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Dog behaviour tip: Structure helps you & your dog succeed

Updated: Nov 20, 2018

When dog trainers say that dogs need “structure,” what we mean is consistent rules, dependable leadership, and guidance. Structure means that the dog can rely on you to create a dependable routine in your household and out in the world.



Structure lowers a dog's stress level (whether from excitement or fear), which is the root cause of so many problem behaviours. When a dog can rely on a safe routine, and they know that someone else (i.e., you) will take care of everything for them, they begin to learn to calm down and stop over-reacting. Dogs – in particular those with reactivity, trust and separation issues – thrive with structure. The transformation is beautiful to see.

Dogs – in particular those with reactivity, trust and separation issues – thrive with structure.

Dogs thrive on clarity. Having clear, unbreakable rules is extremely therapeutic for dogs. Consistent patterns and expectations create a sense of security, and increase calmness and trust in dogs. Many unacceptable behaviours are reduced or eliminated by simply setting up consistent household rules that your dog can rely on. For example, door manners, crate training, and duration training with the “place” command can all help build impulse control and foster calmness.


If you have a highly reactive dog, or your dog has difficulty with impulse control or separation anxiety, it’s a sign you may not be providing the structure and consistency your dog needs to feel safe. If you would like help establishing structure for your dog, give me a call. I can work with you to reduce your dog’s stress, decrease unwanted behaviours, and improve your overall relationship. A few changes to the way you communicate with your dog can make all the difference!