Last week I was at a new Home Dog Training client in Acworth working with his family and his two-year-old Goldendoodle named Wally. Wally had a wonderful temperament and was, overall, quite responsive to our commands and exercises. Wally was also very smart. Like many Goldendoodles, he was as cute as cute could be. He knew that and used that to his advantage every chance he could get. Because of this, even though my clients were doing everything correctly in trying to teach him his obedience commands, he often would not pay attention.
I quickly noticed that there was something that my clients were actually doing that was causing Wally’s actions. Moreover, Wally’s lack of attention would get my clients to become agitated because of their dog’s lack of focus. To tell the truth, Wally had great focus, but he was using it to be the King of the House. This was great for Wally, but not so great for my clients. Here is what we did…
Our experience has shown that many dog owners can become frustrated when their dog constantly thinks they are the boss of the house. The issue lies in the fact that dogs have a different set of requirements for “being the boss” than most of us employ. You could spend a long time reading all about canine leadership theory, dominant pack mechanics, and the like. I would like to go right to the end and give you the most important thing you need to understand.
I am pretty sure that your dog comes over to you all the time with a ball or toy and gives you a nudge or whimper in order to have you toss the ball. I am also pretty confident that almost all the time, you will take the toy and start playing with him. Probably, when you get home after work and sit down in the family room, your wonderful dog comes over to you, nudges your hand with his nose for a pet, and you pat him on the head and rub his belly. You probably do all these things your dog is constantly asking you to do, and you are still wondering why he doesn’t think you are the boss.
As I mentioned earlier, here is where the canine perspective and human perspective regarding dominance and leadership go in two different directions. Being humans, anyone can have a great idea and the rest of the group will have no problem in going along. Going to the mall, turning in at a Atlanta Bread for lunch, or taking a walk have no implication of individual dominance or leadership.
We need to pause and back up a moment to reexamine this situation from our dog’s canine point of view. In the canine world, the only one who can tell the rest of the pack what to do is the Alpha Leader. A normal member of the pack never directs or leads the pack. It is always the Alpha Leader.
When your dog comes to you, asks you to do something, and you willingly do it, you have entered a situation where your dog is the leader and you are the follower. You unknowingly do this every day; often many times a day. Every one of your family members makes this same mistake with your dog over and over again each day. Everyone is (unknowingly) telling your dog that he is the king all the time. Of course, your dog will believe he is king and can do whatever he wants!
I don’t think that is what you want!
What can you do to stop and fix the problem? All you have to do is to make sure that everything is always your idea with your dog. You must always initiate, begin, commence. You can easily do this is through a method called Passive Assertion.
When your dog approaches you with a ball, simply ignore him. As soon as he turns away, call him back to you, telling him you want the ball so that you can play ball with him. When your dog responds and gives you the ball, it was done because of your idea. Since it is your idea and your dog complied, he naturally understands that you are the leader, and he is the follower. This sounds like a stupid little game, but it is critical in your relationship with your dog. It is crucial for your maintenance of his focus and respect.
Do exactly what I just mentioned the next time your dog comes over to you and wants you to do something. It is important that everyone in the family now makes sure everything they do with your dog is on their terms. It must be their idea.
I just got off the phone with my client checking in about Wally. He said that they now make sure that everything they do with Wally is on their terms. Wally is now well focused on their commands, and they are excited with the results.
Please call Robin or me at (770) 718-7704 if you need any dog training help. We are blessed to have been your local dog training professionals for over seventeen years. We have trained over 5,000 great dogs and loving families and are ready to help you.