One of the first things you need to understand about dog training is the way that your pooch thinks. Dogs don’t think like people do, on a rational level, so you have to get into their minds so they can understand your place in their lives. Since dogs are pack animals, they understand leadership or the leader of the pack mentality. When you are able to teach your dog that you are the leader of your pack and that she is part of your pack, you will be able to establish a strong, happy bond with her and it will be easier to train her.
When you bring a puppy into your home, she will automatically see you and your family as her pack. This means that you need to establish a chain of command with your new dog. For instance if you have four of you in the family and two of the four are your kids, your puppy will see that you are the boss of your children. It will be easier for your puppy to be trained if she can see where she fits into the pack.
The Pack Leader
When you are dog training, there has to be one of you who is in charge of most of her training. This means that if you are the one who does most of the work with your new puppy, then you will be her “pack leader”. As her pack leader, you will take care of your puppy, but she will also be most responsive to your commands. So, typically, if you choose to get a puppy or dog and you are a family unit, the person who is most often in charge of the family, should be viewed as the pack leader for the dog.
This doesn’t mean, though, that there can’t be others who are “in charge” when the leader is away or unable to lead. In a pack, this is often the one who is stronger than the other dogs, but in a family situation, the leader might be the person who works to care for the puppy when the leader is not available. So, if one of you typically works with your puppy and feeds her, then you are going to be the one who has the strongest bond, however, if you are not home, then there will usually be someone who takes care of your puppy in your absence. This person will typically become the “second in command”.
In the case of children, it is still important to teach your pooch that she has to listen to them, or else your dog might be likely to walk all over her. Look for behaviors in your puppy that indicate that she might be trying to pull rank such as standing between you and your child. When these things happen, it’s important to have your child step in front of your dog so that your child can show her their rank in the pack.
When you’re the leader of your pack to your puppy, it’s often quite a lot like being a parent. You need to make sure that your puppy realizes what you will and will not let her do right off the bat. For instance, you will need to give her regular baths and brushings so that she sees that not only will you not hurt her, but that you are the leader and this is expected of her.
You will also have to show her the leader of your pack in other ways, such as teaching her that it’s not polite to jump on people and you don’t allow chewing of just anything because she feels like it. When you are the leader of your pack, you are teaching your dog how she can exist within her new family happily and comfortably and without getting into trouble.
Some dogs might seem stubborn, but once your puppy sees that you are the “boss” in the pack, and you make sure that she is rewarded for being good and fitting in, it’s very likely that your puppy will begin to find her place and be happy to be there.