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Who’s In Charge? You Or The Dog?

An alien visiting us from a nearby galaxy might be forgiven for thinking your dog runs your household. You feed him, bathe him and even clear up his poop in the garden or road – ergo the dog’s the leader!

He’s the one the alien needs to communicate with to discuss the earth joining the Intergalactic Federation of Planets. The chances are this has already happened and is why we are not spending our vacations in Alpha Centauri this year…

istock_000008707695xsmallThat scenario of course simply demonstrates a good owner caring for his dog’s needs. The bathing and poop scooping are not the dog’s concern, you do that because you, as a human, like things to be kept clean. As long as the poo is not in the house the dog doesn’t care.

What the dog does care about is where his next meal is coming from and where his place is in the order of things, pack wise. You did know that you are in a pack didn’t you?

Well the food is coming from you, same times everyday like clockwork, so that is his first concern nicely addressed. The dog sees you go shopping and when you come back you have all this food! Your dog believes you to be the best hunter ever! He’s lucky to be part of your pack!

As the supplier of food then it would appear that you are in charge – at least you should be. In a wolf pack in the wild the alpha male or female is in charge and when it comes to meal time he or she eats first ( getting the best bits of the kill) then, in strict order of importance within the pack, the other dogs eat. This is the dog hierarchy in action – it revolves around age, strength and confidence mixed with aggression and the willingness to fight for a better mouthful of meat.

So why the heck are you feeding your dog BEFORE you sit down for your breakfast or evening meal? You are sending your dog mixed messages: you’ve supplied the food but are letting him eat first and therefore are telling him he is higher ranked than you. This is why some people find their dogs are reluctant to eat when their food is given them, or appear confused. The more intelligent the dog the weirder this seems to them.

If you keep doing this the dog will be less inclined to obey your commands. Hey, he eats first so why does he need to listen to you right?

So if you eat your breakfast on the run or eat at different times in the evening at least ‘pretend’ to eat something ( making appropriate chewing noises) prior to feeding the dog. The dog is reassured, knows he’s going to be fed but also knows that you just ate the best bit and so you are in charge! The re-enforcement of this is to get the dog to ‘Sit!’ and ‘Wait!’ when you put his bowl on the floor and allow him to eat by saying ‘OK!’

Do this and when the alien asks the dog to be taken to his leader the dog will bring him to talk to you!

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