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  • Prevent Problem Behavior in Dogs: Establish Yourself as Pack Leader Immediately

    Tuesday, September 29th, 2015, 12:59 am
    The way you treat a newly adopted dog when you first bring the pup home from the shelter or rescue has the power to set you up for failure or success in the future.

    Here at The Connected Canine Dog Training Los Angeles and San Fernando Valley we are experts in preventing and identifying problem behavior in pups. We know there is a honeymoon period after bringing home a pup where people think they have adopted the best dog ever.

    While the dog may have the potential to be a perfectly behaved pooch, it’s likely that they were just holding back. When a dog is introduced to a new environment they need to assess the situation and figure out where they fit in.

    Many people tend to generally feel sorry for the dogs they adopt from a shelter or rescue because they assume (or know) the dog did not have a great life. The owners overcompensate by putting the dog at the top of the totem pole. They think the best way to make a dog happy is to give them lots of stuff, take the leash off, allow them every freedom, invite them into the bed for cuddles, and ask nothing of the dog.

    A couple of months go by and the dog may begin acting out- the plumber comes over and Max nips his ankle, or Trixie snaps when someone walks by as she’s eating- and the new owners are flabbergasted, they don’t understand why these behaviors surfaced out of nowhere.

    We know exactly what happened.

    The problem with feeling sorry for the dog is that we are humans and approach things from a human perspective. Say you have a friend (human) who has been through a traumatic experience- you welcome them into your home. “Come sit on the couch, help yourself to our snacks, here’s a comfortable bed all made up for you.” These are normal human reactions that will make other humans feel welcomed, comfortable and safe.

    We have news for you- your dog is not a person! They all have their own personalities and idiosyncrasies like us, but we are verbal creatures, we can explain things. Dogs are pack animals, they are looking for a leader.

    If the dog doesn’t sense someone is in charge (which you are certainly not if you give your dog every privilege you can think of from day one) then the dog feels that responsibility falls on its shoulders, whether or not it’s cut out for a leadership role. Anxious dogs won’t like this and more pushy pooches will take full advantage.

    So, how do you prevent your new dog from thinking it’s the leader of your pack?

    Establish structure and enforce restrictions to keep him from developing bad habits right from the get-go.

    • We tell people to put the leash on the dog and leave it on them, this way if he makes a mistake, there is an easy means by which to communicate with the dog.

      • A leash makes it much easier to lead the dog rather than chasing the dog around the house as you try to tell him what he did was wrong.

    • Don’t give your dog the run of the house.

      • We suggest you leave the leash on him at all times and even tether it to you. This ensures he’s following you around.

    • Teach your dog the place command and have him be in place when you’re making breakfast or when you’re getting dressed in the morning.

    These are tools that will allow dog owners to establish enforceable rules and restrictions from the very start, preventing problem behaviors from surfacing later on.

    We hope this helped you figure out how to teach the dog how they’re supposed to live in your house. We would love to walk you and your dog through these steps if you need some extra guidance- contact The Connected Canine Dog Training Los Angeles and San Fernando Valley at 818 538-8459.

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