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Know how to give your dog boundaries

Bolting is when a dog dashes across a restricted threshold, such as a doorway or a curb. The solution for bolting is teaching your dog where the boundary to the threshold is and then the rules at each threshold.

There are several common boundaries you will want your dog to be aware of and respect.

Probably the most important boundary is the front door. Bolting out of the front door can be very dangerous, because he can runaway or get hit by a car. Another important boundary is the street.

This can be important because you most likely want your dog to accompany you in the yard. Even if you have a fenced-in yard, there may be times you would like your dog to join you in parts of the yard that does not have a fence.

You may have parts of your house you would like to train Fido to stay out of.

To treat bolting you will want to first, positively reinforce alternate behaviors to bolting. You will need to teach him that there is a boundary. You will want to pick obvious markers to help your dog know where to stop.

Some examples would be a sidewalk, a curb, doorways, trees, or shrubs.

Start by walking your leashed dog over to a boundary and develop a habit of stopping at that boundary and turning away from it. You will not want to give your dog a verbal cue since you will want your dog to respect the boundary when you are not present or unavailable to give the cue.

As with any training, you will have to be consistent and you will want to praise your dog each time he turns away from the boundary.

Until your dog is trained, he should not be allowed to cross the boundary. To accomplish this you may have to use things like baby gates, closed doors, and only give supervised access to the yard.

Next, you will need to manage the problem and set your dog up to succeed. On-leash sit-stay commands at the boundary are excellent ways to show your dog that you and other family members may cross the boundary, but he may not.

Praise your dog for successful sit-stays on his side of the boundary.

For several days, have your dog sit-stay at the boundary, cross the boundary, and then immediately return to your dog. Always praise his successful stays.

Eventually, you will be able to leave your dog for longer periods of time.

When your dog crosses the boundaries you set up, there must be consequences. You could use a shaker can (an empty pop can with a few pennies inside), a whistle, or a squirt gun, to help your dog realize when he has crossed the boundary.

Consistency is the key when working to curtail or eliminate any behavior problem. If you allow your dog to cross the boundary today, you can not expect him to sit and stay at the same place tomorrow.

This is just a brief summary of how to treat bolting and setting boundaries. For further help contact a professional obedience trainer.

With some work you will be a happier pet owner and your pet will be safer. Remember, every dog deserves to be treated like a show dog.

Tony Barker, The BARKer Shop