Establish Yourself As Pack Leader


Dog training has changed a lot over the last few years and one term we have been hearing more and more often  is “Pack Leader”.  Is it important to establish yourself as pack leader?  Will it help to train your dog better?  Will your dog listen to you more if you are the pack leader?

establish yourself as pack leader
establish yourself as pack leader

Many dog owners are now desperate to find out how they can become the pack leader.  They are tired of being taken for a walk, being yapped at when the dog wants something etc.  Dog owners want to be in charge in all situations and they want to know how their dog will respond to unfamiliar things when they are out and about.

As a responsible dog owner you need to understand how a dog pack works.  When you grasp that you will also understand why it is so important that you be in charge and not your dog.  If you let your dog be the pack leader he or she will eventually make a mistake and there may be dire consequences to that mistake.

So how does a dog owner establish themselves as pack leader?  To be the leader of a dog pack you need to learn how to speak dog.  You need to understand what is important to your dog and what is not.

Your dog is not the least bit impressed with the car you drive, the beautiful home that you live in or the size of your paycheck.  Money and material things mean nothing to your pooch.  Now his/her favourite snack is a whole different story.

establish yourself as pack leader

You may have heard that making your dog sit for their food will establish you as the pack leader, as well as making sure that when going through a door you go first and your dog follows.  These are definitely good practices to put into play, but is that all it takes to be the pack leader?

Just for your information going through the door first applies when your dog is on a lead.  If you are just letting your dog out in the backyard you do not have to go through the door first.

At one time we were taught that in order to become the pack leader we needed to dominate the dog.  Dominating your dog required physical strength which is great if you are training a small breed dog like a chihuahua but what about the bigger breeds?  Forcing your dog to submit to you as pack leader teaches your dog one thing – “You are nothing more than a Bully”.  If you have a dog with aggression issues and you have basically beaten them into submission this could really backfire down the road.

establish yourself as pack leader
hitting dog

So again inquiring minds want to know how do I establish myself as the pack leader?  The same rules apply to all breeds.  Becoming pack leader is best learned by watching what exactly has to be done.  There are certain areas that are important for you to take control of.

Let’s take a look at those areas of concern.

Imagine you are in a dangerous situation with a bunch of other people.  What actions you take can mean the difference between life and death.  You yourself have no idea what to do.  Two people however have some ideas.  One person is hollering and screaming out things that they think the group should be doing.  Meanwhile the other person is calmly explaining what options the group has and what he thinks the best course of action the group should take.  Who would you listen to?  Who would you follow?

I would say that the majority of you would follow the calm person as they are displaying better leadership qualities.

So if your dog starts barking to alert you to what they are perceiving as danger you need to stay calm and be in total control.

In order to establish yourself as the pack leader you need to learn how to properly walk your dog.  Your dog should at no time be pulling you along.  You want to go on a nice calm leisurely walk with a relaxed dog.

If you find your dog cannot relax this is telling you that they are on duty.  They have taken on the position of Pack Leader and until you take that away from them they will not relax.

Getting your dog to relinquish the pack leader position depends on several things.  Things that will help him give it up depend on how you interact with your dog when you return home after being out for awhile and how you feed your dog.

establish yourself as pack leader
establish yourself as pack leader

Trying to explain this verbally is rather difficult.  Watching it in action is the best way to learn.   The best place to learn this is at a site that trains through video.  These videos capture the subtleties that are verbally hard to explain.

The site that I am talking about is The Online Dog Trainer.  At the Online Dog Trainer you will learn through videos made by Doggy Dan.

So if you are having any behavioural issues with your dog, becoming the pack leader will go a long way in changing the bad behaviour.

Bad behaviour is the number one reason that dogs end up in shelters.  Just think what a little time and training can do for your canine companion.

Check out The Online Dog Trainer


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    • Warren
    • July 7, 2017

    Good post on training your dog. Calmness and confidence is key. I really liked the part about going through the door first establishes the pecking order. Who knew? Our 11 yr old lab is always on duty. If you glance her way, she is right there with that What Do You Want Me To Do Look.

    Again, good stuff. Cesar Milan has nothing on you!

    Thanks for the good info.

      • Maureen
      • July 8, 2017

      First off I have to tell you I love your Gravatar.  It doesn’t look like your 11 year old lab though.  You are so right when you say calmness and confidence are key to training your dog.  If you are feeling nervous or scared your dog can sense that and take full advantage of that.  Your dog needs a leader who is strong and gentle at the same time.  Labs are great dogs, they are just so smart you can train them to do just about anything.  Enjoy your senior dog.  You may want to read my article  https://puppy-and-dog-training

    • MJ
    • July 7, 2017

    Love this site. Too many people let their dogs go untrained and it’s a real shame. I’ve even seen dogs that went for years that weren’t fully housebroken, because the owners had no clue what to do with them.

    It’s good to see a place like this where people can educate themselves on how to care for and train their pets, the owner of this place should feel good thinking of all the lives this site has improved.

      • Maureen
      • July 8, 2017

      Hi MJ It amazes me also that some people would get a dog and not even housebreak the dog.  I can only imagine how upset you would be day after day of cleaning up after your dog.  This is probably causing a lot of stress for the dog owner.  If the owner is stressed over his dog behaviour you just know the dog will suffer because of this.  I honestly believe there are some people that should not have a dog. 

    • audra
    • July 7, 2017

    I wish I found you years ago, when i had my dog. He was great at taking me for a walk, wasn’t much fun either haha. He pretty much done his own thing when we were out, very hard to control. I was definitely not the pack leader. I will remember for next time what to do, no more being pulled around for me.

      • Maureen
      • July 8, 2017

      Hi Audra You’re right it is no fun being dragged down the street by your dog.  Any dog can learn proper leash manners.  All it takes is time and patience and in no time at all you will have a dog walking nicely on a lead.

    • Hailey
    • July 7, 2017

    Hey there

    Thanks for the informative post!

    You raise some really valid points! I have a dog and she is so naughty! We took her to puppy school and when we went it seemed like she would disrupt all the other puppies and cause chaos!

    The funny thing is she listens to my partner! As soon as he speaks or points she does what he says! So maybe she is seeing him as the pack leader and I am just some chick that feeds her lol

    Thanks for the post!
    Regards Hailey

      • Maureen
      • July 8, 2017

      Hi Hailey From the sounds of it the pecking order in your household is your partner is the pack leader, then your dog and then you. Doggy Dan has some free videos that may help you out.  https://puppy-and-dog-training

    • Paul
    • July 8, 2017

    Great post, Maureen.

    As a dog owner, I am always interested in learning new and improved methods of training my dog. This is an excellent post. Establishing yourself as pack leader is, in my opinion, the most important concept of all dog training.

    I grew up with dogs and now I have my own dog. He is a Husky-cross, strong, friendly, and full of energy. For the most part, we get along very well. I walk and run him almost daily.

    This is a must for this breed. His father was a sled dog and pack leader. I struggle with the concept of training him and leaving him with as much natural behavior as possible.

    Thanks for the link to Doggy Dan. I will return to read other posts.

    Which breeds are the hardest to train?
    Which breed is the easiest to train?
    Can you really teach an old dog new tricks?


      • Maureen
      • July 8, 2017

      Hi Paul Thanks for your comments.  All breeds are different and knowing what a breed needs is very important.  Knowing what your dog needs and giving him that does help in establishing yourself as pack leader.  Knowing your Husky mix is a high energy dog and walking and running him daily helps so much in establishing yourself as pack leader.

      You asked which breeds are the hardest to train.  If you are a first time dog owner this is they type of information that you should look into.  Breeds that are hardest to train do not lack intelligence but they just might have a stubborn streak.  For example the Pekingese can be very stubborn and can be hard to housebreak so he needs a very cofident owner.

      Then you have the bloodhound who has a very sweet and gentle disposition but would much prefer to either lick you or follow his nose.

      Our next dog would be the Afghan.  This dog is very intelligent and easy to train.  The problem is he has a cat-like personality.  You can train him but can you make the training stick or be reliable?

      Other dogs that made the hard to train list included the Chow, Basset Hound, Basenj, Pug and Dalmation.

      The dogs that are listed as the easiest to train come as know surprise.  We have the Border Collie, the Labrador Retriever which has also been the most popular breed in the U.S, the Australian Shepherd, the German Shepherd and the Poodle.

      Even though these dogs are easy to train some of these dogs like the Border Collie are very high energy.  This type of dog needs some sort of activity to keep him happy.

      Your last question Can you teach an old dog new tricks?  Yes most definitely.  All it takes is time, patience and some TLC.

      Give your dog a hug today!

    • Lance
    • July 8, 2017

    Great information here. I am truly a dog lover and have been so since early on in my life. I currently have a Dachshund and a German Shepherd. I know what a mix.
    You touched on not hitting dogs which I totally agree with. What techniques would you recommend for the instances where discipline is required?

      • Maureen
      • July 8, 2017

      Hi Lance That is a good question.  Dog training has changed over the years.  The thing about disciplining a dog is you have to catch them in the act in order for the discipline to be effect.  If you come home and your dog has chewed a hole in the couch as mad as you may be, disciplining your dog is totally ineffective.

      Modern training teaches us to ignore the bad behaviour and reward good behaviour.

      Sometimes if you make a loud noise it will distract your dog from the bad behaviour.  For example if your dog is chewing on an inappropriate object a loud noise will distract him and then you can give him a proper chew toy.

      Another way to discipline is to give him a time out.  Dogs are social and do not like to be isolated from the pack.

      Also if your dog is jumping up on you turn your back on him and walk away.

      These are different ways to stop some bad behaviour.  The best way to stop bad behaviour is to start training your puppy at an early age.

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