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Dog Training Tips: How to be the Pack Leader

Updated on September 5, 2011

dog training tips

The most important of all dog training tips is how to be the pack leader. All dogs are descendants of wolves, and even though our canine pets are domesticated, they still have pack instincts. Your dog doesn’t think it’s a person – it thinks you’re a dog. A dog needs and expects a leader, and if it doesn’t recognize you as the alpha dog, it will assume the responsibility itself. This trait is deeply embedded into your dog's instincts and won't be changed with any amount of dog training..

You will never be successful with dog training until your leadership is established, no matter how many other dog training tips you follow. The dog has to view you as the "boss." This is a much easier task when dealing with a puppy or young dog, so start as soon as possible by following these dog training tips:

· Only give affection when the dog is calm and submissive. When a dog receives affection while it is acting fearful or excited, the bad behavior will only be reinforced. He’ll think, “Oh, I’m getting petted for this. I guess this is how I’m supposed to act.”

· The first command you should teach is NO.

· YOU decide when to play. If Rover brings you his favorite toy to initiate play time, don’t always give in to his request.

· Always be the first to enter or exit a room or other enclosure.

· YOU decide when the dog eats. Fill his food bowl and place it on the floor, then stand between it and the dog. Once the dog shows submission by lying down or sitting calmly, allow it to eat. Give the dog a chew bone, then take it away after a while. The dog will learn that you make the decisions.

· If a puppy growls at you, unless it’s in play, he’s challenging your authority. Take action immediately by holding him down by the neck. Do not release him until he is calm and submissive. This is what his mother would do. If an adult dog growls at you, give him a firm NO while either tapping him or giving his collar a slight jerk.

· When walking your dog, the dog should be slightly behind you or even with you. Never allow the dog to walk ahead of you. If your dog tries to walk or run ahead, use a choke collar to correct the behavior. Use a tug-and-release instead of constant pressure. Your energy travels down the leash, so you need to be calm at all times when walking your pet. The leash should have some slack in it, and you should be relaxed and confident.

· Dogs are very in tune to body language, so make sure yours says that you’re the boss. Stand up straight, with shoulders back, especially when doing any type of dog training.

· Do not repeat commands. If the dog ignores your command, take action. For example, if you say “SIT,” and the dog doesn’t comply immediately, do not repeat yourself. Instead, place pressure on the dog’s rear and make him sit.

· Leaders do not shout. Give commands firmly without yelling.

· When you pat your pooch’s head, pat the top of the head to establish that you’re above him. If you pat or rub under his chin, he will think you’re beneath him.

· Dogs respect the alpha’s personal space. Do not allow your dog to place his paw on you, rub against you, or lean on you. When he does, he’s testing your leadership. Also, don’t allow him to jump into your lap unless you invite him to do so.

Dogs that have been conditioned to recognize their human’s superiority and leadership are much happier and better adjusted - life will be better for you and for your pet. They inherently need a pack leader. It’s in their genetic makeup. And it will make you a much happier pet owner, also. Establishing yourself as pack leader is the most important of all dog training tips.


Huge Hamlet is submissive to tiny Tristan because of proper training.
Huge Hamlet is submissive to tiny Tristan because of proper training.


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    • profile image

      PoP'eh 4 years ago

      That article that Dubuquedogtrainer referred to, starts off by saying violence is not the way to go, but you should never be violent when becoming a "pack leader" ... this method of training your dog works just fine and is not violent when done properly .. it is used by many experts and Vets as well for many years, so I will stick to this method, thanks ..

    • Dubuquedogtrainer profile image

      Dubuquedogtrainer 5 years ago from Dubuque, Iowa

      Read this article, Habee - being a "pack leader" is not something that veterinary behaviorists and other experts in canine behavior condone:

    • profile image

      andrew 5 years ago

      we have just getting a 16 week old siberian husky, we have been trying to train her with no luck so will try these tips which seem very helpful and hopefully she will stop being so anxious when we leave her for short periods of time

    • JoeCo profile image

      Joe Colon 6 years ago from New York City

      Good Job...Really helpful, thanks

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 8 years ago from Georgia

      Right, Sonelt! Dogs are actually happier when they have an established pack leader!

    • sonelt profile image

      sonelt 8 years ago

      Well done! Too many people think that they should treat there dogs as equals and wonder why they have problems. And how many times have you seen someone say "sit" to there dog dog 5 times and then want to get mad at there dog, its funny really.