Become the leader of your pack, positively

Become the leader of your pack, positively

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  1. Dogs base status on their placement on a hierarchy system. It’s a social structure that every group of dogs has, placing one leader at the head of each group. They need it to feel confident and secure in life. If they feel unsure of whom their pack leader is, they will appoint themselves as it, regardless of whether or not they make a good one. Leaders of the pack have the ability to communicate calmly and clearly. The strongest leader does not shout the loudest or terrorize the group the most. They maintain consistency and communicate clearly and rationally all the time. Additionally, pack leaders have the first choice of places to sleep and toys to play with. They also eat before the rest of the pack and get groomed anytime they wish.

    Owners of dogs should establish themselves as pack leader right away. It requires very little effort and despite popular theory, should always be fun for both the dog and the owner. By incorporating leadership behavior into your routine, you quickly see your dog feeling more confident and happy. Consistency proves itself as the key to success in this routine. Some dogs never dare to cross the threshold of your rank and always attempt to earn rewards. Some do and it will seem like you have to work with them on this exercise every day. Dog’s minds, like human minds, vary drastically from dog to dog.

    Accomplishing the pack leader status by adhering to the following rules and your relationship with your dog will flourish.

    • When you sit down to eat a meal, your dog might sit next to you and watch you eat. This often gets interpreted as them wanting food; however, they’re simply waiting for their turn to eat. Regardless, do not reward it. By becoming the leader of your pack, you eat first. They can have scraps during your meal but they have to earn them.
    • Allow your dog on the furniture but only upon invite. Make your dog do a simple task to earn the space, like sit.
    • When your dog lies on the floor, never step over them or walk around them to get from point A to point B. Not only could this cause a dangerous accident but also shows the dog they don’t have to move for you. Simply ask them to move or lure them away from the area with a toy or treat.
    • Sometimes while sitting at your desk or on your couch, "Fido" will come to you, bumping your arm for your attention. This is their way of demanding attention, in the most basic way of speaking. Instead of shooing them away, make them earn the reward of attention first. This being said, if they lay their head in your lap, this is affection towards you, not a demand from them.
    • Keep one of your dogs’ toys for yourself. Every day, play with them using this “top dog toy” for at least 20 minutes. When you don’t feel like playing anymore, put the toy away where they cannot reach it. It’s important that you initiate this playtime, not your dog; however, they can earn it by sitting or doing some other command they know. Note: this toy cannot already be one of theirs. Go buy a new toy for this game.

    If you’re having behavioral issues with your dog in this exercise, please contact a positive reinforcement trainer in your area for help. Truly Dog Friendly is an organization dedicated to positive reinforcement. You can find a trainer in your area by visiting their site: email them at:

    Suze Shaulis
    Cedarwater Dog Training

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