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6 Boundary Games to Teach Your Dog!

Updated: Nov 23, 2023

Welcome to a tail-wagging adventure where we explore 6 fun boundary games to teach your dog! These games are designed to not only keep your furry friend entertained but also help them master the art of calmness, focus, and disengagement when visitors come knocking. So grab your dog's favorite toy or treats and let's dive into a world of positive reinforcement and joyful learning, transforming any reactivity into calmness and joy!

A dog catching a treat mid air

Oreo ignoring other dogs in the park & playing catch with Emilio



In the world of canine companions, each dog possesses a unique brain, comprised of diverse skills, strengths, and weaknesses. Through the captivating realm of games-based training, we have the marvelous opportunity to shape and mold their cognitive abilities, empowering them to conquer any challenge.

The key lies in understanding the significance of concepts – the very building blocks of your dog's brain. Their proficiency in specific concepts profoundly influences their decisions, emotions, and interactions with the world around them.

By nurturing and fortifying these essential concepts, we embark on a transformative journey, reshaping our dog's brain for the better. And how do we achieve this feat? The answer is simple – through the magic of games! By employing ingenious strategies and incorporating enjoyable, effective training games, we unlock their potential to overcome obstacles and embrace the world with unwavering confidence.

Game 1: "The Chill Zone" - Peaceful Pursuit:

Concepts- Calmness, disengagement, self control.

Create a designated relaxation spot for your dog with a cozy bed or crate. Encourage them to go there whenever things get a bit overwhelming. Reward them when they voluntarily retreat to their "chill zone," reinforcing the idea that they can always seek solace when needed.

Start by introducing a designated bed, crate or raised boundary in a quiet corner of your home. If you're using a crate, set it up with blankets and cushions to create a calming space.

Teach your dog that being in there zone brings amazing rewards like tasty treats or fun toys. Practice with short sessions, rewarding them for sitting or lying down in their zone. If your dog is super excitable, then reward a moment of stillness. After many repetitions of rewarding their calm or still behaviour on the boundary, incorporate a release word for them to leave such as "free", "break" or "go". Next guide them back to their zone and reward them as soon as they're on it. Reinforce this with constant practise. Gradually extend the time they spend there, rewarding all calm behaviour, reinforcing the idea that calmness leads to wonderful things! Soon your pooch should be going to their designated spot by themselves. Remember to praise their good choices!

Practice this before visitors come to the house so the behaviour is already reinforced. However, don't worry if your dog struggles with excitement when people do come over. Just remember to take them to their space calmly and reward them a lot for staying there! Once distractions are present, the game difficulty gets harder for your furry friend so the reward should go up to!

Game 2: "Doorbell Dasharoo" - The Zen Zone:

Concepts: Focus, disengage, thinking in arousal

This game builds upon "The Chill Zone".

This game transforms the anticipation of a knock, greeting, or doorbell chime into a cue for your dog to locate their boundary, hop on it, and calmly await your next move.

Bring your dog to its designated relaxation spot, with someone else prepared to knock on a surface, or ring the doorbell. Put a few treats into their boundary to pair a positive association with it and to get them used to being rewarded for being in their boundary. Next you'll want someone to knock or ring the doorbell. As they do throw treats into your dogs boundary and praise them for staying there. Use your release word to bring your dog back out and start again. Playing this game will pair the sound of the doorbell or knocking with praise and rewards inside their boundary, boosting their confidence and giving them the ability to think in arousal.

This will require repetition as the majority of untrained dogs will have built a habit of barking and rushing at the door. Once your dog understands the basics, you can introduce the release word for them to calmly greet your visitor. This game will help build their confidence that a knock at the door is a non event, allowing them to disengage and foster self-control.

Make sure your visitor understands the training and doesn't engage with your dog until given permission and all four paws are on the ground.

Game 3: "Four Paws Fandango" - No More Hopping:

Concepts: Confidence, calmness, focus, self-control.

Four Paws Fandago teaches your dog that there is value when all four paws are on the floor. This game is especially helpful for all those dogs that wish they were kangaroos!

Start with your dog on a loose leash, and wait for them to give you a sit, you can also ask them if they are struggling, but we like to give dogs a chance to work out what you want first. Once they are in the sit position, very slowly guide a treat towards them. If they move towards the treat bring your hand back until they resume the sit and wait position. Try this a few times so your dog understands he needs to wait calmly for the treat and then reward.

You can make this game more challenging by adding in movement to you delivery, starting with slow wavy movements & changing the speed. Only reward when they are still and all four paws are on the ground.

This game teaches our dogs that there is value on the floor and actually its a good thing when all four paws are on the ground. Try to practice this regularly and before visitors come to the house to set your dog up for success in the situation and give them the confidence and calmness they need to greet visitors politly.

Game 4: "Crazy Lady" - The Greeting Gauntlet:

Concepts: Self-control, disengagement, calmness.

This game builds upon "Doorbell Dasharoo"

This game teaches your dog to disengage with visitors and remain calm in the face of novelty and excitement.

With the same concept as Doorbell Dasharoo, you want to have your dog in their designated boundary for when visitors arrive. However. instead of knocking, this time you're going to talk loudly with excitement, as if you were greeting someone into the house. For example you can say "HEY HOW ARE YOU" "I'M SO HAPPY TO SEE YOU" "COME ON IN" all while rewarding your dog for staying in their boundary. This may be a tough game for your dog, as their excitement levels will increase, but we want to reassure them with positive praise and rewards for staying calmly in their boundary. This will strength your dogs self-control and disengagement with the events surrounding the door.

If its too difficult, take it back a step by speaking quietly and gradually raising the volume of your voice.

Game 5: "Go Find" - The Calm Seeker:

Concepts: Focus, engagement, self-control, confidence, flexibility.

Who said hide-and-seek is just for kids? In this version, hide some treats or toys around the house, and encourage your dog to find them. As your furry detective sniffs out the goodies, they'll practice disengaging from distractions, honing their self-control, strengthening their focus and detection abilities through their nose and maintaining a cool head amidst the excitement.

Once your pooch understands the concept of this game, make it more challenging. Hide treats in different locations, under objects and even on higher levels. Encouraging your dog to get on his back paws to find treats will strengthen their flexibility and boost their confidence.

Game 6: "Musical Mats" - The Relaxation Roundabout:

Concepts: Engagement, disengagement, self-control, flexibility, calmness.

Your dog should be familiar with their boundary and the cue to stay on their boundary before playing this.

Objective: This delightful game adds a twist of fun and spontaneity to the "Chill Zone." It encourages your dog to relax in various locations around the house, reinforcing the idea that calmness can be practiced anywhere. It also builds on your dogs flexibility to move from an energetic state to a calm state. This strengthens their self-control and disengagement for the outside world.


Set Up: Prepare multiple designated relaxation spots throughout your home. These spots can include cozy beds, soft blankets, or even special mats. Ensure each spot is comfortable and inviting.

Play Some Tunes: Get ready for a musical adventure! Choose a calming playlist or set of soothing tunes that you'll play during the game.

Start the Music: With your dog nearby, press play on the chosen playlist and let the tranquil melodies fill the air.

The Dance Begins: Walk around the house, encouraging your dog to follow you. As the music plays, randomly stop in front of one of the designated relaxation spots and use a cue like "Chill Zone" or "Relax" to invite your dog to settle down on the spot.

Rewards and Fun: When your dog complies and lies down or sits on the spot, shower them with praise and offer a special treat or favorite toy as a reward.

Move and Groove: After a short while (about 30 seconds to 1 minute), gently encourage your dog to get up using your release word, and continue your dance around the house.

Repeat and Vary: Keep the music playing and repeat the process, stopping at different relaxation spots each time. Encourage your dog to explore the various chill zones, reinforcing the idea that relaxation can happen anywhere.

Extra Challenge: For added fun, join in the game yourself! When the music stops, find a spot to relax alongside your dog. This reinforces the importance of spending calm, quality time together.

Congratulations, dear pet parents, you've unlocked the secrets to positive reinforcement and training games that will transform your pup into a paw-some ambassador of calmness, focus, and disengagement during visits! Remember to keep training sessions fun and filled with love. By incorporating these boundary games into your daily routine, you'll see your furry friend's confidence soar, and their visitor manners will be nothing short of impressive. So, go ahead and enjoy the journey of the power of games with your four-legged partner-in-crime! Happy training and tail-wagging adventures! 🐾

*If your dog is struggling with reactivity, contact a certified dog behaviorist who works with positive reinforcement.

A dog looking away into a sunset through trees.

Harley, previously terrified and reactive; being a calm old lady after a fun filled walk.

Until next time NBN crew!


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