Any professional dog trainer will tell you that it is severely stressful for most dogs to be without a leader or role model. Because of this, it is your job as a responsible dog owner to become a kind and benevolent leader for your dog. Most dogs will develop a more relaxed and confident demeanor with a strong desire to please their new role model once the leadership role has been assumed. Just think of the saying, “Follow the leader.”
Establish The Rules
Leadership can be established through patient and persistent dog training, not only by a professional, but also by the dog owner (because the dog owner is the person who will ultimately be in the leadership role). It is very important for the dog owner, with the help of an animal trainer, to establish house rules and to enforce them firmly but fairly. Here are some simple exercises that will allow you to show your dog that his humans are good leaders and that he has a responsibility to the family to serve and obey the leaders of the pack.
Basics To Establishing Your Leadership Role
In addition to guided dog training from a professional, there are simple things you can do throughout the course of the day to demonstrate who the leader is to your dog.
Keep Off The Bed
1. Never allow your dog to sleep on beds and furniture.
You Eat First
2. Prepare the dogs’ meal and set it aside while you eat your meal. It is not absolutely necessary that an entire meal be eaten before feeding the dog. For the sake of his instruction, take approximately five minutes to eat a few crackers and drink a glass of water before giving him his dinner. This will send him the message that the leader eats first. Make sure to ignore the dog while you are eating and only give him his meal if he is not whining or demanding to be fed. Also, do not feed him table scraps!
Lead The Way
3. When walking through doorways, always walk out the door ahead of your dog. This lets your dog know you are the leader. A dog with proper animal training who knows his place in the family would never push you out of the way to get through the doorway first or come inside without being invited. To ensure that the dog learns to wait for you before going through doorways, have your dog trainer assist you. Every time you pass through a door together, ask the dog to “sit” and “stay” at the doorway. Go through the door first, and as long as the dog stays sitting in his place, say “okay,” releasing him to come through the door. Do this dog training exercise every time you go through a doorway with the dog, and practice several repetitions a day. Something as seemingly insignificant as who goes through the door first can communicate who the leader in the house is to the dog.