Ever wonder why there are so many dogs left at the doorsteps of many American Shelters? Funny how they call them Shelters and Humane Societies, there is nothing sheltering and or humane about what happens to dogs that are “un-adoptable” and “unable” to rejoin society.
So many organizations are trying to foster a positive approach to dogs left in shelters, but the discarded dogs far outweigh the demand for new pets. You have all these top name brand pet stores where people are willing to pay an arm and a leg to take a dog home and then when the cuteness wears off, the “issues” begin.
There really isn’t an issue with the dog, it’s the handlers (I use this word a lot to label the owners). When a new dog enters your home, be it a puppy or an older dog, there must be leadership established from the get go. If we constantly nurture a pet and always shower the dog with affection, the message he is receiving is “I’m the leader of this household, everyone comes to me” instead of the other way around.
We’ve conditioned ourselves to believe that dogs think and feel like us, and that is entirely wrong. Yes, dogs feel pain and fear, but that’s it. Dogs think and feel on a completely different emotional level from humans. First, they live “in the moment”, just as in the wild when their ancestors had to trek miles upon miles to find food and shelter, they didn’t have time to lag and play and have fun and socialize. The work was done first. Find the food and shelter and then the reward, which is the eating, resting, socializing.
This is not a “resolve all” for anyone that has a dog that has tried to bite, has bitten and may bite in the future. Immediate help with an Experienced and Professional Trainer is recommended!
We as humans, tend to do everything backwards. We give a lot of affection and expect the same in return, ALL THE TIME.
Some of the following steps are geared towards older dogs (6 months and up) that you have just brought home and or a dog you already have. These steps must be repeated and you, not your dog, must be consistent with the training. Once you establish yourself as a Pack Leader, your dog will naturally follow.
Why at six months? The dog has grown sufficiently enough to walk comfortably on a leash, his bones are strong enough to take 15 to 20 minute walks in the shade (evening hours) and or early morning.
The walk exhausts them, stimulates their brain, mind, body, spirit and they have no other alternative to biting, running and or pulling, other than following and responding to his/her leaders commands, which can be all physical and non-verbal if you are consistent in your training.
A Backpack is helpful for older dogs that are able to carry some weight and you can then cut their walk down to half of what was intended. A Backpack enables their mind to focus on the task, the job, which is to carry the backpack and allows you to have a more focused dog while you are walking. Put small water bottles, a sandwich sack full of beans, some soda cans in the side pockets, whatever you have that is small and can add weight.
Walk in the door first and allow the dog to wait behind you. When you are ready, ask them to come inside. When they are in your home, do not allow them to paw you (for example, jumping, grabbing your pant, scratching your leg) they are trying to establish their power over you (although it looks like playing). At this point, the dog is now a member of a “pack” and it is up to you and the entire family to engage in a leadership position. Ignore the dog when they are pawing you, show them that when you are ready, you will recognize that they are there and then only then will you look at them.
Allow your dog to sit at your side by the chair, sofa, etc..and have them wait until you are ready to ask them to come up on the furniture with you, or pick them up if they can’t jump up just yet.
You eat first, they eat second. The dog needs to wait until you are done eating, then they can eat. Don’t feel bad, or sad because they have to wait. They are instinctive animals, therefore they know you are the leader. By nature, a pack has a leader or leaders (Alpha Male/Alpha Female) and once the kill has been brought down and into the pack, the leaders eat first then the rest of the pack. Do not allow them near the dinner table. Train them to wait out side the kitchen. That is the boundary. They must respect it.
Do not allow them to lead you when you are walking them. Ensure they are walking behind you or next to you, never ahead. Ensure you have a nice relaxed, calm walk. Enjoy the sounds, odors, etc‚your dog will earn his reward when you are done with your walk, when you let him go off to the sides and smell, mark and go potty if he needs to. Remember that this is a reward, it comes at the end of your disciplined walk. Will it happen overnight, no it won’t. If you have a dog that pulls or battles the leash with you, tries to go after other people, dogs, cars etc‚make sure you get professional training as soon as possible. A dog that is left to continue this negative and mood altering behavior is asking for more trouble by not helping your dog learn limitations to what behavior is appropriate and when.
Watch a Documentary on those nature channels, whenever they speak about packs and their leaders. It’s eye opening.
If you follow these easy steps and master walking on a leash, Obedience Training will be much easier to accomplish for both of you. To help you more, you can visit a reliable source online and look for some tutorials about how to become a confident pack leader to your boss. This will give you more ideas so you can train your dog even more effectively.
Remember consistency is key.
Remember your dog is a member of the family, but they are the dog, then the breed then (your pups name). Allow them to feel comfort in the fact that they have a leader then the affection can follow.