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Monday, August 17, 2009

Being a leader: Respecting household rules and why it is so important

(Do not miss the video listed at the botom of the site as it will give you a good insight in dog behavior)

Everyone who owns a dog (or in my case six), but does not take the time to establish who in the pack is the leader may find themselves with major problems ahead of them, from an alpha aggressive stereotypical dog who tries to dominate every other adult, dog, or child in the home to those that growl or nip at you when you go to remove them from the couch. Dogs that are not clear on who the leader is in the home may begin to try and take over that role, which causes more friction between all the dogs or the humans involved. Even if you have only one dog in your home, that dog still considers your family a pack, and if there are young children involved all the more reason why rules should not be broken. A very young child does not have a chance of being seen as a higher up in the dog’s pack and that is why so many children are bitten when the parents believe that leaving the dog and child alone in a room is safe. I really hate to hear this sentence or something similar from parents, “Oh, my kid can climb all over our dog and the dog just lays there. He would never bite my child.” These people will believe what they are saying until for whatever reason the time comes that the dog finally does bite the child. Then of course it’s the dog’s fault.

Although many people believe that humping is a sex act, and of course it is when there are two dogs actually mating, if a dog is humping humans or other dogs in the home it is not a sexual act but one of dominance. That is why humping is done by both males and females. I can’t tell you how many times I see this question. “My female is humping my other female and they are both neutered, does this mean they’re gay?” Of course through that question I can clearly see just how much knowledge this person has of dogs as females are not neutered!

There are many ways to establish yourself as the alpha and it does not mean you have to hurt a dog in the process. ‘Alpha rolls’ are not necessary and in most cases don’t last a lifetime, they last only as long as you are right next to the dog doing it. Also if you have to do it constantly what good is it? Why would you want to continuously have to do alpha rolls to your dog to keep the peace anyway? Why not just take leadership yourself by calm control so there is no confusion and no one is struggling to be the top dog?

Changing the dog’s attitude and the way he or she perceives you through everyday practices are simple enough to do and can fit into almost any routine. It is not the dog that growls, nips, or bites, that is seen as the alpha by other dogs, that dog is actually seen as an aggressive nuisance and is usually not socially acceptable. It is the dog that is cool, calm, and collective that no one messes with and who all wish to follow that is seen as the alpha in the pack.

Once your role is established there are certain things humans do over time to constantly confuse those in their charge because humans are built on emotions first, thought second, and even though their intentions may be well meaning (after all, it’s hard to resist sad doggie eyes), they can indeed really wreak havoc on a pack of dogs when rules once set forth are broken. (Yes honey I am talking about you!) Here’s an example; when you put down a rule that there is to be no food given from the table, that rule should be adhered to by everyone! (Grandmas included!) When the rules are broken, it is like breaking a silent chain of command which brings the human, who should always be on the top of the heap, down to the status of equal in a dog’s mind. Rule breaking creates nothing more than an opening to overthrow the powers that be, which then in turn can create chaos.

When dogs do not expect to be fed from the table they will not huddle around vying for the top spot to get the goodies. When the rule is broken and they start to huddle around the table it can eventually cause fighting between the dogs. What you have created by breaking this one rule is a bottleneck of hungry buggers in a small space with no way out. Thus internal fighting will eventually begin and you will loose your status among them. No longer will your words be heard as commands but they will be heard as yada, yada, yada, blah, blah, blah! (Yes hon, again, talking about you!) Once that happens, the human begins to resort to out of control yelling because the dog no longer listens to simple commands and the pack becomes so far out of balance that hard core training may have to begin all over again and all because one person let their human emotions get in the way. Hey, let’s face it, we all look pitiful every now and again, but it doesn’t mean we get what we want! If it really worked, I would be at the car dealership looking pitiful over a Mercedes Benz!

So, are you the dominant force in your home? Take this quiz and find out.
Dominance quiz

If after you have taken the dominance quiz you find that you are not at the top of the heap, putting your dog (or dogs) on the Nothing in Life is Free (NILIF) diet in combination with some obedience training can help to get things back on track.
Nothing in life is free diet click here 

NILF being the leader

In the video on the site below you will see how a pack of eight week old puppies already perceive each other. Take notice of the way the aggressive puppy treats everyone, but does it mean he is the leader? Happy watchingJ

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