Transforming Yourself Into a Pack Leader, Part 2

 

How can you maintain order in your dog’s daily activities?

 

In our last blog post, we talked about how you can prepare yourself to become the best pack leader that your dog can ever have.

 

The necessary preparations include setting realistic goals, creating a “personal zone” for your dog and improving your understanding of your pet by adopting the canine perspective.

 

In today’s discussion we are going to explore the many ways that you can enforce order and structure in your dog’s activities. Because in order to become a truly effective pack leader, you have to direct what your dog is doing when you’re spending time with it.

 

Why is it important to reinforce rules regularly?

 

Conducting your dog’s daily activities and guiding its behavior will help improve recall and compliance to the rules you have set.

 

Rules such as staying out of the bedroom or keeping off the couch need to be reinforced as often as possible so the dog will remember to comply with them even if you are not around.

 

Reinforcement of boundaries and limits does not have to take the form of a training session all the time. You can enforce rules the way alpha dogs do it – through socialization.

 

In the wild, alpha dogs are able to teach each member of the pack the necessary skills and functions they need to know in order for the pack to function normally. Alpha dogs obviously can’t teach other dogs the way humans do it so they do it the only way they can: through example.

How can you make social interaction with your dog more meaningful?

 

It is essential that you continue planning different activities where your dog will remember its function within the human pack. You must not limit your interactions to “sit and stay” or “come.” That’s not how a pack works and if you want to suppress any negative behaviors you need to fulfill your dog’s natural desire for a stable social structure.

 

Another thing that all dog owners must remember is that dogs not only want to be part of an active social structure but they also want to work for their keep.

 

Dogs instinctually know that there is no such thing as a free meal. If they’re going to eat, they know that they would have to work in return.

 

Obviously, our housebound pets no longer have to hunt for voles and rodents to eat. We have wet and dry dog food and in the interest of avoiding parasites and other diseases associated with wild-caught prey, dog owners often limit how much wild prey their dogs actually eat.

 

If our dogs are freely given food, how can we satisfy their desire to work for it?

 

Trainers often recommend vigorous playtime activities or regular, structured walks with the pack leader.

 

I have to emphasize that walks have to be structured and you have to lead your dog during a walk and not the other way around. A structured walk integrates training routines, skill building and short breaks so your dog can relax and play as it pleases.

 

As a pack leader, you must be the one in charge at all times.

 

The pack leader starts the walk and is also the one who determines when to stop. Positioning during a walk is also important. A pack leader never takes the rear position in a pack – that is reserved for the most subservient of pack members.

 

The alpha dog or pack leader is always in front of the pack, leading the way. Of course, there will be times when it will be more convenient to have your dog walk in front of you. If you prefer this type of positioning, make sure that your dog does not put any kind of tension on its leash.

 

Tension on the line means your dog is pulling you and effectively, leading you during the walk.

 

This is unacceptable behavior and should be redirected as quickly as possible. You must also establish a routine where your dog willingly submits itself to you when it is out of its “personal zone” so you can place a collar and leash on it.

 

How should training sessions be structured?

 

Training sessions, whether it is held at home or during a structure walk, should be as consistent as possible. The words and gestures used in training your dog should be given sequentially and in the same order every time you decide to reinforce a skill or teach your dog something new.

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