This article is not a step by step guide to house training. This is a practical, natural approach to introducing a dog into your home the right way to maintain your rank. Many people have delusions of grandeur when bringing home a new puppy. They think it will be all hugs and kisses and the dog will magically respond to all of our human thoughts and wishes as if their mother warned them that they would need to start thinking like a human and immediately understand our complex nature. Sadly, it doesn’t work that way and humans are experts at misinterpreting what our dogs are saying. It is a lot of work living with a puppy and I have seen many determined owners crack under the pressure. However, bringing home a new puppy is where it all begins and this is your golden opportunity to clearly establish rank for a fun and healthy life with your dog. This includes establishing our rank, their rank, what is acceptable behavior and what is not. A proper beginning can determine how submissive your dog is to you and your family. A proper beginning translates to the overall stability of your dog, plain and simple.
The first mistake owners make is giving too much affection without asking the puppy to earn it. In the canine world, earning does not always equate to a physical challenge, it can also mean a mental challenge. This is done by asking the puppy to patiently wait before rewarding them. This includes affection, food, toys, coming out of their kennel and being greeted by you or a guest. If done properly, your dog will learn that the key to getting what he wants is to be patient and polite. If you give in to your dog’s assertive attempts to get what they want, you will be nurturing the very state of mind that gets dogs re-homed and euthanized. This being an excited, dominant state of mind. This is where your dog is under the assumption that he is the boss and his rules are to be obeyed. When they aren’t, it results in barking, jumping, whining, growling and biting. In other words, a temper tantrum. When you ask a dog to calmly wait, you are asking them to accomplish the same state of mind they give their leader when he is eating. Patience in the presence of the most valuable resource there is…food. When your dog can sit and wait patiently for anything they really love, that is total respect and a stable mental state. Teaching your dog self-control is a big deal. Start them off early practicing this concept with your family.
Secondly, it is imperative that you represent an authoritative presence before representing the cool aunt. Just like in the military on your first day of boot camp, you won’t get any warm greetings or pats on the back. If your drill sergeant walked over to you concerned about your emotional state, would you respect him? Would you respect his orders if he became your best buddy and playmate? Is that being a good leader? No. That is why for three months, your drill sergeant represents authority and nothing else. However, at the end of boot camp, you get a salute and a hand shake. Now you can be buddies because you are clear about your rank and his. You have earned respect. Feeling sorry for a dog or constantly giving free affection is a low energy and not how a leader behaves. Your dog knows what true leadership feels like and looks like. He will manipulate you to no end.
Most dog owners tell me they just want their dog to be happy. Providing leadership and discipline is the greatest gift you can give any dog. The irony is that by being an effective leader you are unlocking your dog’s natural submissive state. This state of mind earns him the praise and affection that he craves. There is no limit to the amount of hugs and kisses, or any kind of reward, you can give to a calm dog. This is not about withholding rewards, it’s about controlling them. Start strict but fair and your dog will respect you and your rules. You will have a happy, well-balanced dog that is clear about his rank, and yours.