Dogs operate in a pack system and a hierarchy within this group. Within these groups there are certain ‘social rules’ that need to be followed, therefore each group will need to have a leader to ensure these rules are followed.

It is important for you to take up the leader role within the pack because if you don’t, your dog may take the opportunity.

The “leader’s” role includes, but is not limited to:

  • Teach skills and maintain these skills
  • Provide consistency
  • Follow through with any command given
  • Act in ways that deserve respect
  • Set guidelines
  • Inspire trust
  • Avoid encouragement of your dogs fears
  • Decide on your house rules
  • Identify what is acceptable behaviour and what is not
  • Make sure all members of the family are aware of the rules and are all enforcing them – all of the time
  • Treat your dog as a dog not a human – make sure you give them direction and leadership and reward with love and affection
  • Reward appropriate behaviour
  • Correct bad behaviour and make sure you follow through with it – every time
  • Remain calm and assertive

If you have a dog that has a behavioural issue or dominance issues then the below list will help with further establishment of leadership:

  • Feed your dog/s after all the humans eat in your house
  • Humans are to go through doorways first
  • Games should be initiated and ended by humans
  • Be careful not to put yourself in an equal position to your dog, e.g. on the floor with your dog or the dog on the couch with you
  • Attention and pats should only be given when the human decides – not when the dog determines it wants some
  • The dog/s need to move out of your way if they are laying in your pathway
  • The dog/s should never be left unattended with anyone who cannot maintain leadership
  • The dog should work for it’s pats and food treats
  • Don’t allow your dog to sleep in a position that it may perceive is a guarding or protective location, e.g. outside your bedroom door

It’s important to remember that you can’t be a part time leader and that all family members need to be part of the leadership process.