Should I be the Alpha dog by using brute force?
Absolutely not!! The most powerful pack leaders are the ones that say and do the least. The way to gain control over your dog is to use calm relaxed quiet energy. Less is more. Besides, people who think they should “alpha role” their dog usually wind up getting bitten or scratched, or worse hurt their dog physically. There are much better ways to be your dog’s “Alpha” leader. Respect is what is lacking here. You can gain your dog’s respect by using calm, relaxed energy instead of brute force.
Why is my dog showing aggression toward people or other dogs?
I get this one a lot. The other day I went to visit a client who told me that her dog was being aggressive toward her neighbor’s dog every time they are on a walk. We leashed up and went outside, my client holding the leash. As we passed by the neighbor’s dog, sure enough Jewels went wild, pulling, lunging, and barking. I asked the neighbor to be still with her 3 dogs and I took the leash and began walking Jewels in the other direction. As we walked I guided her to walk by my side with some slight leash corrections and a few “good girls”. After 5 or 10 minutes of this I walked past the neighbor once more only this time Jewels just glanced over at them and continued walking next to me and in fact kept looking up at me as we passed by. Once again I said “good girl.” The difference was simple. My client’s energy was all wrong. She was very nervous and anxious about passing by the dogs, therefore, that “bad” energy was passed on to Jewels. A dog can feel what you feel. Fear, anxiety, nervousness are all weak energy in the dog world. A dog will react poorly if exposed to it.
We adopted this dog 6 months ago and she was great for the first 5. The past month she's become stubborn and willful and has developed several bad behaviors. What happened???
First off let me say thank you for adopting. The shelters have thousands of great dogs looking for a good home. This is also a problem I run into quite often. When people bring home a shelter dog, they usually assume the worst has happened: She was beaten, mistreated, may have been kicked, left outside for days without food, neglected, etc, etc. One or all of these may in fact be true, or just as likely they could be false and a previous owner just couldn’t take care of the dog anymore. It’s human nature to nurture. It’s also human nature to be compassionate. The new proud owners feel sorry for the dog so they start off with lots of love and affection the first minute they bring her home, followed by more love and affection. Hugs, kisses, more hugs, more kisses, let her sit on your lap constantly, feed her whenever she “looks” hungry, allow her free run of the house (since she was cooped up in that nasty 3′ by 3′ kennel for so long), and on and on. Unfortunately for the dog, this is not what she really needs. Doing all those things makes YOU feel better, makes YOU very happy. YOU’RE satisfying YOUR need to nurture. So several months go by and now the dog feels MUCH more comfortable in her new digs and starts feeling like she can do anything she wants. After all, MY humans love me. They wouldn’t DARE say no to me or tell me I can’t do something. I run this place they don’t. It’s a very logical conclusion. Fortunately for me, this usually spurs a phone call and keeps me employed. I’m not saying you can’t love on your dog, or give them lots of affection. It just can’t be ALL you do. Teach your dog that there are rules in your house that even she has to live by. A calm, firm, loving leader will create a well – balanced, happy, canine family member. Good Luck!