- January 9, 2009 at 1:01 am #269078
Article By: Pedigree
Did you know that adorable bundle of fur you share your home with is actually a descendent of the wolf? And while you may marvel at his human-like behavior, deep within your dog’s psyche are instincts he has retained from those wild ancestors.
Wolves live by rules and have a social structure called a pack. In each pack, the leader who is dominant over all pack members is called the “alpha.” This is the wolf that makes the decisions, the leader that must be obeyed. In your family “pack” YOU must be the alpha.
The good news is, your dog needs and wants you to be the alpha. He wants the security of knowing his place and what’s expected of him. If you don’t provide that leadership, your dog may take over the role himself—and that can lead to aggressive behavior.
5 Ways to Be Leader of the Pack:
Acting like an alpha doesn’t involve force or intimidation. It just requires you to control the activities that are important to your dog.
Start with obedience training. Obedience classes teach you and your family the proper way to train your dog. This includes learning how to enforce commands and how to gain—and keep—your dog’s respect.
Stick to a strict feeding schedule. Feed your dog two or three times a day—after you and your family have eaten if possible. Have your dog do a short sit-stay for meals. That way you communicate that you are in charge of the food and feeding times.
Always walk through doorways ahead of your dog. If your dog always goes ahead of you, put on his leash and open the door. When he rushes ahead, pull him back and tell him “No. Wait.” Have him sit-stay. Then, walk through the doorway and give him the “come” command.
Control your dog’s sleeping areas. If you allow your dog on the couch and bed, he has to understand that you are in control of these sleeping areas. So if you give the command “Off,” your dog should immediately jump off the bed or couch. If your dog doesn’t respond, he should immediately be removed from the furniture and placed on the floor.
Control the games you play with your dog. If your dog “demands” that you throw his ball whenever you’re on the phone by barking at you, turn your back and ignore him. Attending to any unwanted behavior, like barking, can actually reinforce the behavior by causing him to believe that barking is effective in getting your attention when you’re on the phone. You can play ball later when it’s on your terms.
Above all, be calm, assertive, and consistent with the boundaries you set for your dog. Just as a child looks to his parents for guidance and limits, your dog looks to you. So don’t feel like a meanie for enforcing strict rules—do so knowing that it instinctively makes your dog feel more comfortable.
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