Implementing rules

Rule:  a principle or regulation governing conduct, action, procedure or arrangement.

We live with rules in our day to day so it makes sense that our dogs do as well.  They live by our side in a human world; which is filled with rules.  Some rules are very important; others are as they say are "made to be broken."  But what rules you implement in your life, your house are very individual.  They are as individual as you and your dog are.  What one person considers to be an important rule, others do not.  Unfortunately, this can be within the same household as well.  It is much easier to enforce rules if everyone is on board.

What rules are important to me?  Luke had far more rules than Tilley ever had in her life.  Jessie had rules but they were more mine than hers; like not getting off leash.  Luke had many rules as an impulsive  young dog; now of course many have fallen away.  I have a whole new set of rules for Miss Elsa and lucky for me, she follows rules like a champion.  She is VERY energetic, impulsive and driven so control rules are essential.  When she came into our life the first and most obvious issue was the speed at which she ate; so food rules were implemented.  She must sit before being given her food; this helps her to get a grip around food which was nearly impossible when she was young.  Over the months it has become "the way" and I have kept the rule in place.  I never ask for it anymore but expect it.  I will put her food down and walk across the yard or kitchen.  She looks at me wherever I am and sits, I release her to eat then.

Having had very old dogs when Elsa joined our family it was important to not allow door charging.  She learned quickly that she must be invited into the house.  I was surprised when we got back to CA from CT that she remembered the kitchen door rule as soon as I opened it.  She still waits to be asked to come in which is good for Luke as she likes to race to be the first one always.

We have a rule about the Xterra as well.  No getting in or coming out without being asked.  She must wait for me to hoist Luke into the back first unless told otherwise.  Getting out is far more serious, she must sit and wait for me to invite her out with her release word.  I have proofed her word and still proof it to this day.  What is proofing?  Proof:  the act of testing or making trial of.  So when she is sitting nicely, waiting in the back of my Xterra I will throw all sorts of words and actions at her.  This creates an intensive learning ground for her control and understanding of the one and only release word.  If by chance she hops out before hand, she is quickly and abruptly put back in and we start over.

Getting out of our vehicle can be very challenging sometimes.  If we arrive at a park and she spots other dogs in the already out having fun, her excitement level rises quickly.  I keep the rule in place and demand a sit before she gets out.  I don't care if I have to stand there for 15 minutes waiting; she is not getting out if she doesn't sit.  Rules and regulation require patience; you must have patience in order to enforce rules.

We also have bed rules, my bed that is.  Funny how quickly they learn, scarily quick for Elsa.  She sleeps on my bed during the day without any rules; that is unless I ask her to get off.  At night she jumps up with Luke but then knows that she must get off when I come to bed.  She has a bed beside ours where she sleeps and then in the morning must wait until being invited up once again.  She has the hardest time with our bed rule because one of her favorite things in the world to do is sleep in bed with us.  But being that she is a full blood 1200 pound elephant it is difficult to sleep with her.

One of my favorite day to day rules and one that makes me smile every time is the garage door rule.  Most days I take the dogs into the garage, hook them up and then we go out the garage to the Xterra.  I do not open the garage door until I have a hold of Elsa's collar; it has always been this way for safety reasons.  Once Luke and Elsa are leashed, I go to the garage door opener and raise my hand to it.  Elsa comes immediately and pushes into my hand and waits for me to grab a hold of her collar.  I love this, it is so cute and is like our other rules "the way it is."  She knows that this is how the door opens, no other way.  That is unless Dad is around and then many rules go out the window..........oh well.