Understanding Pack Behavior

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Your dog sees your family as its pack, and it is up to you to establish that you are the leader. You must also establish that the dog is at the bottom of the hierarchy, with all family members above him/her. Your children could be in danger of being bitten if the dog thinks it is above them.

It is of utmost importance that you establish yourself as the Alpha leader. This does NOT mean you need to be a harsh, raving dictator. Training works very well and easily (some dogs more so than others!) if you are firm and gentle. Give lots of approval and rewards during the training when the dog starts doing things as expected.

All members of the family must understand what expected behavior is being trained and how, and use the same commands and procedures.

It may be difficult for us to understand the dog’s concept of what is needed, but just remember he/she is in fact expecting a leader. If you don’t provide the leadership, you will suffer the consequences of an ill-behaved dog.

The difference between trained and untrained dogs is amazing. In one case: a joyful relationship for all in the pack (family!); in the other: constant turmoil.

If you’re unwilling to put in the necessary effort and become the pack leader and properly train your best friend, do the entire world and all dogs a favor, and don’t even think about getting a dog or dogs!

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  1. Avatar Of Jan



    I’m a trainer, and I like the part of this article referring to the “alpha.” Being the “alpha” doesn’t mean being cruel to your dog. It just means you (the human) are in charge and the dog accepts that without question. By reinforcing this relationship through training, the dog learns that positive behavior is rewarded. And dogs love to please their people!

  2. Avatar Of Lloyd



    I picked up a cattle dog from a shelter that had been returned twice. She is smart , loving, obedient, friendly with our family and their dogs, Does what a dog is suppose to do and keeps check on the property and lets us know if things aren’t right. Why anyone one would want to get rid of a friend like that I can’t understand. All she wants to do is please and she knows I am her pack leader. I walk around with a smile on my face knowing that.

  3. Avatar Of Amanda



    Having a dog is the same as having children. If you let them run amok and do whatever they please, then they are going to be horrible little creatures. A dog needs to know what is expected of him and that misbehaving is not acceptable. The people who don’t take the time to integrate a dog into the family hierarchy are the same people who call me at the animal shelter expecting me to take the dog off their hands. It is very easy to train a dog without being harsh; with enough socialization and reinforcement even the most bull-headed un-neutered male can be as docile as a lamb.

    Too many people don’t even realize what appropriate interactions with a dog look like. For example, I have seen many people laugh or tell their dog that it is okay when their dog tries to bite the vet. Being firm with your dog is not the same as being mean. And can we please just ban flexi-leads? Letting your dog run wherever even when on leash is not a good way to teach manners and respect.

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