Dog Psychology - Part Two


Be a Calm & Assertive Leader

It has been quite a long time since I last updated my training and dog psychology pages. It had been a very busy time for us due to our relocation to Taiwan and my constant business trips.

I am so happy to know how Dino has touched the hearts of all those who have watched him grow up, watched his videos, visited his website and joined him on his many adventures. It is also a pleasure to learn that there are many people who are learning from my training methods and wrote to me to know more.

This encouraged me to continue to write to thank all the people who have been following Dino faithfully on his golden journey. I would also like to thank my wife, Julia for her good job in updating Dino's website and replying to all his fans around the world.

Here is Part Two of my Dog Psychology page.

How to be a calm and assertive leader

We have talked about the importance of the "Exercise, Discipline and then, Affection" formula in Part One of our last dog psychology section. We also spoke about being the leader of our dog, but how are we going to do that? Here, I would like to share with you some ways which you can practice at home.

Sofa - You should not allow your dog to be on the sofa or bed. In the wild, the followers are never in the same sleeping area as the leader. If there is a cave, it will be the resting place solely for the leader. The followers can only go in when summoned. If your dog goes onto the sofa or bed himself, you should tell him to get off. If he refuses, grab him by the collar and pull him off the sofa. This will send him the message that you are serious. If he persists, you should be firm and stop him from coming on by pushing him off. You should not rant at him but be calm and assertive. Ranting will only tell him that the leader is not calm and assertive. Ranting and shouting symbolize instability. They do not follow an unstable leader.

Meals - Help your dog learn patience when you are preparing his food. Many dogs will go crazy when they see their owners preparing their food. You should not be feeding him if he is too hyper. He should be in a calm state during feeding time. Make him "sit and stay" before you give him his food. This will enhance your leadership role as he learns to depend on you for survival. On top of that, it is also part of his obedience training. If you have more than one dog, feed the dog that is showing calmness. This will help to teach the other dogs that they have to practice patience before they are given the food.

Walk - During walks, he should be walking by your side or slightly behind you. You, as the leader is the one walking in front, leading the pack. Mastering the walk is very important. He should be fully concentrating on you and the walk. He should not be pulling or sniffing around and doing whatever he pleases. Wolves, the ancestors of dogs are pack animals and they migrate from one place to another in search for food. The leader leads the pack in search of food, water, play, rest and fights off the enemies. Therefore, they share the same objective and work together to reach the same goal. Imagine if one of the pack sidetracks and do whatever he pleases like sniffing around, this will slow down the entire pack on reaching their objective. The leader will try to get him back on track and not let him to slow down everyone by using his alpha role status. The walk between you and your dog is the same as the pack in search of food and water. At the end of the walk, you give him water to cool him down. Walk is very important for establishing leadership. If he pulls you, give him a short and sharp pull and place him by your side. You can refer to "Dino, Heel" under the training page.

Play - As mentioned earlier, the leader of the pack will also decide when to play and when to end. You should be the one initiating play and also when to end. You should not allow your dog to dictate on both occasions. Sound strange? Do you recall times when your dog comes to you with a toy inviting you to play fetch? When you start to play with him, do you recall when he refuses to fetch? This is when he is bored and tired of the game. You should ignore your dog when he wants play. However if you want to play with him, you should make him do something for you before playing with him, like telling him to do a "sit". This is also sending him the message that he will have to please you before he gets his reward to play. He has to work for it. Remember the "action and reaction" I mentioned in the earlier dog psychology section? Also, remember to keep the play sessions short as dogs have short concentration spans. And always end each session with your dog wanting more and on a happy and positive note.

Being calm and assertive means that you have to be keeping your cool and not shouting and ranting. You should be sending positive energy to your dog that you are confident in leading him. We communicate through energy. This is how animals communicate with one another too! The alpha leader only needs to give a look to his followers and they will know what he wants. You have to keep a cool and rational mind. As explained above, irrationality does not make a good leader.

Your dog observes you through your body language. You should stand straight, chest up beaming with confidence. When giving corrections, you should be giving a short and fast command like "hey" and a stern look in his eyes. "Hey" is usually what I use to correct Dino. Sometimes, I will add a quick touch on his neck. This will help to knock him out of his fixation, craziness or when he is being naughty or stubborn.

On many occasions, humans understand dog psychology but fail to follow through. To follow through is an important process which sends the message to your dog that you are serious with what you want from him. Many training methods fail because the owners give up halfway. You have to let your dog know that he has to take you seriously and obey you. To train or rehabilitate a dog takes a lot of time and patience on your side. Do not give up easily.

Practice makes Perfect!

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Part Two of Dog Psychology
How to be a Calm & Assertive Leader
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