Understanding the Nature of the Dog Pack
Dog Pack leaders don't project nervousness. They don't project panic. They don't project tension.
What’s the same about a dog, an elephant and a horse? These animals all organize behind a leader.
People make a mistake when they treat dogs like humans. Every species has its own psychology if we understand its psychology we can control the behavior because we know how to relate to them.
Newborn puppies need to find a place or status within the pack. They don’t get a name like we do because personality is something we create and only exists in our world. In the animal world there are two positions: the leader and the follower. Dogs are simple we make life complicated by misunderstanding what they need as a species.
Dogs communicate through constant energy. The pack leader always projects a calm, assertive energy. Energy is what I call beingness; who and what you are being at every moment. (If you don’t know what I mean by calm, assertive energy, think about Oprah Winfrey. She is calm and assertive.) Pack leaders don’t project nervousness. They don’t project panic. They don’t project tension.
Simply put, the pack leader is a calm, assertive presence that provides balance to the pack. They control everything and its not open to debate. Its also not about gender a female or male can become pack leader.
Two Worlds Collide
When dogs come into our homes they meet emotional energy for the first time. We shower them with affection and they see us as excited energy. This is why dogs don’t listen to humans. Their mother was never this way. Where did the calm, assertive leadership go?
We often develop a different agenda for our dogs. We want to make puppies our babies. When people see a nervous or shy dog they see it as human and console it like they would another human.
In the animal world this nurtures instability, something a pack would never do. From day one the human fulfills himself and forgets about what’s important to the dog.
In the absence of a 100 percent leader, the dog even a submissive one will seek to fill what they see as a vacant role. The dog will ignore the owner or act out in other ways. This is the beginning of giving control to them.
One of the most important things you can remember is that dogs are animals. If we don’t fulfill them as a species, they won’t live a balanced, centered life. Understanding and projecting a pack leaders calm, assertive energy will create a positive and lasting connection with your dog.
Next Step 1:
Dog’s Interaction Without Words
Dogs do not speak using words; they interact through constant energy.
Dogs do not speak using words; they interact through constant energy. Barking is one part of interaction but not the only way dogs communicate.
Think of a newborn puppy: First the nose starts to work; then the eyes; then the ears. The nose is the most powerful thing for them to use to relate and connect with their surroundings.
Humans often rely on verbal communication when they interact with dogs: Come on, Johnny, please, please stop eating the flowers! The pack leader doesn’t negotiate or cajole to get what he or she wants. No wonder the dog is ignoring you!
When you meet a dog for the first time, share the same energy that they would receive from their pack leader. This calm, assertive way of being will let them understand who you are and really see you. Crouching down to their level while smiling and cooing tells a dog absolutely nothing; you might as well be speaking Martian.
The dog will respond to your calm, assertive energy by balancing it with a calm, submissive state. Once he achieves this state you can share affection and love.
The mom or the pack leader also uses this calm, assertive energy to set rules, boundaries and limitations for how the dog interacts with his surroundings. The pack leader enforces these laws in a quiet way: maybe the mom picks up the puppy if he strays outside the den.
The pack leader doesn’t project emotional or nervous energy and neither should you. If you don’t set rules, boundaries and limitations in calm, assertive ways, your dog will not respect you.
Waiting is another way that pack leaders assert their position. Puppies wait to eat; dogs wait until the pack leader wants them to travel. Waiting is a form of work for the dog psychological work. Domestication means dogs don’t need to hunt for food, but they can still work for food.
Establish your position as pack leader by asking your dog to work. Take him on a walk before you feed him. And just as you don’t give affection without your dog being in a calm, submissive state, don’t give food until your dog acts calm and submissive. (Exercise will help the dog especially high-energy ones achieve this state.)
Try this: To further achieve a calm and submissive state before feeding, ask your dog to sit and wait a moment while you place his meal in his bowl. When he has sat patiently, give him the OK to eat.
Interact as the dogs parents interact with their puppies. Begin your day with calm, assertive energy before you share emotions or excitement. Establish rules, limitations and boundaries to create a healthy state of mind in the dog. Finally, enjoy a simple walk primal activity for dogs accustomed to following pack leaders over hundreds of miles. It will say more than any word ever could.
Next Step 2:
How to Claim Leadership Over the Dog Pack
Dogs don't follow emotional leaders; they follow calm, assertive leaders.
The first step in assuming the role of pack leader is to understand dog psychology. We must recognize dogs as animals and remember what is important to them as a species.
Dogs don’t know you as your name, your race or your achievements. You could be the president of the United States; dogs don’t know. What they know is the energy you share and the activities you participate in with them.
Dogs don’t follow emotional or lovable leaders; they follow calm, assertive leaders. The mother is calm and assertive when she’s giving birth and that’s the first energy that they experience.
You must project calm, assertive energy before you share love with your dog. Love is a human gift; were the only pack leader who will love them. Their dog pack leader won’t throw a birthday party for them or reward good behavior.
Most dogs that live in this country have shelter, food, and lots of love. These are the dogs that often become unstable because they’re not working for food and water. Dogs need a pack leader to feel balanced and connected. They need to be told every day what to do. Leadership is forever and love is forever. But sometimes we get lazy and only share loveno leadership.
Once you share calm, assertive energy and the dog goes into a submissive state, then you can share love and affection.
Dogs also look to the pack leader to set rules, boundaries and limitations. People often ask me at what age they should start training their puppy. The answer is immediately!
The dogs mother begins training her puppies from birth. She makes them wait for food; she controls when they play and how far they travel. Adult dogs need these same rules, boundaries and limitations from their pack leader.
Another important necessity for dogs is the walk. In their natural habitat they earn food and water while traveling and they get to experience the world. Walking also stimulates their minds.
Walking in front of a dog allows you to be seen as the pack leader because position matters to a dog. Conversely, if your dog controls you on the walk, he’s the pack leader. Master the walk and your dog will relate to you as a pack leader.
During the walk you will feel the highest level of connection with your dog. My clients are often surprised by this because they think dogs only crave love and affection. Not so. Dogs crave rules, boundaries and limitations from their pack leader. This allows them to relax and accept their role within the pack.
Next Step 3:
Teaching Humans to Relate to Their Dogs Without Words
The key to earning your dogs respect as the pack leader is to understand the nature of the pack.
One thing I have learned from dogs is to live in the moment. They don’t live in the future or the past unlike humans.
If someone brings me a dog that has destroyed the living room, I don’t see the dog as that action. I see him as a dog that needs help. He didn’t premeditate the action.
This doesn’t mean that dogs are less than human or more than human. They’re just a different species. If we don’t fulfill them as a species, dogs won’t live a balanced, centered or happy life.
Dogs as Animals
Dogs don’t follow emotional leaders or lovable leaders; they follow calm, assertive leaders. This is the same for all animals in the animal kingdom. Humans are the only animals that follow unstable, emotional leaders around the world.
The pack leader, which is the mom or a male, controls everything: when the pack eats, when they play, how far they can walk. The key to earning your dogs respect as the pack leader is to understand the nature of the pack and to duplicate the action and attitude of the pack leader. The pack instinct is the dogs strongest natural motivator.
The biggest mistake people make is seeing their dogs as humans or babies. This allows them to miss out on what the dog needs as an animal. The sad thing is people do this out of well-intentioned love. But what they’re doing only nurtures unstable behavior and deprives the dog what he needs most.
Dogs as Breeds
A dog is an animal first and a breed second. For example, people think all German Shepherds act a certain way. German Shepherd is just the breed a cultural background in the dog world.
A mutt can develop the same negative side effects as a German Shepherd. Do not focus on the breed; instead, focus on the behavior. The breed is just the skills or the outfit the dog wears. Underneath, they are all just dogs.
Yes, there are physical differences between breeds. A Siberian Husky can travel for dozens of miles a day and is not suited to live in an urban apartment. If you have a frustrated Siberian Husky, their physical energy will only intensify unbalanced behavior.
This is why its important to allow every dog the opportunity to work out physical energy. Take him for a walk or bike ride every day to exercise his body and his mind.
The Submissive State
Most dogs are born submissive because there can only be so many pack leaders. When dogs become unstable they exhibit fearful, nervous or other unwanted behaviors. Our goal is to provide the dog with the same calm, assertive leadership that they would experience in a pack.
This natural balance calm, assertive leadership with calm, submissive behavior nurtures stability and creates a balanced, centered and happy dog.
Next Step 4:
Nonverbal Signals Every Dog Owner Should Learn
When your dog recognizes you as the pack leader, you will enjoy the connection that you have sought all along.
Dogs communicate first through their nose, their eyes, and then their ears. Humans need to understand how the dog interacts on a primal level with his pack leader in order to connect with their own dogs.
Project calm, assertive energy. This is the key to connecting with your dog. The mom or the pack leader always projects calm, assertive energy. Dogs in the pack balance that energy with a calm, submissive way of being.
Humans often project excited energy when they interact with their dogs. They shower their dog with affection, which feels foreign to the dog.
Always begin your day with calm, assertive energy before you share affection. This fulfills your dogs needs as an animal before your own.
Set rules, boundaries and limitations. This is the hardest thing for people to do. They even wait to introduce any rules or training until the puppy is at least six months old!
The dogs mom sets these rules from day one: where they can sleep, how far they can walk, when they can eat. These rules, boundaries and limitations nurture a healthy state of mind.
As adults, dogs look to their pack leader to set these rules. They don’t question the pack leaders position and the pack leader doesn’t look to the dogs to affirm his position. This is the natural balance of the pack.
Without rules, boundaries and limitations, your dog will not respect you as the pack leader.
Make feeding a ritual. When puppies are little, they wait to be fed by their mother. This waiting is a form of work. When feeding, we ask the pack to work for food and water this is why we walk the pack before they eat.
Dogs don’t get fed when their mind is excited, nervous, tense or aggressive. They get fed when their mind is calm and submissive.
Walk the walk. If we study dogs in their natural habitat, walking is how they earn food and water and experience the world. Dogs would rather walk than do anything else because they get to work their body and their mind.
A big back yard is no substitute for a primal activity like a walk. A dog with a big back yard can still develop frustration because the physical energy needs to go somewhere. That is why daily walks are so important.
When walking, make sure that you are in front of your dog. This allows you to be seen as the pack leader. Remember, dogs always follow the pack leader.
When your dog recognizes you as the pack leader, you will enjoy the connection that you have sought all along.