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Thinking Like A Dog...

Updated on February 7, 2008

Part One of this article is the Hubpage entitled "And They Call It Puppy Love..."

A puppy is born with certain instincts. One of those instincts is the knowledge of how the law of the pack works and that they are the lowest in seniority until they challenge for and assume a leadership role. Another instinct they have is to lick the jowls of adults in the pack to stimulate them to regurgitate food or to roll on their back or pass a little bit of urine at the approach of the pack leader to show that they know who is boss. Dogs are den animals and puppies instinctively know to avoid soiling the den and they also know that they are vulnerable when they are alone.

The key factor to remember during training is that YOU are the pack leader and if you don't step up to the task, the puppy will. In fact, if you have chosen a puppy who is already an alpha type personality, he will try to assert himself into the role on a fairly regular basis unless you establish yourself firmly in that position from day one.

So, how does a pack leader behave? They are the big, tough boss, right? Well, yes and no. Even in the canine world there are heavy handed leaders and soft spoken leaders. The point is that they lead and discipline as needed.

You must do the same, and the single most effective way to quickly establish yourself in that role is to make that cute little puppy lie on his belly in a "down" position and stay there until you let him up.

At first it is easiest to sit on the floor with the pup to the left side of your legs. You say the word "drop" (or whatever command word you choose) as you push down across the shoulders, hold that position to show him what he is to do, then slowly take your hand away and give him the opportunity to pop up so that you can promptly plunk him back down again.

At first you will probably plunk him back down many times, each time firmly, but gently, insisting that he put his belly on the floor at your command. He will resist, of course, he may even try to bite you in a panicked attempt to escape, but you need to continue to act as a pack leader would and discipline the pup. A firm scruffing should do the job, and then repeat the "drop" exercise until he submits for at least a few minutes.

Ideally you will decide to let him up before he makes another bolt to escape so that you have an opportunity to provide some positive reinforcement and praise for a job well done. Gradually you will move off of the floor to a chair then to standing then to several feet away.

If you are consistent, and repeat this exercise on a regular basis, the day will come in the not too distant future, when you will be able to just say the word "drop" from anywhere in the house and he will drop into position without you laying a hand on him. That is your foundation for an obedient dog. From there the sky is the limit because you have established yourself as the pack leader.

English Bulldog Puppy - Sargent Pepper
English Bulldog Puppy - Sargent Pepper

By the way, the "drop" command, properly taught, could save your dog's life someday. Imagine you open the front door and for what ever reason, your dog dashes out and heads for the busy street. If your dog has been conditioned to drop immediately when he hears the command, you can easily prevent a disaster, otherwise the odds are good that you will be left without a new best friend.

One person who has an extremely good understanding of how a dog thinks is Cesar Millan, also known as "The Dog Whisperer" - click here to see an excellent compilation of videos from his TV show produced by The National Geographic Society.

Part Three of this article is the Hubpage entitled "How To Get A Good Night's Sleep..."


The Dog Whisperer: Get In The Car!


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    • L A Dreamin profile image

      L A Dreamin 6 years ago from Pennsylvania

      I agree, you need to be consistent with training. It wont take long and then you will be best friends :)

      Nice hub!