Dogs, like wolves, are pack animals. Get a few dogs together and you will see the pack instinct appear. The dogs will stay close to each other, and will do the same types of things at the same time. A hierarchy is formed, with some of the dogs being dominant, and some submissive. If you have more than one dog, or if you introduce a new dog to a group, you may well have problems while they sort out the new hierarchy, but once it is sorted, life will settle down.
For dog owners it is important that the human family becomes the dog’s pack. It is essential that the owner is the dominant force, and that the dog is submissive. If this is not the case, the dog will give problems. A dog is content to live in a family and be submissive, because pack living is in its nature.
There are a number of ways in which a dog’s pack instinct is relevant to dog training. For example, here are a few ways in which you can ensure you remain pack leader :
? Don’t let your dog sleep on your bed – in the wild only submissive dogs offer to share their sleeping quarters.
? Don’t feed your dog scraps from the table – again in the wild this is the equivalent of what the submissive dogs do.
? Always eat first, and feed your dog afterwards.
? Don’t let your dog sit on the furniture or on your lap – in your dog’s eyes height equals dominance.
? Always make your dog give way to you in a doorway, don’t step over it, make it move.
Dog’s Instinct of Aggression
There are different types of aggression. Aggression towards strangers and aggression towards family members are the most common.
It will be pretty easy to tell if your dog is aggressive toward strangers. Either he will be jumpy and on alert and pacing around whining and barking. Or he might be very still staring hard at the stranger who has dared to trespass on his territory.
What has happened to cause this dog to become aggressive toward strangers? He has never had the opportunity to get used to them. He has not been socialized. Your dog relies completely on you to take him out to meet and greet neighbors, friends and children. He needs to be taken out to see the world with positive experiences so that he can relax and not be fearful of strangers. Socializing your dog needs to start from a very young age if possible.
What about aggression towards family members? There are a couple of reasons why a dog becomes aggressive towards a member of the family. Your dog may be trying to guard his food or a favorite bone, this is resource guarding. He may also be extremely protective of one particular member of the family.
Your dog thinks of the family as a pack. Your dog has ranked the family members and has his own ideas as to where he fits into that environment. Your dog considers himself to be higher in rank than you or another member of the family. Because dominance and aggression go hand in hand he out ranks you and shows aggression to show he is leader of the pack.
So what can you do about it? The best way to show your authority over your dog is to obedience train your dog. Just fifteen minutes a day will make it very clear to your dog that you are in charge and he must submit.
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