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Are you a pack leader?

Dogs are pack animals. What that means is that dogs are, by nature, most comfortable and most balanced when living with a pack (two or more dogs).

Some behavioral problems can be corrected, such as separation anxiety, can be corrected just by adding another dog for companionship.

The companionship of another dog helps to satisfy the need to be part of a pack.

Whether you know it or not, if you own a dog, you are part of their pack. Your entire family is part of the pack and with every pack, there has to be a pack leader.

It is very important to establish leadership of your pack when your dog is a puppy or as soon as you acquire a new pet.

If you do not take lead of your pack, Fido will. Dogs need to have a leader and they actually crave it. They look for someone to take lead.

They know there should be a pack leader, so if their human owners do not step up, they will out of necessity.

There are three main duties of a pack leader. A leader must establish the rules, enforce the rules, and maintain the social order of the pack.

Social order is when the leader of the pack chooses who gets to be in the pack and what authority each pack member does or does not have.

If you are ready to be pack leader, you must begin relationship exercises with your pup. Establish leadership from the beginning and maintain leadership.

There are several ways to implement leadership. First, leaders eat before the rest of the pack. Prepare your dog’s meal, this will grab their attention, and set it to the side.

Eat a small snack. Your dog will see you eat first and then give your dog their meal. Leaders go through doorways first.

When leading your dog through an entrance, make sure you walk through first.

Walking your pet is a great way to establish leadership.

When walking your dog keep them in the heel position. Leaders set the pace and direction of walks.

Do not let your pet pull you down the street and decide which way to go. Maintain order and stay calm and stay in control.

Leaders assume the higher ground. This would include couches, your favorite chair, and your bed.

If your pet has issues with obedience or aggression, especially to a household member, this is a must. Do not let Max on the couch or bed with you. Keep them on the floor.

This is not a punishment, it is just establishing order. Another must in establishing leadership is, do not offer free treats. Make your pet “earn” his treats.

This is called a “no free lunch” policy. If you want to give your dog a treat, put him in a sit position or stay position first.

Leadership is essential in having a good relationship with your dog.

You most likely will not have to be a strict leader your dog’s entire life. As your dog respects your position, privileges can be returned.

Some privileges may cause your dog to regress, such as sleeping in your bed, and you may have to, again, take those privileges away.

Maintain leadership and your dog will be healthier, happier, and more obedient. Remember, every dog deserves to be treated like a show dog.

Tony Barker, The BARKer Shop