Friday, April 22, 2011


There are two roles in a dog's world, that of leader and follower. It's important for you to be the leader. Some dogs naturally want to be the leader and some don't, but they will all take the role of leader if nobody else does. Many issues people have with their dogs arise from a lack of leadership on their part.

Being the leader doesn't mean you don't love or show your dog affection. Nor does it mean being harsh or cruel. Leadership means being in control of your dog's behaviour, actions and resources.

What are the resources?
  • food
  • water
  • toys
  • bones
  • bed
  • affection
  • outings
  • furniture
  • back yard
  • car
  • in a nutshell ... everything

Have your dog work for her favourite things. Use the commands:

  • sit before you give her affection
  • wait before you feed her
  • lie down before you play with her
  • shake a paw before you give her a bone

Switch up the commands and rewards so you or your dog don't get bored. This is also great mental stimulation as well as establishing you as the leader.

Signs your dog is in control or is challenging you

  • jumps, leans or steps on you
  • will not move out of your way
  • growls or nips at you when she disagrees with a command
  • whines for something and you give it to her (food, affection, toy)
  • doesn't listen to commands
  • doesn't come when called
  • growls when you approach her eating
  • barks uncontrollably

Effective leadership qualities

  • calm and assertiveness
  • fairness
  • consistency
  • trustworthiness
  • confidence
  • awareness

Ways to practice leadership

  • walk every day with your dog beside or behind you
  • get her to earn her favourite resources
  • do not look or talk (other than commands) to your dog, let her look to you
  • decide when play begins and ends
  • feed meals by hand
  • have her move out of your way (unless she is sleeping or arthritic)
  • walk through doors first
  • go up and down stairs first
  • invite your dog on the couch or bed if you really want her there*

* Refrain having your dog on the couch or bed while you are establishing yourself as the leader, especially if your dog is challenging you.


When it comes to disciplining your dog you can use tone, a look, body language or a quick leash correction. Do not yell and scream or ever hit your dog.

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