Pack LeaderCesar Millan (The Dog Whisperer) did not coin the saying "Pack Leader", but he sure made the phrase popular. There is no doubt dogs are social animals that require a strong confident leader and when there is no leader around, they take on the role of pack leader. Dog / human interactions are problematic if dog is pack leader and human is in a submissive role. In order to prevent a multitude of behavioural problems, it is essential that human be Pack Leader, or if you like - the Alpha dog. Dogs do not believe in democracy but rather hierarchy structure where the Alpha dog calls the shots and the submissive dogs must obey. The submissive dogs know their place and do not complain about it. It is what it is.
In today's society people are attempting to humanize their dogs more and more and this in itself can cause problems. Take for example a large dog that has been spoiled rotten and is permitted to sleep on the bed. It is not uncommon for this type of dog to become protective over it's bed and the person in it. Notice I did not say people in it. We have heard a few stories over the years about husbands rolling over in their bed (the dog's bed) only to be greeted by a pearly white snarl.
The best time to establish Pack Leader status is when your dog is a puppy and s/he is easier to handle. The second best time to establish Pack Leader status is now. The easiest and safest way to establish Pack Leader status is with the assistance of a trained professional, not just a professional dog trainer who has taken a 6 week course but a person who understands canine behaviour. The instructor should use positive reinforcements and not punishment and have a wealth of experience to draw upon. It is important to know what type of temperament your dog has before you start changing the rules on him or her. You want to keep things safe for everyone. If your dog sees itself as the Pack Leader and you all of a sudden exhibit Pack Leader behaviours, don't be surprised if you encounter an aggressive challenge.
Listed below are a few Pack Leader behaviours:
- Pack Leader sleeps in bed and dogs sleep on the floor
- Pack Leader sits on couch and dogs sit on the floor
- Pack Leader eats first and dogs eat after Pack Leader is finished
- Pack Leader walks through doorway first and dog follows second - with permission
- Pack Leader can take dog's food or bones away at any time
- Pack Leader is able to scratch dog's belly anytime he or she wants to
- Pack Leader provides dog with lots of exercise
- Pack Leader has dog release toys from mouth on command
- Pack Leader establish no go areas in the home
- Pack Leader will use body language, facial expressions and voice to establish dominance
Here is a Cesar Milan video clip
In October of 2008 I attended a Cesar Milan seminar in Seattle Washington