Teaching a German Shepherd Puppy to Respect Rules and Boundaries

By: David Codr

Published Date: December 13, 2016


Nash (left), is a one-year-old German Shepard / Beagle mix who lives in Omaha with Jax, a twelve-year-old German Shepard / Great Pyrenees mix. I was called in for this dog obedience training session to work with Nash and address a few unwanted behaviors; not listening, counter surfing, charging the door, pulling on the leash, mouthing and stop chewing and destroying toys from the daughter’s room.

When I arrived for the session Nash was pretty excited, to the point of having difficulty controlling himself or listening to his guardian. Jax on the other hand couldn’t have been more relaxed and laid back. Pretty much the exact behavior you would expect from a senior dog.

After chatting with her for a few moments, I learned that Nash didn’t really have many rules or boundaries in place. This is an important part of puppy training and behavior.

When you have a puppy who doesn’t have a lot of structure, they can get the impression they have the same authority that the humans do. When that is the case, then the dog or puppy listens when it wants to and engages in any actions or behaviors it feels like doing.

During the session, I went through some new rules as well as ways to enforce them or communicate more effectively with their dogs. It will be important that the guardian responds to the dogs quickly as dogs learn through association. Establishing boundaries and enforcing them with good timing needs to be done consistently. By rewarding or correcting the dog within 3 seconds, it will better understand what the human is trying to communicate.

I also showed them how to use what I taught them to teach the dog to avoid and stop chewing on things its not supposed to have.

Near the end of the session, I showed the family how they could apply what they learned to train Nash that he needs to stay out of the daughter’s room as he had snagged multiple toys from there in the past.

It was great to see how quickly Nash responded to the new communication methods and boundary to the daughter’s bedroom. Its always best when a dog respects boundaries on its own.

By the end of the session, Nash was showing respect for people’s personal space, was ignoring toys he used to chew or destroy, was listening to commands and corrections quicker and was noticeably calmer and more centered.

If the guardian can continue to enforce the new rules and provide Nash with structure, he will listen better and stop engaging in many of the unwanted actions and behaviors.


  • Aquire appropriate chew toys (Cow’s ears, bully sticks, antlers, real bones)
  • Introduce and enforce the new rules and structure
  • Only release Nash from crate when calm
  • Increase daily exercise, especially early in the day
  • Walk Nash in the heel position
  • Pet the dogs with a purpose
  • Disagree or reward the dogs within 3 seconds
  • Use escalating consequences to disagree when the dogs break the rules or boundaries
  • Practice giving Nash access to unauthorized things to teach him to leave them alone
  • Practice the Focus exercise a few times a day in short 1-2 minute sessions
  • Look for opportunities to ask Nash to “wait” to develop self control and discipline
  • Intercede when Nash tries to engage in rough play with Jax when the older dog declines
  • Look into socialization opportunities for Nash with other dogs of similar age and energy
  • Do not allow Nash within 7 feet of any human eating
  • Structure feedings where humans eat first, then Jax, then Nash
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This post was written by: David Codr

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