Understanding the Dog-Master Relationship

The dog master relationship is often misunderstood because of outdated dominance theories. Many trainers say that to be a true alpha, you must eat before your dog, walk out doors before them and keep them off the furniture. However, it doesn't matter what your rules are as long as you have rules and enforce them consistently.

Benevolent Leadership

A true alpha in a dog pack actually never gets physically violent. He doesn't have to lose his temper. He is very calm and enforces rules with a calm, commanding presence.

If you are losing your temper with your dog or getting frustrated and giving corrections, you are not the alpha dog. Instead, dogs respond to calm and consistency.

Setting Rules

Sit down with your family and decide what your rules are going to be. You all need to be on the same page. If some family members want the dog on the furniture and others don't, find a fair way to decide. If the rules change depending on whom is in the room, your dog will be confused and less likely to respond.

Now, you must enforce the rules in a consistent manner. For example, if your dog jumps, you must ignore it every time and then start petting and praising as soon as his feet hit the floor. If you pet him some of the times that he jumps, he will always jump. Everyone in the family must respond the same way.

Teach Commands

Teach your dog some commands that help him understand that you are in charge. Teach him to sit and down. Teach him the heel position so he knows to go to your side when you say. This puts you in the front, power position.

Teach a boundary, such as the front door, that helps you define your space. In the dog world, he who controls the space is very powerful. With your dog on-leash, step between him and the door. Tell him to wait. If he starts to walk out the door, don't use the leash to stop him but take commanding steps into his body to back him up.

Nothing in Life Is Free

The pack leader controls the resources. You control your dog's resources. However, he may not know that if you leave his food and water on the floor all day and pet him every time he asks.

Instead, prepare your dog's meals each evening and make him sit-stay while you set it down. Make him sit calmly while you put on his leash for a walk. Make him do a trick before you pet him or throw the ball for him. If he doesn't do the behavior, he doesn't get the reward. Put the food back and leave the room. Drop the leash and watch television. Try again a few minutes later. He can have the reward once he exhibits the behavior you request.

These effective leadership methods work with all owner personality types. Being your dog's master does not require a loud, deep voice or physical corrections. If you consistently enforce your rules, your dog will respect you. It's really that simple.