A dog’s mother begins training puppies from birth. She makes them wait for food; she controls when they play and how far they travel. Adult dogs need these same rules, boundaries, and limitations from you, their pack leader when dog training.
Calm and assertive
A pack leader doesn’t project emotional or nervous energy, so neither should you. In the wild, the pack leader uses calm-assertive energy to influence how the dog interacts with his surroundings. She enforces these laws in a quiet way, as is the case when a mother picks up a puppy by the scruff of the neck if he strays outside the den.
Ownership of territory is very important. Dogs in the wild claim space by first asserting themselves in a calm and confident way, and then communicating this ownership through clear body language signals and eye contact. A dog who understands that you, as the pack leader, own the space in which he lives will respect your asserted authority while dog training.
Waiting is another way that pack leaders assert their position. Puppies wait to eat, and adult dogs wait until the pack leader wants them to travel. Waiting is a form of psychological work for the dog. Domestication means dogs don’t need to hunt for food, but they can still work for it.
Establish your position as pack leader by asking your dog to work. Take him on a walk before you feed him. And just as you don’t give affection unless your dog is in a calm-submissive state, don’t give food until your dog acts calm and submissive. Exercise will help the dog, especially a high-energy one, to achieve this state.
Know your pack
The true test of leadership is knowing your pack. I want to know my pack and what fulfills them. This is what creates balance. Then formulating a dog training plan, setting an intention, and following through is what creates even more strength in your relationship, bond, and its depth. To me, that’s respect, both of the needs of your dog and yourself.
This is what distinguishes the true pack leader from the rest. They are honest. They are real. They accept. They are in touch. They are present. They are respectful. They are balanced. And they know their pack.
In all of these ways, the pack leader in nature sets rules, boundaries, and limitations for her pack, and in doing so, nurtures her dog’s healthy state of mind.
Do you really know your pack? Tell us all about your pack in the comments.