There are numerous questions that people ask about dog training but the one is asked the most often is ‘how do I become the pack leader‘?
Dogs are essentially pack animals. There is a definite hierarchy, or pecking order, in every pack. The leader of the pack is the one that makes all of the decisions and lays down the rules that the rest of the pack then follows.
It is essential that your dog accepts you as the leader of the pack if you are to have any chance of controlling him/her. Dogs that are left to their own devices and allowed to make their own decisions are almost certainly going to make mistakes.
Becoming the pack leader is not about dominating your dog. Being aggressive and forcing your dog into submission with a show of strength is not the answer. It may achieve short term results but will not help you to earn the long term respect of your dog. In order to be accepted as the pack leader you need to prove to your dog that you are worthy of that position.
Regardless of breed all dogs have an inbred understanding of pack protocol.
In the wild a pack leader is not necessarily the dog with the most physical strength. The leader of the pack is usually the dog that has earned the trust of the rest of the pack by displaying sound leadership skills.
The leader of the pack takes all of the major decisions relating to everything that the pack does.
Every dog in the pack learns what is expected from him/her and what is, and is not, acceptable behaviour. Dogs that comply to the rules of the pack are rewarded in some way for their compliance. Dogs that are further up the hierarchy may, for example, be allowed to eat before the rest of the pack.
If your dog is to take you seriously you need to exhibit the same leadership qualities that the alpha male would display in any conventional pack.
This is achieved by making the dog earn everything that is given to him. You have to take control. If you give in to your dog and let him have what he wants on demand then your dog will not look upon you as pack leader. Once he understands that he has to behave in a certain way and has to ‘earn’ the reward he will begin to acknowledge you as the pack leader.
You need to control every aspect of your dogs life.
At meal times it is essential that your dog understands that you (as pack leader) eats first and he is only allowed to eat once you have given him permission to do so.
If your dog is lying in a doorway that you want to go through he must be taught that he has to move to let you, the pack leader, pass.
If you are out walking with your dog on the leash he should be taught that pulling on the leash is not acceptable. If he is allowed to pull and you follow he will believe that he is in control of the situation, which will undermine your position as pack leader.
You should always be slightly ahead, or at least alongside, of your dog. To reinforce your position you should periodically give your dog commands. Make him stop or sit and make him understand that he is not allowed to move again until given the command to do so.
Try not to get flustered or angry if your dog does not react to the commands you give him immediately. Be calm and confident. If you show signs of being agitated your dog is likely to take this as a sign that he is in control.
Use only short, precise commands (one word commands work best) so that there is less chance of confusion. Small treats can be given if tasks are carried out correctly. This can be titbits of food or simply a pat on the head to indicate that you are pleased. It is important however that you only hand out rewards if the command is completed immediately.
If you want to let your dog off the leash to play then he should be made to follow a short set of commands before he is released. Periodically call your dog back to you and reward him if he responds correctly.
If you have games that you play with your dog he must understand that he has to play to your rules. It should always be you that initiates the play.
Obedience training should be continued throughout the dogs life. If it becomes part of a routine the training can be fun for both you and your dog. Most dogs actually enjoy learning.
As ‘alpha male’ you also need to teach your dog exactly what is expected in any set of circumstances. He should be taught how to behave with other humans. He should also be taught how to conduct himself when he comes into contact with other dogs. He should be taught when it is acceptable for him to bark and when it is not.
Most people start with the simple commands such as ‘stay’ and ‘sit’ and the progress from there.
If you want to be accepted as pack leader then it will require a fair amount of work and determination on your part. Being accepted as leader of the pack will not happen over night.
Some people are natural ‘dog trainers’ and get pleasure from the experience. Others find it more difficult and need guidance on what they should be doing, and how to do it.
Luckily there is lots of help available. Dog training classes are usually available in most towns and cities at a reasonable cost.
There are also numerous excellent online dog training courses (such as Doggy Dans Online Dog Trainer) that cover virtually every aspect of training your dog.
Special Note: You are currently able to trial the ‘Doggy Dan Online Dog Trainer’ video course for just $1. There is a general dog training course and also training videos that are specific to individual dog breeds.
Puppy Training / Dog Training Puppy training can be difficult if you do not know what you are doing. Most people would prefer their dogs to be obedient and react to the commands they are given. Unfortunately the majority do not know how to set about training their puppy. Some people will elect to go...