Dogs & Training
Animal rights begins at home. Your dog has the right to good care. Communicate effectively with him and train him according to these pointers.
The rational behind this communication with your dog is that he is descended from wolves. Wolves live in packs, each of which is a family of parents and offspring.
You dog is a wolf and sees you as his wolf pack leader.
A pack is organised into a social hierarchy in which animals higher up the hierarchy can impose their will on those lower down. The parents of a wolf family are usually at the top of the hierarchy; they are the leaders of the pack and can boss everyone. Your dog sees himself as living in a pack. You and any other humans in your household are part of his pack. Your dog will tend to do as you tell him if he believes you are the pack leader. To his way of thinking being his leader means that you are 'dominant' to him and he is 'subordinate' to you. But if he believes he is dominant to you then he will do what he
wants and may try to control you. Then there will be conflict when you want him to obey you
1. Ignore your dog if he approaches you
This is one of the most effective methods of getting control over your dog. Do not make eye contact. Look away from him. If necessary turn your back on him. Pretend he does not exist. By withholding your attention you also increase its attractiveness to him. Then you can give him attention as a reward for desired behaviour and he will have more incentive to do what you want him to do. You need not give your dog less affection overall, just give it to him as a reward for good behaviour (see 5, below).
2. Discourage dominant postures
Anything that increases your dog's height relative to yours increases his confidence to be dominant and encourages him to see himself as dominant. So do not allow him to get onto furniture (you might relax this if he has a special chair and you have adequate control of him), sleep on your bed, get onto your lap, or put his head or paws on you. If he does any of these things, gently brush him off without making eye contact. Ignore him if he pesters you.
3. Avoid provoking aggression
Every act won by your dog increases his confidence that he is dominant. So, for instance, deny him access to places where he may behave dominantly and avoid approaching him when you think he may snap or growl.
4. Do not give commands he is unlikely to carry out
For example, do not command him to give up a retrieved stick you threw for him if he is going to struggle with you for it. If he disobeys you he is behaving dominantly. It may look like a game to you, but it is serious dominance behaviour to him. Wait till he drops the stick. Do not give him the chance to behave dominantly.
5. Command him to do things
When you want to give him affection, command him to do something. Then when he obeys give him your affection as a reward. When he asks for something you want to grant him, such as to be let outside or go for a walk with you, tell him to sit or lie down and then after a little while let him have what he wants as a reward. In these situations you are behaving dominantly and he is behaving subordinately.
6. Reward submissive behaviour
Take care to praise him when he behaves well and ignore him when he does something wrong. He will learn that if he wants praise and attention he should behave well. You are showing him the right way to behave and this will strengthen his perception of being subordinate to you.
7. Carry out some obedience training in the home
Train him a little each day, especially to lie down and remain lying, say two 5 or 10 minute sessions. The more readily he obeys you, the more likely he will do so when you really have to control him. Getting him to stay lying down is a good test of your control. If making him lie down is difficult, leave the training until you are more confident of your dominance over him.
Consistency is the most important thing of all. To succeed you must be consistent all the time in all your behaviour to your dog, not just you but the entire household, otherwise he will be confused and get worse. Let 'Consistency!' be your motto. Always be consistent!
A word about dominant, aggressive, territorial and feuding dogs.
Making your dog subordinate will not make him less happy, so long as he is clear about his position in the hierarchy. So do not confuse him. When you start your new behaviour regime, expect that he might get worse for a while. Some dogs get worse or seem depressed and baffled for a bit. These are good signs because they indicate your new-fashioned behaviour is influencing him. When you are clearly dominant you can let up to some degree as long as he continues to behave well. But be alert that he does not try to regain his former dominant position.
Perhaps your dog is aggressive to certain members of your household? He may think he is dominant to them, or thinks he should be, and is challenging their dominance over him. Only these persons should reward and interact with him as described above. The other members of the household should ignore him. Do this until everyone has clear control over him.
Some dogs left a great deal by themselves come to regard their living space as their exclusive territory. If your dog fits this description, keep him with you under your control most of the time. He will learn to share his space with you.
If you have to leave your dog alone a lot, please consider giving him away to someone who can be with him a lot. Dogs are highly social creatures and it is heartless and cruel to leave them alone for long periods.
Do you have dogs who continually fight among themselves? Arrange them in a hierarchy making the top dog the one you think is naturally the most dominant. Always attend first to the dog higher up the hierarchy, for instance, give him his food bowl first, put on his lead first, let him go through the door first, cuddle him first (you can always make up to the others by embracing them longer). You will find that they will accept their positions and the infighting will die down.
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