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The Importance of Establishing Boundaries With Our Pets

Damian Vines
Lenovo Many GEOs

Many pet owners consider their four-legged friends to be a part of the family. But, as with any other family member, it’s important to establish boundaries with your pets. That might seem a little silly at first, but putting boundaries in place will foster a healthier relationship between the two of you. 

When it comes to the behavior of your pet, setting boundaries as soon as possible could make all the difference between a well-trained animal and one who is aggressive and unruly. 


If you’re not sure why boundaries are so important, we’ll dive a little deeper into the subject. Then, we’ll cover how you can set some effective boundaries with your furry companion. It isn’t always easy to do, but it will make a big difference, in the long run. 

Why Are Boundaries Important? 

Establishing boundaries is important to nearly every aspect of your life, from your career to your familial relationships. It shouldn’t be any different when it comes to your relationship with your pet. 

When you first get a new puppy or kitten, it’s easy to turn into a bowl of Jell-O when you look into their eyes or see their sweet faces. But, giving in to everything they want or letting bad behaviors go will create negative habits that will be harder to break later. No matter how cute a new animal might be, there are many things to consider before bringing one home. If you’re not willing or able to be firm with setting boundaries, you might want to hold off on adopting a pet. 

You also need to be prepared to share those boundaries with other people in your life. Your family members, friends, and even people on the street who want to interact with your pet need to be aware of the animal’s boundaries. If someone crosses a line and teaches your pet a bad habit, it’s something that could be hard for you to break. You can help to enforce boundaries by

  • Making them as clear as possible
  • Explaining them in a straightforward way
  • Talk about the consequences of crossing them
  • Being consistent
  • Standing your ground if someone resists

Boundaries will help your pet to be happier, healthier, and more well-behaved, but only if everyone in your life is on board and can be consistent with them. 

Know Your Role

The most important aspect of establishing boundaries is for your pet to know that you are the leader. You’re the one in control, and you have to be willing to take on that leadership role for them. 

There are little “rules” you can use to make your status known, including: 

  • Always going through the door first before your pet
  • Establishing and claiming your space
  • Teaching them to wait until you give a command or reward

Establishing yourself as a leader can take time, but it’s incredibly important – especially for dogs. Dogs are den animals and naturally want to travel in packs. They are hard-wired to want a leader. But, if you don’t step up into that role, they will take it on, themselves. Once your dog believes they are the “Alpha” in your relationship, it will be much harder to break them of bad habits. 

It can take quite a bit of time and training to establish your leadership identity with your pet. But, once they know who is in charge, you’ll have a much happier and healthier relationship together. Your pet can even help to reduce your stress levels and improve your mental health. 

Be Consistent

One of the biggest mistakes pet owners make when establishing boundaries is being inconsistent. Maybe your dog gave you those “puppy” eyes or your cat cuddled up next to you after crossing a line. Again, no matter how cute and cuddly they might be, boundaries serve a purpose. 

If you set a boundary, maintain it. If you want to set exceptions to that boundary, make sure you’re the one in complete control. For example, you might not want your dog to lay on the sofa when you’re not around. But, if you invite them to come up and sit with you, it’s allowed. These are two separate rules, and your dog is smart enough to know the difference. 

Consistency is key if you don’t want your pet to be confused or anxious. Not only do you have to be consistent in your rules, but every member of your household needs to follow the same rules with your dog or cat. Not only will it cause your pet to be confused if they don’t, but they might start to see those individuals as lesser beings within the “pack”, and they may not respect any of their commands. 

Pet owners should absolutely have a loving, fun relationship with their four-legged friends. But, that doesn’t mean that boundaries should be ignored. By setting them early on, you’ll have mutual respect within your relationship, and a much more peaceful one as you strengthen your bond together.

Image Credit: Unsplash


Damian Vines

Damian draws her inspiration from nature and makes sure to explore the outdoors regularly. Feel free to follow her on Twitter @indianalee3. CPImageCredit:Wunderstock

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