Are You The Alpha On The Leash ?
Cant seem to grasp control of your four-legged friend when the leash is involved? Whether you just adopted a young pup or an adult dog, you’re going to find your self walking your furry friend without realizing that you may be submitting to your pets by letting them control the leash. Scientists have been studying dog behavior for over a century and we’ve discovered that dogs view the world through a predator mindset. If you don’t assert yourself as the pack leader this can cause problems, as a dominant dog will gravitate toward being in charge given the chance. Like humans, dogs need to understand boundaries in order to view the owner as the alpha and coexist with love and respect.
Teaching dogs how to properly walk on the leash will in fact be one of the most difficult challenges owners face. Yes, they may know how to sit or stay in a controlled environment but how does one cope in the real world? Will distractions such as cars and other wild life will truly test your alpha status? Why do dogs pull ? What does this all mean ? How can I establish my self as the alpha?
In this blog we will discuss how to transition from being pulled by your dog to establishing your self as the alpha pack leader.
Why do dogs pull?
Dogs pull for a variety of reasons such as excitement, arousal and dominance. One of the main problems new dog owners face is they may adopt a young puppy in hopes of that it grows up to be an obedient dog. In reality, when a puppy takes control of the walk and we tolerate the act, to the dog it means pulling is okay behavior. It maybe food on the ground, a squirrel in the distance, or part of the neighborhood that they want to explore. If you refuse to corrector an unwanted behavior, dogs see this as an invitation because the alpha (You) seems not to care. Remember, you are the animals main source of survival and if you don’t correct a behavior the minute it happens, the problem will become increasingly difficult to reverse.
Who’s walking who?
Most dog will pull due to an incident on the street like another dog barking but what most owners never seem to understand is that if your dog pulls during every step, you are being dominated. Dogs have an obligation to serve us in order to survive just like we work for a paycheck to pay bills. When’s the last time you approached the boss off the clock and expressed how you truly feel about their practices. Dogs will respect their owners in the home where food and shelter are provided but the minute one steps out in the real world, its anyone’s game. Lets go over a few signs of dominant behavior.
- Alpha First – Even if your pet is a lady, it’s alpha first through the door! Establish yourself as the pack leader by taking control of the leash the minute it goes on. Never let your pet walk you through doors because in the eyes of the animal you are now the follower in the current environment.
- Pulling Straight Ahead – We’ve all seen a large dog taking the owner for a walk. If your pet is marching straight with constant tension on the leash, you are no longer the pack leader. Who’s walking who? No matter how much you pull or how much you protest, that furry four- legged friend will march like a soldier.
- Not Listening – Your pet might know how to sit or lay down in a controlled environment but only a true alpha will can translate that in the real world. This can be an extremely dangerous scenario where you tell your pet to sit at a street corner yet they keep marching ahead. Dogs do not understand the concept of red and green lights and in rare occasions will dart forward when the owner is distracted. Avoid a fatal accident and stablish your alpha status.
How do I take control ?
There is no single exercise that will establish you as the pack leader. Just like getting in shape or anything else in life, becoming the alpha and creating new habits is a daily grind. Mastering the art of walking your dog on the leash will require patience and discipline. Although it may seem difficult at first, with time you will be in full control with the dog glued to your side. Lets go over a few pointers on how to maximize your daily routine:
- In our recent blog “Are You The Alpha When Feeding Your Pet?” we explain that one of the most overlooked alpha moments that we have with our furry friends is feeding time. Dogs see humans as their main source of survival. Take control of the food supply and establish regularly-scheduled feeding times along with a command for permission to eat the food when it’s placed on the ground. Check out “Are You The Alpha When Feeding Your Pet?” for a step by step guide on feeding your pet like a true alpha.
- As stated earlier,walk out the door ahead of your dog when leaving the house. This may seem like a simple gimmick but you should take charge of the outside environment by having the dog sit as you pass through the door and ensure they remain seated awaiting your permission to follow. Excessive ? Absolutely not! Establish your self as a leader by letting your pet know that the rules are the rules, no matter where you go. Follow this exercise when entering the home as well.
- Never let the dog pull you down the street. Equip your pockets with delicious treats and reduce the size of the leash by wrapping it around your hand. Begin the walk and the minute your dog begins to pull and create tension on the leash STOP! Have the dog sit and wait. You’ll realize just how inpatient some dogs may be. Once he or she calms down and remains seated continue the walk. ALWAYS! reward good behavior! When the dog walks by your side say YES! or GOOD DOG! followed by a treat. Make sure that you make the first steps and have the dog sit at every crosswalk.
- Provide your dog with plenty of exercise and mental stimulation that can range from learning new tricks to playing games. Click HERE to check out some toys that will keep your pet busy for hours.
- Enlist your whole family to follow the steps above. If other members of the pack let the animal pull at will, you might find your self drowning in frustration with no results.
Please remember that this may take weeks or months to master. My German shepherd had developed such a bad habit that in the first few days it took us 30 minutes just to circle the block. Always use positive reinforcement and shy away from physical punishment as it may lead to aggression problems in the future. While frustrating at first, these steps get easier with time and are worth the investment.
One of the first things you should do to create a strong bond and balanced relationship with your new dog is to be the Pack Leader from day one. Most see leash pulling as an annoyance that some dogs are simply born with. Enjoy those long walks by establishing yourself as the pack leader and introducing boundaries. By developing a daily routine, over time with discipline and positive reinforcement you can transform any dog to behave the way you want. Dogs see the world through a different perspective and at times have no clue they are driving us mad. Quit getting dragged around out there and take control !
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