Laying Down the Law
It's time to decide what the rules of your dog's life are going to be. Sure, you can let the dog decide, but chances are you won't be very happy with the choices he makes.
Sticking to Your Rules
It's up to you to make the rules. Whatever they are, you can be sure that if you don't stick to them, your dog won't either. Unfortunately, when it comes to well-behaved dogs, wishing doesn't make it so, and no one has come up with any Lassie pills yet. Remember the beginning of this chapter, when you were visualizing your dog two years from now? So ask yourself:
Is my dog allowed on the furniture? If so, which furniture? Whenever he wants, or only by invitation?
Is he allowed to jump on people? Certain people or everybody?
Where does he sleep?
How does he behave when I'm eating?
How does he behave when I have guests?
What does he do when someone comes to the door? What if someone leaves a door open?
What does he do when I call him? When I want to put his collar or leash on? If I need to take something away from him?
Visualize him again now. Do you have a different picture of him?
It's so easy to spoil a new dog. Let's face it, an eight-week-old puppy can poop on your foot, and it's almost cute. Not so with an eight-month-old! Not allowing the cuteness factor and feelings of guilt or pity to override common sense are two of the biggest obstacles you have to overcome to become an effective leader your dog can count on.
Getting the Dog You Deserve
There is a little joke among dog trainers — after two years, everybody gets the dog he deserves. It's not entirely true, of course, because genetics and life can intervene with even the best-laid plans. But, for the most part, you are in control of whether your vision of your dog will become reality. Whatever the rules are going to be for him as an adult dog, those should be the rules now. Nothing could be more unfair than changing all the rules just when your dog thinks he has it all figured out.