!
With current trends, where dogs are treated like humans, where they get coddled and are allowed everything because we love them so much, they lack structure. They lack information. They start showcasing behaviours we don’t like because they don’t know any better, or it’s been allowed since they were cute little puppies. Dogs need boundaries, structures and rules to thrive and respect all members of the family they’re living with.
Click to Calm - Emma Parsons