Puppy Obedience Training, Part 3: Pack Leadership

Why is pack leadership necessary?


Pack leadership is essential to obedience training, especially during puppyhood. It is during this time that your young dog is learning about the world and how it works. Some people say that the idea of becoming a pack leader sounds excessive because they believe that dogs need friends, not leaders.


The popular idea that dogs need friendship (and not leadership) is not only false but it can be detrimental to your puppy’s natural development. All dogs require the influence of an alpha dog or pack leader, even if that turns out to be the dog’s human owner.


What could happen when a dog is not influenced by a pack leader?


There are three things that could happen when the dog owner is not willing to play the part of the pack leader:


  1. Your dog could begin seeking out other dogs to form its own pack. In that pack, your dog could be the pack leader or it may be dominated by a dog with a much stronger leadership quality.


  1. Your dog will ignore you and your training routines because it doesn’t feel the need to pay attention or follow you.


  1. You may inadvertently become the dog’s “member” in the pack. Your dog will become the pack leader and yes, pack leaders don’t take orders form subordinates.


Of course, these are all unsavory scenarios because no dog owner wants to be ignored or dominated by his own pet. That’s why it is important that you become the pack leader that your puppy needs.


What does it take to be a good pack leader?


Becoming a good pack leader to your puppy is not rocket science. You don’t need to be an animal behaviorist or veterinarian to act the part of a natural leader. Take note of these criteria and you’re well on your way to training success:


  1. Protector – In the wild, pack leaders scout unfamiliar territories and are the first to go into battle when there are much larger predators.


As your puppy’s alpha dog, you must also provide a safe environment for the puppy to explore and grow. Larger dogs and other animals must be kept away if they have not been properly introduced to your puppy.


  1. Teacher – Puppies have no idea how the world works. If your puppy was acquired at a very young age, you need to be the animal’s teacher and aid it in its exploration of its environment.


This is actually an exciting time for any owner-trainer because he will be able to exert his authority on the dog and teach the animal at the same time.


Expect your puppy to be excited and curious about everything it encounters. As the teacher, it’s up to you to make your puppy’s environment safe enough for any type of curious exploration.


You must also be conscientious in teaching your puppy. Puppies are not robots; they are not driven by any fixed set of commands. If you want your puppy to learn something, you must set aside ample time to teach/train your puppy.


Your expectations should also be reasonable so you do not become frustrated when your puppy doesn’t get it right the first few times.


  1. A Good Example – As the pack leader, your puppy naturally looks up to you as a role model. This may not be apparent to many dog owners but these animals are capable of making critical evaluations of people’s behaviors. If you are always angry when your puppy commits a mistake, your pet will lock onto this association for good.


Instead of a harsh reprimand, use redirection to teach your puppy proper behavior. A gentle touch and a firm “no” can do wonders, especially if you are consistent with how you redirect and correct your puppy.


How should you behave when training a puppy or adult dog?


Being calm is a virtue when dealing with any kind of dog. Dogs are experts at detecting a person’s emotional state and energy level.


These animals often emulate or act in the same fashion as their pack leaders. If you are always anxious, frustrated or angry when training your dog, some of the negativity you have will rub off on your pet and it may become resistant to your training methods.


You also need plenty of patience when training your pet/s. An impatient trainer will quickly lose sight of his goals and will only focus on the fact that something “isn’t working.” You need a calm and positive mindset when training any animal. I know that this can be difficult to achieve especially if you’re not getting the results that you want, but this is the best way to do it.



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