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Be the leader

LeadershipI can confirm the teaching of Cesar Millan is correct, that the basic idea of dog obedience is about leadership, about being the pack leader. In virtually all cases where I have been teaching people how to deal with their dogs, the moment the person takes control, takes on the leadership role, the dog will just follow.

Quite often dogs are just taking the sit postition in my 'sit exercise' the moment the owner or handler relaxes and becomes the natural leader, which of course he or she already is.

And I can't fully explain how it works, but in the end leadership seems to be only about being the leader. And being the leader seems to be something like taking charge, taking responsibility. And when you do everything seems to fall into place.

What is being the leader?

I have learned that being the leader means basically two things:

  1. Know what you want.
  2. Implement it.

And this may sound very simple and it kind of is, but it is not easy. At least not for most of the dog owners I meet during my work. When people e.g. want to stop their dog from peeing and/or pooing inside and I ask if they walk their dog and where their dog is supposed to pee and/or poo, most people don't have an answer to that. So how can you potty train your dog if you don't even know where he or he is supposed to pee and/or poo?

And peeing and pooing in a specific place is as far as I know very easy to teach to a dog, as dogs by themselves don't like to pee or poo in their own living area. Just tell them a few times with first gentle 'no' where not to pee or poo (show them), and bring them to the place where they are supposed to pee and poo and wait for a little while. Then when they pee or poo in the designated area praise them very loud and don't be surprised within a few days your dog will just pee and poo in the designated area.

Or if I ask a dog owner if a dog is allowed on the couch when they jump on the couch I often here things like "he or she just does it" or "sometimes". How can you expect a dog to be obedient if you didn't even decide on whether he or she is allowed on the couch or not?

Be clear

Another thing about leadership, about being the leader is about being clear. That may be not be the easiest thing to do in Filipino culture (I am Dutch), but to me it is the only way how to deal with dogs: be clear.