Pack Leadership & Canine 101



Many of us get a pet, for love, companionship, a playmate, which are all good reasons.  So where is it we sometimes go wrong. 


One of the biggest problems I see out in the world is that we get pets, for our purposes, many of which can even be noble, like saving a dogs life from a shelter.  Even my dogs I consider " My Kids".


Where many of us go wrong is when we treat them like a child, and forget they are a dog.  WE want them to respect our rules , need wants desires, but do we ask them,   what are your needs wants & desires as a dog???????  Not what we THINK as a human they would need and want, but as a dog!!!!!


History of Dogs

Paleontologists believe that the first true dogs, called canids, appeared about 20  to 40 million years ago. It is believed that this first dog was a medium sized animal, called Cynodictis. The descendants of this animal are in two branches, one on the continent of Africa, and the other in Eurasia. From these animal are descended  the dogs, foxes, and wolves.

About 12,000 years ago there was a gray wolf that inhabited India, and is likely the ancestor of most modern dogs. The native African breeds are probably descended from the jackal.

Man's original alliance with dogs was for the work they could do. Eventually different types of dogs were bred for certain special kinds of work.



What  is a Pack?  It is a group of Hunting animals.  Although your new cute fluffy puppy or sweet adorable rescue dog seems like it is just the cutest thing in the world,  the bottom line is that they are domesticated, evolved and selectively bred from wolves,  foxes, and possibly jackals & coyotes.



Animals that live in Packs have a specific way of living.  Understanding this will help you understand how your dog sees the world and what he truly needs from you, rather than what you think he needs.


In a Pack of Animals, there is a definite hierarchy.  There is a Pack Leader, male female, or one of each.  All other members of the pack rank below.  If for instance there was a hunt and a kill, who do you think would get the first chance at eating.  The ALPHA or Pack Leader-s.  When the PACK LEADER or ALPHA is done, they give permission for the lower ranking members to then proceed, and not until they are given a go ahead.


Pack leaders        MAKE ALL THE RULES

Pack Leaders       CONTROL THE FOOD.


Pack Leaders       WALK IN FRONT OF THE REST OF THE PACK AND DON"T ALLOW THE                                   OTHERS TO CROSS THAT LINE.

Pack Leaders       BEGIN PLAY SESSIONS AND END PLAY SESSIONS.  IF A SUBMISSIVE DOG                                             INVITES THE PACK LEADER TO PLAY, HE WILL MOST LIKELY WALK                                  AWAY. 





If your answer is yes, Excellent.. your dog should have no problem doing what you want.

If your answer is Not Sure.. Excellent.  Look at what you can do differently and become that for your dog.

If your answer is no, Excellent, now you may understand why you may be having some of the problems you are having.


If your dog does not perceive you as the pack leader, he or she is instinctually wired to take on that job.  The Universe has made them that way.  They can not help it. They may not want the job but for the safety of the Pack someone must have that role.


If you are a clear pack leader, you will have a calm and submissive, centered stable pet.


Leader Of The Pack Checklist

The following checklist includes things every dog owner SHOULD follow. I say should because depending on how dominant the dog is, and knowing that not every dog is born with the same personality, we should use our best judgment. Most of the items on the list, however, should be followed to some extent; some people don't realize how dominant their dog really is. The Ones I feel are the ABSOLUTE MUSTS are regarding all food rules.

Pack Leaders CONTROL THE FOOD, who eats when where and why.


Most items you can start today and do yourself. If you have ANY trouble understanding anything or if your dog growls or snaps at your for any reason, get help from a professional!!!


Leadership Checklist  Who PAYS the Mortgage??

Pack leaders        MAKE ALL THE RULES?

                                What exactly does this mean?  To me it means I pay the Mortgage, the rent, the bills, buy the food, provide all the essentials needed for life, so all I ask for is a little respect. Come When Called, Sit, Stay, Leave It, Heel, & Rollover and spit wooden nickels????


                                This means until my puppy, or newly rescued dog understands what my needs and wants are, they are on a leash WHENEVER I AM HOME AND I AM IN THERE PRESENCE.

I NEVER LEAVE A LEASH ON A DOG UNATTENDED IT COULD CHOKE AND KILL THEM!!!!!  They EARN the right to have FREEDOM in MY home by understanding and following the rules.



In the wild a wolf pack makes a kill then who do you think eats first... and growls and attacks anyone in it's way.  YEs the pack leader.   If you leave your dogs food down all day, how can they respect you for that?  How do they know you are in charge of it, control it, bring it to them.  How can they respect you for it.


Its like living at an all day I HOP buffet -pancakes,waffles, bacon, sausage, eggs ,fried ,chicken, salads, sandwiches ,French fires, onion rings.  They never learn to FEEL hunger and then how can they know that you provide them with what they need to satisfy it.  If they are never Hungry it is hard to train your dog positively cause treats don't have a lot of power.  It's like giving them an ice cream sundae after being at an all you can eat buffet.... Who cares.


These are the Rules.

Dogs get 10 minute increments to eat. 1-2-or 3 times a day depending on the dogs age.  Puppies more often than older dogs.

I always eat first.  While I eat the dog can be on a leash at the table laying down with my foot on the leash so they learn to relax until I am done, or they are in a separate area where they can see me eat but don't have access to food.

After I eat, they have ten minutes to eat.

When I first start I just let them have a few days of getting used to the fact the food is not there all the time.  The first day or so if you are switching from an eat anytime you want to 2 10 minute increments then your dog may not eat the first day.  There are no "ANOREXIC" dogs.  When your dog learns how to be hungry, he will eat.

Once they have gotten used to the new schedule you will add to it,  sit before i put your food down.

I would like it if you could build up to a sit while I get your food, put it in the bowl and put it down.  When I release you, you can eat.




         Feed scheduled mealtimes (No free-feeding)

         NEVER LEAVE DOGS FOOD DOWN!! (IF they are a young puppy feed them 3 4 times a day for ten minute increments)

         Feed AFTER humans eat.

         NEVER give them food off of your PLATE, or COUNTER, as that is all you need to do once to have a dog become a beggar.


Furniture, Height levels, Sometimes & Never

It is important to know a dog does not understand sometimes.  If they are allowed on the furniture only with one of you, or only when you are home, they will not know to not do it at a later time.

If I don't allow them on a couch, they should have a "bed" they can sit on by my feet and they do so while I sit there and make sure they stay. One of the ways you can do this is by stepping on the leash.

If I do allow them on the couch, they do not just jump up.  If they do I put them on the floor, ask for a sit, then give them a command to come up when I say.


         No sleeping on the bed with ANYONE UNTIL....  They are completely potty trained, and listen to all your commands.   They must be able to sleep in a crate whenever you ask and enjoy it.They should not get up on the bed without being asked to sit first.  Beds are HIGH on the PACK LEADER LIST.. so this is an earned privilege, you the pack leader allow when you feel like it.

       A common mistake single people make is they let the dog sleep on the bed and then one day when they start a relationship the dog thinks you are nuts when someone else is added to the equation and this can be a real problem that could lead to all kinds of "Acting Out" including aggression.

         Never put yourself in an equal or lesser height position than your dog (i.e. - kids don't get to lay on the floor to watch TV when the dog is out and no one plays on the floor with the dog)

         To go along with the above, dog is NEVER allowed on furniture , especially if uninvited.

         Enforced time-outs in crate - no reason, and not used only when dog does something bad! Also not only used when you are not home.



If one person lets them jump up on them, then they cant learn they aren't allowed to jump on everyone else. WE MUST BE CONSISTENT!!!!!!!!!  ALWAYS. Or NEVER not sometimes.


If they potty outside, they can have free time inside.

When I eat, which is always before them, they are on a leash laying down with a chewy If I decide they have earned it. 



Pack leaders are the front runner. They go through doorways first, they go down hallways in front, they are always in front.

         When you new puppy first comes home do you think you are not strong enough to make sure you would get through a doorway before them.  When they get larger it might be harder, so let's start off on the right PAW.


         Dog goes AFTER humans through doorways.

         Dog should be taught NOT to pull when on leash.

         When on a walk, dog must not be allowed to sniff or eliminate anywhere he wants (for males, one mark against one tree is enough!)


         Games with toys, especially fetch, are initiated AND ended by the pack leader meaning by you,  the human.   Your dog comes up to you with a ball and nudges your knee, (that is equivalent to a small child screaming HEY MOM, PLAY NOW!!!!!!!!)  Take the ball, ignore the dog a few seconds, ask for a sit. Then throw it!!!!   TO SEE HOW TO TEACHA GREAT FETCH CLICK HERE.

         A simple obedience command, such as "sit" should be obeyed before any pleasurable interaction (eat, pet, play, etc.)   SO I have my dogs FAVORITE TOY, I tease them with it then I ask for a sit.  Now I can throw it for them or play with it with them.

         Never play tug-of-war, as it teaches them how strong there jaw is.  In addition if you let them win and pull the toy from you, what is the message given.  Dog is Stronger than Human.  The only time Tug of War is recommended is if you are doing confidence building exercises.



         Petting or attention to the dog should be given when the HUMAN decides attention is to be given (absolutely NO PETTING when the dog nudges or paws you or your hand)

         Puppies or small dogs who demand to be picked up and held and/or demand to be put down should not be picked up until they sit or some other acceptable quiet behavior and should not be put down until they settle quietly in your lap or in your arms.



         If you establish eye contact, dog must avert gaze first.

         Dog is NEVER allowed to bite or mouth ANYONE, ANYWHERE! (this includes play)

         Petting or attention to the dog should be given when the HUMAN decides attention is to be given (absolutely NO PETTING when the dog nudges or paws you or your hand)

         Puppies or small dogs who demand to be picked up and held and/or demand to be put down should not be picked up until they sit or some other acceptable quiet behavior and should not be put down until they settle quietly in your lap or in your arms.

         A simple obedience command, such as "sit" should be obeyed before any pleasurable interaction (eat, pet, play, etc.)

         Dog should NEVER be left unsupervised with children or ANYONE who cannot maintain leadership over dog.

         Dog MUST MOVE if in your path on a floor or stairway, etc. even if you are able to step over him.

         Everything belongs to you: the toys, the crate, the bowls, the bed, etc - they are only on loan to the dog! You should be able to clean, move, handle or remove any item at any time without hassle from the dog.

         Dog should be taught an "out", drop it or release command ("give", "release", "out") for things in his mouth. Dog should not be allowed to steal things and if that happens, they should be able to release item on command.

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