Leader of the Pack
When humans domesticated canines, we took on the leadership role! For over 10,000 years, they have lived, hunted and travelled with us and they still require a leader. If your dog doesn’t believe you are the pack leader (alpha) then there can be behavioral problems. If you are planning to have a multi-dog household or have other humans in the house, there will be a hierarchy within the group. If you don’t step up to be the leader, then one of the dogs will!
A pack leader is:
- calm yet authoritative
- the giver of commands
- the giver of rewards
- the first one out the door.
- being the lead on a walk.
- the first to start eating.
- sitting higher on the couch/bed.
Remember if you are the leader, you need to be calm in any given situation. In a situation where there is another dog or there is a thunderstorm, if you are reactive then your dog will also be reactive. Keeping a calm demeanor will keep your dog calm.
Training your dog to respond to commands will help to establish yourself as a leader. For example, making your dog sit and stay before feeding will instill who is the leader. In a wolf pack, the alpha dog will always be the first to eat and it is only when the alpha says it’s okay can the lower hierarchy eat.
Being the leader, does not mean physical dominance. It just requires respect, routine and obedience. Going to obedience class will strengthen the bond between human and dog and will help your dog see you as the leader. Do your research on the trainers and their training techniques to determine if it is the type of training you need for your family. Speaking of family, make sure everyone living in the house follows the same rules and routine to keep a harmonious household.