7 steps to being a great leader

One of the most common areas people struggle with is being an effective leader for their dog/s.

The greatest differences between dogs that are trained and those that are not are:-

Dogs that are trained display behaviours they have been taught vs untrained dogs display behaviours based on their instincts.

Dogs that are trained have had the benefit of being taught how to behave in social situations vs behaving however the stimulus effects them.

Dogs learn impulse control and they also learn to regulate their emotions when they have had the benefit of effective training.

The next 7 steps help your dog see you as a leader

  • Set goals that meet social responsibilities
  • Establish a communication system
  • Establish a reward system
  • Set Consistent rules and boundaries
  • Don’t expect what you have not taught
  • Teach in blocks your dog can understand
  • Be firm but fair when you need to

1. Setting Goals that meet social responsibilities

To own a dog in Australia you are bound by rules both at state and federal levels.

Most people are aware that they need to register their dogs with local councils but few know that if your dog behaviour in certain ways the dog/s can be declared menacing, dangerous or be seized and destroyed!

To be a good leader you should teach and train your dog so as he or she is not going to display these behaviours, removing almost all chances of your dog falling into trouble.

Teaching your dog to behave appropriately requires you to teach a number of exercises when your dog is young or when you first obtain your dog and continue to ensure that your dog displays these behaviours.

Here is an example, would your dog walk down a busy street, past people, dogs etc, stop at a cafe and hold a down stay whilst you enjoy a coffee?

If you say yes, can your do this with one command at the start and minus the constant food bribing?

If not, are you going to ever put your dog in this situation?

I guess that is like saying that a child won’t need manners, these things we teach our dogs are steps in helping them fit into our social system and understand what they should do.

By not teaching them how to behave they will either act out of instinct and it is likely that won’t be helpful or they will be left at home.

2. Establish a communication system

Many people just raise their voice and add some tone when they are unhappy with their dog, but you can go so much further by teaching your dogs when they are doing well and when they are not.

In fact tone does not matter when you do this.

Communication gives you the power to let your dog know when he or she is doing well, when they need to stop the behaviour and you can also capture behaviour.

Imagine your dog makes a great choice one day, being able to mark this choice means your likely to see the behaviour again.

3. Establish a reward system

This is a must to be able to reinforce the correct behaviours and also motivate your dog to offer them.

A reward system is not giving your dog a treat, a “system” such as my Training in Drive system incorporates communication, motivation, development of the ability to learn, resilience, energy and commitment.

Each of these are taught and developed to get this level of training ability.

4. Set Consistent rules and boundaries

Set rules and boundaries and make them always apply. Contrary to popular belief, we all live in a world full of rules and boundaries without being miserable so your dog can too.

Dogs get very confused, anxious, upset and distrusting when owners change the rules often, many say they don’t even make any rules but of course doing something the same way a few times will have your dog thinking that is the way.

Like the person who lets their dog jump on them except when they are wearing expensive clothes.

So dog jumps on them 50 times and they are happy but they explode on the 51st time as they are wearing expensive clothes. I wonder how the dog might know the value of said clothes…

How about putting the jumping on cue so that if you like your dog jumping up, then call it something simple like “up” and only give attention when your dog jumps up only when you say “up”.

5. Don’t expect what you have not taught

How often I hear people give their dog a heel command and when I ask, “have you taught your dog what heeling is?” They often reply “no”, or the classic “oh he knows”.

What chance has the dog got to get this right? By giving your dog cues that he or she does not understand, connect with any reinforcement your teaching your dog to tune you out.

Teaching involves your dog learning the benefits of the behaviour and when he or she needs to display it.

6. Teach in blocks your dog can understand

When a dog learns a multi level behaviour, such as fetching your shoes for example, this is called a “complex task”. Teaching complex tasks is best broken down into a number of smaller steps then these are combined to form the complex behaviour.

Expecting your dog to learn a complex behaviour in one lump is actually called “lumping”. It confuses the dog and also teaches them to tune you out.

Help your dog learn by breaking the more complicated things into a number of smaller pieces.

7. Be firm but fair when you need to

At times, certain things will stimulate your dog and this may cause your dog to missbehave.

Teaching your dog how to behave, teaching your dog how to earn rewards and that they are worth earning and learning to communicate with your dog will help with all of this, but it must be underpinned by your unwavering insistence that your dog follows your lead.

It is sometimes hard to always be the “responsible one” and be pulling everyone back to the rules but it is very important that you do.

Once you convey to your dog that this will not be accepted you will find less and less examples of the behaviour.

Leadership for life

Filling this role for your dog/s give them stability and structure, in young life it helps them develop an understanding of how life works.

In maturity they have a best friend that gives advice and in senior years they know you will protect them.

At some point in the worlds time line, leadership was connected with the Alpha, dominance belief and this seemed to destroy the desire for many people to be a leader.

The leader does not have to be a nasty, cranky, dominant, violent or feared member of the pack, just someone who gives good advice and takes responsibility for their dogs overall wellfare.

Some dogs will need more help and some people too

Many people have tried and will try the steps above without success, this is when you need professional help to overcome your dogs resistance to accept direction.

Don’t give up, call us and we will make sure things move in a positive and forward direction. 02 45 789 789 or info@k9pro.com.au

As always feel free to share or comment

About SteveK9Pro

Steve Courtney is a Nationally Accredited Canine Behaviour Specialist, Obedience Trainer, Law Enforcement Dog Trainer and ANKC Breeder. Steve has been training dogs all his life and in these articles he shares with you his experience...

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