If you have a new dog there's a certain adjustment period wherein your dog adjusts to his new home and learns what's expected of him as far as behavior. During this time it's important that you take on the role of pack leader in order to have your dog accept your guidance. If you fail to establish yourself early on as the pack leader, you could be rewarded with an unruly, out of control dog with a mind of his own. Not only is this inconvenient for you, it can be downright dangerous to your dog when he's unwilling to listen to your commands in times of danger. How can you successfully establish yourself as a strong pack leader and still be gentle in the process? Here's how to become pack leader of your dog pack:
Become a pack leader: Establish ground rules.
It's important that you determine early on what your dog is allowed and not allowed to do in your home. Once you establish this, the rules need to be applied consistently and reinforced with rewards for good behavior. Consistency is extremely important. If you only enforce the rules part of the time, your dog can become confused. When you have a new dog, reward him consistently when he's going the right thing. Make the reward immediate so he can associate the behavior with a reward. If your dog misbehaves, briefly scold him and then show him what he should be doing. Again, be consistent. Strong pack leaders are always consistent and just.
Become a pack leader: When you play with your dog, win the competition.
In the wild, wolves understand that the strongest wolf is the one most suited to lead the pack. In a contest of strength, the wolf that emerges the winner will often attain status as pack leader. When you play games with your new dog such as tug-of-war, it's important that you win during most sessions to reinforce yourself as the pack leader in your dog's eyes. Games of strength with a dog are not times to show your weakness.
Become a pack leader: Watch your feeding order.
A critical time in a dog's life is feeding time. In the wild, the dominant wolves in the pack eat their meal before the subordinate pack members. The same should apply in your household. Always feed your dog after the other family members have eaten. This will reinforce your role as the pack leader.
Become pack leader: Don't allow your dog to sleep on the bed with you.
In the wild wolf pack, the dominant wolf selects the best resting spot for himself and doesn't allow the subordinate wolves to take up residence there. If you want to reinforce your pack leader role, don't allow your dog to sleep on the bed with you. Give him a designated resting area outside the bedroom.
Remember firmness should be interspersed with kindness so you'll be recognized as the established pack leader, but your dog will still feel loved in the process.