Dog Basics: Some
basics to consider are that dogs are pack animals. The pack is a
serious hierarchy consisting of dominant dogs and going down the ladder
to submissive dogs. The dominant dog is considered the Alpha, usually
it is a mated pair consisting of a male and a female. Much has been
written on this subject and it is all quite fascinating, but for the
sake of simplicity, they are usually the parents and the pack consists
of their children and possibly others that for a multitude of been incorporated into the pack.
In the pack, each has its role and needs the security of the
hierarchy. If a pup/dog does not receive appropriate dominance they
will attempt to dominate. The structure must prevail.
is why you must learn your appropriate dominant position as the Alpha
or the Leader with your dog. Your dog needs you to be dominate,
however, he/she may test and even argue with you over the dominate
position in your family. Challenges usually surface during adolescence
so expect to be challenged.
the importance of being in charge and developing strategies to
communicate that to your dog will create a harmonious relationship and
life together. Several major key components exhibiting your attitude are
eye contact, a calm demeanor, body language and voice.
Tone of voice is important - A
normal voice is used for commands. When you state a command remember
you are not asking, you are telling. The low firm voice is for
corrections. Saying NO in a low firm voice usually works. If not, try a
low guttural growl, as the mother dog would, immediately when your dog
misbehaves. A soft calm voice is suitable for praise and reward. A high
pitched voice indicates play and fun time. Be careful with this because
if taken to far it can give the dog a sense of being out of control.
Your Body Language - Dogs watch and learn from body language. Assume the body stance and your dog will follow.
Calm Demeanor - Mama
Dogs do not yell and scream. They do not get all excited and high
pitched. They are calm, relaxed, gentle with the pups. If need be they
put the pup in check with a low but usually soft growl, followed if
needed by pinning the pup with her paw or if the youngster is really in
trouble she will pick the pup up by the scruff of its neck. She does
not argue, rationalize, explain or negotiate. She just does. She knows
the limits and she communicates that without hesitancy in the immediate
moment of misbehave. ***Exhaling will relax YOU and communicate to your pup a sense of safety in your leadership.... the dogs can 'feel' when we are tense/nervous & INSECURE, if they feel us be that way, they will be that way.
Eye contact is
essential. Dominant leader is in charge of eye contact. That may
sound strange but in the pack that is what happens. If you even blink
your dog will think he is in charge.
Your Attitude is
communicated to your dog. Using the above components will assure an
attitude of being in charge and your dog will receive it.
Now to put this into practical use.
Some exercises with pup - If
you have a very young pup, sit with your legs in front of you, put the
pup back down and belly up on your legs. A submissive pup will lie
comfortably. A less submissive, -wanna a be- dominant pup will
struggle. Hold the struggling pup firm using a low guttural sound and
direct eye contact, pup must be first to look away, until the pup calms
Variation is to hold
the pup, one hand behind head, one under body so the belly is facing
you. Or both your hands under pups front arms, pup dangles in air. Make
sure you are comfortable. Make direct eye contact, and low guttural
growl until pup calms down.
If pup is large
framed, stand over pup, with one of your legs on each side of him,
straddling him. Both are facing same direction. Put both hands under
his chest just behind front legs. Lift him up, his front legs come off
floor, back legs stay on floor. Use growl if pup fusses.
Hold each of above,
15-30 seconds after pup calms down. Be gentle and firm. Vary where you
do this and suggest several times a day.
need to be taught as soon as possible. These commands, sit, stay,
leave it, come, etc are vital to the necessary subordination your pup
learns from your dominance. The commands can be used daily in your new
role as the pack leader. For example, have your pup 'sit' before giving
him/her food, a walk, the ball, before giving what ever the pup wants.
You can incorporate basic commands into your daily life utilizing
opportunities to remind the pup that you are in charge.
are creating the social order of a pack which gives your pup a sense of
belonging and security. Being consistent, especially with your tone of
voice and gentle guidance will help your pup come to accept its position
in your family pack. Although you are making your pup a member of your
family remember the pup needs your family structured like a dog pack.
Some exercises for you - Getting in touch with your inner leader. In front of your mirror: Practice
your growl. Make it come from your gut. See what your face does when
you growl. Try it with your teeth together. Do it curling your lips
and showing your teeth. Do it soft. Do it louder. Do it somewhere in
Stand tall, shoulder
squared, head erect. Then shrink to half your size, curl shoulders,
bend knees. Do several times to feel the difference. Which stance
communicates your leadership position to the pup?
commands. Yes you are still in front of the mirror, isn't this fun!
Using a regular voice, state the commands, sit, stay, come, leave it,
Next use a lower voice for the command NO, STOP, LEAVE IT.
Next, walk down the
hallway, with your best and strongest posture. Head up, back straight,
shoulders squared, arms swinging freely to the side. Why you ask, well
you are the leader, now FEEL it.
Okay, you may not like these exercises, but if you are not used to being the leader, it starts inside.