I get calls everyday from owners who can not control their puppy or dog. The same questions always come up. Why can’t I make my pup or dog listen to me. The animal is usually jumping all over people, mouthing on them or running away. I have had several customers tell me this;
Q: I have a dog that is 1 year old and has been to obedience training at one of the local pet stores. My dog learned nothing and is still dragging me down the street, barking, digging, chewing up the house and not listening to me at all. It has gotten so bad that I have to give him tranquilizers so I can leave him all day while I go to work. My vet told me that he has separation anxiety. He has even started to growl at me when I try to pet him and acts like he wants to dominant me. What can I do to solve all these problems?
My answer is this! A: You’re absolutely right! It sounds like your dog has a dominance problem and has become the leader of your family – his pack. He is acting anxious because the pack leader would never be left alone all day. In a wolf pack the only one to leave the pack would be the Alpha. So your Alpha dog at home acts anxious when you leave because this goes against what nature is telling them is normal. Most people have taught their dog that you leaving is something to be anxious about. When you are leaving you say to the dog or pup, “Good-bye baby. Please be good. I’ll be home in a little while”. All the time you have an anxious tone in your voice. You have taught the dog that when you leave his reaction should be one of fear. What you should be doing is this; put the dog into his crate, close the door and leave without saying anything to the dog. You leaving should not be a big deal. You have made the dog the way it is. He has also reached the age of adolescence where, similar to a teenaged child, he’s testing your limits. Now is an ideal time to nip these problems in the bud.
A dog’s social system has a pecking order. The leader of the pack is the “Alpha.” He (or she) gets the best of everything – the best food, the best place to sleep, the best toy, etc. The alpha also gets to be first in everything – he gets to eat first, to leave first and to get attention first. All the other dogs in the pack respect the alpha dog’s wishes. An alpha dog doesn’t ask for what he wants, he demands it. He lets you know in no uncertain terms that he wants his dinner, that he wants to go out, that he wants to play or be petted and that he wants these things right now.
Your family is your dog’s pack. Most dogs fit easily into the lower levels of their human pack’s pecking order and don’t make trouble. They do what they’re told and don’t challenge authority. Other dogs don’t fit in quite as well. Some are natural leaders; others are social climbers always looking for ways to get a little closer to the top of the family ladder. These dogs can become problems to an unsuspecting family that’s not aware of their natural pack instincts. Some families unknowingly encourage their dogs to take over the pack. They treat their dogs as equals, not as subordinates. They give them special privileges like being allowed to sleep on the bed or couch. They let them get away with disobeying commands. In a real dog pack, only the alpha dog would get this kind of treatment.
Dogs need – and want – leaders. They have an instinctive need to fit into a pack. They want the security of knowing their place and what’s expected of them. Most of them don’t want to be alpha – they want someone else to give orders and make decisions. But if his humans don’t provide that leadership, the dog will take over the role himself. Treat your dog well but remember that it is NOT a little human and does not have human emotions. This type of thinking will only lead to trouble and confusion for your dog. Treat it like a dog. Give praise and affection at the appropriate times to avoid confusion about the pack ranking. People who treat their pup or dog like a little human make the mistake of endlessly worrying about finding the right puppy treats or bed. They spend little or no time worrying about how or what they will teach their new puppy. In other words they have made it the pack leader! No wonder the pup tears up the house or eliminates where ever it happens to be at that time. These are things that the pack leader would do. To reclaim your family’s rightful place as leaders of the pack, your dog needs to learn how to be a subordinate, not an equal. He knew this once, as a baby puppy, because his mother taught him. She showed him very early in life that she was alpha and that he had to respect her. It’s time to refresh his memory! Before you can remove your dog from his alpha position, you must become alpha and earn his respect. Alpha is an attitude. It involves confidence, dignity, intelligence, and an air of authority. A dog can sense this attitude almost immediately – it’s how his mother acted toward him. Watch a good trainer or obedience instructor. They stand tall and use their voices and eyes to project the idea that they’re capable of getting what they want. They’re gentle but firm, loving but tough, all at the same time. Most dogs are immediately submissive towards this type of personality because they recognize and respect alpha when they see it.
Stand up straight with your shoulders back. Walk tall. Practice using a new tone of voice, one that’s deep and firm. Don’t ask your dog to do something – tell him. There’s a difference and he knows it! As alpha, you’re entitled to make the rules and give the orders. Your dog understands this instinctively.
Since your dog has been used to getting what he wants on demand, it’s likely to take more than just a change in your attitude to make him mind better. He’s been getting a free ride for a long time but you’re going to teach him that from now on, he has to earn what he gets. This will be a shock to his system at first but you’ll be surprised how quickly he’ll catch on and that he’ll actually become eager to please you.
Your dog already knows the command SIT. Now, every time your dog wants something – his dinner, a trip outside, a walk, some attention, anything – tell him (remember don’t ask him, tell him) to sit first. When he does, praise him with a “Good Boy!” then tell him OKAY and give him whatever it is he wants as a reward. If he refuses to sit, walk away and ignore him. No sit, no reward. If you don’t think he understands the command, work on his training some more. If he just doesn’t want to obey, ignore him – don’t give him what he wants or reward him in any fashion.
Make him sit before giving him his dinner, make him sit at the door before going outside, make him sit in front of you to be petted, make him sit before giving him his toy. If you normally leave food out for him all the time, stop. Go to a twice daily feeding and you decide what time of day he’ll be fed. Make him sit for his dinner. If he won’t obey the command – no dinner. Walk away and ignore him. Bring the food out later and tell him again to sit. If he understands the command, don’t tell him more than once. He heard you the first time. Give commands from a standing position and use a deep, firm tone of voice. To keep him from body-slamming you at the doorway, put a leash on him. Make him sit and wait while you open the door and give him permission – OKAY! – to go out. As the pack leader you always go out the door first and the dog follows.
Alpha dogs are used to being fussed over. In a real dog pack, subordinate dogs are forever touching, licking and grooming the alpha dog. It’s a show of respect and submission. Until your dog’s attitude has improved, cut down on the amount of cuddling he gets. When he wants attention, make him sit first, give him a few kind words and pats, then stop. Go back to whatever you were doing and ignore him. If he pesters you, tell him NO! in a firm voice and ignore him some more. Pet him when you want to, not just because he wants you to. Also, don’t get down on the floor or on your knees to pet your dog. That, too, is a show of submission. Give praise, petting and rewards from a position that’s higher than the dog.
Don’t allow wrestling or rough-housing with your dog. These games encourage dogs to dominate people physically. In a dog pack or in a litter, these games are more than just playing – they help to establish pack order based on physical strength. Your dog is already stronger and quicker than you are. Rough, physical games prove that to him.
Where does your dog sleep? Not in your bedroom and especially not on your bed! Your bedroom is a special place – it’s your den. An alpha dog thinks he has a right to sleep in your den because he considers himself your equal. Until your dog’s alpha problems are fully under control, the bedroom should be off-limits. The same goes for sleeping on furniture. If you can’t keep him off the couch without a fight, deny him access to the room.
If your alpha program is successful, your dog should start looking to you for directions and permission. He’ll show an eagerness to please. Watch how your dog approaches and greets you. Does he come to you “standing tall,” with his head and ears held high and erect? It may look impressive and proud but it means he’s still alpha and you still have problems! A dog that accepts humans as superiors will approach you with his head slightly lowered and his ears back or off to the sides. He’ll “shrink” his whole body a little in a show of submission. Watch how he greets all the members of the family. If he displays this submissive posture to some of them, but not others, those are the ones who need to work harder on their own alpha techniques.
Once your dog has begun to accept this new way of life and his new position in the family, you should take him through another obedience course with a qualified trainer. Obedience training is a lifelong process. Obedience commands need to be practiced and incorporated into your daily life. In a dog pack, the alpha animal uses occasional reminders to reinforce his authority. Certain commands, like DOWN/STAY, are especially effective reminders of a dog’s place in the family pack order and who’s really in charge here. A well-trained dog that’s secure in his place within the family pack is comfortable and confident. He knows what’s expected of him. He knows his limits and who his leaders are. He’s free to be your loving companion and not your boss!
TerryPfeff Dog Training
Balaam’s Donkey and the Angel
This story begins when the king of Moab, Balak, sent messengers to Balaam at Pethor, which is by the Euphrates. Balak wanted Balaam to put a curse on the Jewish people which took over the land of the Amorites. God sent a dream to Balaam and told him not to go and curse his people for they are blessed. Balaam told the messengers of Balak this and they in turn told their king. When Balak heard this he sent officials again who were even higher in rank and they promised Balaam anything he wanted if he would only come and curse the Jewish people. Balaam told these officials that he could not go against the words of his god. He bid them to stay overnight as the others did, so Balaam might find out what else his God had to tell him. God told Balaam that night “Since these men have come to summon you, get up and go with them, but only do what I tell you”. When Balaam got up the next morning, he saddled his donkey and went with the officials of Moab.
But God was incensed that Balaam was going, and the Angel of the Lord took His stand on the path to oppose him. Balaam was riding his donkey, and his two servants were with him. When the donkey saw the Angel of the Lord standing on the path with a drawn sword in His hand, she turned off the path and went into the field. So Balaam hit her to return her to the path. Then the Angel of the Lord stood in a narrow passage between the vineyards, with a stone wall on either side. The donkey saw the Angel of the Lord and pressed herself against the wall, squeezing Balaam’s foot against it. So he hit her once again. The Angel of the Lord went ahead and stood in a narrow place where there was no room to turn to the right or to the left. When the Donkey saw the Angel of the Lord, she crouched down under Balaam. So he became furious and beat the donkey with his stick.
Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth and she asked Balaam, “What have I done to you that you have beaten me these three times?” Balaam answered the donkey, “You made me look like a fool. If I had a sword in my hand, I’d kill you now!”
But the donkey said, “Am I not the donkey you’ve ridden all your life until today? Have I ever treated you this way before?” “No,” he replied.
Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the Angel of the Lord standing in the path with a drawn sword in His hand. Balaam knelt and bowed with his face to the ground. The Angel of the Lord asked him, “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? Look, I came out to oppose you, because what you are doing is evil in My sight. The donkey saw Me and turned away from Me, I would have killed you by now and let her live.” Balaam said to the Angel of the Lord,” I have sinned, for I did not know that You were standing in the path to confront me. And now, if it is evil in Your sight, I will go back.”
Then the Angel of the Lord said to Balaam, “Go with these men, but say only what I tell you.” So Balaam went with Balak’s officials.
Numbers 21: 22-35 This is the only story in the Bible where an animal actually speaks. I thought it would show how an animal feels when we mistreat it. There is always a reason why an animal does something. Even if you don’t know the reason, that does not give you permission to mistreat any of God’s creatures. This donkey actually saved Balaam’s life.
Praise be to God!