How to strengthen your pack leadership in the eyes of your dog

1.      Don’t take my bone! While talking to someone, take a tidbit between the fingers and without looking at the dog, play with it. When the dog comes forward to get it, make eye contact and say, “Bah,”* “Get off” or “Leave.” If he persists, fierce eye contact is made with a “BAH” or “OFF” that should have him stepping back or lying down. Wait a while and then offer the tidbit to the dog. Lower order dogs will never dare take a bone from leaders. They will get strong eye contact and a snarl.

2.      Make sure that your dog obeys your commands. When you call him by name he must look at you. If he ignores you, clap your hands and say “Hey, look at me” as you insist upon being recognised. Do this regularly until you are sure of a quick response every time.

3.      Go through doors or passages before your dog, only when on leash.  Walk with your dog to a door or gate that opens outwards, if possible. Open the door a bit and as the dog tries to go first, shut it on him without hurting him. Repeat as often as needed until the dog steps back or sits down before the open door. Go out and shut the door behind you. Wait a short while then let the dog out. Repeat until the dog naturally steps back or waits for you to pass through narrow openings first when on leash.

4.      Regularly confine your dog’s freedom. E.g. before training place him in a yard and let him stay there until you say that he can come out. Make him sleep under a desk or in a corner while you watch TV. It is not a punishment, but a way of establishing your leadership position.

5.      Eat first whenever possible and then feed your dog. Dish up the dog’s food and put it down where the dog can see it but not get at it. Now take a biscuit etc. hold it close to the dog’s dish and eat the biscuit or pretend to eat from it. The dog must think you ate his food. Do it occasionally.

6.      If your dog is blocking your path, gently push him out of your way. Do not go around or step over him. Sub-ordinate animals must move for leaders. I gently pushed my dogs aside in the beginning whilst saying, “Mind.”

7.      Call your dog to you for petting and attention. Don’t go to him. You decide when to greet. Hug, cuddle and stroke him as you praise him for coming to you so fast.

8.      Use the Dog Training exercises such as Sit, Down, Stand and Heel as often as possible. When you fetch the mail let him “Heel” with you and, “Sit” while you collect it and let him carry it for you, etc.

9.      Frequently use the “Down” command at home or on walks because being down is a submissive position.

10.  When returning home, ignore your dog for a while. I open the car door to let them check that dad is home. Wait until they walk away before getting out. Then I walk past them and no talking takes place while they follow me. I go indoors and leave them outside. After a short while I go out and invite them to play with me. I decide when to greet! If you go to your dog, then you are treating him as a leader.

11.  When your dog wants to play, give him a “Down-stay” for 1-2 minutes and then you say, “Let’s play!”

12.  When you play with your dog, be sure to end up in possession of the toy and then put it away. All toys belong to you.

13.  Don’t allow your dog to sleep on your bed with you. He is not your equal. If you invite him to get onto your bed make sure also to tell him when to get off. Best to do it on leash so that when you command “Off” you can use the leash to force him off.

14.  Use dominance exercises regularly. Pet him on the head, check his ears and paws, brush and massage him, roll him over etc. Make it a pleasant experience for him to be handled by you.

15.  Establish regular routines that he can depend on such as feeding time. If he is not allowed in the lounge, allowing him to come in uninvited will confuse him. There should be areas in the house where only the leader is allowed. The bedroom or upstairs should /could be out of bounds for dogs.

16.  When he has done wrong, discipline him by making eye contact and telling him in firm tones, “No, out” or “Naughty.”

17. If he has been very naughty or won’t stop barking when told to do so, use “Timeout” in a toilet or laundry for 5 minutes. It is the kindest most humane form of punishment for a dog to obey your commands.

18. All family members, including the children, should feed the dog. All humans are above the dogs in the human pack.

General: These are not hard and fast rules but suggestions to help you to strengthen your leadership over your dog and love him even more.

*“Bah” is the closest sound to a mommy dog’s bark when she admonishes a naughty    puppy.

Read: “Becoming the pack leader.”