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Dog training online - The twelve rules of the pack

Updated on May 3, 2011

Dog training online can be a very cost effective way to achieve a high standard of obedience in your dog. Whilst the personal touch and learning environment of a dog training class may be preferable, for many these classes can be unaffordable in terms of money or time. Dog training online gives you the choice to train your dog when it suits you.

We have published a series of popular articles for dog training online which you can read here, but we strongly recommend you read about the rules of the pack first. In the wild, wolves, the ancestors of our dogs, live in packs. As a result your dog views your family as its pack and us as fellow dogs. In any pack there is always an alpha male, and the others are ranked in a hierarchy in order of their importance.

It is therefore very important that your dog learns where its place is within the hierachy of your 'pack'. Needless to say a dog that is allowed to be the alpha male will act like one and be difficult both to train AND live with. Do your best to follow the 12 rules of the pack below and expect a dog that is easier to train.

Dog training online - rule one

The alpha dog chooses its own place to rest and this place will be respected by the lower members of the pack. The inferior animal will not approach or there is a real risk of getting bitten.

You can enforce this with your dog by not allowing it access to your bedroom and certainly not letting it sleep in your bed. By prohibiting it entry to specific parts of the house you are making it clear that it is lower in the hierarchy. If the dog is lying on a chair you wish to sit on, simply sit down without saying anything. Remember the alpha animal rests where it likes.

Dog training online - rule two

 Whwn the pack has caught a meal, the alpha animal eats first and decides when the rest of the pack get to eat the leftovers. It may be the case that the alpha male chooses to eat the whole meal.

Only feed your dog after you have fed yourself and the family. Ideally you should give your dog the 'stay' command and then allow it to approach its food. Remember that these rules are designed to reinforce your dogs position in the hierarchy of your family. You will quickly notice that poorly behaved dogs often show behaviour that shows it thinking it is alpha dog.

Dog training online - rule three

 Have you ever seen a dog that likes to sleep on the back of a sofa or jumps up to sleep on cupboards? Well you might not know why it displays this seemingly strange behaviour. In a pack of dogs, the pack leader will often rest higher than the rest so as to demonstrate their position in the hierarchy. Dogs that are aware of holding a lower standing will never dare exhibit such behaviour.

Never allow your dog to assume a higher position than yourself. If for example you get in from a walk and are sat on the stairs, do not allow it to occupy a step higher than yourself. Additionally do not allow your dog up onto your lap without your permission.

Dog Training online - rule four

Dogs often use play to determine their position in the pack hierarchy. In the wild, dogs depend on each other for their lives so play is preferred to fight. When you are playing with your dog you need to be aware that it is constantly trying to get over you in the hierarchy. So when training or playing with your dog you need to maintain control of the course of the game. If you think the dog is trying to dominate the game then stop immediately and ignore it completely for a while.

Dog training online - rule five

 If a superior animal goes somewhere, then all the inferior animals will move out of its way. The alpha animal will move in a straight line, without swerving around others to get to where it wants. This means that you should never move aside should your dog wish to get past. Neither should you step around or over it if you wish to get past it.

Dog training online - rule six

 you may have noticed that during play a superior dog will decide when the game is over, often by walking off with the toy or appearing disinterested. When playing with your dog you must always make sure that you 'win' the game. It is acceptable to allow a very submissive dog to win occasionally, but overall you should come out on top. Never end a game of fetch by throwing the ball. By allowing the dog to keep the ball at the end it will feel it has won.

Dog training online - rule seven

When a pack of hunting dogs is released from the kennel, it will always be the dog at the top of the hierarchy that exits first. In the domestic situation your dog should understand that it is not to go ahead through doorways, down pathways or between parked cars. If they force their way to go first then they are asserting their authority over you.

Rather than try to physically force your dog to wait is turn (your dog will only learn to be faster) you need t oshow it that the only way you will both progress is with you in the lead. to do this try training your dog to pass through doorways as you would train it not to pull on the lead.

Dog training online - rule eight

 In a pack of dogs every dog shows its position in the hierarchy by consistently applying the twelve rules of the pack. They devote most of their time to the alpha dog. This is clearest in the greetings with the alpha dog being greeted first and next the others according to their status.

Training your dog requires consistency to work so these rules must always be upheld. Always greet the members of your 'pack' on order of the hierarchy. In practical terms this means you should greet your partner and children before showing the dog any attention.

Dog training online - rule nine

As the pack leader it is essential that you make all the decisions. The alpha dog in a pack decides everything. When to eat, when to hunt and when to sleep. It is important that you do not allow your dog to make these decisions for you. Whilst it can be difficult it is essential that you do not give in to your dogs 'begging' to go for walks or to eat. Often owners will choose the 'quiet life' and give in to a dogs begging behaviour. In the long run it will be far more beneficial for your relationship if you don't.

Dog training online - rule ten

 The alpha dog will never approach an inferior animal unless it wants to reprimand it. An inferior animal will always approach the superior animal often demonstrating a submissive posture. It is important that as a general rule you have your dog approach you and not the other way around. You should only really approach your dog when it needs to be reprimanded. Regularly play chase games where your dog is encouraged to follow you. chasing your dog is just allowing it the opportunity to assert its dominance over you.

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Dog training online - rule eleven

In general a pack leader will ignore the lowest members of the pack. It is not the alpha males role to look after every member of the pack, rather the responsibility of the members to keep its attention on the leader to ensure the group stays together.

It may seem quite cruel to discuss ignoring your dog, but it is the concept of your dogs attention being on you that is important. It should not be for you to ensure your dog is following, but the role of the dog to pay attention to you. This is essential if you wish to train your dog to any significant level. A dog that wont pay attention to you is impossible to train.

Remember that dogs would rather have negative attention than no attention at all. Do not reward bad behaviour such as jumping up on you. Instead ignore the dog entirely.

Dog training online - rule twelve

 To many dog owners these rules can seem pretty draconian. Where is the loving bond between owner and dog? If you are training your dog to be working dog then the above principles have to be applied vigorously. Yet for a family pet you may feel that the dog is there to be a loving member of the family and these rules prohibit you.

In fact when you look closely at the reasoning behind each rule you can see how the pack instinct is behind much of the behaviour your dog exhibits. Being low in the hierarchy is not crue to your pet if anything the consistent confirmation of its position is reassuring to your dog.

Remember that an obedient dog is easier to train and a well trained dog is one that sees the training as one long game. As such a well trained dog is a very happy and content dog indeed. Dogs left to their own devices due to their disruptive behaviour tend to be far less content and often become bored at the lack of stimulation.

As a final rule recognise that a superior animal has the right to dispense privileges as it sees appropriate. This means that once the ruls have been established you can decide to occasionally relax a rule for a period of time. Be careful though, if you over do it, your dog will soon learn to take advantage!


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    • dosburros profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Try following some of these training rules then, see how you get on.

    • Mrs. J. B. profile image

      Mrs. J. B. 

      7 years ago from Southern California

      OH NO!!!!! I have 4 dogs and I think I am now onw of the pack...


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