A Different Kind of “Boundary”

tomIn the first part of this blog series, I introduced you to the idea of a “Naughty But Nice” dog, and in the second part we talked about some tips to survive (and also transform) them! In this third part, I want to share with you the next two tips - relationship & boundary games!

  1. Relationship!

You really can’t stop investing in the relationship with your dog! We like to look at relationship as a bank account - positive interactions (like play, training, affection) pay into the account and negative ones withdraw from the account. What shape is your bank account in and how much can you invest now?

Relationship games massively boost this account and are a lot of fun! We talk more about them here: http://tinyurl.com/ps7z42h

  1. Boundary games!

A very important aspect of both managing and training Naughty but Nice dogs is boundary games. These are games where your dog has to stay in a designated area until released - this may be a mat, a crate, a tent, a platform - you name it! tom2

Boundary games have numerous benefits:

  1. They promote and develop impulse control
  2. They are key to working with reactivity
  3. They can increase arousal and boost motivation
  4. They can decrease arousal and promote calmness (yes they can do both!)
  5. They clean up your training sessions.

So what do boundary games look like and what criteria do they involve? To your dog they mean this:

- You go in this area on cue

  • You stay in this area and are calm
  • You do not move from these until you hear your release cue
  • Your release cue means leave the area and interact with me

They seem simple right? But they teach a number of important concepts to our dogs. Here are just a few that playing these simple games can convey:

  • When you leave an area, you orient to me and work with me
  • You switch off (lower arousal) and then switch back on (high arousal) when I signal
  • Some areas and distractions are sometimes out of bounds and that’s a good thing
  • Your release cue means go interact with something fun (and that fun thing is ME most of the time unless I signal otherwise!)
  • The world is not going to enter the mat/crate so there is no need to be worried!

You can see that in training the simple rules of the game to our dogs, we actually convey so many other messages that, with a little help, can generalise to a variety of situations. That’s tom3pretty special!!!

This game really is something magical when it comes to arousal. In our experience, it pitches nearly every dog’s arousal levels at their optimum point - that sweet spot of peak learning and performance. Furthermore, this game conserves their energy levels so that they can perform and learn to their maximum!

These are introductions to just a few of the ways we work with Naughty but Nice dogs, transforming the naughty to nice, and in our latest DVD we share with you all our insights on working with dogs that are reactive, lack impulse control, are easily distracted, overaroused or frustrated. It’s an game-based approach and lots of fun! You can check that out here: http://tinyurl.com/ps7z42h


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Positively Expert: absoluteDogs

Tom is a veterinarian, clinical behaviourist and companion and sports dog trainer, providing a unique perspective on all things dog.


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