Be a Great Leader!

Dogs are natural pack animals. Pack structure includes an Alpha and each dog finds a position under the alpha. There are several ways to show your dog that you are the leader. It starts with teaching your dog basic obedience like sit, stay, and walking nicely by your side on leash.

Nothing in Life is Free (NILF)

This is a great way to help your dog understand that you are the leader of the pack and provider of their resources. First of all, you decide when your dog receives the things he values including food, toys, petting, and playtime. You should not give your dog these things when they are asking for them, but rather when you are ready. The reason for this is because in a pack, the alpha receives everything first and the others must wait patiently until the alpha is finished.

Some simple ways to practice this include:

• Having your dog Sit & Wait for their food until you release them

• Only give affection on your time, not when your dog is crowding you or jumping on you

• Do not allow jumping behavior

• Make fetch into a structured game where your dog must Sit or Down before you throw the toy

• Have your dog Sit & Wait at doorways until you release them. You should go through first.

• Teaching your dog to walk nicely by your side or behind you on walks

• Discouraging bad behavior using your voice “Ah, Ah” and body language


Why is it important to be a good leader? When your dog does not understand his position in the family pack or if he thinks he is top dog, he can develop many behavioral issues including separation anxiety, destructive behavior, and aggression. When a dog believes he is the leader, he may begin to exhibit resource guarding behavior like not allowing you on certain furniture or near his food bowl. When a dog is either fighting for or does not understand his position he is often very anxious and can display unwanted destructive behavior to release that anxious energy. When your dog understands that you are the leader, he understands that you are the controller of his resources and he will not only be more willing to work for you but he will also feel at ease and happy in his position.

Check out another article on leadership: Courteous Canine

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