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Some Ideas on Maintaining Pack Leader Status

Groundwork has been laid for you to become the pack leader of your puppy (See Tab for Info)

Now, what are some things that will continue to enforce that you maintain that status.

A dog that knows his place in the human pack is a happy dog.

  • Take your dog for a walk.... Not a leisure walk, but one where the dog must heal beside or behind you.  He can only stop and sniff or mark where you allow him to.
  • All humans eat before the dogs.  Leaders always eat first.  No Table Scraps to be fed during a meal
  • Feed at a scheduled time (no self feeders, they allow the dog to eat when it wants)
  • Humans ALWAYS go through a doorway or up and down stairs before the dog.  Make the dog sit/stay until human is through the door then release the dog with a "come" command
  • When you leave the house or room even briefly, ignore the dog for a few minutes upon your return
  • A simple command to "sit" should be given before anything pleasurable happens with your dog (feeding, petting, play, etc)  If you have children, have them also practice the "sit" command with the dog quickly followed by a treat. He must take the treat gently
  • Never put yourself in an equal or lesser height position than the dog such as laying or rolling around on the floor playing with the dog
  • You are the one to greet new comers first, the dog is the last to get attention.  This is how a dog pack leader would do.
  • If a dog is lying in your path, do not go around the dog, either step over him or make him move.
  • While trying to establish you pack leadership, offer no hugs to your dog since a dog with dominant tendencies consider this as a challenge of power
  • To a dog with a dominant frame of mind, eye contact is a threat/challenge since whoever blinks or looks off first loses.  Do NOT have staring contest with your dog, a blink will reinforce in the dogs mind he is Top Dog
  • Ideally, dogs should not sleep in your bed.  The most comfortable place is reserved for the pack leader "you".  IF he is allowed to sleep in the bed be sure to invite him and not let him just jump up or push the humans to the edge or off their pillows
  • Dogs must never be allowed to mouth or bite anyone at any time, including in play
  • Any attention given to the dog, including petting should only be done on your terms.  Never given when dog is nudging or pawing at your hand.  This would only reinforce in the dogs mind he is higher up on the scale than the human
  • Games of fetch or play with toys must be started and Ended by the human
  • Dogs belong on the floor ( level below the human).  If allowed on the furniture it is only to be when they are called up on the furniture and they get off when told to do so.
  • Do NOT play Tug of War - as this is a game of power.  Should you lose, you have just lost rank with your dog
  • All dogs should be taught a "drop it" or "release" command.  Anything a dog has (even a chicken bone) should be able to be taken away by the human using a command.  Nothing belongs to the dog, everything belongs to the human and you are just letting him borrow it.
  • When you put his food dish down, he must wait until you give the "OK" command to eat it.  If he darts for the food you can block him with your body.  You can point and tell him "No Wait" but try not to speak much else. Dogs use silent communications.  Stay confident in your direction since they can feel when you are not and feeling weak.  If he cannot follow the command and wait, try again in 20mins until it works.  Often better for the person with the least bond with the dog be the one who mainly feeds it.
  • Dogs should never be left unattended with children who cannot maintain leadership over the dog.
  • When around your dog try to avoid emotions such as fear, anxiety, harshness or nervousness.  As these are viewed as weakness by the dog community they will then feel the stronger need to be your leader. 
  • Talk Less and use more body language.  Your dog will be happy knowing he has a strong pack leader

by:  Sharon Maguire

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