Better Dog Training through Dog Psychology

The term dog psychology is broadly used to categorize the way in which a canine thinks and perceives the world. Many veterinarians and trainers believe that, through a proper understanding of this psychology, one can find the most efficient and effective ways to address common behavioral issues like biting and aggression. Although dog training classes are often effective, they are also time-consuming and expensive, and many people prefer to train their pets at home. Whether or not you take your dog for formal training programs, understanding basic canine psychology can help you to train your dog to be more obedient.

The Pack Mentality

One of the most fundamental aspects of canine psychology is the idea of the pack. Wild dogs form into social groups of several members. Within these groups, there is a specific and highly ordered dominance chain. One primary dog, or alpha, leads the group, while the other members of the pack jostle for position and authority below him. In wild dog packs, the alpha dog has first choice over food, mates and other elements of daily life. He also is responsible for leading any movement of the pack. All other dogs are submissive to the alpha and accept his actions.

Your dog will, to some degree or another, compare himself in the same way with the human members of your family and with any other animals in the house. However, while your dog may be totally dependent upon you for shelter and sustenance, he could still come to see himself as a superior member of your family pack if you aren't careful. Due to his natural tendencies to respect only those with a higher ranking than himself, this can make training and behavior modification practices extremely difficult.

Establishing Yourself as Dominant

One of the primary keys to successful training of dogs at any age is establishing dominance. Setting up yourself as the alpha member of the household ensures that your pet will follow your lead. In order to do that, you must enforce certain alpha behaviors from the earliest possible point in your pet's life.

Alpha males always lead the pack. To establish your dominance, always have your dog heel or follow your lead and don't allow him to pass in front of you when walking through the house. Similarly, do not allow your pet to sit at a higher level than you and do not get on the floor below your dog.

Alphas also eat before other dogs and clearly provide food for the other members of the pack. Ensure that you have completed your meal before providing your pet with food, or at least eat a small snack before you give your pet his meal in order to make him aware that you're eating first.

Having firmly established dominance, you will find that your pet will be much more responsive to your training techniques. Every member of your household must behave in the same manner with your pet in order to have the highest success rate.