FAQ about dogs
Commonly asked questions sent into the site are sometimes posted to help others who are dealing with the same issues.
- When is the right time to show your dog affection?
- Does my dog need drugs for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?
- Why do some dogs snap at people while they are eating?
- My Chihuahua puppy growls at us. Did we pick the wrong breed?
- My dog is very submissive most of the time but once in a while shows signs of dominance. Why is this?
- Self-feeders, are they OK?
- A high-strung dog, is it inherited?
- Does my dog love me, or does he own me?
- Is having a dog heel on the walk really such a big deal?
- How do I calm my dog when it's time to put on the leash?
- When do I start to walk my puppy?
- When I am walking my dog on a lead, is it okay to let him walk in front of me when he is finding a place to pee and poop?
- How do I stop my dog from barking at things while on the walk?
- Sometimes when I take my dog for walks, I let him run free. Can I remain alpha while he is running free?
- Are our "free" walks doing harm; should I have her on a leash?
- What does it mean when a dog licks?
- Why does my dog hate it when I touch his food?
- What should an owner do if they are emotionally upset and their dog comes over and lies on top of them?
- Is it ever OK for a dog to lie on a human?
- I have gone to local shelters to find my dog a companion of the same breed but she gets jealous and wants to fight the other dog. Any suggestions?
- I have a 4-month-old puppy whose ears stand up. Whenever she comes around me she puts her ears down but her tail is wagging. She likes me very much and gives me kisses. Can you tell me why her ears go down around me?
- Are there any breeds that can live in an apartment, yet make good jogging companions?
- Can a dog be left alone in an apartment for 8 hours while we are at work without causing damage and barking too much?
- Should I not get a dog if I cannot control my emotions, or is it okay for the dog to comfort me if 'I' call him to me?
- How do I earn trust with my newly rescued, skittish Min Pin?
- What breed of dog is known to not bark (or at least not much) when left alone?
- My dog is restless when he sleeps. He whimpers, sometimes yelps and/or moves around. What could be causing him to do this?
- How should I approach a dog I do not know?
- Is there hope for my dominant rescue dog to get along with my other dogs?
- What is the key to getting my dog to stop fighting with other dogs?
- What would cause my dog to get into a fight with another dog when he's never done that before?
- My puppy is scared to walk out the door. What should we do?
- How do I get my rescue dog to trust me?
- What are the signs of a happy, stable-minded, submissive dog?
- Why has my housebroken, full-grown dog started peeing in my bed?
- Why does my dog get mad and destroy things when I leave the house?
- I was told by a behavior specialist not to play tug-of-war with my dog. Why?
- I live with someone who is not pack leader to his two current dogs. Is it possible for me to get my own dog and raise him to be balanced even though the other two dogs in the home are not?
- What is the best way to introduce one dog to another?
- If I am 100% pack leader, will my dog still act as a guard dog if it is ever necessary?
- I just rescued a dog. How much affection should I give and how much should I play with it?
- I am not a very active person. Can I still get a high-energy breed if I choose a puppy that is not as active as the other littermates?
- Once I establish myself as pack leader with my dog does this position stick for life, or is it something I have to maintain?
- What is the difference between "training" and being a pack leader to achieve a healthy stability in a dog?
- I have more than one dog. Since it is not good to use a dog's name when correcting it how do I single out a specific dog?
- My dog is skittish and afraid of a lot of things. What is the best way for me to help him overcome his fears?
- Can a dog be in front when doing something such as rollerblading, pulling a sled or cart and still consider the handler the pack leader?
- Is forcing your dog to walk beside you still establishing that you are the leader if the dog is pulling but you are able to keep the dog next to you?
- Is it possible to be to alpha/dominant over your dog?
- How far do I have to go to let my dog know I greet strangers and other people first?
- Some claim there is no such thing as an alpah dog. Is this true?
- Does taking a dog for walks in your neighborhood increase the likelihood that it will want to roam on it's own?
- Does teaching a dog to ring a bell to go outside effect a person's dominance over the dog?
When is the right time to show your dog affection?
When the dog is submissive and acting calm. He will be holding his head low, with his ears relaxed and slightly back. He might curl into a circle. Basically, he is slinking himself smaller, telling you he does not wish to be boss. You can give your dog all the love and affection you wish at this time.
Do not give your dog affection when he is excited, scared, nervous, anxious, or when he is showing signs of dominance—very perky and proud, looking and asking you for attention. A dog that is asking to be petted is demanding that you do something for him. A demand from a dog is an alpha behavior. Alpha behavior can also be seen when he carries himself proud with a stance that makes him look bigger. His ears will be perked. When dogs carry themselves like this they look beautiful, but in the dog world, this is a dog trying to puff himself out for the role of the leader. Dogs should not be petted or sweet-talked to at this time.
When a dog is showing signs of dominance the dog should receive no affection until you are able to make him realize he is not the boss and he accepts it and begins to act submissive. The more submissive and stable-minded the dog gets, the more love you can give him. Dogs should not get any affection until the dominance is under control. Your affection will reinforce whatever mind frame (in human words, "mood") the dog is in.
Does my dog need drugs for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?
I was watching the news and it said if a dog chases its tail, runs in circles, bites at himself and/or in the air, and/or whines, etc., that it probably has OCD just like humans and needs medication such as Prozac or Zoloft. My dog tends to spaz out like this. Do you think I need to put him on medication?
No, absolutely not. Putting a dog that has OCD-like symptoms on medication is just covering up the problem rather than addressing the real issue. We need to look at the WHY. For the record, it is NOT genetic and certain dog breeds are NOT predisposed to it, however certain high-energy dogs are more likely to be lacking what they need as canines. We humans take these animals and live with them. A lot of us tend to treat them like humans, ignoring the fact that they are animals. We do not give them what they instinctually need and it literally drives them nuts. Dogs need clear leadership and direction. Their minds need to be challenged. They need daily consistent exercise where the dog is FOLLOWING the human, not the other way around, to satisfy their migration instinct. If you walk your dog every day, but fail to make your dog heel, you are not getting the most out of your walk. To keep a dog inside our nice fenced yards day after day is like putting a human in a padded cell and feeding them, but not giving them any type of challenge, and never letting them see the light of day. After a while, you guessed it, the human would begin to go cookoo. Before you put your dog on drugs try giving your dog what he is crying out for: exercise, leadership and direction. Take your dog for a long daily walk where he walks beside or behind you. Never in front, as the pack leader goes first. Set rules within your home and firmly stick to them. Be your dog’s strong leader so he can feel secure within himself. Dogs look for direction and authority. They crave it. They need to migrate DAILY. It's in their blood. In addition, if your dog is a working-type challenge her with a game so she can use what she was bred for.
If your dog displays any behavior that could be considered an OCD symptom you are failing your dog as an owner. Treat your dog like a dog giving him what HE needs as an animal and you will start to see these OCD symptoms disappear.
Why do some dogs snap at people while they are eating?
A dog that snaps is a dog that is communicating to you that he is your leader and he simply wishes that you leave him alone while he eats (leader eats first...it's canine instinct). This is why it is so important to be 100% pack leader at all times, consistently. When someone is not or is wishy-washy about it, the dog becomes either unsure and tests you, or simply is convinced and becomes alpha. A dog communicates by growling, then snapping and biting. It happens because of the humans. It is the responsibility of the humans to understand this and be alpha 100% of the time or you will be tested by your dog. Dogs who are not 100% secure with their place are stressed dogs. Since we cannot allow a dog to be pack leader 100% of the time allowing the dog to make all the decisions, the dog becomes stressed and anxiety ridden. Sure, your dog may look happy because he is always excited, however excitement in a canine animal is NOT happy. It is just that, excited. Most dogs in America are not stable, balanced dogs because most people do not understand this. Dogs also have an instinct to migrate and how many people do you know who own dogs? Now how many dogs do you see going for walks? How many dogs that you DO see walking are walking in front of the humans? Pack leader goes first. Whatever happened to a dog heeling?? So dogs are pack leaders during their walks (in front), with what little walks they get in the first place, and then they get home and their owners expect them to behave. To not guard their food. They expect them to listen to them, expect them to not bolt out the door, not bark obsessively, and to not chew things up, all the while wondering why they are so hyper, etc... They are wishy-washy about who is leader. A dog that does not get a daily walk develops mental stress because he has this instinct to migrate. Packs of dogs get up in the morning and walk, they hunt to find food. Nope, sorry a big yard and/or big house does not cut it. It's just like a big cage to them. Most dogs are unstable, hence the reason we have so many dogs getting killed in pounds. It's the humans’ fault and oh so very sad. We take these animals and we have them live with us, yet we only take what we need as humans and do not give the dog what HE needs as a canine animal. Then we kill the dog for being unstable and get a new puppy. Nice cycle huh? We blame the pet overpopulation problem on breeders, however have you ever heard of supply and demand? If everyone were to keep their dog for life the demand for new pups would go down. Breeder does not sell pups, breeder does not breed as many...
My Chihuahua puppy growls at us. Did we pick the wrong breed? We have a female and she is thirteen weeks old. When I went to pick her up last night to put her in her crate for bedtime, she growled at me and turned her head like she wanted to bite. I have never had a dog this small before and have never encountered one with such a temper. She will growl if you go near her things, too. We love this little one and really want to make this work, but now I'm starting to question if we got the right breed?! Can you help? Thank you!
I am not able to tell you if you chose the right breed because I never met you, but I can take a good guess at why the dog is growling. It is very common for small dogs to be treated in a babyish manner with no leadership because they are so small. In the dog world there must be a leader. It's instinct for the dog to have a being that has a strong enough mind to keep their pack safe and secure. The strongest-minded being will run the home. The leader is either going to be the humans or it's going to be the dog.
When your little dog growls at you she is communicating to you what SHE wants. She is trying to be your leader. She is telling YOU it is not time for her to be in her crate and she is telling you not to touch HER toys. Lower members of the pack do not own objects. All objects belong to the leader. One way dogs tell other beings that they own things is by growling and if that does not work, they eventually bite.
Every time she growls at you and you do not correct her or you back away she gets mentally stronger. The more you allow this the stronger she will become and eventually she will be biting. Not because she is a bad dog, but because she is being YOUR pack leader. You need to turn this around now or it will get worse and that is not fair to the dog that is only reacting on instinct.
I recommend you tune into the Dog Whisperer. There are DVDs for sale on Amazon.com. On the show, Cesar Millan demonstrates over and over again how to correct dogs who are acting like your little Chihuahua.
Here is an article to read that will help explain how dogs think and what instincts they have.
My dog is very submissive most of the time but once in a while shows signs of dominance. Why is this?
Believe it or not, most dogs don't want to be alpha. There are some that were born to be leaders but most will hand the position back to the owners in a heartbeat if they feel secure with the owners being strong-minded enough to handle it. Dogs can flip back and forth between taking the role over and giving it back, especially those who do not really want it. Those dogs that do not have to flip-flop because they are confident their humans can handle the role are much, much happier.
Self-feeders, are they OK?
I have a 6-year-old Havanese. We just keep his food dish out and fill it up when it gets low, which is once every two or three days. We are now getting a Golden Retriever puppy. Due to the different breeds and sizes they should be eating different types of food. Also the Golden Retriever is supposed to be fed only two or three times a day. How can we regulate the food with the two different dogs?
It is not recommended to leave food down for a dog for psychological reasons. Instinct tells a dog the pack leader decides when it is time to eat. Leaving the food down all of the time allows the dog to decide. If humans allow dogs to believe they are pack leader it causes various behavioral issues and sometimes it simply confuses the dog. A confused dog is not a happy dog. When a dog is not 100% clear about the order of the pack it does not feel secure. Therefore if you display leadership with some things and not with others, the dog will never be 100% sure.
Besides that, I personally do not know another way to feed two different dogs two different types of food unless you make a scheduled feeding time. Big dog eats in this corner, little dog eats in that corner. Your Havanese may decide not to eat the first couple of meals because he is not used to a schedule, however when a dog gets hungry enough, he will eat.
A high strung-dog, is it inherited?
Our 10-month-old Cockapoo is still extremely excitable. She also tries to nibble us at every opportunity, and needs to have company virtually all the time. She whines when she is being ignored. Are these inherited genes, as poodles are very excitable? I heard Cocker Spaniels were also high-strung.
Being high-strung is never a breed "trait." It is by no means inherited. What a dog can inherit is a higher energy level, but any dog who does not receive the proper amount of exercise can become anxious and high-strung. When a dog is high-strung and extremely excitable it is a sure sign of a lack of mental and/or physical exercise. The whining is anxiety, from a lack of exercise and/or leadership. The more daily exercise you give your dog, where it not only makes her tired, but challenges her mind at the same time, the calmer your dog will be. Please keep in mind, exercise such as tossing a ball or a romp at the dog park is excited exercise and will keep your dog at a higher level of excitement, therefore, less calm. A pack walk is the perfect type of exercise to calm a dog. It not only physically tires a dog, but it is a mental challenge as well, because she needs to follow you, which takes concentration. It also reinforces the fact that you are pack leader, leading to respect and a better behaved dog.
Does my dog love me, or does he own me?
I have a question about my aunt's 2-year-old Miniature Pinscher. We bought the dog when she was just a pup, and I have to say she has grown exceptionally fond of me. I believe the reason is that when we brought the dog in, she was terribly scared and nervous, and I was the one who mainly kept her on my lap, patting her and making her feel comfortable. I remember I could feel her shaking like crazy, but after a while she stopped and became very calm. From that moment on, she was totally in love with me; even if she only sees me every 1 or 2 weeks, she's always overjoyed when I get to my aunt's house. Even though she's a lively and adorable pet, she doesn't treat anyone else in the family with the impressive affection she has developed for me. The dog is generally well-behaved, but it's obvious that she doesn't see my aunt as a "leader" and doesn't really follow anything she says. She has never really been trained. We don't really have a big problem with that, the dog has a big house and yard, and it's OK if she does what she pleases, the only real issue is that she usually barks a lot and is very aggressive to strangers. Is it possible that the dog actually sees me as her "alpha," even if I see the dog once or twice a week? Even if she is a tad bit stubborn (due to lack of training), she gives a big importance to my reactions: if I scold her for something, she seems to get very sad and depressed, she stops being all lively and playful and goes into another room on her own, laying on the floor until I go back and "make peace." I absolutely don't abuse the dog in any way, and scolding her means only a big voice and a pat on her back. On the other hand when I play with her she's just incredibly happy, and truly doesn't look for that kind of love from anyone else in the family. So I am trying to understand if she sees me as some kind of alpha or if I'm just her "playmate." I'd like to try and give her some proper training, but not being with her often makes it a bit difficult.
It actually sounds like the dog sees herself as alpha over both of you, especially you. If the dog is all over you and overjoyed when you walk in, that is not showing you respect, it is claiming you. Remember, dogs give pack leaders space and space is respect. This would make perfect sense, as when you met the dog she was in a weak state of mind, "terribly scared and nervous." You, at that time, gave the dog affection and the dog saw you as weaker than herself and she became your leader at that moment. When a dog is upset she needs a stronger-minded being to bring her out of it, and if you share affection to a dog at that time the dog will read your energy as weakness. Instead of being her leader, you empowered her to take over. This is where the issues all began, from day one, and this is why she gets aggressive towards strangers. She is empowered over humans. This aggression will lead to biting if you do not let the dog know you and all other humans are boss over her. You are actually sending the dog mixed signals. When you scold the dog and the dog walks away with her head down, that is the dog respecting you as alpha. To a dog, putting her ears slightly back as she slinks her head down, giving you space (walking away) is submission and respect. However when you go back to the dog and "make peace" as you call it, you are, in the dog’s eyes, submitting to HER. That is very confusing to a dog. Only humans make peace as you describe. Dogs give space and respect. When a dog approaches with her ears perked standing very proud that is alpha behavior. When a dog approaches a human slinked down making herself smaller with her head lowered that is submitting. From what you describe the dog would like you to be alpha because she gives in to you so easily. The dog does not want to be alpha. But if the dog senses weak humans around her, she thinks she NEEDS to be alpha in order to "save her pack." To answer your question, yes, you can be alpha even if you only see her once in a while. I would be consistent, however, and encourage your aunt to be a pack leader as well as you communicating to the dog who is boss. It is very stressful for a dog to think she NEEDS to take care of all of the humans around her, or to be unsure where her place is. This is no way for a dog to live.
Is having a dog heel on the walk really such a big deal?
I have my dog trained to walk loose-leash and he's very, very good about following me and not dragging me along. I prefer this heavily because he gets tangled in our legs, so he walks ahead of us out of necessity. Is this really such a big deal for his sense of superiority?
Yes it is. It's a huge deal. In the dog world the leader leads the way. I realize it is inconvenient for the humans, however if we are going to live with dogs and expect them to behave as we wish then we need to understand how to communicate with them. Dogs develop behavior issues because we humans send all the wrong signals. A dog needs to be 100% sure the humans are able to take over the role as leader and keep their pack safe. By allowing the dog in front you are telling him that you wish him to be that leader. Read more about how to properly walk a dog so he does not get tangled up in your legs during the walk yet is still heeling on the lead.
How do I calm my dog when it's time to put on the leash? When my dog sees a leash in my hand she starts jumping around and will not let me put on the leash properly. How do I calm her? She is too excited to listen to 'Sit Down.'
You have to wait until she gets tired of jumping. Only reward her with the leash when she calms down. The first time you do this it may take a long time. Be prepared to wait patiently, calmly and quietly with the leash in your hand. Dogs only have so much energy and she will eventually stop jumping just because she is tired. When she is calmly waiting reward her by putting on the leash. If she becomes hyper again when you start putting on the leash, wait longer. If she is calm when you snap the leash on and then becomes hyper right after, stand there and wait once again before proceeding. Do not reward her by beginning a walk while she is hyper. You must wait at each step until she learns that you only move forward when she is calm. After a while your dog will begin to realize that the leash only goes on when she is calm, the walk only happens when she is calm. The time you have to wait for her will become shorter and shorter and eventually she will be calm for you right from the beginning. In order to accomplish this you need to spend the time and be consistent. If you give in and put the leash on her when she is jumping and hyper she will never learn. If you put a leash on a hyper dog it is very hard to get her to walk correctly on a leash because her mind is set in hyper mode.
When do I start to walk my puppy? Right now she only sits when I try to walk her... We made it around the block one day but that was it! Help?
Now is the time to teach her to follow you. She might not be the easiest dog to walk because she is so small but bring treats and/or a favorite toy and make it fun. You will be teaching her to follow and now is the best time to start. After you get the actual walking down and the pup will walk while on a lead, which you can do by walking backwards with food in your hand as she tries to eat it, slowly begin practicing heeling on a lead. Teach her to not pass you (pack leader goes first); she should be following you. That will be the foundation of your relationship. Keep it positive and happy. Food always helps. For those slightly older energetic pups that insist on pulling from side to side and smelling everything, keep working at it, do not give up. The time you put into these younger years will be well-rewarded when the dog is older and larger. Be aware of her energy level and what she can handle at this time. Meaning, don't OVER-walk her for miles and miles. Use your best judgment on the amount she can handle, but do walk her daily.
When I am walking my dog on a lead, is it okay to let him walk in front of me when he is finding a place to pee and poop?
Yes, if your goal at the moment is to allow him to go to the bathroom, then you may give him lots of room and allow him to go where he wishes to do his thing. It's only during your actual 'walk' that the dog should heel. The person holding the lead should also go first through any entrance and exit-ways, be they gates or any doorways to your home or other building even if there is not an actual door in the threshold.
How do I stop my dog from barking at things while on the walk?
As soon as you see your dog perk up as if he is going to bark the correction needs to be made. You need to try and catch him a second before he goes into a heightened state; timing is critical. You need to watch for signs of interest in whatever your dog is going to bark at and catch him right before he starts. Once a dog starts barking it is harder to make him stop because he is at a high level of excitement. The way you are feeling at the time has a lot to do with your success. If you are upset or anxious in any way your dog will feed from that emotion and it will intensify the dog's reaction to what he is about to bark at. You want to remain calm but very enthusiastic/serious. The correction can be a tug on the lead, a touch to the neck, a backwards bop with the side of your foot to the butt of the dog, a verbal correction such as "No," "Hey," "Aaatttt"—whatever works for that particular dog. You may also walk in front of your dog to block his view, lean forward and say, "No" and touch him in the neck if he continues to want to bark. Your intensity needs to match his without going too much over or you could intensify the dog’s reaction, but on the other hand if your intensity is less than his you will not be effective and the dog will not listen. Each and every time you hear your dog growl or bark you need to correct it. The intensity of the correction will vary from dog to dog, situation to situation. For example, a little Chihuahua may only need a two-finger touch to the neck, whereas a big Rottweiler may need a backwards boot to the butt with the side of your foot; where other dogs may only need a verbal command, others may need a combination. Keep your dog moving forward, keep walking. Learn more by reading The Proper Way to Walk a Dog.
Sometimes when I take my dog for walks, I let him run free. Can I remain alpha while he is running free?
I wanted to thank you for your site. I have a beautiful red-nosed Pit Bull. He's my baby. He's almost two years old, and he's been such a good boy. Lately he started growling at me and my girlfriend and I was getting worried I would have to get rid of him. After reading through your site it only took a few hours to get my alpha spot back. Even took him for a walk tonight and it was the 1st time that he's walked beside me. I thank you so much for the information.
I have one question. Over the summer I take him out every weekend to a spot where we have lots of open land. I keep him on a leash until we get out away from the road. Then I let him off his leash to run through the fields and the woods. He never goes too far from us and he is always checking to see if we are coming. If we change direction we just call him and he goes the way go. Once when a deer jumped up not too far from him, it took a couple of calls, but he stopped and came back. Is this OK to let him run and play out in the woods and fields?
You are very welcome! I am very happy to hear you are now alpha. Your dog will love and respect you for it. Yes, that is OK to allow him to run free like that, so long as you are making the calls, not him. Make sure he is calm, and in a submissive mind-frame when you leash him up and when you take off the leash. If he is really excited when you are trying to take the leash off wait until he calms down. That is pretty important. You decide when he gets let off, you decide when he is to come back, and you decide what direction to go in. Change up on him often. So if he is ahead and he turns right, you turn left. If he runs back in your direction without you even calling him, that is even better; it shows he is following you. So long as he comes back when called and you are making all the decisions in the run, and you still take him for leashed pack walks to reinforce who is alpha in your pack, it is all good. I feel dogs need this type of, "off-lead, run your heart out" time.
When hunters go out hunting they must be the pack leader, but they are also in a situation while they are looking for the prey in which they are allowing the dog to use its nose to find it, which means the dog is walking where its nose leads, sometimes in front. It is a situation where the dog is working for the human and both dog and human know it, and they know the job at hand. When a lead is snapped onto a dog it is like you are connected. The dog at that point needs to heel. If you get to a gate that must be opened when walking off-lead you need to pass through before the dog. The dog has an understanding that you are allowing him to go in front so he can run and use his nose. This only applies if you are able to call him back and he listens, and when the leash is snapped on he goes into heel mode, because that means he understands your agreement.
I take my dog for off-leash walks and she does great. She was trained to heel on a lead and did really well in classes but since we only do off-lead walks she pulls like crazy at first when I do have to leash her up. Are our "free" walks doing harm; should I have her on a leash?
It's good to allow a dog to run free. However if that is all you do then the dog is not learning or practicing patience on a lead. I would not stop the free-roam walks, they are great, but for those times when you do need to leash your dog it is important that you teach good manners. I would start leashing the dog up at least a few times a week to practice lead walking, or even put the dog on a lead for only part of your walk in the woods just for practice. The dog needs to be trained that when you are free, you are free, but as soon as that lead snaps on you are to follow me heeling and not pull. I take my Bruno out to the woods and he runs and chases rabbits, etc...but as soon as I snap on the lead his entire demeanor changes and he knows it's time to follow.
You may want to bring the lead with you on your free walks. Put the lead on for a short time in the beginning and when the dog heels nicely for a bit make her sit and be calm, then take it off and allow her to go. Maybe even a few times until she gets the idea. I use my foot to backwards side-boot my dog in the butt below the tail if he starts to pull, but different things work for different dogs and owners.
Inside the house, practice making the dog sit calmly while you snap on the lead. At the gateway to the door practice going out the doorway first with the dog following. If you are on your way to an area where you can do a free-roam walk do not unsnap the dog's lead until she is heeling and walking nicely. Never unsnap her while she is pulling. You may have to take her out for some town walking for the socialization just so during those times she must be on a lead the dog is used to that type of environment. You need to convince her and condition her that when the lead is snapped on it means it's time to heel. It's going to take some time and a lot of work. But you can't give up or give in or the dog will learn to just keep pressing you in order to get her way.
What does it mean when a dog licks?
There are a few reasons why a dog licks.
A dog's saliva contains a healing agent and dogs often lick another's wounds in an attempt to heel them.
Dogs will also lick as a way to show submission. A submissive dog will hold himself very low, slinking himself down to try to appear smaller. He will approach a human with his head lowered and his ears slightly back as if to say “you're my boss.”
Some dogs will lick another in a dominant manner. For example, mother dogs lick and groom their puppies and for the pups it is the mother displaying leadership. Mom says stay here and be groomed because she is alpha over them and she says so. Submissive licking and dominant licking have different body languages. A dominant dog will carry himself high and proud. He approaches things with an air of confidence. He may also be very persistent as to what he wants.
Sometimes dogs lick out of obsession. Dogs that lick others in an obsessive or dominant manner need to be corrected and the dog must be told not to lick.
Why does my dog hate it when I touch his food?
Your dog is not necessarily "hating it" when you touch his food. Nor is he being "mean." He is communicating with you. What he is saying is, "This is MY food. Leave me alone while I eat it." Is this a problem? You bet it is. It's a big problem. It means your dog is alpha over you. There are different levels of dominance and even if your dog has never bitten, always keep in mind that growling or the bearing of a dog’s teeth eventually does lead to biting. It is time you reassess your human to dog communication skills and take the alpha position away from your dog before it escalates into a larger problem.
What should an owner do if they are emotionally upset and their dog comes over and lies on top of them?
If you are having a bad day and are emotionally upset and your dog comes over and lies on top of you, be it your feet or lap, what does it mean? To the human it is very comforting. We feel that our dogs care and are trying to make us feel better. That's the human side of the equation.
What does it mean to the dog? Dogs do feel human emotion and since they are pack-oriented animals that need to know who the strongest being is so that being can run the pack, they see the weak as lower. It's instinct and there is nothing we can do to change that. A dog will pick up on a human's weakness and will claim that person as their subordinate by lying on top of them, be it their feet or their lap. Sometimes a dog will lick the person. In the dog world the leader is on top. The leader will often cover up the lower member by standing over them.
It is not realistic to say a human who owns a dog can never get upset. But it is a fact that when they do the dog will feel the human as weak. Different dogs will have different reactions. Some may become worried, stressed, anxious and/or upset because his leader is now weak and/or become empowered and try to "save the pack" by taking over. If you are emotionally upset and a dog comes over and lies on top of you, send the dog away back to his dog bed (or other area). Do not allow the dog to get on top of you. Try and take deep breaths and do your best to not be upset anymore. But to say you can never get upset is not going to happen, so you just deal with it when it happens and don’t allow the dog to be "in your face" or standing over you during that time.
Is it ever ok for a dog to lie on a human?
It is not necessarily bad for a dog to be on top of a human if the HUMAN initiated it. For example, the human called the dog onto their lap. If it is the dog making the calls then it can be the dog being dominant. A dog that decides is a dog that is being the leader. Being on top is a dominant position in a dog's mind, but making the decisions is also a dominant position in a dog's mind. When humans are upset, dogs see this as a weakness. Keeping all of these facts in mind, you also need to know your dog and what frame of mind he is in, what frame of mind you are in and remain the leader at all times.
I have a 3-year-old American Straffordshire Terrier and she is above and beyond the most loyal and loving dog I have ever owned. I take her everywhere I go and she is great with my 3 children. My problem is that I have gone to local shelters to find her a companion of the same breed but she gets jealous and wants to fight the other dog. Any suggestions?
I suggest you tune into the Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan (if you have not done so already). He shows over and over again how to get two dogs to get along. He deals with a lot of powerful breeds. What you do not want to do is just toss the dogs together face-to-face at the first meeting in a shelter environment where the dog you are adopting is most likely lacking in exercise and human discipline. Before you even consider a second dog you need to first master the walk with your first dog.
On the day of adoption take your first dog for a really long walk or jog so her energy is drained before she meets this second dog.
As for the second dog, that dog needs to be taken for a walk as well to drain her energy. Then you would have a second person with you at the time the dogs meet and pack walk the dogs at the same time. Do not just stick them face to face. Just walk and walk for a long time. Both dogs need to be heeling because if one dog is allowed to be in front that dog will instinctually feel he is the leader of the bunch and will try and dominate the pack. Correct any negative reactions the dogs may have towards one another. While walking you can allow the dogs to smell one another's rear ends if the dogs are acting civil. By the end of your walk the dogs will regard themselves as one pack and if the humans were successful in convincing the dogs the humans are the leaders, the dogs will not feel the need to dominate or be leader. You will need to find a shelter that is willing to work with you on that method. Unfortunately too many shelters do not understand this concept and a lot of dogs are put down because of it.
I highly recommend you watch a good number of the Dog Whisperer shows before proceeding so you fully understand the basis behind this method.
I have a 4-month-old puppy whose ears stand up. Whenever she comes around me she puts her ears down but her tail is wagging. She likes me very much and gives me kisses. Can you tell me why her ears go down around me?
I have not seen your dog around you, but going by what you say without observing I can tell you that it is not necessarily a bad thing. A dog that is submissive of another being will slink themselves smaller and put their ears back. A lot of people misread dogs when they see them puffed out proud with their ears erect thinking it means the dog is happy, when in reality it is the way a dog who believes he is alpha reacts. If your puppy puts her ears back and lowers her head that is a sign of respect. The fact that her tail is wagging and not tucked under leads me to believe this is the case. Your pup respects you and it is a good thing. Keep being the pack leader that you are. Lowering the head, ears back and curling into a circle are signs of submission. A dog wants to know who is boss so they can be secure. The pup is acting towards you the way she would act towards her canine mother. Make sure you stick with showing her the rules so she can keep looking at you as her leader. It makes for a happy dog.
Are there any breeds that can live in an apartment, yet make good jogging companions?
Almost any dog can live in an apartment, IF...and this is a big IF...they get enough exercise and the right kind of exercise. If you plan on jogging your dog, and as long as you can make the dog heel on the jog so the dog is not worrying about being your leader, but rather relaxing as he is following you, you have a very wide range of dogs to choose from. Most dogs in the shelters are there because their owners... ONE did not provide proper leadership and TWO did not exercise them properly. A big backyard is not going to cut it. So those people who live in an apartment who actually walk their dogs (assuming they make them heel on the lead) are often better off than those who are simply only let out into the fenced backyard for exercise. Dog park exercise is excited exercise and it is not recommended as the only source of exercise a dog receives. It keeps the dog in an excited state of mind.
There are SO MANY great jogging companions in shelters. If you plan to jog every day then you would even qualify for a higher energy dog even though you are in an apartment. But if you plan on only jogging 2 or 3 times a week and plan to only walk the dog the remaining days, I would go with a medium-energy dog.
The thing to remember is, it is not necessarily the breed you are looking for but the energy level of that particular dog. There are pups born within every litter that are higher energy than other pups within the same litter, dogs within the same breed that are higher energy than others. That is why some folks will, for example, get a Lab as a pet and think it is wonderful and when that dog passes away they get another Lab and find the next one to be a nightmare. Their first Lab was low energy and low dominancy and the second one is high and high. Sure a Pointer is going to always be higher than a Clumber Spaniel, but they will still vary from dog to dog within the same breed.
Breeds which are considered to be good jogging companions. (Note: There are many more than those on this list)
Can a dog be left alone in an apartment for 8 hours while we are at work without causing damage and barking too much?
If you are 100% the pack leader so your dog is secure when you leave him and you take him for a long walk that tires him out before you leave and another long walk when you get back, your chances are good that your dog will be fine. In nature dogs get up in the morning and walk to find food. So you if you simulate that by pack-walking your dog for a long time before you leave to tire him out and then feed him he will go into rest mode and should be OK until you return. It is important that you pack-walk him and not allow him to walk you. If you concentrate on exercise and leadership matching the needs of the dog, the dog should be fine. The higher energy the dog, the longer walk or even jog/run/bike ride the dog will need to go on. Placing a backpack on a higher energy dog helps to tire him out and give him a sense of a job to accomplish. A tired dog is a good dog. Dogs with pent up energy and that do not know their place in their pack generally are the dogs that act out. It is important that the dog heels on the lead so he sees you as his leader.
If your dog is restless when you leave and causes a commotion it means he has energy to burn and/or he is not secure with you being away from him. See Separation Anxiety in Dogs for more info.
Should I not get a dog if I cannot control my emotions, or is it okay for the dog to comfort me if 'I' call him to me?
It is OK for you to get a dog if you are getting the dog so YOU can care for THE DOG, and while you are caring for THE DOG, it will comfort you naturally, as taking care of something else gives one a sense of accomplishment and may make you stronger. However, it may not be OK if you get a dog for the sole purpose of THE DOG being there to comfort YOU when you have anxiety. The dog will instinctually see you as weak and will "claim" you as his own. When dogs are allowed to claim humans it is dominancy, and negative issues almost always arise. Read The Human Dog to find out more.
How do I earn trust with my newly rescued, skittish Min Pin?
" I adopted a 2 ½-yr-old female Min Pin a week ago. I am alone with her. She is still skittish. I will call her to come to me so I can take her out to go potty, and she hides under my throw pillows, or under the covers, and if I approach her she runs away from me. She continuously tries to throw herself out of my arms, or tries getting tangled up in her leash. I am afraid I am going to hurt her. To me she acts as if her previous owners just continued to beat her. What can I do to get her to trust me and cooperate? I am even afraid to scold her when she goes to the bathroom in my house on the carpet because of the way she acts so scared. Any suggestions on what I can do to enjoy her more? She does follow me all over the house and will lie next to me on my bed or couch. I know she loves me but I just can't win when it comes to redirecting her. "
You being afraid to hurt her and feeling sorry for her past life is most likely freaking her out. Please read The Human Dog to understand why. For now I recommend you stop trying to give her comfort and affection and instead give her gentle, calm, and firm leadership. Start taking her for pack walks so she can become comfortable with her pack order and release her mental energy as well as physical. Do not look at her like a fragile little dog. Be strong for her and allow her to pull from your strength as her leader. Recognize any signs of dominance and put a stop to it if need be (without yelling or hitting); a firm "no," sometimes with a touch to the neck, will do.
The poor dog sounds very insecure and the only way to make her secure is for her to see you as a strong, calm, and confident leader. One she can count on. Dogs do not need affection. They enjoy it, but it's not instinctual. What they do need is to be secure and know who to follow and who is boss. If you can convince her that you are that firm, trustworthy, confident leader that she can follow, she will come out of her shell. At that point you can give her all the affection you wish and she will most likely enjoy it.
What breed of dog is known not to bark (or at least not much) when left alone?
It has more to do with the owners than it does the breed of dog. If you fulfill the dog's instincts, the dog, no matter the breed, will be less likely to bark. I know there are some breeds that may have a tendency to bark more than others, but it really has more to do with the human behind the dog. A restless dog is more likely to bark more. A dog that is well-exercised, tired and secure is going to bark less.
My dog is restless when he sleeps. He whimpers, sometimes yelps and/or moves around. What could be causing him to do this?
You should have your dog checked by the vet. If there is nothing medically wrong with him then it may just be him having a bad dream. Dogs can have bad dreams when they have bottled-up mental and physical energy and frustration. Since dogs cannot speak to us and say, "I feel anxious inside" we humans often do not realize the way our dogs are feeling. Some questions to ask yourself:
- Does your dog get a daily pack walk to satisfy the migration instinct that all dogs have? The proper way to walk a dog.
- Does your dog feel he must take care of YOU rather than relaxing and letting YOU take care of him?
Read the following for more information on how to help your dog be more well-balanced:
How should I approach a dog I do not know? For example: you go for a visit and meet a dog that seems to be alpha in the house?
It is best not to approach the dog at all, but rather ignore him and allow him to approach you. Don't touch him, don't bend down with your hand extended, don't talk to him, and don't make eye contact. If the dog walks over and smells you it does not mean the dog wishes to be petted. Dogs get a lot of information about someone by smelling them, and just because a dog smells you does not mean he wants you in his space touching him. Remain confident and strong-minded. If you are nervous, anxious or scared, etc., the dog will read your emotions as weakness and will be more likely to react in a dominant manner. If the dog jumps on you, the dog needs to be corrected by you. A jumping dog is a dog that is stepping into your private space, which is disrespect in the dog world. How to stop a jumping dog.
Is there hope for my dominant rescue dog to get along with my other dogs? We have a rescued Akita who believes she is the alpha female. Her problem is with other dogs. She can't be near one without knocking it down and standing over and not letting them up. No blood yet, from either, just lots of noise. She is great around little people, adults and even cats. Just other dogs. Any chance of trying to socialize her now? Would really like to see her with our other dogs.
Yes, there his hope, but she has to see all humans as WAY above her so she respects you enough to listen when you disagree with her dominating another dog. Daily pack walks with the dogs she does not get along with, where all dogs are made to heel beside or behind the person holding the lead, will greatly help the situation. After reading the How to properly walk a dog page, scroll down to the other articles at the bottom. They should all provide insight on how to communicate with her that you are above her and do not approve of her domination towards any other being. There is hope for her for sure, however all humans in the family need to show her they are boss over her and make her respect them enough to listen when you tell her you do not approve.
What is the key to getting my dog to stop fighting with other dogs?
The key to getting a dog to stop fighting with other dogs is proper communication. The dogs need to see the humans as 100% pack leader and the communication needs to be that the humans do not approve of them fighting with other dogs. I have a Boxer that used to attack other dogs. She did this for years. When she was about 6 years old I started watching the Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan and from there started studying more natural dog behavior. I learned how to communicate with her in a way that she could understand. I told her that I was her leader and I did not wish for her to fight. It took a while for me to learn her body language, but when I did I was able to read her and correct her at the right moments. It's been years and she no longer goes after other dogs. Once in a while I see the look in her eyes and I simply have to give a verbal command at the right moment and she responds. The key is to learn how to read the dog, how to correct at the right moments and how to communicate with them in dog language that you are pack leader over them 100%. Tell them that fighting is against the rules. When they are convinced and so long as they are getting enough mental and physical stimulation to keep them from having bottled-up frustration, they will change and no longer pick fights. The humans need to be confident and strong-minded in order to convince the dog.
What would cause my dog to get into a fight with another dog when he's never done that before? I took my dog over to a friend's to play with her dogs like I have done many times. We never had any problems in the past. My friend’s dog had a deer leg and my dog wanted it and attacked the other dog. The other dogs that were also there joined in! Why would they do this when in the past they were always fine? They were all socialized from an early age, have been with other dogs before and have been treated with tons of love and affection. Have our dogs turned bad?
Dogs live in the moment and at that moment the other dog had a bone and it became a dominance struggle as to which one was actually going to get the bone. Once a fight starts between dogs it is very hard to break it up because the levels of excitement are extremely high. The deer leg should have been taken away well before all of the dogs got together. If any of those dogs believed they were alpha it makes things that much worse. This is preventable by you yourself becoming 100% pack leader over your own dogs then learning the signs and stopping it from happening right BEFORE it happens—right when you see the first "look" from one of the dogs, and before the dog reacts, you give a correction to the offending dog. You need to learn what your dog’s body language means. My own dogs, as good as they are, got into a fight over a dead animal once. They both wanted it and I missed my sign that a fight was going to break out. My fault for not seeing it coming.
Because the dogs got into a fight over a bone does not mean they are "bad" or "dangerous" dogs. The humans around them need to learn how to read the dogs, how to be 100% leader and know the signs that something might happen. (For example, taking that bone away.) Dogs need leadership before they need love and affection. I suggest you start pack-walking all the dogs at one time to reinforce humans are alpha over them. All dogs must be heeling on the walks. At the bottom of that page there are many links to other helpful articles. Watching the Dog Whisperer will also help.
My puppy is scared to walk out the door. What should we do?
A few days ago we got a Boxer pup. He is now 11 weeks old and is a nice and humble fellow. One thing that worries us a bit: when we take him on walks, he seems to be terrified of the outdoors. He sits at the open door and just stares outside. We literally have to pick him up and carry him outdoors. Once outdoors, he acts like nothing happened, exploring and walking around just fine. How should we handle this?
Your little fella just needs time. He is unsure and you cannot rush insecurity. Try coaxing him out using treats (positive reinforcement). Picking him up and taking him out the door will not get him over his fear; he needs to take the steps on his own. Be careful not to give any affection when he is scared or unsure, as it will increase his worry. He is looking to you to be strong for him, something to feed from, a strong leader. You need to be that leader for him and he needs to sense things are OK, that you have the strength to keep him safe. To communicate that to him you need to be confident and strong. He will feel it. This article should help explain how he thinks so you can help him: The Human Dog.
How do I get my rescue dog to trust me? She was found homeless and we were able to catch her using a tranquilizer. She has never growled, just runs away and won't let me pet her. She is currently in my fenced backyard. My other dogs really like her, however, and they get along great. She just will not let us humans approach her.
She sounds insecure and not sure what to think of the humans. One rule of natural dog behavior is you cannot rush and force yourself upon insecure dogs. You are going to have to take it slow and not approach her head-on until she learns to trust you. Here is something you can do: Sit down in your backyard where the dog is. Place a bowl of tasty food a few feet from where you are sitting and read a book (or something). Do not make eye contact with the dog and don't talk to her. Just sit there quietly. Let her get used to you simply being there. Each feeding, move the bowl a little closer to where you are sitting. You can also sit down and toss something like tasty bacon her way. Remember, don't look directly at or talk to her. Just sit calmly and quietly.
You can also do it without the food too. Go outside in your yard and sit down not facing the dog. Don't look at her. If she comes over to smell you, ignore her. Let her smell you and let her walk away. She will become more and more used to you being there.
The non-threatening way to approach a dog is to stand sideways not making eye contact. Keep that in mind. Do not approach her head-on, looking into her eyes, because she'll see it as a threatening gesture.
Eventually she will become used to you being there. When you think you can do it without her bolting, slip a looped leash over her neck and take her for a very long pack walk with her heeling beside you. Bring your other dogs for some pack support for her. She may resist the leash and start tossing herself around. Let her get it out of her system. It will take time but when she is drained and tired of resisting she will start walking. You will need to be calm and assertive during this. Dogs will not follow nervous, anxious, upset, angry, unsure or scared people. She will know how you are feeling. Hire a professional to assist you if you are unsure.
She is going to need time and a strong pack leader. If you have not already, tune into the Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan. He specializes in cases such as yours and he is very good at what he does. He communicates to the dog in dog language so the dog understands what he wants.
There are some good articles on this page that can help you understand how dogs think: Behavior Articles.
What are the signs of a happy, stable-minded, submissive dog? I walk my dog daily and am the pack leader. My dog is so calm I sometimes think he looks depressed.
The sign of a happy, stable-minded, submissive dog is a dog that is not overly excited and that holds his tail low and is calm. It is not normal, nor is it healthy, for a dog to be so extremely excited that his tail is wagging a mile a minute and he cannot stand still. A dog that excited is anxiety ridden with excess energy. Your dog is not sad or depressed. Dogs are not like humans. They think differently because they are different. A wagging tail is not necessarily a sign of happiness. Dogs that are upset and stressed will also wag their tails. The dogs you see jumping around like crazy, running and unable to stand still are dogs that are not stable. Do not mistake this behavior as being sad or depressed and feel bad for him, or you will confuse your dog by giving off weak energy.
Read more about the Submissive Dog.
Why has my housebroken, full-grown dog started peeing in my bed?
Assuming you have ruled out any health issues such as incontinence, this behavior would indicate that your dog is letting you know he is alpha in your pack. He is above you in the order and is marking on "his" bed. I would start looking into human-to-dog leadership and the amount and type of exercise he receives.
If one really understands dogs and how to communicate leadership to them one can get away with having a dog sleep on their bed with them. However, in most cases, I personally do not believe dogs belong on beds because in the dog world the leader sleeps in the most comfortable spot in the house. By letting a dog sleep on your bed most people unknowingly are allowing them to take the bed over. A follower would NEVER dream of purposely peeing in the place where the leader sleeps. Never...it just would not happen. If a dog is going to be on a human's bed it needs to be invited up onto the bed by the human and not jump up at its own free will.
Why does my dog get mad and destroy things when I leave the house?
Sounds like a case of separation anxiety. Your dog is not getting mad when you leave. He is stressed either from a lack of exercise, a lack of leadership, or both. Followers are not allowed to leave the leaders and he did not give you permission to leave. Dominant behaviors always get worse over time if nothing is done to communicate to the dog that he is not the leader or he does not have an outlet to release his built-up energy. Read more about separation anxiety.
I was told by a behavior specialist not to play tug-of-war with my dog. Why?
Tug-of-war is not a recommended game for dogs because it is a dominance game. If your dog should win you just reinforced in your dog’s mind that he is in the leader position. It puts him in a dominance struggle state of mind. You want to get him out of thinking about being the leader, not play dominance games with him. When he is pulling he is fighting for the leader spot, while for you it is just a game. Sure, if you win, then you win, but if you accidentally let go then he wins and winning to him means something different than winning to you. Another important factor when playing with a dog is that you should only play with him when YOU bring HIM the toy; you TELL HIM when and where. You should be the one to end the game, not him. So if you see him getting tired then you must end the game before he does. Otherwise you let him make the decision and in the canine world the leaders make all the decisions.
I live with someone who is not pack leader to his two current dogs. Is it possible for me to get my own dog and raise him to be balanced even though the other two dogs in the home are not?
Since they're his dogs I don't want to interfere with his methods, although I consider them wrong. My problem is that I want to get a dog of my own, but to show him that I'm the pack leader. I'm worried that it would be too confusing for my (the youngest) dog if older dogs are allowed on the couch/bed and he isn't, older dogs can pull the leash while on the walk, while he needs to walk beside or behind me, other two can go through the door and get attention first while he needs to wait to go through or get petted.
In order for a dog to totally respect and obey humans, the humans around her need to be consistent. If you bring a dog into a home where one person does not display leadership you are not going to accomplish that leadership with the third dog. Especially if there are two other dogs in the home that are allowed to act in dominant or disrespectful manners. When humans and dogs live together they become one pack. If half the pack is not balanced the rest of the pack cannot be balanced.
What is the best way to introduce one dog to another?
The best way to introduce one dog to another is to pack-walk both dogs. Meaning, both dogs are walking together and heeling on the lead. This sends a signal to the dogs that they are not in charge; the humans are in charge and they are to follow the humans. I realize you cannot pack-walk your dog with all dogs you come into contact with, but consistently pack-walking your own dog will communicate to your dog that he is following you and looking to you for commands rather than the other way around. You should be going through all doorways and gateways before your dog as well, especially at the vet, and the dog should be heeling beside you while you walk him over to your seat. As soon as your dog begins to see you as someone to follow, he will respond to your corrections much quicker when you tell him to leave the other dog alone by giving him a tug on his lead and/or a verbal command.
If I am 100% pack leader will my dog still act as a guard dog if it is ever necessary? How do I balance this to keep the dog as a guard dog? I wouldn't want a person to get a free pass that broke in to my home.
You can never take the guard out of a guard dog. no matter how submissive that dog is. If there is a threat all members of the pack defend. Also, since dogs can read the moods of other beings the dog will know if someone has bad intentions. A dog will not ignore that if they think you are in danger. The other point is, if you know for a fact that your dog is perfectly balanced and he starts acting out of the ordinary, that is, when you will know for sure that he senses something that is not quite right. As submissive as my Boxer Bruno is, he still will bark at the door if he sees someone coming down the driveway. I could possibly teach him not to bark, but I can never take the guard out of him because it is an instinct.
I just rescued a dog. How much affection should I give and how much should I play with it?
If you have adopted an adult rescue dog it is recommended that you refrain from lots of play and affection until the dog gets to know you and understands her place in the pack. After you have had the dog for a day or more and you see the dog is well-adjusted and understands the order, during the times the dog is acting calm and submissive you can love on her all you want. You can also play with her all you want when she is submissive. It is just important that you as the human are the one who starts and ends the play. The more the dog is submissive, the more you can play with and love on her.
I am not a very active person. Can I still get a high-energy breed if I choose a puppy that is not as active as the other littermates?
When choosing a dog, picking a dog with an energy level that matches or is lower than your own is one of the most important factors to consider. If you choose a dog that is more active than yourself or your family, you will always struggle to provide what the dog needs to keep it stable-minded. If you do not consider yourself an energetic person it is not wise to get a breed that is considered high-energy. In a high-energy breed even the lower energy puppies within a litter will be energetic, just a little less, but still high.
Think of it this way, hypothetically. Let’s assume you have the energy level of the average person. Now think of a number scale from one to ten.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
We will call the average person’s energy a 6 on the scale.
A low-energy dog can range from 1 to 3 on the scale.
A medium-energy dog can range from 4 to 7 on the scale.
A high-energy dog can range from 8 to 10 on the energy scale.
Therefore, if you choose a high-energy breed that is one of the less energetic in the litter, the dog may be an 8, however you will still be a 6.
Once I establish myself as pack leader with my dog does this position stick for life, or is it something I have to maintain?
Showing a dog leadership is a lifetime commitment, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is not training, it's a lifestyle when living with a dog. You can lose your position at any time, at any age. A dog is constantly looking for the strongest being in the home to be leader. Instinct tells him that the packs life depends on it. In the wild when a pack leader gets old or sick another dog will take over as leader. This can happen at any time, at any age. The strongest beings are the leaders. That being said, if you have lost your leadership position or never had it in the first position, you can gain it back if you change your ways.
What is the difference between "training" and being a pack leader to achieve a healthy stability in a dog?
A dog can be trained to perfectly sit, stay, come, give its paw, dance, roll over and even more complicated tricks such as close the refrigerator and fetch the newspaper, yet still be unbalanced and dominant. When a dog learns a "trick" she often remembers it for life. Whereas, maintaining a healthy relationship with your dog where she is stable-minded, knows her place in the pack and is relaxed, happy and comfortable with life takes a certain type of lifestyle and commitment 24 hours a day / 7 days a week. Often, people will be having behavioral issues with their dog and hire a "trainer" when what they really need to be doing is hiring a "behaviorist." Training is teaching behaviors, the other is asking for a level of respect and satisfying the natural instincts of the animal within the dog. For more info, read Natural Dogmanship
I have more than one dog. Since it is not good to use a dog's name when correcting it how do I single out a specific dog?
The reason you do not want to use the dog’s name when correcting him is because it is not good to associate a dog’s name with anything negative. A name should only be associated with positive things. When communicating with a specific dog you want to use body language towards the dog you are correcting. Think of yourself standing around a bunch of humans. There are ways to let a person know that you are referring to them without saying their name; the same holds true for dogs. Some of these ways include making eye contact, walking towards them, leaning towards them or pointing at them. Another method that some like to use is to give each dog a second name or pick a sound that you only use when that particular dog is being corrected. The name or sound should not sound like their real names yet they should associate it with themselves. Other humans and yourself should not use their “correction names” when you are calling them to come to you, asking them to perform a behavior, etc.
My dog is skittish and afraid of a lot of things. What is the best way for me to help him overcome his fears?
The best thing you can do to help a dog overcome its fears is to teach it to pack-walk. Walk him every day and ask him to heel and respect those around him. Showing a dog leadership will help him feel secure. Dogs really want to know what to expect, who is in charge and what the rules are. Giving a dog that type of structure is the best way to help him overcome a lot of unnatural issues. Do not feel sorry for the dog or he will sense your feelings and it will make him unsure. The humans around the dog need to be strong-minded so the dog can relax and not worry about who is going to lead. Learn how to speak dog so your dog understands you and you understand your dog.
Can a dog be in front when doing something such as rollerblading, pulling a sled or cart and still consider the handler the pack leader?
Yes, if you present it as a job, a dog can learn that tasks such as cart- and sled-pulling and even rollerblading means it is time to work. There are no happier dogs than those that are given jobs. Most breeds were originally bred as working dogs and they still love having a task to this day. When rollerblading, it is best if the handler can get the dog to run beside them. During specific times the handler can allow the dog to pull them, for example, up a hill. However the handler must be able to get the dog to fall back beside them on command. It is important that the handler is in complete control. The human needs to show the dog leadership before, during, and after the signal is given to pull, showing an air of authority. The dog will see it as a job. When they are finished the task the dog needs to go right back into the heeling mode and the handler should enter any yards and or gates before them.
Is forcing your dog to walk beside you still establishing that you are the leader if the dog is pulling but you are able to keep the dog next to you?
No, it's not the same thing to physically have to hold the dog next to you. The dog has to be willing to heel on his own because he is following you, not because you are strong enough to hold him back.
Is it possible to be too alpha/dominant over your dog?
Yes, if your intensity is too far over your dog’s, it can be overkill and have adverse effects on their temperament. A person's intensity should be equal to or a tiny bit over the dog’s. A handler needs to remain calm and confident in an assertive way. One should never deal with a dog out of anger.
How far do I have to go to let my dog know I greet strangers and other people first? Do I have to hug the person? Or just talking to them before she is petted? What about people I already know? How does that all work?
No need to hug or even speak words. Your dog knows you have acknowledged the other person even without words. A dog’s primary language is body language and your dog is reading you all day long. Your dog can not only see, hear and smell you; it can also feel you without body contact. Dogs’ senses are much stronger than humans’ in a lot of ways. No extra effort on your part is needed to let the dog know you see the person. As long as you do see, your dog knows. If the dog is not obnoxiously pulling, jumping, charging at, or nosing in front of you to get to the person, etc., you are all good.
Some claim there is no such thing as an alpah dog. Is this true?
No it is not true. There are indeed alpha dogs. Part of the reason for the pet overpopulation problem is the belief that there is no alpha. If there are no alpha dogs then how does one explain all of the dogs that turn to biting? They are not bad dogs. With the right owner I do not think there are any bad dogs. The people who understand natural dog behavior and the way they think, including the natural alpha instinct of the dog, are the ones who can rehabilitate dogs that have turned aggressive. The others put these dogs to sleep or give them away. If there are no alphas then that means there are a lot of plain old bad dogs out there and I do not believe that is the case. What we do have are a lot of misunderstood dogs.
Does taking a dog for walks in your neighborhood increase the likelihood that it will want to roam on its own? Their is a debate in our family. One person says that if you take your dog around the neighborhood, it will learn about the other animals and smells, and be more likely to leave home in search of those things. Or do the benefits of walking outweigh that chance?
Your dog already knows there are things outside its den (your home). It can hear, smell and sense things beyond your property. The argument can go both ways, if you never show it what is out there it may decide to go see it for itself. The bottom line is that dogs have an instinct to migrate (go for walks) and it is cruel to bring an animal into your home and not give it what it instinctually needs as that animal. In a dog's case, a walk. Dogs who do not get walked are more likely to run off because they have pent up energy and racing anxious minds.
Does teaching a dog to ring a bell to go outside affect a person's dominance over the dog?
I have a question regarding dog training vs. being dominant over your dog. Some people train their dogs to ring a bell when they want to go outside to use the restroom. If you train your dog to do that, does that affect dominance at all? I mean, since the human is letting the dog call the shots and not vice versa.
I think people get confused over the use of the phrase “being dominant over a dog.” What an owner needs to do is be a strong leader and ask for a level of respect, not dominate their dogs in every aspect of their lives. If a dog has to pee, the dog needs to tell you because you can't possibly feel the sensation of having to pee in the dog's bladder. So, to answer your question, yes, you can teach a dog to ring a bell if it has to pee. The part that matters is the HOW. Did the dog ask to go out respectfully? Ringing a bell is a good way to ask as opposed to barking in your face. It also matters how you let the dog out the door. When you open the door, ask the dog to give you a decent amount of space and have the dog walk out the door when you say it is OK to go. You do not want a dog bolting out open doors or pushing you out of the way when you reach to open the door. Being a leader is asking the dog to respectfully wait a few steps back while you reach for the door knob, open the door, check the immediate surroundings and give a command to go ahead outside. What you do not want is a dog that pushes in front of you while you are trying to open the door and runs as soon as the opening is wide enough to get out. It is all about leadership and respect, not domination.
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