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5 Proven Ways to Show Your Dog You're The Boss

Show Your Dog You're The Boss

You Have to Be The Alpha Dog

Let's start with a definition of "pack mentality." Dogs are born into packs, which are the most important social organization in the wild. Dogs sort out their social order by dominance and power, unlike humans, who use a variety of political methods to select leadership and position. There is a Top Dog in every wolf pack - an obvious leader who is the dominating, Alpha male. He's the Big Dog, with first place at the meal table (if wolves had dinner tables! ), first in mating, and first in pack decision making.

Whether you realize it or not, your dog considers your family to be his personal wolf pack. The pack mentality is so ingrained in your dog's mind that depending on your behavior, he will regard you as either a leader or a follower. You must establish that you are the leader and he is the follower if you want a well-trained dog. Your dog must understand that you are the Alpha Dog, the Head Honcho, the Big Dog, the Top Dog - call it whatever you want, but your dog must understand that you are in command.

In one way, dogs are similar to toddlers in that they want someone else to be the leader; they want rules and regulations because it clarifies and understands their function in the pack. It's difficult to be the leader; if you're not up to it, your dog may step in - because someone needs to be in control!

If this has occurred in your household, you must reclaim your status as the Top Dog, or "Leader of the Pack." But here's the thing: being the leader of the pack has nothing to do with harsh punishment. It all comes down to consistency and setting boundaries.

A simple rule to remember (and one that many people forget) is that you are the leader, not your dog.

1. You Enter Through The Front Door First

Even anything as simple as who steps in first can reaffirm your role as "dominant dog." Leaders take the initiative. Followers will follow. Allowing your dog to charge in the door ahead of you signals to him that he has power over you. Put your dog on a leash and be the first person through the door.

2. You Eat First, Then Your Dog

In your house, who gets fed first, you or your dog? The leader of a wolf pack eats first, and then the rest of the pack can eat. Do you feed your dog first because he bothers you while you're cooking and it's just more convenient to have him quiet and out of the way while you eat?

Food is a potent motivation that may be utilized to plainly show who rules the roost in your home. In no way, shape, or form am I advocating withholding food from your dog - it is cruel and unusual punishment in any case. What I mean is that you should manage the timing of the food - you should eat first, followed by your dog once you've finished your meal.


3. Do Not Walk Next to Your Dog

Is your dog laying on the floor, expecting you to walk around him? In the wild, dominant canines lie wherever they want, while dogs lower in the social hierarchy move around to avoid disturbing the Big Dog. If you stroll around your dog, he will interpret this as a show of submission on your side, implying that he, not you, is the leader.

Make your dog move if he is resting in the center of the hallway or directly in front of your easy chair. Make him move if you want to lie down on the couch. Do not step on him. Simply nudge him and move him out of your way. Remember, you're the Big Dog?

4. You decide when your dog receives attention.

Even requesting attaention or affection might be interpreted as an act of dominance by your dog. Dogs who want attention are asserting dominance, so ignore him if he becomes pushy. Ask him to sit first when you're ready to give him attention, affection, a pet, or play with him.

Don't chase him down just to pet him. Make him come to you when you want to pay attention to him or play with him. And when you play with a toy, make sure you have ownership of it and then put it away when you're finished. (I'm not referring to his favorite toys that you leave in his crate; rather, I'm referring to play toys that the two of you use for games.)

5. Do Not Allow Your Dog To Sleep In Your Bed.

This is a difficult one for many people, but allowing your dog to share your bed at best makes him an equal to you. He should have his own bed, either a dog pad or his crate, that he is comfortable in - you may even put the dog pad next to your bed if that makes both of you happy - but don't let him take over the sleeping arrangements. He'll have you sleeping on the floor before you know it!

Again, severe discipline has nothing to do with reinforcing or retraining your dog to identify you as the Head Honcho. These are some changes you can make to influence how your dog perceives you. Even tiny modifications like these can have a huge impact on how your dog perceives the social hierarchy in your home - all without saying a harsh word!

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