Sunday, April 29, 2007
DOGS EARN THE RIGHT TO BE LEADER....
"Yes, oh yes. I am the leader of all I survey."
In the dog world there are no free rides to the top. If your dog is the pack leader then it has worked long and hard to earn the right to lead.
Dogs throw out lots (and sometimes LOTS!!!) of challenges every day to each member of your household pack.
"Yeah, she looks distracted right now. A great time to win a challenge, huh?"
Every time they win a challenge, they keep a mental scoreboard to record a win against each pack member.
"Yep, doing well today."
Lots of wins against all the pack members, means you rise up the pack ladder. The pack leader's job is to lead and control the whole pack.
"Finally, I've reached the top!I'm the leader!"
In your dog's mind, being a pack leader is a very serious job. You cannot change this instinctive way of thinking. Your dog will not give up the leadership easily.
Now it's time to re-arrange your pack ladder so your dog slides down to the bottom rung.
How do we do this?
We have to win back all those challenges your dog has worked so hard to win again and again. We will also have to help every other member of the household, including any children and visitors, win back all the challenges they've been losing to the dog.
The more consistently you all win, the faster your dog will slide down that ladder to the bottom rung.
The idea is to keep your dog permanently at the bottom. The longer your dog stays at the bottom, losing all the challenges, the less it will try to challenge its way back up again. After all, what's the point in trying if you always lose?
How long will all this take?
All dogs are different, but if your whole family is very consistent and determined, then for most easy-going dogs, I would suggest you prepare for a three-week period of time to slide your dog to the bottom of your pack ladder.
For really pushy, dominant dogs, I'd aim for a much longer 3 month period of time. Just remember how long it took to lose all those challenges to your dog!
"OK, OK, I give up. I guess I'll just sit back and relax down here at the bottom of the pack ladder."
If you would like to buy my book, you can buy it on-line at
It's called "The Dog Man"
by Martin McKenna
(It was written in pre-dreadlock days and has become an Australian bestseller)