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Establishing yourself as pack leader

 by lucy on 03 Aug 2016 |
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Dogs are pack animals by nature and follow a sophisticated set of rules regarding pack order. Establishing yourself as your dog’s leader, then, is important from Day One. Not only will this create structure and purpose in your dog’s life, but it also ensures you have a healthy, balanced relationship with your canine companion.
 
One of the best ways to assert yourself as pack later—or “alpha”—is through body language and tone of voice. Dogs respond well to calm, confident commands, so remember to stand tall and stay assertive around your pet. Dogs tend to see nervous behavior as a sign that all is not well within the pack, and may try to take charge if they perceive that the order is failing. Another key to establishing dominance is to set firm rules and boundaries. Train your dog to wait at the door and enter after you’ve given him permission, for example. Have him sit or do another trick before he receives a treat or toy, and don’t let him walk ahead of you and pull on the lead during walks. Mealtime is a great opportunity to establish pack order because, in the wild, pack leaders eat first. Practice a similar setup with your dog by eating your own breakfast before he has his, and do not allow your dog to approach the table during mealtime. Make sure your pet is calm and obedient before receiving his food.
 
Pack leaders generally do not approach their fellow dogs, but rather, let members of the pack come to them. In the same way, do not force your affection on your dog, but allow him to approach you when he wants attention. This will reinforce your role as alpha while still giving your companion the attention he loves and deserves. You can also shower your pet with belly rubs, since your dog’s stomach is a vulnerable spot and making it available to you shows submission. Spend quality time grooming and petting your dog, slowly working your way up to petting touchy areas. Remember, leaders are always kind, never hit, and react with praise or corrections immediately and in a straightforward way that their dogs understand.
 
If your dog is aggressive or dominant, remember to start asserting your alpha position slowly. A sudden display of dominance could trigger a challenge and potentially lead to aggressive behavior. Creating a plan and sticking to it over time will not only give your dog structure and control, but will also create a stronger pet-owner bond, demonstrating your affection for your dog in a way he understands best.

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