Why Dogs Need A Leader and Why It Needs to Be YOU!

Everyone’s heard about dogs being in a pack, and the phrase “alpha dog” or “top dog” is used very commonly. But is it true that dogs use social ranking and hierarchies?

Just like the phrasing goes, it’s true that even domesticated dogs will vie for social rankings with each other. In every group, there is usually a leader – if you own multiple dogs, you’ll watch the rankings change here and there, and that all the relationships shift when another dog comes into play. When they’re raised in a group, they spend the first few years of life learning how to establish and maintain their social ranking, and that maintenance continues throughout adulthood.

dog in training learning placeEven if you have multiple dogs, as the owner, you need to establish yourself as their leader. They may have rankings amongst themselves, but if you want them to respond and learn from you, they have to look to you as their leader. Establish yourself as someone who is calm and in control when they are not, who controls and distributes good things like affection and food, set examples of the behavior they want to see, and protect them.  This will make your pet feel supported and complete in their relationship with you and the other dogs. Dogs who feel the need to compensate for their owners’ deficiencies may act out – this may result in aggression, defensiveness, or nervous behavior. All dogs need a support system, and they’ll look to their owner to provide it consistently, in ways that they recognize and understand.

Do you want pointers on how to strengthen your role as leader? Give us a call today at 510.646.9657 to speak with our experienced trainer on how to re-establish your role. We are more than happy to discuss the dynamic in your household and get you and your dog pointed in the right direction.