The importance of establishing a “pack leader” and socializing your dog cannot be emphasized enough. Dogs are pack animals. They look to you to be the pack leader.
By establishing your role as pack leader, and properly socializing your dog with other animals and humans, it’s less likely that you’ll encounter problem situations where you’ll need to exert that control.
You are the Alpha Dog
The term “alpha dog” has become a cliche, but the concept still applies to your relationship with your dog. Being a leader is different from being dominant. Being the pack leader involves setting boundaries, deciding when your canine companion eats, when they play, etc.
Your dog must understand that what you say goes. When you call him to come, he must come. When you tell him to stay, he can’t wander off. Obedience training goes a long way in establishing your role as the head of the pack.
Qualities of a Pack Leader
Dogs are very aware of energy. Just like they can sense when we aren’t feeling well, they can also sense nervous or emotional energy. As a pack leader, it is important to project calm confident energy.
For example, if you are walking your dog and he is continuously pulls, just stop. Be assertive by standing your ground until Fido comes back to your side and has a calm demeanor. Once Fido is calmly by your side, praise him and continue to walk.
Praising for your dog can be expressed in multiple ways. You can show Fido you are pleased with his behavior by giving him a healthy treat, like a NuVet Plus wafer. However, you can also show gratitude with a quick stroke under the chin or an enthusiastic good job!
You do not have to yell commands to establish yourself as the leader. Although there is a time and place to vocally tell Fido no, setting boundaries and being consistent does most of the work.
One way to communicate to Fido that the house is yours is by waiting to let him inside. Stand confidently by the front, looking down at your pup until they are calm. Once they are calm, praise them and open the door to let them in after you.
You can do this same exercise by standing with Fido’s food and waiting for him to be calm before putting the food down for him to eat. You can also use this exercise when giving your canine companion his nutritional supplement from NuVet.
These techniques may take practice to get down, but they are an easy way to show your pup that you are in charge.
Meet and Greet
Once you have built a relationship with your dog, you can begin socializing your companion. A well-socialized dog will experience less stress throughout its life, in turn decreasing the stressful situations you encounter.
When introducing your dog to new dogs, it is best to have them meet on neutral ground. This way, no one resource guards or feels as though the other is intruding on their territory.
Have the dogs meet by sniffing each other from behind. Sniffing from behind is a less threatening way to say hello.
Be sure to introduce all new pets and people with a calm confident energy. If you are nervous about the play date, is is likely that Fido will be too.
By exposing your puppy or dog to various people and other pets in a safe environment, he will be better prepared to handle future encounters with strangers and new animals. This decreases the likelihood of behavior you’ll need to correct as the leader.
Socializing and Leadership
While socializing and asserting yourself as the pack leader are ongoing processes, they are essential for a well-rounded dog.
If you’ve correctly established yourself as the leader and you maintain that role consistently, your relationship with your dog will flourish into an easy companionship and lifelong friendship.