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An Article from the Founder

©PetPerfect Enterprises, 1999

How Dog Owner Leadership
Solves Behavior Problems

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.)

Separation Anxiety as Destructive Chewing

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.
Dog   Most destructive chewing takes place in owner-absence. A dog who thinks he's Alpha can't do his job in the absence of his pack members.  Dogs take their jobs very seriously. The anxiety of being responsible for you yet not being able to see you makes him eat the couch.
Treat the cause   Establish owner leadership to lower the dog's rank within the pack.


Wolf   Dominant wolves are permitted, indeed, intentionally put their feet on the backs of others to display their dominant status.
Dog   A dog who thinks he's high in rank is permitted to put his feet on lower ranking members of the group.
Treat the cause   Establish owner leadership to lower the dog's rank


Wolf   Dominant wolves can urinate or defecate anywhere they please, even on the sleeping mats or areas belonging to lower-ranking group members.
Dog   A dog who thinks he's high in rank is permitted to eliminate anywhere he pleases.
Treat the cause   Lower the dog's rank.

Scent Marking

Wolf   The dominant wolf in the pack has the daily obligation to mark the area or territory several times or more.
Dog   A dog who thinks he's high in rank is required by his position to mark the territory every day.
Treat the cause   Establish owner leadership to lower the dog's rank.


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.
Dog   A dog who thinks he's high in rank is required to maintain his position by protesting any dominant handling by his lower-ranking humans, and guard his "stuff" from lower-ranking humans. He will growl or nip over such things as nail clips and other care-giving, head-petting and hugging, and will growl if subordinates get too near his food, toys, chews or sleeping areas.
Treat the cause   Establish owner leadership to lower the dog's rank.

Sibling Rivalry

Wolf   Wolves settle disputes over rank hierarchy with spats or tussles. Rarely do wolves fight to the death.
Dog   Dogs living in the same household who are confused about their rank as it relates to one another will fight or tussle to resolve the discrepancy. Rarely do dogs fight to the death, but never should they be permitted to "fight it out."
Treat the cause   Lower all dogs' ranks below humans so that humans have leadership, then use that leadership to reinforce the correct order of hierarchy between dogs.

Excessive Puppy Biting

Wolf  Wolf cubs are not permitted to bite excessively higher-ranking members of the pack. They are encouraged, however, to bite their littermates.
Dog   Puppies who are uncertain about who is leading the pack will bite a human as they would a littermate.
Treat the cause   It is crucial to avoiding puppy biting to establish human leadership as early as possible.


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.
Dog   Puppies who aren't certain whose house it is and who are "attacked" for soiling the rug will take a long time to housetrain.
Treat the cause   Establish human leadership as early as possible.

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!

A Simple Truth from a Wise Pet

Find peace at the side of someone

who is kind to you.

Feel assured and safe

by giving your trust to them.


by Bill Zimmerman


Dallas:  (972) 484-8882
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©PetPerfect Enterprises, 2006