Teach Your Dog’s Rank To Him – Be the Pack Leader

by | Apr 29, 2013

Are you spending enough time teaching your dog’s rank to him?

This is especially important if you have a German Shepherd Puppy

Your dog needs to know his rank. Dog’s, as you likely know, are pack animals. In the dog’s mind, your family is part of the pack. He lives with you, sleeps in your house and eats there. You live with him, sleep in the same house as him and he sees you eat there. We cannot stress enough how crucial it is that you are the pack leader. Your dog is sweet, adorable and easy to love, but from day 1, you need to make sure that your puppy understands his place in the pack. This is important especially if you have children. You don’t want your dog ever competing with your children for pack order – he must know that he is below them.

Our German Shepherd Puppies live with strict rules. From their first day here, they start to get a very, very clear picture of the pack order. They will never, ever wonder if they have a shot at being the head of the pack because I never, ever offer them the opportunity to think like that. There are several ways you can help instill this in your puppy without ever being hard on them. It can all be done in love and be the beginning of a beautiful relationship between you and your dog.

1. Your dog does what you say. Every time. All the time. Do not let your laziness turn in to larger problems down the road. If you tell your dog to sit, it has to sit. If you tell it to go to his kennel, he goes to his kennel. He doesn’t get to run upstairs and find another member of the family to coddle him. He does what you say. With our German Shepherd Puppies they all know that I (Josh) am the pack leader. (Sometimes Theresa forgets, but that’s an entire different story.) However, if Theresa tells them to do go to their kennel and they come running to me, they get ignored. Completely. This is important, the dog has to learn to listen to every member of your family. And you must support this. Every time. It doesn’t take much for dogs to sense an ability to move up in the pack. Do not let this opportunity present itself in your pack.

2. If you have more than one dog, feed the one that is already established in the pack first. If this puppy is going to be flying solo, making him lay in a down stay by your dinner table while the rest of the family eats. If you are concerned about your puppy not respecting your children, have your child get your dog’s dish and put his food in it. Then have his food sit next to your child’s dinner while your kid eats. When every single member of the family is done eating, he gets his food. This traces back to how wolf packs work and makes total sense. In the wolf pack, the alpha dogs do their eating and then the scraps are left for the rest of the pack. Lucky for your dog, he isn’t getting fed scraps because you read our post on picking out dog food and he is getting a nutritious meal at the proper time.

3. You go through all doorways first. If the door is closed your dog sits while you open it and waits until you have released him to come on through. Your dog follows you because you are the alpha of the pack. Another great idea is to teach your dog to heel – make him walk right beside you. He doesn’t get to go charging forward on walks thinking he is choosing the route – you’re the decision maker and he walks where you walk.

Dog's Rank - Be the Pack Leader

Olive is a strong-minded girl, but she and I have a crystal clear understanding of who is in charge.

4. When you get home from a long day of work and you cannot wait to see that new puppy…. make him wait. Your German Shepherd Puppy is going to be nothing short of ecstatic to see you, but he needs to wait until you have greeted your other family members. Trust us, this is going to work wonders with your significant other – coming home and immediately paying attention to her? Major points. Seriously, though, this helps your dog understand that he is not your priority because he lives at the bottom of the pack.

5. While you might teach your children never to look a strange dog in the eye, if the dog looks the pack leader in the eye, stare straight back. It is important that the pack leader does not break first. Dogs are shockingly good at reading expressions, so feel free to have a comfortable, warm expression, but make sure he looks away first. This may sound trivial to you, but it is not for your dog.

6. Finally, we find this important to mention. While we breed calm German Shepherd Puppies in Alaska that have awesome temperaments, you should not let your dog and your child play alone. Many parents thought they “knew their dog” or started sentences with “my dog would never” and found out the opposite in a very painful way. Your dog will likely be an incredibly nurturing, wonderful member of your family that you never have any true problems with. However, your dog is still an animal and should be looked at as such. Children are prone to many things that dogs don’t like – sudden movements, etc. Be sure that your dog and your child do get to spend plenty of time together, but make sure it is supervised. You can help make sure your child stays above the dog in the pack order.

At Far North Kennel, we breed German Shepherd Puppies in Alaska. We ship our dogs worldwide and would love to talk with you if you are interested in getting a puppy from us. Our dog pack eats and sleeps in our home with us and we love them like our children. We breed German Shepherd Puppies because we love them.

Our Dog Blog often references German Shepherds, but we are happy to help owners of any breed of dog. If you have any questions, we welcome you to contact us. While we truly believe the things we post on our blog and don’t write about things that we haven’t done proper research on, we are not a substitute for your veterinarian who knows you and your dog individually. If you have specific questions about your dog, your vet is a wonderful resource!

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