An Article from the Founder
©PetPerfect Enterprises, 1999
How Dog Owner Leadership
By Diane Arrington, Behaviorist, Trainer & Educator
There is a dog owner misconception out there, floating around in officeland and cyberland and families run by dogs all over the country. It is that dogs misbehave because they are ticked. And that they misbehave intentionally. And that they misbehave because they are just bad dogs. Nothing could be further from the truth; dogs want to do the right thing, always.
The biggest part of the problem is that owners don't lead, they punish. They are desperate to teach dogs what not to do and forget about teaching dogs what to do. They want to treat only symptoms and ignore the cause. And they want it all to happen overnight. Perhaps dogs were created to teach humans patience. In any event, it's time to bring dog management out of the dark ages.
Dogs misbehave because they aren't clear about which rank order position humans want them to occupy in your pack. As a result, behavior problems occur. A leadership program teaches dog owners to lead, in wolf language. Since all dogs are wolf descendants, "wolf" is a language they recognize, and consequently understand.
Here are eight of the most common behavior problems in dogs and why they occur:
(The following information assumes a dog to be in perfect health. Possible medical causes for a behavior problem must be ruled out as a behavior program is initiated.)
Wolf The Alpha or highest-ranking wolf in the group is responsible for all pack members. This responsibility includes supervising and overseeing the daily activities of all pack members.
Wolf Dominant wolves are permitted, indeed, intentionally put their feet on the backs of others to display their dominant status.
Wolf Dominant wolves can urinate or defecate anywhere they please, even on the sleeping mats or areas belonging to lower-ranking group members.
Wolf The dominant wolf in the pack has the daily obligation to mark the area or territory several times or more.
Wolf High-ranking wolves maintain their status by keeping underlings in line. No subordinate wolves are permitted to display dominant behavior over a superior. Superiors protect their belongings and keep lower-status wolves in line with the use of facial expressions (baring teeth), vocal sounds (growling), even nips or pinches.
Wolf Wolves settle disputes over rank hierarchy with spats or tussles. Rarely do wolves fight to the death.
Wolf Wolf cubs are not permitted to bite excessively higher-ranking members of the pack. They are encouraged, however, to bite their littermates.
Wolf Wolves are not concerned about where puppies eliminate. Wolves simply continue to redirect puppies to the right location, knowing that potty training will take place eventually.
When owners of problem dogs begin a leadership program they should be prepared to give it time to take effect, i.e., two weeks to see a 60-80% overall improvement. Not bad, considering most dog problems have persisted for an average of 2 1/2 years before owners finally get help. Chewing, jumping, soiling, digging, barking, biting and aggression just aren't going to stop the first day. Fixing it overnight necessarily involves pain, fear or force and will develop other problems owners won't want later. Ultimately a leadership program will work to solve behavior problems. Have some patience; give it four to six weeks.
Save the "discipline" for the kids. Teach a dog what to do and ignore what you don't like. Make your dog truly happy: give him the leadership he craves -- and deserves!
Dallas: (972) 484-8882
©PetPerfect Enterprises, 2006