How to Teach Play Boundaries to a Dog

Your dog isn't born knowing how to behave, it is up to you to teach him. He will need to learn how rough he can play and where he can go. With patience and observation, he will quickly learn what you expect from him. During the initial phase of training, it is helpful if only a few people work with him, who all have the same expectations of boundaries. If one person expects one thing and another allows him to do something different, training will take much longer and be frustrating for you both.


Tip #1 - Teach bite inhibition. Dogs learn from their littermates and mom that when they are too rough they won't have anyone to play with. You can do the same thing. If your dog gets too rough when you are playing with him, stop what you are doing and say "ouch." Don't jerk away, hit him or anything else, just become totally still. After a few seconds, resume playing. If he gets too rough again, repeat the "ouch" but get up and walk off. This makes it clear that playtime will cease if he continues with the unwanted behavior.

Tip #2 - Keep your house picked up. The easiest way to teach your dog not to play with last night's newspaper or your shoes is to keep them picked up. The less he has access to, the less you will have to discipline.

Tip #3 - Use a firm "no" to keep your dog away from certain things. When you see your pup nose around something he needs to leave alone, give him a firm "no," and clap your hands. Don't stomp over to him, tower over him or jerk on his collar. Overly aggressive discipline will only make him anxious, not more obedient.

Tip #4 - Keep your dog close outside. If you don't have a fenced yard, he will need to learn where he is allowed to play. Even if you do have a fence, you may want to keep him away from landscaping and other spots. Keep a long leash on him while you're out, and if he goes to wander off, call him back to you, tugging the leash gently if necessary. If you repeat this consistently, he will learn the areas to hang out in and the spots to avoid.

By Stephanie Dube Dwilson

About the Author
With features published by media such as Business Week and Fox News, Stephanie Dube Dwilson is an accomplished writer with a law degree and a master's in science and technology journalism. She has written for law firms, public relations and marketing agencies, science and technology websites, and business magazines.