Becoming a gentle leader of the pack…In the following, you learn how to act like a dog. If these easy exercises are done on a daily basis, your dog will understand in his own language that you are showing your leadership.
Always feed on a schedule. Before allowing your dog to eat, pretend you are eating a few kibbles. This will show your dog the leader eats first and allowing him to finish. Only allow 15-20 minutes for a dog to finish its meal. If unfinished, simply remove and do not give it back until the next scheduled feeding time. Always feed one hour after you have eaten or one hour before you eat. If the dog has leadership issues, place his food in his bowl and set on counter and you proceed to eat, only feeding him when you are finished eating. Dogs will soon learn the leader is in charge of the food.
Sleeping and Resting Areas
Do not allow dogs onto your resting areas like the bed, sofa or chairs. Dogs could become possessive of these objects. Also, sit on your dog’s blanket or crawl into their crate once in awhile. The reason for this is show that the leader has control over all the best resting areas and the leader can sleep wherever they want. In time, as your dog accepts you as the leader, an invite can be handed down to share the resting areas.
Keep toys picked up and out of reach. Offer several toys at a time, then go and remove toys. If your dog respects you as a pack leader, they should drop the toy on your approach and leave the toy alone. As the leader, you own these objects, you are just loaning the toys to the dog to play with. If you have a puppy, make sure there are always enough toys around to prevent chewing on the furniture or any other object. Also make sure to practice these leadership tools with the puppy.
You should always go through any doorway, hallway, etc. first. You are the leader, therefore the leader goes first. If your dog is very pushy, try walking backward toward the door. This will also help with bolting out the door and a possible accident in the road.
Never step over your dog if he is in your way, always make them move. The reason for this is that everyone in the room should move for the leader, and that is you!
Teach your dog to stand still while being brushed, nail trimming, teeth brushing, and ear cleaning. Leaders are allowed to groom submissive pack members. Grooming is also an essential part of caring for your dog.
How young can a puppy be to start obedience classes?
You can start the training process as early as six weeks of age. We recommend starting your puppy in a group class at the age of 8 weeks. In a group class, you will get both the social aspect of being around other puppies and working with distractions. Puppies have a shorter attention span, so you may find the need to repeat the obedience course when your puppy is older.
How old is too old to train a dog?
No dog is too old to train. However, there are some exceptions. If your dog is at a geriatric age and showing signs of urinating in the house when they didn’t before, contact your veterinarian because this may be a physical ailment, not a behavioral issue.
How can I get my dog to stop digging?
There are a few reasons why dogs dig and where they dig is an important factor. If your dog is digging to get out of the yard, you will need to make the yard a more pleasant place for them while you are away. I recommend having three or four different bags of outside toys and rotate the bags every day. Your dog will think they are getting brand new toys daily.
Kong toys are a great toy to keep dogs entertained because they can be filled with canned dog food, peanut butter or yogurt. Place the Kong in a plastic bag and freeze it for hours of fun to drain both mental and physical energy.
Feeding your dog in the yard is also a good way to make them feel comfortable and by exercising them before you leave for the day, they will be less likely to dig.
For a downloadable handout with tips and tricks for positive reinforcement, click here.