Dogs are pack animals and in any pack, someone has to be the leader to help your everyday interactions run smoothly. Like a well maintained clock, the relationship functions at its best when each member is doing his or her own job in the right way. As a responsible pet owner, it’s important to let your dog know that you are in control and you’re the one they need to listen to and trust.
From the Beginning
Whether you get an adult dog or a small puppy, it’s essential to begin to establish the role of pack leader with them from the moment they become a member of your home. The role will take time to develop between you, but once your dog realizes you are the pack leader, it will make your life together much easier. Like children, dogs need to understand the rules and know who is in charge to know who to listen to and follow. Letting your dog know who the pack leader is helps you maintain a healthy balanced relationship and a keeps a good bond between you. As pack leader, you are the one who runs everything. If you let your dog know that from the beginning, everything will run more smoothly.
Humans are a complex species; we have different views on issues, which at times can turn into heated arguments that divide us. We also have the ability to evaluate different situations to make our own choices. Dogs on the other hand, react to situations based on pack instincts that were hardwired into them eons ago during the domestication process. These innate pack instincts guide and influence the behavior of dogs in their everyday lives.
Instinct isn’t knowledge that needs to be learned. It’s an automatic intelligence present at birth in all living species. It’s what guides migrating birds and butterflies on marathon flights in the fall and spring, and it’s how squirrels and other animals know when it’s time to stockpile food for the winter. It’s the survival instinct that ensures continuation of the species.
The variety of jobs canines have been bred to do is based on their natural abilities and pack instincts. A sled dog team is able to function because they work together as a team. Each member knows his place in the group, and follows instructions from their human leader. One reason why our relationship with dogs has been so successful is because we share the importance of the family unit and the social bond that binds members together.
I love to sit back and watch my dogs interacting with each other. When I watch them playing and wrestling with each other, I’m reminded of a wrestling match between humans. It’s fascinating to see how dogs jockey into position with similar moves that humans use. What’s most interesting, however, is how they use their eyes to communicate with each other, just like human wrestlers. Eye contact is important to a dog, and we need to learn how to be respectful with our gaze and not stare.
Watching a dog’s eyes gives you an idea what they are thinking and how they are feeling. It can also signal that a potential dog fight could be brewing between two dogs. A dominant dog may feel challenged by direct stare and a submissive dog can be intimidated with the eyes. But when you stop and think about it, eye contact between dogs isn’t that much different than it is between people.
People who are shy or intimidated by someone direct their eyes away from a more dominant personality. The idea of confronting someone is distasteful and something they will avoid at all costs. Unless they are challenged or forced to stand up for themselves in some way, they are happier if no one notices them. The confident and dominant person isn’t afraid to make eye contact. Their eyes are generally relaxed, open to the world and friendly looking. They aren’t looking for trouble, but they won’t back down from it if they find it. A more aggressive person has a hard stare and his eyes are narrowed. They may be angry or looking for a fight and their stare is meant to be intimidating. Someone who is fearful is wide eyed and their pupils are dilated. Dogs that are timid, fearful, dominant, friendly or aggressive view eye contact in the same way, and react to the eyes like we do.
Taking charge of a dog can be intimidating for some owners. If you start off on the wrong foot and the dog gets the upper hand, that’s when behavior problems begin to show up, which can lead to an unhappy dog and owner. It’s important for you to be your dog’s leader no matter what breed or size your dog is. Picking the right dog for your lifestyle is important, but equally important is picking a dog you can and will manage.
I had a neighbor who had a Rottweiler he walked every day – or rather, the dog would drag him down the street. He was a muscular fellow, but he couldn’t control his dog because he wasn’t in command. She was a well socialized dog, but didn’t listen to her owner. He never established himself as the leader of his pack. Most dog owners are responsible and caring, and want to do what’s best for their dogs, until it comes to taking the lead role.
Behavior problems in dogs can be quickly turned around if you are their leader. Dogs are social animals and expect us to lead them. In their mind, there has to be a leader and if their human doesn’t do it, they will step up and take it. Not because they want the job, but because it’s a role that must be filled. As far as they are concerned, someone has to set the rules, make the decisions and maintain the peace in the dog’s social order. Dogs understand and recognize the qualities of a strong leader and when you’re in charge, it’s easier to correct bad behavior.
How to take the lead role
Establish your role by teaching your dog what you expect from him. Body language is something all dogs understand. They are experts at reading other dogs, other animals and us by how we move, our expressions and our tone of voice. They know if we’re happy or displeased with them by our body language and voice. There’s no need to hit, kick or yell at a dog to get your message across. Positive reinforcement gains his trust and proves to him you are worthy of being his leader.
You know when a dog movie is a success because people rush out to get the latest popular breed from a recent movie. It’s great to add a dog to your family, but only after you’ve done the homework to make sure a popular dog breed is really the right one for you and your family. Any breed of dog can be aggressive and hard to handle if left to their own devices. Below are characteristics of five popular dog breeds from the movies. The dogs on this list are intelligent, energetic, tenacious and loyal, and would be a good choice as a family pet – with the right pack leader.
Dalmatian. Disney’s 101 Dalmatians was an adorable film filled with black spotted puppies running all over the place. This popular dog breed was bred to run along the side or under horse drawn carriages. They get along well with other pets, especially horses. They’re a strong willed and muscular dog with lots of energy. They need an owner with a firm and consistent hand to take the alpha role. A Dalmatian is intelligent and will find ways to burn up excess energy if left on their own. This dog makes a fine family pet as long as he has lots of exercise for his mind and body to keep him from becoming high strung and excitable. Supervise young children around this dog.
Chihuahua. The Legally Blonde movies made people rush out and get their own cute little pup, but even these small dogs need the right family. This dog can be possessive, yappy and not a good pet around kids if their owner lets them get away with things. The Chihuahua is a popular dog breed who will take over as pack leader if given a chance. Just like big dogs, they need exercise that provides them with enough stimulation to keep them from becoming bored. A Chihuahua needs to be treated like a Great Dane because that’s how they see themselves. When well socialized, they can be an excellent pet. Children need to be taught to be gentle with these dogs.
Siberian Huskies. Snow Dogs and Eight Below are two good movies about Huskies. A Husky is a great dog. I had two of them and wouldn’t hesitate to open my home up to another one. This popular dog breed requires regular grooming especially in the spring and fall. Huskies love to run and as working dogs, they’re happiest doing what they love. Aloof towards strangers, they are strong willed, but make a great family pet. If you’re looking for a watchdog, forget about a Husky. They rarely bark, preferring a mournful howl, and see everyone as a friend. If you have cats or small pets in the home, never leave them alone together when you’re gone. A Husky is loyal, happy, laid back and intelligent. You have to be this dog’s pack leader, otherwise he’ll try to take over and ignore your commands.
Jack Russell Terrier. The Mask and the TV show Frazier made the Jack Russell Terrier a household name. Bred to hunt fox with an eagerness to burrow underground in pursuit of prey, these terriers are as tenacious as they come. They are hardy dogs that can do well in most any climate. Like the Chihuahua, they need to be treated like big dogs with proper exercise to stimulate them, mentally and physically. They can be aggressive with other dogs and are not afraid of fighting. Jacks have a strong prey drive and you shouldn’t trust them around small pets in the home. As long as they understand who the leader is and have been well socialized, they are fine with other dogs and children. These little dogs are excellent jumpers and climbers, making them great escape artists.
Border Collie. Air Bud, Snow Dogs and Because of Winn Dixie showed the athletic ability of the Border Collie and why they’re at the top the list of most intelligent dogs. This popular dog breed can be sensitive and loves lots of praise. They were bred to be a farmer’s “right hand man” and they love working and playing. If you don’t have time to properly exercise a Border Collie, this dog won’t fit into your lifestyle. They need a firm hand, especially pups, and are eager to please their owner.
Small children should be supervised at all times around any dog. If a popular dog breed fits into your lifestyle, you can’t go wrong adopting one. As long as you understand what you’re getting into and have the stamina, commitment and patience, any of the above popular dog breeds would make an excellent pet with proper training, socializing and exercise.
The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.
The loyalty of our dogs cannot be questioned; they will stand by us through thick and thin. Dogs can be well behaved and guard our homes and property, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they respect you. You can tell if your dog respects you by how they interact with you.
Happy tail wagging, ears laid back and submissive body language when you return home is one sign your dog respects you. Lip licking, grooming you and even a kiss on the cheek are signs that they recognize you as their leader and respect you.
In the dog world, the leader always goes first. A dog who races to the door ahead of his owner is showing disrespect, and doesn’t see the human as the alpha of his pack. When your dog respects you, he stays calmly behind you and waits for you to walk through the doorway first. Whether you are going outside for a walk, up or down steps or someone has knocked on the door, a respectful dog will never push ahead of his owner.
The personal opinions and/or use of trade, firm, corporation or brand names, in this blog is for the information and convenience of the reader. Such use does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company of any product or service to the exclusion of others that may be suitable. All opinions in this blog are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company.