How do I teach my new puppy that we are the 'pack leaders'?

December 30, 2012 by  
Filed under Puppy Training FAQ

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My family adopted an 8 week old American Bulldog recently and have been showering him with love and attention and even letting him sleep in my daughters bed with her. I have been doing research on puppy training and how to teach them that you are boss, and I have come up empty-handed. I would like to know if anyone out there knows how I should go about teaching my puppy that my daughter and I are boss? And does anyone know if letting him sleep in our beds is not a wise choice? Any information will be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

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14 Responses to “How do I teach my new puppy that we are the 'pack leaders'?”
  1. H.O.T. Dog says:

    Well, part of the pack order is found in the sleeping places.

    The dog should not start out on the daughters bed.. as it may take the HEAD position… Later on after alpha rolls are established in the pack then the dog may be invited to sleep with the Alpha but never above the head…

    Other things The Alpha does –
    walks in the door first
    never steps over or around the dog – dog should move out of the way for the Alpha
    never lets the dog *groom* him
    never initiates play… training yes – play no The difference is the toys- all toys belong to the Alpha and get put up after play/training.
    Never allows the dog to initiate petting.. like shoving head under hand or arm… Alpha will shove away then after a couple mins – call dog back and pet him *when you want to*

    That should get you started… with my puppies they sleep in my room crated so Alpha is established – I will usually keep a small puppy real close to my bed so i can put my fingers in the crate/kennel to console.

    Good Luck
    H.O.T. Dog
    Handler Owner Trainer of GSD’s
    Member U.S.A & A.W.D.F

  2. Wyandotte Hen says:

    You need to get into a puppy kindergarten class and follow up with obedience classes.

  3. KC_17 says:

    well as time passes by the dog will know, i had my dog 7 years ago and we taught her wat was right and wat was wrong. I never let my dog sleep in the bed because it peed once so i spanked it soflty and it never did it again.
    you have to yell at your dog htey will understand.

  4. theskyisthelimit02 says:

    my bro has a husky and an akita…. he thinks its wise to bite them on the ear… or hold them down to show them ur the pack leader… but every dog i’ve ever had, we just lvoed them and didnt give them training unless they were outta control… and so they just naturally know. they are smart and understand u… if u treach a dog to be bad, it will be… also abusing the dog will make it mean… love it unconditionally, and take it to man’s best friend.

  5. MinaTheDestroyer says:

    look him in the eyes more, make sure he doesn’t put his paws on you, that’s a dominance thing, when he is bad push his head down, but not too hard. Be forceful, but still loving.

    Also instead of giving him food treats when he is good, pat him on the head and tell him he is a good boy, though that is just for his weight and health.

  6. violetpug says:

    Never allow him to bite, even in play. You can put them on their back and keep them there untill they relax. And obedience training works wonders.

  7. Kathleen M says:

    Yep, puppy classes to start. I’ve always treated my dogs like my kids and it does lead to some problems, but I want my dogs to be part of my family. They do need rules and know their place, and that’s a fine line. Get him some training and you should be good. As for sleeping with your daughter, if it makes her and you happy, why not. Just remember, that he’ll be wanting to sleep with someone the rest of his life.

  8. Bambi says:

    Sometimes letting them sleep in the bed is a bad idea. I would only be concerned if he starts getting snappy or growling when you try to remove him from the bed. You don’t want him to think he has a "right" to sleep in the bed like people do.

    When you’re playing with your dog, place him on his back (during or after the game) and hold him down until he stops struggling. He might not struggle at all. Look him in his eyes close to his face until he turns his head away from you. When he’s not struggling or staring you down, he has submitted. Do this frequently to remind him you are in charge. You don’t need to be too rough with him- he’ll get the idea from being on his back and having to avoid your gaze.

    When you’re playing games like tug of war, make sure not to let him win every time. Stop the game sometimes to take the rope from him, just to show him you are in control. This kind of stuff sounds silly, but it’s based on how dogs communicate with each other, so it works. You have to speak his language.

  9. Harrlock says:

    First off one person will be the Alpha dog (boss). If the dog is male he will do his best to be that alpha dog. These attempts will be standing over you, or your daughter. Growling when you touch his food, toys, or kick him off the bed. Any of these displays must be met with immediate correction. That correction should come in the form of putting him on the ground with both voice commands and a push. While he is on the ground look him directly in the eye. He has submitted when he looks away. Nothing in this correction needs to be painful. The correction that he will understand is that you are in charge because you are looking down on him. Start this when he is young and it will be easier. Expect many challenges to this in his teen years. 1-3 Good luck..

    PS My dogs have always slept with my kids. I never had a issue with training because of it.

  10. Sandy says:

    Well the book Cesar’s Way by Cesar Milan is a great book to start with, I have read it cover to cover and I found it a very informative and yet interesting book I would seriously recommend it to anyone!!. Also his website is great to browse around on http://www.dogpsychologycenter.com/index.php … Obiedence Courses are great for teaching him heel, sit, lay, come but has nothing to do mentally with the dog. A few things I can say is that "Nothing in life is free" meaning in order to be fed he should walk atleast a little bit first and sit and wait. He should have to do something before he gets anything. Also you should never let him walk through the door first, get in the car first, or anything like that, you must lead! He should walk behind you or beside you during walks not pulling, or infront, Sleeping with the dog is kindof bad because it makes him a equal rather than you being the leader, but if he must then he should never get on the bed untill he has been invited same thing with your lap, couch, ect. Also don’t allow him to beg for food or try to jump at what you are eating….the pack never bothers the pack leader for his food they sit and wait. Never allow him to jump on you that is showing domanace and never allow him to hump you, your leg, or any personal items of yours like shoes, or anything that is full of your sent, His toys and whatever are different but this is only a few things you really should get that book!!

  11. Dennis says:

    You have to be firm with a dog and show it you are the boss. When he acts up yell at him. Also keep control of his food and water so he knows who is running the show. When you’re daughter gives him a command don’t undermine her authority and tell it to do the exact opposite or the dog will think he can take liberties and only obey whichever commands he feels like.

    When he gets up on the bed or any furniture push him off and tell him "no!". You have to set boundaries with the dog. Otherwise he will see you as on his level or beneath him and think he can do whatever he wants. You also don’t want him dirtying the bed or messing up the furniture and letting dogs on beds and couches spreads fleas.

  12. maggie says:

    One of the best ways for a dog to understand that you are the leader is to totally ignore the dog when you come home from being out, don’t run over to your puppy when he flips out and is all excited to see you. This shows the dog that you are in control and do things when you want to, not when your pup tells you to! Also I would try not to let your pup sleep in your bed, because when he gets a little older he might go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, and since you are sleeping, there is really no way of showing or telling him that he was a "bad boy". i would try to let him sleep in a crate during the night. (This is kind of like crate training your dog)you could try next to your bed but he might cry and you will never be able to sleep! I also suggest to watch the Dog Whisperer with Caesar Milan on the Discovery Channel! He is excellent with training dogs! Good luck!

  13. T.O. says:

    well first off don’t let u dog put there paws on you or jump on u…that is getting there message across that they are leader..another is when u walk your dog..keep your head up..show posture…and sometimes u may need to do a dominance ritual..this is done by forcing ur dog on its side till it calms down…one more thing ..energy…when u are calm and relaxed so is your dog

  14. Mario says:

    I’m currently going through this exact same issue with my puppy. In fact, we just started training classes with a professional last week.

    One thing the trainer told us is that there are four important ways for a dog to tell if he’s the alpha or not. The four most important factors in training a young dog are:

    1. Food
    2. Size
    3. Sleeping Accomodations
    4. Possessions

    For starters, food is a biggie. Where the dog eats, and when he eats, and WHAT he eats, go a long way in telling him where he stands in the overall pack. For this reason your dog should never eat at the same time as you. Heck, he should never even eat in the same PLACE as you. The thing that a young dog must learn about food is that it is not HIS food. It is YOUR food, since you are the alpha. It is your food, and if he’s good and obeys the rules, you will share some of it with him. That’s the lesson he needs to learn. Because if he doesn’t, if he starts to think of food he gets as "his" food, somewhere down the road he could start to turn food-aggressive.

    What we do in our family is make our dog watch the humans eat at the dinner table. I make him sit there and watch us, and if he whines or begs, we just ignore him.

    Only after we are done does the dog get to eat. It’s only after the humans are done that I take him outside, pour some food in his bowl, and make him sit. And then I "pretend" to eat some of his food just to show I can take it if I want.

    It’s methods like this that train your dog into knowing he is at the bottom of the pack in your family structure. And you do the exact same things with possessions. All doggie toys in the house aren’t his. They are YOURS. And the only reason he gets to play with them is if you somehow grant him the divine right.

    Remember, you aren’t just the trainer with a young puppy. You are God. You control every single aspect of his life, and can give or take away treats any time you want. Once you get your dog to start thinking of you as a benevolent and fair-minded god, he’ll be fine.

    By the way, when I said "size" was important, that just means that dogs will listen to you more easily when you tower above them. Never squat down to their level when you give them commands. Never let them jump on you just to get up closer to your face. Remind them every minute of the day that YOU are the big one and he is the small one. You are far and away his superior. And the only reason you’ll deal with him or even acknowledge him is if he respects that.

    P.S. Dogs CAN sleep with you if you want, but only after you’ve established they’re at the bottom of the pack.

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