You Are Your Dogs Leader

When your dog was with her mother and littermates, her mom was her leader. Mom fed and cared for her, and if she was too rough with her sharp baby teeth, Mom would growl at her or stop her play. This leadership was important for the puppy's future, as it taught her to accept guidance, rules, and discipline.

When people add a dog to their life, they usually say that they want a companion, a new best friend. Unfortunately, that can't happen right away. You need to be your dog's leader first, especially throughout her puppyhood (up to about 1 year of age) and adolescence (generally from 1 to 2 years of age). When she is grown up, knows your rules, and accepts them, she can be your best friend. Until then, you need to be her leader, her surrogate parent.

If you are not your dog's leader, you will not be respected. A dog who doesn't respect her owner can show the attitude in many different ways; she might growl when you go to move her off the sofa or bed or when she has a toy or bone. She might snap at you when you try to groom her, or she may even try to mount you. Disrespect may also show up in a refusal to do obedience training or even a refusal to play with you.

You can demonstrate your leadership in several ways:

Train your dog. Enroll in a dog training class, either a kindergarten class for puppies or a basic obedience class for older puppies and young adult dogs.

♦ Enforce your household rules.

♦ Give your dog permission to do things. If she's reaching to pick up her toy, tell her as she picks it up, "Good girl to get your toy!" She was going to do it anyway, so give her permission to do it and praise her for it. Think of it as free dog training!

♦ Go through doorways first. Just as you don't want your dog dashing through doors to the outside, don't let her shove through doors ahead of you. Block her with your knee or foot and tell her, "Wait!" If she dashes through anyway, turn around and go back the way you

Lance Tracy Pointing Dogs
Adding a dog to your life will cause disruptions and changes in your life, but it's all worth it. Huckleberry, a German Wirehaired Pointer, owned by Karen Boman; and Hope, a Labrador Retriever, owned by Tracy Weldon.

came. You can also put a leash on her and make her wait while you walk ahead of her through the doorway.

♦ She should follow you up and down stairs. Just as she shouldn't dash ahead of you through doorways, she shouldn't rush on the stairs, either. This is a safety concern as well as a leadership one; if she dashes ahead of you, you could trip and fall down the stairs. Use her leash to make her wait and follow you up and down the stairs.

♦ At least once each day, sit on the floor and ask your dog to lie in front of you for a tummy rub. This is an enjoyable exercise for both of you, but at the same time your dog is assuming a submissive position for you.

♦ Don't pet your dog too much. When you pet too much and too often, you appear submissive in your dog's eyes. When you pet every time she begs for petting, or if you pet her whenever she's within reach, she will think she's the center of the universe. If you want to pet her, have her do some of her obedience exercises first, and then pet her as a reward for that.

Although many people are leaders at work and can be good at it without thinking about it, being a leader to your dog doesn't always come as naturally. So think about it, put up some notes to remind yourself, and remember: Your dog needs a leader, and it must be you.

Dog Owners Delight

Dog Owners Delight

Bringing a cute puppy into your home is a great joy which only a person who does that can experience. These dogs provide you with a very sincere relationship which you cannot get anywhere else in the world.

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