How to be a good pack leader is not a question of using force or raising your voice but of earning your dog’s trust and respect. Our pack leadership tips are based on the three things required to earn this trust and respect, namely good communication; rules, limitations & boundaries, and physical & mental exercise.
The key to building a healthy, strong relationship with your furry friend is good communication. This makes it imperative for you to learn how dogs communicate within their pack – which includes both you and other dogs. Unable to use words to talk to you, your dog will use his energy and a wide range of behaviours to communicate with you, and while we may find some of these behaviours cuddly, cute and even adorable, they may, in fact, signal disrespect, possession and control. Learning how to correctly read the energy of your dog and his body language cues is as fundamental in changing his behaviours as fully understanding how he reads you, your energy and your body language.
Rules, Limitations & Boundaries
Most parents realise that a spoiled child is rarely a happy child. Unfortunately, ‘dog parents’ often overlook this simple premise. A spoiled dog can all too easily become anxious, fearful, over-excited and even aggressive. The key to your dog’s happiness is to establish firm rules, limitations and boundaries. Learning to greet new people or dogs without getting too excited; not running outside every time the front door opens and not jumping on visitors are good examples of such limitations, boundaries and rules respectively.
Physical & Mental Exercise
Lack of physical and mental stimulation is a major cause of inappropriate, unwanted behaviours. Without proper exercise, dogs will usually find some way or another to release their pent-up energy. This may include excessive barking, pacing, chewing and other behaviours likely to burn energy. Some dogs even become self-destructive by constantly licking, biting or chewing on themselves. Providing your dog with ample, regular mental & physical exercise is subsequently of utmost importance for your dog’s well-being and happiness.
Pack Leadership Tips
Having explored the keys to earning your best friend’s trust and respect, here are some pack leadership tips that will help you learn how to be a good pack leader:
- Pack leaders always use confident, calm energy that is fairly, consistently and patiently applied to all pack members.
- Never allow your dog to jump on you. To stop him doing this, step forward and move into him the moment you think he is going to jump.
- Always make sure to claim your space. If your dog is crowding you, move into him.
- Ignore demanding or pushy behaviours for attention or affection and give affection only upon invitation.
- Only give rewards after your dog has done something for you. A good example of this is to call your dog and ask him to sit; wait for him to calm down and then give him a treat and/or affection. This will teach your dog that to get treats/attention, he must do something for you and be calm.
- Learn how to walk your dog properly and make walking him a daily habit.
- Your posture is very important – always stand tall, pull back your shoulders and keep up your head.
- Never move quickly or frantically. Your dog reads quick, frantic movements as unstable energy, so it is important for you to always move with purpose and rhythm.
- Practice and master the three commands ‘Come’, ‘Stay’, and ‘Down’.
- Establish and always enforce rules, limitations and boundaries (see above for examples). When your dog breaks rules, effective discipline must be applied with calm energy, not anger and frustration, because your dog sees anger as aggression and frustration as weakness.
- Leadership is about building respect and gaining trust. This makes it vital for you to understand the sensitivity of each pack member to your energy. Too little or too much pressure will result in your dog not respecting or trusting you respectively.
- Humanising your dog has a significant effect on how balanced he is and how well he behaves – so don’t do it!
Pack Leadership Tips Summary
In a nutshell, how to be a good pack leader is about:
- Learning your dog’s language and knowing what motivates him. Learning how to effectively communicate with your dog in ‘his language’ is vital in getting him to follow you.
- Learning how to best motivate your dog. This means giving him something positive (affection, treats, etc.) to work for. As all dogs are different, it is your job to work out what’s best for your dog.
- Fulfilling your dog’s needs. Your dog needs a combination of daily mental & physical exercise and rules, limits and boundaries to be fulfilled – and it is your job as a leader to fulfil the needs of your followers.
Finally, leaders never quit – so always follow through, without exceptions. If you need your pooch to stop inappropriate/unwanted behaviours or want him to do something, you must always persist until the desired behaviour/action happens.
Sometimes it can be difficult to change your dog’s behaviour. This could be due to stress or anxiety (something that is particularly common in rescue dogs). Boasting years of experience in and using the latest behaviour management techniques to help dogs overcome anxiety and stress, our dog behaviourists can help your dog, too.
If you think your dog may be suffering with anxiety/stress, please do not hesitate to contact us online or call us on Tel.: 07776761289 to get advice/more information and/or make an appointment.