Become worth listening to because this is the key and magic to leadership involving dogs. It helps to avoid behavior problems. In dog training, the word leadership has developed negative connotations. It seems to indicate a pack leader mentality or permission to use confrontational training techniques or be a control freak.
On the other end of the spectrum there is the dog owner who is too lenient with their dog or one treating a dog like a human being and also those who think a dog will just train themselves eventually. There needs to be a balance, a guide, someone the dog looks up to providing all needs, creating rules, boundaries and activities. Someone worth listening.
Five positive leadership exercises – how to be worth listening to
Exercise one – get the proper tools
Tools include a flat collar, a comfortable harness, a one-clasp lead six-feet long, and a two-clasp lead six-feet long, a clicker to mark the behavior wanted and various types of rewards from several food choices to toys, and a happy voice for praise and kind contact.
A crate, x-pen, bed or mat and baby gates are tools needed for exercise two.
Exercise two – supervision
Dogs should never be left unsupervised during early training, and should be given freedom later as relates to each dog as a unique individual.
Supervision becomes easy with a crate or x-pen as a safety zone. Providing this cottage or homey atmosphere where the dog can relax distraction free is necessary for mental health. Always provide a chew toy and make going in and out of these barriers a good experience by never forcing the dog to enter but using treats, clicking for going in and making being in these safety zones positive.
Here is where the dog can go to rest, to enjoy a favorite bone or chew toy such as a Kong, or to relax after a hard day or long, tiring walk in the woods.
Baby gates will keep the dog in areas of supervision for play, training and provide no go areas as they are learning the rules of the household in which they will be living. Dogs are very sensitive to territorial boundaries, it is their instinctual nature and will welcome knowing where to go indoors and outdoors.
A mat provides an area of their own to sleep at night, during the day and a comforting place to go to rest from guests, children and other household pets.
Establish good behavior from the beginning to avoid behavior problems.
Exercise three – create dog and human habitats
In reality, humans are co-habituating with their canine companions. Finding a medium for human health, well-being and socializing is as important as finding a medium where a happy dog can live and grow.
Is the home environment dog ready?
Exercise three is about creating a dog-friendly environment. This environment will prevent and manage household activities, set rules and boundaries and give dog appropriate training opportunities.
Housebreaking. Clear guidelines on where to go potty is needed for the peace of mind of the dog. Since it is a natural function, it should never be punished. Housebreaking will be easy to do if the dog is rewarded for going in the proper potty place outdoors, and in the beginning, is taken out several times during the day, to include after eating food or drinking water.
Chewing. A dog should have a place to call their own, a safe zone free of distraction where they can go for at least an hour per day to enjoy restful sleep, or a chew toy or just to relax. An over-excited, over-stimulated dog is more likely to get into trouble. Chewing is important to the mental health of dogs and it should be done on acceptable dog appropriate toys. Providing a place for this activity will assure the dog won’t have to release tensions on a family shoe or favorite leather couch. Having a toy box filled with dog toys, proper exercise equipment like balls and Frisbees and planned activities will make for a well-rounded dog eagerly looking forward to pleasing family members.
Barking control. Dogs come with communication skills called barking. Curbing over barking is up to the dog owner blinds, closing doors, blocking open areas with dark paper and teaching the dog a simple technique called the three bark rule.
Exercise four – socializing dog to people and other dogs
A well-socialized dog is able to cope with real life. From the beginning to be a good leader, let the dog see you as keeping them safe. You should be an anchor in a scary environment.
To do this, treat them for the right interactions with visitors and people on-the-road. Make sure you don’t allow, even a friendly dog, to race up to a person.
The recipe for success should be a sit. Whether the dog meets and greets a new person, or a dog is up to the leader. Teach a solid sit stay and a have a cue for “go visit” or “say hell-o”.
Explain to people that the dog is in training and ask if they would like to help. Most people are very helpful. If not, there is no reason to allow a meet and greet. Keep interactions positive with other people and other dogs and watch confidence grow.
Special attention should be given to a puppy’s fear periods. These are learning periods where a puppy learns what is and is not acceptable and as a result a puppy is more sensitive to the world around them. It is a learning period so make sure every interaction is a positive one with people and dogs.
Exercise five – teaching real life skills
Skill training helps a dog cope with real life. The essentials skills are:
attention or eye contact
touching a hand, stick, or lid
sit and down
coming when called
If a dog’s training involves positive reward-based techniques there will be no need for loud nos, yelling or reprimands as the dog will be taught what is expected, what is right. Bad behavior will become extinct because the dog will have confidence and understanding.
In summary, the goal is to become a leader more of a guide the dog will eagerly listen to and comply to joyously and to acclimate the dog to household rules, boundaries and expectations. Praise the dog for what they are doing right and bad behavior will become extinct. Socializing makes life easier for the dog and for the family.
Years of companionship is the reward for the human, keeping the family dog out of shelters or re-homing, and free from euthanasia due to bad behavior. Teaching what you want becomes very important so the dog doesn’t develop bad habits.