“Why is the toilet paper all over the floor?” “They ganged up on me…” Yup, if you have more than one dog, chances are they’ve done this. Ganged up on you before you know it, and caused mischief that you just toss your hands in the air at, surrendering completely to them. This is the power of the pack, when you first decided to go from one to two, or even still just have one, you know what I’m talking about. That unspoken bond that the dog has made from day one.
Dogs have been known to be pack creatures, and while we like to consider ourselves in control of all situations, you have to prove to your dog (or puppy) that you are a worthy pack leader. You aren’t just mom or dad to them, they’re looking for your guidance and approval. If you’re looking into getting a dog think about this, I take my dogs with me almost everywhere. My van has leashes permanently strapped in the back, nose prints on the windows and a couple of chew bones to save my seats. Most dogs make great travel companions after the first couple of trips. They realize that cars aren’t so spooky, and before you know it…You’ve got yourself a buddy.
But keep in mind that dogs still need guidance and discipline even in the car. If you even give them one time of being in control of a situation they will forever take control of situations. This can lead to dogs being rude, misbehaving, and sometimes even aggression. If you have a powerful breed (such as a pit-bull, or a Rottweiler) then you know what I’m talking about. They are stubborn, and seemingly more selfish than you. But look for cues, dogs want to please you, they want you to say that they are good, and give them pets and attention.
If you want an animal that doesn’t need your continued leadership look at a cat my friend. For a dog is a full time commitment to provide them with strong leadership skills. This isn’t to be a bully to your dog, merely set down and enforce the law that you desire. If you don’t want them on the couch, never let them on the couch. No dog in training should sleep with you, seeing as that shows that they are equals (which isn’t what you’re going for, even if your husky is an excellent heater). Always reward the behaviors you want with praise, attention, or even sometimes a piece of their favorite treat.
If you still want a dog even after being told what a pack creature they are, good for you! If you feel confident, why not adopt a dog from your local shelter or adoption agency? Remember though, a dog from a rescue society will have its ups and downs. You must prove that it can trust you (by providing the basic needs of food, shelter, and safety), as well you must provide it exercise before you take it home with you. Go for a walk on the leash, and make it walk right at your side. Never consol your dog while it is scared, fear breeds aggression dogs will get over fear if they are placed in that situation repeatedly, think of it like over coming your phobias. I don’t suggest you bring a water scared dog to the water until it trusts you, however, but at least build the trust from day one.
Dogs are social creatures, if you adopt or buy just one dog be prepared to go to dog parks, or bring your dog over to a well behaved dog friend’s house. That socialization is key to keep dog aggression down. If you see dog aggression happening, put a stop to it, the party that began the aggression (look for body language cues, not just the outburst of noise) should be corrected, dogs are only aggressive because they have not been able to learn different, guide them carefully.
As your pack (be it one dog, or fifty dogs) trusts you more you’ll find behaviors beginning to fall into place, they will not test you at every turn but they will understand (after you teach the dog of course) what you expect from them if you prove to be a trustworthy, consistent pack leader. Be fearless in your endeavors, for dog parenting is like human parenting. We all try our hardest, and as long as we do the best in our power, with love and good intentions dogs will understand, that we merely are humans pretending to understand the four-legged world.