Leader of the Pack

Hints and tips on training your dog.


For those of you that already own a dog or dogs, most of this will come as no surprise to you. For the new dog owner or those aspiring to become dog owners here are a few hints, tips and pieces of advice from my own experience. I have trained dogs for fun, basic obedience, and Schutzund. My Doberman was the only one of her breed allowed in her Schutzund class of nothing but Shepherd’s and Malinois.

Having been owned by various mixed breeds, a Rat terror (ok, terrier), Labs, Rottweiler, Doberman, German Shepherd, and several others, I have found this information to be true to all breeds I am familiar with. Some of you may have varied results with your breeds.

Common Ground

Two things that are ultimately true in all breeds that I am familiar with: They are pack animals at heart, which goes back to their heritage, and the quickest way through the training course is through their stomachs. They adore you, they adore the food you give them, thus; you both win!

Not for the Faint of Heart

Remember your dog adores you, but by the same token they are pack animals and will try to dominate you no matter how small. You must at all times keep the upper hand and remain the pack leader. Men do not despair over the fact that Fido listens to “Mom” more than she does you. In the wild the pack leader is usually the alpha female. It’s her job to keep everyone in line, fed and an ever watchful eye out for predators wishing to do harm to her “pack”. Some ways to keep your status is to not let Fido sleep in the same bed with you. While this is a seemingly harmless act, it puts Fido at the same level as you. In the same den as it were, thus you are now equals. So, you might find him/her listening to you even less than before. Provide him/her with a nice dog crate without the door but with nice bedding inside for smaller breeds (this makes a nice comfortable safe cave in which they can also withdraw to when not feeling well, or nervous), or for larger breeds, a nice soft large pillow bed in which you can tell Fido to go to bed as you shut out your lights.

Next, never feed Fido from your plate. Bad juju. Scraps aren’t good for a dog and it can get other behaviors; not so welcome behaviors the go ahead. A good answer would be to feed Fido at the same time. That way he/she still feels part of the family and has no recourse to beg. By feeding your dog scraps, either out the back door or straight from your plate, will encourage them to take candy from strangers as it were. I have seen dogs poisoned this way. Most dogs when never given food scraps do not develop a taste for them and will refuse them when offered.

The best gift you can give your dog out of love is basic obedience training. Sit, down, stay, heel. Maybe a couple of other commands, but for the most part these will suffice. A dog that has these commands under their belt will be 90% safer when taken outside then a dog with no training. You want to be able to control your dog, but don’t be controlling by yanking them around, or using harmful manipulation techniques. You can teach you dog these commands in another language which I always found pretty cool. Remember: your dog is a perpetual 2 yr old for the majority of its life. Its attention span when training will only be a few minutes so try to keep training to about 10 minutes at a time, but you can do it several times a day. Stay focused with your dog; don’t confuse him with constantly changing cues. Say what you mean, and mean what you say! If you want him sit, then say “Fido sit”! Be firm, but not mean, or don’t shout. Use a snap to your words. You have to sound in control. If you sound simple or begging, like, “Fido sit, sit Fido, come on’ Fido sit for me”. This will never work. As you tell your dog to sit hold the treat enough over its head toward it’s back this will initiate a sit position. Use healthy treats during training as you don’t want to give Fido a weight problem as he learns new tricks. There are a lot of wonderful books out there and great websites to help you with these tasks, you don’t have to go it alone!

Good luck to you and your “Fido” or “Fifi”, and may you always have the pawfect relationship, because it won’t be perfect, but it will be wonderful!

Liked it


User Comments
  1. Glynis Smy

    On August 21, 2008 at 7:00 am

    We trained all 4 of our dogs using the Wolfpack system, life is much better. Good article

  2. Mary Contrary

    On August 21, 2008 at 11:20 am

    Thanks Glynis! From my pack to yours! :)

  3. Evis T

    On August 21, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    Strangely enough, most of this advice is also aplicable to training rats.

  4. Kim Buck

    On August 21, 2008 at 8:18 pm

    Bad juju – I love it! I have a motley crew (bassett hound, border collie/australian shepard mix, pomeranian & blue heeler) myself and am always looking for insight.


  5. Mary Contrary

    On August 21, 2008 at 8:34 pm

    Hadn’t thought about the rat population & their training potential. I can see where it would work, what little I do know about them. I had leash trained my iquana & my ferrets, before there were special leashes just for them. I used the same patience, love, and treat system I used with my dogs. Seems most pets have more in common than we realize! I did fail to mention that once training is complete most pets will continue to adhere to your commands just out of love for you and your praise, but you still want to encourage with treats here and there!

  6. Rionel "2tet" Belen Caldo

    On August 22, 2008 at 9:36 am

    I have dogs.. But I’m much inclined to fishes… I hope you could write something about it.

    Best regards and keep reading,
    Rionel “2tet”

  7. nobert soloria bermosa

    On August 22, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    interesting tips,thanks

  8. randomperson

    On August 22, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    I have a male springer spainel named dusty and he barks at everything but when my dad is home he doesnt bark, when my dad leaves for work no one can make him stop barking.

    pleas help,
    randomperson, age 12

  9. PR Mace

    On August 22, 2008 at 11:01 pm

    Great article with good advice. We have a mixed black lab Kole and a pit-bull mix Katie. You are right, good training makes good pets. I did make the mistake during Hurricane Ivan of letting them sleep with us while the storm was at full force. They were both afraid and so was I. My husband works nights and they sleep with me the nights he is at work. On morning after he got home he told Kole to get down and he growled at him. My husband said” I don’t think so my friend NOW GET DOWN”. He did and now they both leave the bed once Craig is home. If you check out my pictures on my profile site you will find one of my babies, Kole and Katie. I really enjoyed this article.

  10. Mary Contrary

    On August 23, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    Thanks for the comments everyone! #8randomperson your question is being answered in “Leader of the Pack:Part 5. It’s pending to be posted as we speak. I will check out your pics PR! If anyone wants to send me pics of their babies I would love to see them, just send me a message & I will give you my email! All the pics in my articles unless otherwise noted are from my pack!

  11. Leo Reyes

    On August 24, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    Very nice article.

Post Comment
comments powered by Disqus