Today I want to talk about structure, boundaries and the burden of guilt. I think this is something that comes up so much.

I’ve been through it myself and I’ve talked to so many people who have been through it. When I got my first dog, Iry, I just loved her so much.

She was this really cute little 15-pound corgi mix and she was my first dog. I thought she was so cool.

I think a lot of you can relate to this. I have a lot of compassion for animals. That’s part of what makes me a really great dog trainer.

When I started my journey into all of this with my first dog, Iry, I think that compassion sort of led me down the path for a while with her where I didn’t want to ever make her unhappy.

  • I never crated her.
  • She had a million different types of treats.
  • I would compulsively buy treats at the pet store.
  • I would buy her a new toy every time I would go to the pet store.
  • She had multiple dog beds.
  • She had a dog walker to take her out.
  • I was taking her out all the time.
  • She had Halloween costumes.
  • She had jackets.
  • She had 48 of those little kong squeaky tennis balls.

She had everything. You name it, this dog had it. In every corner of my apartment and in my purse we would have her favourite toy.

At the time, I was just driven by this desire to make sure that she led this really happy life. I think maybe some of you can relate to this.

Another place that I hear this happens is when people get new puppies. New puppies will tug on your heartstrings majorly when you’re first trying to crate train them.

Seeing their little puppy dog eyes and hearing them cry from the crate can be really hard, especially in those first few weeks when you’re doing a lot of training.

Even as your puppy starts to age, she gets to four, five, six, seven or eight months, and she starts doing a little better, crating her can still feel too restrictive.

Sometimes if you rescue an older dog, that’s already potty trained or is not chewing stuff up in the house, you feel it’s unnecessary to crate them.

Crating is like one aspect. I’m going to dive way deeper on this topic in the podcast. Definitely check out the Savvy City Dog podcast if you’re interested in learning more about structure and structure and boundaries.

I specifically want to address this idea that if we crate our dogs, give enough structure, tell them what to do, then we’re being mean, unkind or restricting our dogs too much.

Because I’m going to talk about that. A lot of I’m going to go really deep on that. But I also want to just talk about it a little bit here with you guys today in case anybody’s dealing with that.

The thing about structure and boundaries I want to talk about is, it’s just a matter of the right tools we need in order to have a well-trained dog.

The guilt that’s there, is due to your mindset.

We say with training, there are three things that you need. First, you need to have the right tools, which in this case is structure and boundary.

Second, you need to have the right training, which would be the obedience training or any other training you’re implementing.

The third piece that you need is the right mindset. That’s where the guilt comes into play. The guilt is not serving you and it’s not serving your dog.

I did this Instagram post a few weeks ago that said, “Don’t be afraid of telling your dog no today or making your dog frustrated today because you’re doing what’s best for her tomorrow.” That’s so powerful.

I always want to keep that in mind because let’s say you’re putting your puppy in her crate and she seems like she doesn’t like it. In the long term, we know that’s what’s best for her tomorrow.

We know that in the long term, crate training her is going to get her potty trained faster so she can have more freedom sooner.

It’s going to prevent her from making mistakes in the house, like chewing or eating things she’s not supposed to and having accidents in the house, of course.

It’s also going to set her up to be more independent and not being so prone to separation anxiety or anything like that.

We know that crating puppies has a lot of benefits. If you’re keeping that in mind and coming at it with that perspective of I’m doing it because that’s what’s best for her in the long term, that’s the shift I want you to have.

It’s really easy to get sucked into the moment and into hearing your puppy crying or whimpering from their crate and then letting them out.

I really want you to try and keep your mindset really focused on what’s best for your puppy overall.

Is it reacting to what she needs at this moment or is it sticking with this long term game plan of structure and boundaries and doing things that are going to help your puppy.

I’m using puppies as an example, but the same thing happens with adult dogs.

One would be if your adult dog loves food, and therefore when you’re feeding your adult dog, he either knocks the bull out of your hand or starts eating right away.

That is an example of a place where they could probably use more structure and boundaries.

You could feed them like that and they’ll be happy at the moment because they’re getting the food faster.

But over the long run, what’s actually best for them is that they would learn to sit and patiently wait for their food bowl and show some impulse control. Then they can eat afterwards.

Is disappointment in your dog a bad thing? Often we feel guilty and afraid to disappoint our dogs. But is that really a bad thing? I hope this gave you some food for thought.

Let me know in the comments if you feel guilty at all over for your dog and that’s why you’re doing certain things with your dog or not doing certain things with your dog or your puppy.

I’d love to know what’s working for you and what’s not. I just would love to connect with you in that way.