Will work for food should be the motto for dogs around the world. It is amazing what you can get a dog to accomplish with a simple treat not to mention a high value delicacy. Food is very high on a dog’s list of priorities and a much-valued resource.
In the wild, a dog’s world is made up of his pack and the strongest dog is in charge of the food as well as other valuable resources. The dog that controls the resources becomes the pack leader and with that position, comes the awesome benefits of choosing the best food, premier sleeping spot, and making decisions for the rest of the pack. That behavior works out great for dogs living in the wild but when they begin to take charge of a household, it’s a behavior problem in the making.
A dog living in a home without a ranking order will naturally take over the leadership role because it’s in their nature to do so. By design they require the social structure of a pack and if no one else will step up the plate to be in charge, why not them? Unless you want a dog to begin making decisions and taking control of the house, establishing yourself as leader is vital to having a well behaved, happy dog that looks to you for guidance.
One of the easiest ways to get your dog to look to you for leadership and gain his respect is through controlling what your dog values. Your job is to be the Ruler of the Resources. A dog’s resources are simply the things they need and want, such as:
Since a dog’s motto is will work for food (and other resources), begin by taking control of his cherished goods, and allow him to enjoy them with your permission, he will naturally look to you for his needs and guidance. You will be pack leader in his eyes and help prevent unwanted behavior problems before they start.
Establishing yourself as leader and taking control of the resources should begin the day you bring your dog home. Some simple tips to remain the leader in your dog’s eyes are:
Controlling food: Hand feeding puppies, have your dog sit and wait for food, and feed your dog portions of his food as a reward at training time.
Space: Space is simply the places your dog is and is not allowed to go, such as the couch, bed, certain rooms, his own special place, etc. If you don’t allow your dog in certain spaces, be consistent about keeping up the rules. If your dog tends to take over a certain spot in the house, ask him to move rather than moving around him.
Treats: Have your dog work for treats and other rewards by obeying commands, such as sitting before going outside to play, waiting for permission to jump in and out of the car, and whatever else easily fits into your daily lifestyle.
Affection: Praise and touch should be lavished on your dog for good behavior, or even because you want to. Call your dog to you to shower him with affection on your terms. However, if your dog gets pushy, jumps on people, tries to climb in your lap uninvited, or otherwise violates your personal space, don’t reward with affection.
Toys: Allow your dog to play with toys but teach the dog to share from a very young age. You are in charge of the toys and your dog should willingly share them with you. Use toys as a reward for good behavior. Ask your dog to obey commands before handing out toys.
Walks: When taking your dog for a walk, have him sit while you leash him, have him perform commands while on the walk (sit, down, etc.). Stay in charge of where you walk and never let him pull you down the road.
By controlling the things that are very important to your dog and having him work for rewards, he will be motivated to do his job, which is to be your well-behaved friend and companion.