Every dog owner probably knows that dogs are naturally pack animals and enjoy the simple pleasures of things like their own private “den” like areas as well as staying in line of command. Most animal packs have an Alpha, which is how your dog should view you and other owners in the family. It might not be to unusual for them to view one specific owner as a pack leader and other family members as just that, other family members. Some dogs are submissive to all humans in the house after years and years of being domesticated.
What breed do you have and how do you feel they view your place in your family’s pack?
While some of the advice below might seem a little intense or a little too strict, most of them have valuable points and are worth reading over and practicing on a daily basis.
Below is a list of 14 steps, (out of the original 26 that I feel are the most important), different ways to keep the chain of command in tact with your family setting:
1. The number one way to communicate to a dog that you are his pack leader is to take him for a walk. Not the type of walk most humans take their dogs on but a pack walk, where the dog is made to heel beside or behind the human who is holding the lead. This is most important for all dogs, as in a dog’s mind, the leader always leads the way. A dog must not be allowed to sniff or eliminate anywhere he wishes, but where you allow him.
2. No table scraps should be fed to the dogs during a meal.
3. Feedings must be at a scheduled time. (No self-feeding dog food dispensers should be used, as this allows the dog to choose when he eats.)
4. When you leave the house or the room, even for a minute, ignore the dog for a few minutes upon your return.
5. A simple obedience command such as “sit” should be given before any pleasurable interaction with the dog (i.e., play session, petting, feeding,a walk, etc.). The children should give the dog commands at least once a day and reward with a treat when the command is followed.
6. You are the one who greets newcomers first, the dog is the last to get attention (the pack leader is the one who greets newcomers and lets the rest know when it is safe to greet the newcomer).
7. Ideally, dogs should not sleep in your bed. In the dog world the most comfortable place to sleep is reserved for the higher members of the pack. If a dog is allowed to sleep on the bed, the dog must be invited up and not be allowed to push the humans out of the way. Making them sleep at the foot of the bed rather than, for example, on your pillow is best.
8. Dogs must never be allowed to mouth or bite anyone at any time, including in play.
9. Very dominant dogs that have a problem with growling should not be allowed to lie on your furniture, as the leader of the pack always gets the most comfortable spot. Dogs belong on the floor. If you do decide to allow your dog on the furniture, you must be the one who decides when he is allowed up and you must be the one who decides when he is to get off, by inviting him up, and telling him to get down.
10. Dogs need to be taught a “drop it” or release command. Any objects the dog has in his possession should be able to be taken away by all humans.
Dogs should not be allowed to pull on the leash. When they do this they are leading the way and it is the humans that need to lead the way and show they’re higher up in the pack order. (In the wild, the leader of the pack always leads the way; the leader leads the hunt.)
12. When you put his food dish down, he must wait until you give the “OK” to eat it. Place his food on the ground and tell him to wait. If he darts at the food, block him with your body. You can point at him and tell him, “No, wait,” however do not speak much. Dogs are, for the most part, silent communicators. They feel one another’s energy and your dog can feel yours. Yes, your dog can read your emotions. So stand tall and think “big” and stay confident. Give the dog a command before giving the food. If a dog does not follow the command (i.e. to sit), he does not eat. Try again in about 20 minutes or longer. Repeat this until the dog listens to the command.
13. Small dogs or puppies that demand to be picked up or put down should not get what they want until they sit or do another acceptable quiet behavior. They should not be put down unless they are settled quietly in your arms.
14. Dogs should never be left unsupervised with children or anyone who cannot maintain leadership over the dog.