Dogs who see their humans as in charge of them are more calm and happy. Dogs do best under leadership. Behavior problems such as; Separation anxiety, Aggression, fears, phobias, hyperactivity, destruction start to go away under calm, confident leadership.
Importance of Walking your Dog
Birds fly, fish swim and dogs WALK. The most important way to establish the leadership role is with the walk (controlled walk). You need to walk your dog every day for at least 30 minutes. If you can do it longer that’s great. If you can do it twice a day that’s even better. I do 2 long walks with all 3 of my dogs everyday. If you don’t have enough time for a 60-minute walk, go for as long as you can. The purpose of the walk is to get your dog to focus on you as the leader, burn off pent-up energy and to give him physical and mental exercise. When a dog focuses completely on you it is mentally draining. Their mind is no longer bored. They begin to listen to you and their obsessive habits taper off. It takes a lot of pressure off of the dog when he knows that he is following a leader and he doesn’t have to make decisions.
We can and should start the walks at 8 weeks of age (dog’s age, not the human’s). Puppy Training is all about follow the leader. Walking grounds the puppy and make him feel “right”. When he is willingly following you on walks, he will also be following you through life & learning everything very fast.
Once you have mastered the walk and learned to use only calm assertive energy with your dog then you are ready to do obedience training (sit, down, stay, come etc.) Most people do this backwards. They try to teach obedience commands to a dog who doesn’t respect them yet. This is why treats are so often used (I believe miss-used) in basic obedience training; the dogs do not respect the handler and the handler uses bribes (treats) to get compliance rather than respect. (If someone tries to bribe you, do you gain or lose respect for them?) This is not natural to a dog. Having a place in the pack and having a leader and following the leader IS NATURAL to a dog. So, once the dog understands his place and your place, NATURE can take over and he is EASY to work with. When your dog knows that you are the pack leader he is much easier to train in obedience. Your dog wants to please you. Your dog wants to please the pack leader. When you are recognized as the pack leader any other training is usually fast and easy.
It is not necessary to use force, or harsh treatment to gain your position as pack leader. It’s very easy. No treats, No shock collars, no choke chains, no clickers, no head halters. You don’t need to be a big person, you don’t need to have a deep voice, you don’t have to yell or be mean. It’s actually best to be silent. It’s like playing follow the leader. After all, dogs don’t talk or give commands to each other but they do follow the leader.
The majority of dog owners have trouble with this simple task; giving their dog 2 long walks every day. Most people that do walk their dog every day are not leading the walk. Thus the only benefit to the dog is physical exercise. If the dog is pulling, lunging at distractions, stopping everywhere to sniff & pee, then the owner is actually losing ground with his dog.
The main reason people don’t walk their dogs enough is that they have not learned how easy it is to have a nice controlled walk with him. It is not fun to go outside in the heat and be pulled around the neighborhood by a recalcitrant* rover. It’s embarrassing.
*Recalcitrant: stubbornly resistant to authority or guidance.
If you are not successful in learning to walk your dog, get some help. It’s vital to your dog’s well being and your relationship.
After I work with you & your dog for about 2-3 hours in your home, he will probably follow you on a loose leash with no commands, no hand signals, no corrections, no treats, no corrective gadgets or collars, no shock collars. Just you & your dog. They always do.
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