Becoming a good pack leader does not require brute force, anger, or pain for your dog. Unfortunately, most people who adopt a dog from a shelter or rescue group are not properly equipped with the tools to create a leader/ follower relationship.

Almost every client I see, whether in their home or at my training center, don’t know what to do when they bring home a rescue dog. Most think that since the dog was in rescue or animal services, the best medicine for that dog is love, love, love, affection, affection, affection. After all, this poor dog has been neglected, abused, mistreated, etc. right? So, the human begins to coddle, nurture, spoil, baby, pamper, indulge, and so on. As humans, we are a nurturing species. We think that love, affection, coddling, etc. is what that dog needs for him or her to become a happy, healthy, balanced dog. This is not always the case. In fact, it’s exactly the opposite.

What your new family member really needs is a pack leader they can trust and respect to be in charge. After all, think about what the dog needs. Think about what is going on in the mind of the dog. He or she is most likely disoriented, confused, uncertain, apprehensive, and generally lost. What the dog needs is structure, limits and boundaries, discipline, stability, and rules.

Normally, I hear from clients that their rescue dog was great the first 3 to 4 weeks. No issues or problems to speak of. The reason is that the dog is checking out the surroundings and humans before he decides how to proceed. When he realizes, there is no true pack leader in the house, he becomes emboldened to take over the role himself. At that point, people don’t understand why behavior gets out of hand. The reason is because the humans are not communicating and they have given the dog no reason to believe the humans are in charge.

If the dog does not find the pack leader they’re looking for, or the structure, rules, boundaries, and limits they respect, you can be facing serious issues with that dog. Many times, an adaptor loses control of the dog shortly after getting him home and spends the following weeks or months in turmoil with a dog they believe is out of control. Many times, the result is a dog that is uncertain of what they are supposed to do in different situations around the house, so they start to make decisions which are not acceptable to the humans. Possible biting, nervousness, insecurity, leash pulling, lunging at people or dogs, fighting with other family dogs, or just retreating and hiding from simple daily routines.

By this time, I start getting calls requesting training and help with their troubled dog. The training I’m referring to is really for the humans. The dog will come along fine once the people are trained and have the tools they need to fix the bad behaviors that have become troublesome.

If you are having issues with your dog, and don’t know what to do next, call me and let’s chat. I will teach you dog psychology and communications 101 in just a couple of hours in your own home. Let me help you understand what it will take to create the healthy, stable, happy dog that everyone wants.