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Article by Lori Verni is a freelance writer, Certified Master Trainer

When it comes to our beloved pets, many people don’t like to set too many limits. Even the most strict of pet owners will usually admit that they like to spoil their pet sometimes, and of course, a little spoiling is okay.

However when not enough limits are set, several problems can arise. Firstly, the fact that a dog who is allowed “carte blanche” is often a dog who causes aggravation and is not enjoyed as much as those who respect their boundaries. And speaking of respect, dogs who don’t have household rules they’re expected to follow regularly are far more likely to disregard other rules because they are less respectful of their owners overall.

While no one is suggesting that your dog should have to live a militant lifestyle or not be allowed to have fun, it is not unreasonable to have certain expectations for your pet. Particularly during holiday season, when people tend to do more entertaining, some of the ongoing behaviours that are frequently overlooked may now be experienced as annoying habits that you wish would go away.

For example, the begging at the table that usually seems so cute and results in you giving your dog people food is sure to lose its charm when guests are in attendance. Not to mention the jumping you may overlook when your dog is happy to see you arrive home from work… not quite as acceptable when Aunt Sarah is coming in the door carrying a cake and dressed in holiday attire!

Whether your dog could use some work on jumping, begging, barking, stealing, play biting, bolting out the door or any other behaviours, a little obedience training can go a long way toward sharpening up his manners. By teaching your pet some simple commands, such as “heel” (walk at my side), “sit,” “down,” “stay” and “come,” you can then use the commands in day-to-day life to teach new, good manners when you want them.

The down/stay command is invaluable for working on things such as begging, stealing and play biting, while the sit/stay is very helpful in working on not jumping, bolting out the door or licking visitors.

Of course, there’s also the added benefit of having your pet respect you more in general, so when you say “no,” he’ll feel more like he has to listen. Whether you teach your dog on your own or with the help of a trainer, it is so much easier to enjoy your pet when you have established limits for your canine companion!