Robin and I were in Buford last Tuesday working with a new Home Dog Training client and his German Shorthaired Pointer named Larry. I didn’t think that we had ever trained another dog named “Larry”, so I had to ask the question “Why the name?”. Our client responded that he loved calling to his dog “Hey Larry!”. We helped him with all his problems and also explained that his dog’s name was not a command. Near the end of the session, we had our client and Larry out for a walk around the neighborhood when one of his neighbors approached us. He knew that Larry had a “school day” and was on the look-out to ask us a dog training question. He was wondering why his dog was always jumping, barking, and not listening to him. Was his dog crazy, was he crazy, or did his dog want or need something he could not identify?
Well, all dogs aren’t crazy, I doubted his dog was crazy, and I guessed that he wasn’t crazy too.
I told the neighbor that both dogs and people want nothing more than to feel safe. If all is great with the world and our future is clear, we are having a really great day. We focus on good health, financial stability, lasting relationships, etc. as ways to keep us safe.
Dogs feel safe when they are members of a strong group. The group remains strong because it has a strong leader to guide it and protect it. What the neighbor must show his dog that he is a strong leader. This sounds like it would be pretty easy except for the fact that we are humans. It is critical that we modify our perspective of the world so that we act and respond in a manner our dog naturally understands and accepts.
How do we become our dog’s leader so he feels safe and secure?
Our dog’s ancestors were wolves and they belonged to a wolf pack. The social structure of the pack kept them safe. We need to replicate the same social structure rules to naturally tell our dogs that they are safe too.
When in the wild, the canine alpha leader tells the rest of the wolf pack what they need to do. The rest of the pack always obeys and follows the instructions of the alpha leader. We must act like the wolf who is the leader of the pack. This means that everything we do with our dog must be on our terms. Everything must be our idea. If our dog comes over to us and puts his nose in our hand in demand of a pet, we must not pet him. If our dog gets his ball and comes over to us and gives us his big puppy eyes saying he wants to play ball, we must ignore that.
What is the big take away from all this so far? Ignore our demanding dog for a moment until he turns away. Then, we can call him over so WE can pet him. We can call him over to us so WE can play ball with him. Remember, it always has to be on our terms. It always has to be our idea. We must be the one that starts; begins; commences. This will maintain our role as the strong alpha leader.
Now that we are the strong alpha leader, our dog will naturally give us respectful focus. Having a clear and strong leader of the group provides our dog with the safety he requires. And, that, is the one thing our dog wants and needs.
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 experts for over fourteen years. We have trained over 5,000 great dogs and loving families and are ready to help you.