Sunday, April 29, 2007


"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)


Let's take a look at the Johnson Family...and their dog, Timmy....

We can tell where Timmy is on this pack ladder by his general behaviour. Timmy pretty much does as he wants. He ignores any commands he is given by the humans. He rules the the nicest possible way.

In Timmy's eyes, his pack ladder is currently arranged like this...


Is this a problem?

The trouble with allowing a dog to believe it occupies that top rung of your family's pack ladder is that it makes for a difficult dog to control.

You see, that top rung is the place where the pack leader sits. And in the dog world, if you're the pack leader - then no-one below you has the right to tell you what to do.
Another, more serious problem, is that the leader can discipline any members below it - and this can make young children and visitors a target.

What can we do, then, if our dog is the leader of our pack?
The great news is that we can use our clever human brain to slide our dog to the bottom of our pack ladder.

Will my dog be miserable if we do this?

No, once your dog realises that you are serious - and that it's new place is permanently going to be at the bottom of your pack ladder - it will be much happier and calmer. This is because all dogs are naturally drawn to strong leaders. They relax when they are firmly placed on the pack ladder in the correct place. After all, why wouldn't they be? You're removing the burden of leading your whole household from your dog's shoulders.

Actually, being the leader of the pack is stressful for the majority of dogs. And owning a dog that considers itself the leader of the pack is definitely stressful for the humans! In my next post we'll learn how to start sliding your dog to the bottom of your 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 my pre-dreadlock days and has become an Australian bestseller.)

Saturday, April 28, 2007


Otherwise dogs would have starved to death while they decided as a group what to do next...

"I say, comrades, shall we have another sub-committee vote about whether we should hunt now or perhaps later...perhaps tonight? What do you chaps all think...?"

In the dog world, no-one is equal.
It's the most important thing you have to know about dogs if you're ever going to understand how they think or communicate. This is because our domesticated pet dog has still retained its ancestors wild instincts.

No matter how much luxury we surround our dogs with, no matter how much we treat them like cute little humans in funny, furry suits - all dogs are at heart a pack-forming predator.

"My great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great granny was a cousin to a wolf, you know."

For a hunting pack to work efficiently, Mother Nature designed dogs with an in-built ladder of domination inside their mind. I call this their pack ladder.

What does it do? Your dog immediately arranges everyone in your household pack onto a separate rung of this mental pack ladder. Whoever your dog sees as the most dominant goes on the top rung. The most submissive pack member goes on the bottom rung.

You can never change this way of thinking in your dog. They are unable to understand democracy. It's just the way their brain is permanently wired.

The good news is that we can use that instinctive pack ladder inside our dog's brain to our human advantage. This is the smart way to train your dog - it's not rocket science - just start thinking like a dog!Keep visiting this blog to learn how.

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 best-seller.)


My name is Martin McKenna and I'm also known as The Dreadlock Dog Man because every day, everywhere I go, I teach humans how to really communicate with their dogs. As you can see in my photo, I have a full head of dreadlocks, so I'm not hard to recognise.

Dog language really is an international language,since it's the one language used by every single dog on the planet.

If you keep visiting this blog site you'll soon become fluent in dog language. That's what this blog is all about!

Try really talking to your dog today....

Maybe you're sitting in a chair and your dog keeps demanding your attention.

To say: "Leave me alone now" in dog language, do this: Say nothing, instead, turn your head away from the dog and lift your chin a little. Cross your arms. Look serious about what you want.

Hold this position until your dog goes and leaves you alone. Totally ignore it. If you give a clear, firm signal your dog will go and lie down and maybe even sigh. Don't worry, it's not sulking.

It's responding to your clear signals and doing the polite thing in the dog world.

However, if you send your dog away and then start staring at it or talking to it, you're actually saying in the dog world:
"Come here and interact with me now."
As you can see - it's quite easy for us humans to send mixed messages to dogs.

If your dog does keep pestering you, see my next post on this blog. Your dog is understanding your signals alright, but at the moment it doesn't believe you have the right to tell it what to do. (We'll be changing that attitude, don't worry.)

Many dog owners think their dogs can be very stupid, naughty, silly or stubborn, when in actual fact, there's more a communication problem happening between our two very different species.

Learning dog language will dramatically improve your dog's behaviour. In the dog world you'll quickly learn that everything is said clearly and simply.
For example, in the human world if two humans come across a treat lying on the ground, there will probably be a discussion about sharing it out fairly.

In the dog world, life is pretty simple. The more dominant dog just says, "GRRR, MINE!"


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 my pre-dreadlock days and has become an Australian best-seller)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007