Understanding a dog is the key to have a happy, fulfilled, balanced and well-behaved dog. To be a Pack Leader to your dog, you need to understand who they are and what they need as dogs. To do this, you need to understand dog psychology.
1. Dogs are instinctual – Because they are instinctual, dogs live in the present moment. They immediately deal with what’s happening to them. That’s why it’s so important to only correct them the moment they are misbehaving and to not give them attention or affection while doing unwanted behaviors.
The best way to honor your dog’s instincts is by letting him be a dog and not humanizing him or treating him like a child. We can also learn from them how to listen to our own instincts and live in the moment.
2. Energy is everything - Energy is the main way that dogs communicate with each other. Humans communicate mostly with words. Dogs can associate words with specific actions however, often it’s your energy and tone of voice that tells them what to do. For example, you could say something completely random like “pickle juice couch toes” in an excited tone of voice and your dog will get just as excited as if you just said “Do you want to go for a walk?”
Our energy is conveyed through our intention and body language, and dogs respond best to calm but firm energy. This way, our energy is balanced and our intentions are clear, which makes it easy for dogs to understand, trust and respect us. It's when we are not calm or don’t have a clear intention that our message becomes confusing and our dogs act out because of it.
3. Dogs are animal, species, breed, and name - First and foremost, a dog sees himself as an animal. All animals are instinctual and communicate with energy. Dogs see themselves as the species, dog. A particular kind of animal that is different than a rabbit or a panther but the same as other dogs.
They don’t really have a concept of breed. They just exhibit breed traits through their instinctual behavior. Huskies pull and terriers hunt, for example. And, to a dog, their name is just a word you say when you want their attention. A dog will never think, “I am (name)” like a human would.
Also, never use your dog’s name when you’re giving a correction. This will create a negative association to his name. You need to remember to communicate with your dog like another animal would, and not like a human would.
4. How dogs experience things – Primarily, dogs experience the world through their noses. Long before we see it, a dog already knows that there’s another dog around the corner or a squirrel in the tree. That’s because their noses have picked up the scent. When the dog’s eyes or ears are the primary sense, that’s when they are not using common sense. A dog’s sense of smell is tens of thousands of times more sensitive than a human’s.
This is why engaging a dog’s sense of smell is the most powerful training tool. Use the nose to lead the eyes and ears to where you want your dog to focus.
5. Dogs pack animals - Dogs function best when there is a Pack Leader. Most dogs don’t want to be in charge. They are happiest when there is someone to tell him what to do and how to do it. Without leadership dogs can become confused, frustrated, nervous, or aggressive as they try to fill that void.
By adhering to these principles, you are providing the leadership your dog’s need. But maintain a calm but firm state of mind. And remember, love your dog like a child but treat him like a dog.
If you need additional help or guidance, let me know if I can help.
Always remember: BP4 – Be: Patient, Positive, Peaceful & Persistent
www.packmantotherescue.com / 201-937-6123