Dog behavior isn’t always easy to understand, but dog training techniques help bridge the gap between man and his best friend. Understanding pack mentality, as well as learning to interpret dog behavior, is essential to training dogs so that they are well-behaved members of your family. As the owner, being the alpha in the family is of ultimate importance to you, so how do you go about training dogs so you can nap with them and not lose your pack leader status?
First, recognize that when puppies are in a litter they all sleep together, and yet the alpha puppy still maintains his position in the pack. Puppies that rank higher in the pack will crawl over the others, lay on them, or move them out of the way in order to get comfortable. The ones that rank lower in the hierarchy submit to what’s happening. Of course, that’s a very simplified version but it gives a basic idea of what nap time is all about.
To accomplish that same effect when napping with your dog, monitor and correct the following behaviors on the dog’s part.
Dog Behavior: Jumping Up on the Furniture/Bed
It doesn’t matter whether you allow your pet on the furniture or not. That’s totally up to you. What does matter is that your dog needs to understand that the furniture is yours, not his. Therefore, never allow him to jump up without being invited. If you see he’s about to jump up without an invitation, stop him with a verbal, “No!” Otherwise, if he’s already up there, move him back to the floor, put him in a sit/stay (which reinforces to him that you rule), and have him wait until you invite him.
You have to be consistent in this, otherwise the dog will assume he has leadership in the issue and will hop up on the bed or couch with you whenever he feels like it, regardless of the fact that yesterday you told him no.
Dog Behavior: Lying/Walking on You
A puppy is so cute and cuddly that it’s hard not to haul him up onto your chest, snuggle with him, and then nod off. However, according to the rules your puppy learned with his litter mates, if you do that you’re sending the signal that he’s the leader of the pack. It’s fine to snuggle with your dog, but move him off your chest and to your side, so he understands that you run the show.
Dog Behavior: Growling
Under no circumstances should your dog be allowed to grumble, gritch, or otherwise vocally complain if you move around when he’s lying next to you. If he’s not happy with your movement it’s fine for him to leave, but when a dog growls he’s warning you that he’s the pack leader and he doesn’t like your behavior. To correct him, tell him firmly, “No,” then move him off the bed/furniture. Put him in a sit/stay for a few minutes and then invite him back to you. If he growls again any time during the nap, repeat the correction, but do not him allow back with you for the remainder of the nap.
Please note that a very aggressive growl, snarl, or the dog snapping at you indicates you’ve lost all alpha status, and trying to correct the dog may only result in a bite. In a situation like that, coax the dog off with a treat and then you and the dog need to attend obedience training.
These three dog training techniques will go a long way toward reinforcing your position as alpha leader, and if you apply them consistently, you’ll find yourself rewarded with good dog behavior on the part of your best friend … plus, happy snoozing time together!
Lowell, Michele. Your Purebred Puppy: a Buyer’s Guide. New York, NY: Henry Holt, 1991.
Tortora, Daniel F. The Right Dog for You: Choosing a Breed That Matches Your Personality, Family, and Life-style. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1983.
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