Dog’s natural behavior
Dogs by nature are highly social animals. Dogs tend to form packs, which can be easily seen in the wild or by studying stray dogs (or even a group of dogs playing). Each pack has a designated leader usually called the pack leader, alpha dog, or alpha male (more often than not, a female dog is actually the alpha “male”). In short, the pack leader is the boss of the rest of the pack.
This behavior will also occur in your home. Your dog will seek out the leader of the pack. If there seems no dependable leader in your pack (family), he will attempt to become the pack leader. When your dog assumes that he is the alpha, you will have a bunch of problems to deal with.
No matter whether you have a puppy, a recently adopted dog, or are simply looking to take back control with the dog you’ve had for years, you can take control and become a pack leader. Not only can it be done in a humane and safe way but the process is also actually relatively fun. Additionally, your being the pack leader helps your dog be less anxious, which equates to improved health and behavior.
If you become a pack leader, it will be beneficial to any dog at any age and of any breed.
10 requirements to become your dog’s pack leader
1. Basic Obedience Training
To begin, your dog has to understand basic obedience commands such as “sit” or “come” or any of the other main commands. Puppies can begin training as early as one or two months old. Of course, older dogs can absolutely be trained or re-trained.
In case your dog has been taught basic obedience, but won’t listen to you unless you have a treat or just selectively obeys your commands, it means that he probably does not see you as a leader and some further action is required.
2. Leash Training
Your dog should be properly trained to walk politely on a leash, with no pulling, lunging, barking at other passing dogs, etc. This can usually take a long time to train. As dogs are naturally migratory animals, you need to take your dog on a walk nearly daily. Not only is this good physical and mental exercise for your dog, but only by allowing your dog to walk politely at your side, your dog will see you as the leader. You must be in charge of everything during a walk, correcting his bad signs and behaviors.
3. Owning Your Home
As the pack leader to your dog, don’t allow your dog to have free access to furniture in your home, sleep in your bed, or give in when your dog begs for scraps from the dinner table. By showing the dog that you control all access to all areas of the home, you are asserting yourself as a pack leader. Once your dog percept you own the home, you can start to allow the dog back onto furniture if you want, but he must ask for your permission. At dinner time, your dog should go lay in the other room quietly. Just like in wild dogs, remember that the pack leader eats first before the rest of the dogs.
4. Owning The Food And Water Supply
In the wild, the pack leader controls who, when and how much the pack gets to eat. Other precious and life-dependent sources like water are also controlled. Access is only granted with the pack leader’s approval. Similarly, this philosophy must be still asserted in your home. If your dog feels dependent upon you for basic survival, that gives you a huge leg up on becoming a pack leader. If your dog is protective over food and has food aggression issues, it means he does not see you as the leader, which must be immediately stopped.
5. Come And Go As You Please
The pack leader never needs permission to go anywhere. When a pack has a strong leader, the rest of the pack do not feel anxious but wait patiently when the leader leaves because they have confidence in him. All of them know that everything will be ok and their leader has everything under control. The same should happen in your home. You also shouldn’t make a big deal out of leaving the house or your arrival until your dog is able to work through separation anxiety issues.
6. Communicating With Energy
For the most part, dogs communicate through energy instead of audible communication methods, despite the fact that they can bark, howl, whine, and make all sorts of noise. In contrast, human has difficulty in using energy alone to communicate while relying heavily on audible and visual communication methods. To become a pack leader, you must learn how to properly portray energy and emotion towards your dog. For example, when you’re happy with your dog, your dog needs to really “feel” that positive energy and conversely, when you’re angry about something, your dog needs to feel that you’re not happy.
7. Show Some Love
To become a pack leader, it’s needed to balance between leadership and companionship. Sometimes, people get so wrapped up in trying to show dominance over their dog that they forget to show affection. When your dog is behaving well, show your dog how pleased you are with their behavior with praise and positive energy. You should exaggerate that positivity as much as you reasonably can. It’s almost as good as getting a treat!
8. Be Consistent
Leaders show consistency. By changing the rules and making exceptions to rules at ambiguous times, you will cause your dog a great deal of confusion. Dogs learn through repetition. If something doesn’t happen the same way over and over again, your dog won’t understand what the rules are. When rules aren’t clearly defined, the dog sees that as a lack of leadership. Therefore, you must be very consistent in your training.
9. Be Clear
Pack leaders always set very clear rules and hardly ever deviate. Your rules must be very clear to your dog. It’s best to set a rule and never break it. Creating exceptions for rules will confuse your dog. If you make exceptions to any rules, you should make sure that your dog understands those exceptions.