Riffs on the Marley & Me story abound for anyone who works with dogs in just about any capacity. People love to share the ways their “little rascal” is so clever and impish—misbehaving in the most lovable and endearing ways. Humblebrags about how someone’s dog is more Marley than Marley himself are common.

Unfortunately, what these tales really do is glorify a dog’s complete lack of boundaries. They also imply that any kind of structure and expectations regarding behavior are impositions on dogs. The subtext is often that dogs are happiest when we don’t guide their actions in any way.

Though the occasional story of a dog running amuck can be entertaining, I reject the idea that this is how dogs should be—wild, free and unencumbered by constraints on their desires and inclinations. In fact, I would argue that by setting boundaries through training, we enhance our dog’s…

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