We have always had dogs in our family. We even adopted the neighbor’s dog once when he was sick. On top of all this, as a family we had no idea how to properly train a dog, as long as he didn’t get dirty on the ground, chew on our slippers and finally got to the fifth cry of his name, we thought about things. They were fine.
Training the Dog Owner
Like most dog owners, we didn’t know anything about how to properly train a dog. We think know how to be a dog trainer because the dog sits or offers us a paw when we have a treat in our hands, but those are just party tricks.
Then I bought my dog when I got my own place. As he grew up, he went from a lovely puppy to a problem. She walked away, she never came when they called her and she turned into the Tasmanian devil every time someone called her. The last straw came when he broke into the room and scrambled to sit on the shoulders of a visitor who had come to evaluate me for a volunteer position. He wasn’t a dog lover and I can still remember his expression on his face now …
The problem was that I had always treated dogs like four-legged friends, always giving in to those sad eyes and not realizing that dogs saw me in a completely different way. Dogs are pack animals and as such are very aware of their position in the pack, and you and your family are your pack, even if it’s just the two of you.
Understand that little fact of canine psychology and you’ll be well on your way to a happier dog. From now on you will make it clear to your dog that you are the alpha male or the leader of the pack and what you say matters. Do you see that furniture? That is mine. You lie on the floor or in your dog’s basket. Don’t feed the dog treats from the table; in fact the dog must be in his basket while you eat, and he only eats after everyone else has finished. But isn’t that just being mean and taking away all the fun of having a dog?
The leader of the pack eats first. Sleep in the best place. The alpha male is unaware of the subordinate dogs that worry around him when he returns from hunting. When you consistently act as a leader, you are communicating with your dog in a language he understands. When you get home, ignore your dog’s desperate attention attempts until he calms down; then congratulate him. It won’t be long before your dog realizes that he has lost a few steps in the pack hierarchy and acts accordingly. You will soon notice that your dog greets you silently and he quickly calms down when he realizes that this is the time when he is getting praise from you.
Learn to Train Your Dog and Be the Pack Leader
Still not convinced that training your dog makes him a happier dog? Look at it from the dog’s point of view. He lives in a human world full of confusing things and behaviors that he cannot understand. If you don’t teach your dog his place in the pack, he’ll feel like it’s his place to take the lead. But that leaves him stressed out, resulting in a rebellious and confused dog who constantly tries to make sense of an overwhelming world that he can’t understand.
But when you take on the role of pack leader, you take that responsibility off your shoulders. As a well-trained soldier, she will be happy to know his place, his role in the pack and what is expected of him, and happy to yield to your leadership knowing that you will take care of the “important things”.