Before you can have a balanced pack, you have to have a Pack Leader, and the leaders need to be every human in the pack, all the way from the oldest family member to the youngest. But what does that mean exactly?
Essentially, you have to let your dog know that the humans are in charge, but unfortunately, you can’t do that with words.
We have to communicate with our dogs in the ways that they’ll understand: which means learning to think like a dog. But don’t worry, it’s not as hard as it sounds.
Here’s the scoop from our friends at Cesar’s Way:
Have the right energy
Animals communicate with energy and body language. It’s why a squirrel can perceive a dog as a threat and a human with a peanut as not. It’s also how animals of different species can get along and co-exist, even forming what humans like to call friendships.
Create the rules
Your dog wants you to tell them what to do. Otherwise, they can become anxious or confused, or misbehave by testing the limits of what’s allowed. This is why you need to create rules, boundaries, and limitations, and enforce them.
Animals learn by making associations between cause and effect — “If I touch my human’s hand with my paw, I get a treat,” or “When I sniffed the oven door, it hurt my nose, so I must avoid the oven.” Making these associations is how animals survive, but it’s also how dogs try to figure out what you want from them.
Fulfill your dog
A Pack Leader’s job is to provide protection and direction. Consistent rules are part of the direction aspect, while a big part of protection is providing for a dog’s needs.This doesn’t mean just food, water, and a safe place to sleep. You also need to fulfill your dog’s psychology needs, which are for exercise, discipline, and affection, in that order.
Feel, don’t think
Dogs are primarily instinctual, not intellectual, so we can’t negotiate with them using words no matter how hard we try. Since humans are animals, too, we have the ability to communicate with energy in both directions. We’ve just lost touch with that ability over time, but we can regain it by turning off the voice in our head and listening to our gut instead.
Are you the leader of your pack?
Or is your pup running the show?