Leadership and dog training go hand-in-hand.
Leadership is the word I like to use when discussing your dogs role in a family dynamic. Hierarchy is important when it comes to children and pets who don’t have the judgement to be in charge of their own welfare! When you consider the consequences of letting your toddler do what he or she wants to do, you realize that the same holds true for our dogs. The only difference is that a human child grows up but a dog does not! Leadership will save your dogs life, or the life of someone else in a car, on a skateboard etc.
Establishing leadership is the first step in convincing your dog that he does not have to take matters into his own hands because you will. Leadership is even more crucial for shy or insecure dogs because you are in charge of strangers, and the first line of defense on walks.
Incorporating leadership into your dog training will bleed over into all aspects of your life in a positive way as your dog begins to relax knowing you are in charge!
Rely on the following elements to build leadership:
- Trust is the key to any healthy relationship. Trust is created by clear communication and consistency. Since training is repetitive, the by product is that dogs learn your language, and also learn to trust you are patient but do follow through on the boundaries you put in place. Trust can be destroyed through intimidation or inconsistency.
- Communication is an indispensable part of any healthy relationship. Good communication includes speaking in a way your pet can understand and being consistent. In our online dog training programs, you are taught how to use Body Language (a dog’s first language), and the Five Senses so that your dog understands what you are trying to say critical to helping him learn English and commands through training. Attention is critical to communication. If you don’t have your dog’s attention, you will never be able to teach him.
- Consistency shows your pet he can count on you to act and react in the same way each time. Consistency avoids confusion and prevents anxiety since your dog is able to “learn” you and your wishes. Consistency builds confidence, calmness and patience.
- Boundaries are an essential part of a quality relationship with your dog as they build familiarity in what to expect and show consistency allowing your dog to relax as he knows what to expect from you.
- Reward is an essential element in relationships of any kind. Why do we do anything in life? Dogs are the same. Access to things you love such as friends, outdoors, toys and play, walks and running, sights, smells and above all food are better when we have earned them (see list of motivators below).
- Respect is earned by being kind, fair and consistent. True respect is only gained by utilizing the above principles.
These are small things that will get you started however there is no substitute for a well-trained dog. Training your dog will solidify good manners and leave little room for bad behaviors to creep in. Completing an advanced training course such as Top Dog Advanced, can essentially hard-wire your dogs brain to see you as the decision-maker and to love doing what you ask because all good things follow!
Remember if you are inconsistent, your dog will become anxious and unsure. At a minimum, he may decide to blow you off as a leader!