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Does your dog see you as part of his pack?

Does your dog see you as part of his pack?

Do you know any dogs that put leashes on other dogs? Take another dog to the groomers? Drive another dog to the park so that they careen around together with the wind whizzing past their ears? If your answer is 'no', well done, you have successfully dispelled a common myth. Dogs know the difference between humans and other dogs; they do not think we are dogs. If your answer is 'yes', please send us his address so that we can ask him to help us write the next book!

While social structure is important, there is a lot of misleading information bandied about regarding pack, rank and hierarchy, which can cause problems for both the dog and his family. Dogs look for, and respond to, guidance. If left to their own devices, they will naturally make up their own entertainment and start taking things into their own paws.

As with any partnership or group situation, someone has to be the leader. You do not have to become a dictator and rule the canine household with a rod of iron, but you do need to be calmly in control and to teach your dog how to behave appropriately.

There may be times when you have to let him know that his behavior is unacceptable, but to be an effective leader you need to show him how you do want him to behave and praise him for doing as you ask, rather than punishing him when he does something that you do not want him to do. (See also Setting boundaries, and When you need to correct your dog, 

A NATURAL LEADER

If you spend time bonding with your dog and training him using the techniques in this book you will naturally become an important leader and motivator in his life. You will not need to eat before he does (think how huge every trainer would be if they had to eat a biscuit before giving a dog a treat), withhold contact, or win every game, in order to maintain your social status. He will happily and readily do as you ask.

Work through the techniques in this book and you will naturally become important in your dog's life

A deep lasting relationship is something that is earned: it is not an automatic right

Labelling dogs

A label placed on a dog can be very difficult to remove, and many dogs that are labelled 'aggressive' are exhibiting responses more appropriately described as 'defensive'. We think that everyone who owns or works with dogs should be encouraged to keep a dictionary on hand to ensure that they use the correct word when describing dog behavior, as many terms and words are used inaccurately! It is not that we want to excuse anti-social behavior, far from it; but if we misinterpret a dog's responses we limit our ability to truly understand and help him.

Many dogs labelled as 'dominant' are insecure and unsure of their boundaries. A true 'leader' dog does not need to engage in unnecessary fights, resolutely hoard all resources or continuously prowl the fence line on the look out for intruders. Why? Because he has conidence and self-control, and knows that should he need, or want, to take appropriate action, he can. He will be able to convey his feelings with a look or a change in body posture rather than a full on assault and he will also be able to differentiate between an actual or potential threat and respond accordingly.

Orsa is a Maremma - she is a guardian dog but is extremely sociable with people and other animals

From 100 Ways to Train the Perfect Dog, Copyright by Sarah Fisher, licensed through ContentOro, Inc and used by arrangement with D & C

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