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Discussion Starter #1
My little dog is 6 years old now and I think he needs some leadership from me. I don't like to call it dominance, but I guess that's kind of what he needs. The issues we have been having I just thought were small dog/terrier problems but now I think I need to be more of a "pack leader"...

He barks like crazy when anybody comes to the house, but doesn't jump up on them or necessarily act 'excited' to see them. He will eventually calm down and he will go to them looking to be petted or bring toys around them to play, but it takes like a minute or 2 to calm him down.

If we are out and about he is fine with other dogs as long as he is away from me but sometimes he comes right beside me and will growl and snap occasionally, never bites but just enough to give a warning. He can also be this way with some people, he will growl a little if they touch him or bark if they talk to him. Thing is, his groomers always rave about what a great boy he is to work with, never say he is aggressive or fearful.

Another thing that alarms me is that 3 times now in his life he has deliberately peed on me. All 3 times, we have been with our dog club friends just standing around chatting with our dogs on leash and my dog will just come over and lift his leg and pee on me.

Does this sound like a 'pack-order' issue to you? What can I do to correct this without having to be physical with my dog?

Sorry this post is SOO long!!
 

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You don't need to be physical to be a leader to your dog. A leader should provide positive interaction and guide the dog towards appropriate alternative behavior.

If the barking is bothering you, work on what you want the dog to do instead when people come over. I know a lot of people train a dog to go to a mat or bed when they have guests.

What is going on exactly when he growls and snaps at dogs and people? Is he leashed? At a dog park? At home? There could be many reasons he is behaving that way.

It doesn't sound like 'pack order' issues to me. It sounds like he just needs more guidance and boundaries.
 

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A great leader doesn't control by using force. A great leader controls the mind.

Figure out what's going on in your dogs head, and why he is doing the unwanted behaviors and provide the proper alternative.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I NEVER said I wanted to use force, I teach my dog using positive reinforcement. If get him to go to his crate when somebody comes, he will just bark in his crate. I have tried to bring treats over to him and wait for him to quiet and give him one when he stops but he really doesn't care, and I don't want to accidentally reward him for barking. I'm not sure how to get him to stop so I can reward him for being quiet...

He growls/snaps at other dogs on leash and off leash, at the dogpark, at agility or flyball or anywhere else. But it's only when he is near me. At the dog park he will say hello to a dog and then come to me and if the dog comes near me with him he gets snappy. I don't get it! At first I thought it was just a sociallization issue and he just needed some time, but he is good with other dogs and people, just not around me.

He is my first dog and I'm trying to figure out how to help him get over this, I just don't know how!
 

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Does this sound like a 'pack-order' issue to you? What can I do to correct this without having to be physical with my dog?

Sorry this post is SOO long!!
No. It sounds like a training issue. If you give your dog structure, rules and alternate behaviors, you shouldn't need to get physical with him. Frequently when a dog has been running rough shod over the owner, posturing and chest thumping make things worse. I suspect he may be resource guarding you with the growling and snapping. As you give him more structure, he'll learn that you'll take care of things and it isn't his job. It also sounds like an over-arousal issue. A great book to read would be "Control Unleashed" for how to change the situation for him.
 

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No. It sounds like a training issue. If you give your dog structure, rules and alternate behaviors, you shouldn't need to get physical with him. Frequently when a dog has been running rough shod over the owner, posturing and chest thumping make things worse. I suspect he may be resource guarding you with the growling and snapping. As you give him more structure, he'll learn that you'll take care of things and it isn't his job. It also sounds like an over-arousal issue. A great book to read would be "Control Unleashed" for how to change the situation for him.
It's all about how you define 'pack leader'...

To me, giving rules, structure, training, limitations, etc etc...that's all being a good leader. Exactly what you said...learning that it's not his job and that you'll take care of those things....that's being a leader. It has zero to do with being physical. I personally don't like using the term "pack leader"...I think way too many people get so worked up over dominance/pack/etc. Too much NatGeo.

I just usually say that I give my dogs consistent exercise, training and structure. They earn everything they get...whether it's sitting to go outside or being in a down while I prepare their food then waiting until I release them to eat. To me that's the definition of being a leader.

What do you do with the dog growls/snaps at people or other dogs? How do you handle these outbursts?
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
So then, how do I teach him that I'll take care of things?

I do exercise him everyday, we are in agility and flyball so we train quite often, I always make him sit and wait before he can eat his food... How else do I be a leader?

Usually if he grumbles at people I will give them treats to give to him and then get them to treat him as they pet him and then pet him only when he's quiet. What am I doing wrong and what should I be doing?

If he snaps at another dog I will usually pull him away from the situation and get on his level and say 'No!'. It's obviously not working, but I don't know what else I should do. He'll normally only snap at a dog if they are not very good at saying hello politely, like if they run at him. Or if I'm working with him and I'm giving him treats and another dog comes around, he doesn't like that.

I want him to come to me for guidance, and I want to be able to help him, I just don't know what I'm doing wrong.
 

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It's all about how you define 'pack leader'...

To me, giving rules, structure, training, limitations, etc etc...that's all being a good leader. Exactly what you said...learning that it's not his job and that you'll take care of those things....that's being a leader. It has zero to do with being physical. I personally don't like using the term "pack leader"...I think way too many people get so worked up over dominance/pack/etc. Too much NatGeo.

I just usually say that I give my dogs consistent exercise, training and structure. They earn everything they get...whether it's sitting to go outside or being in a down while I prepare their food then waiting until I release them to eat. To me that's the definition of being a leader.

What do you do with the dog growls/snaps at people or other dogs? How do you handle these outbursts?
I don't object to your definition of "pack leader" at all. I tend not to use the phrase because it has such a different definition to many people. As to sog snapping at other dogs or people, I try to avoid the actual confrontation. By that point the dog is over threshold an not really in a place to learn. So, we start at a distance while the dog is still able to think, and work on changing the meaning of the situation for the dog. I have personally seen AMAZING results with Leslie McDevitt's "Look At That" game.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for your replies. I was looking for things I can do with my dog to help us, through positive reinforcement (clicker training). I completely forgot about Control Unleashed, I have heard of it before and I think that's exactly what we need. The things LM says and teaches makes sense to me, I want to help my dog, never force him.
 

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I want him to come to me for guidance, and I want to be able to help him, I just don't know what I'm doing wrong.
I don't use "no" with dogs, because "no" doesn't tell your dog what to do instead. Your dog's going to do something, so you need to show him what that should be. If he's barking hysterically when people come over, train "go to [mat/crate/where ever] and be quiet". Simply throwing him in his crate doesn't help, because to him a crate is not a no barking zone. He doesn't understand that you don't want him to bark, or what you'd prefer he do instead.

As to the snapping, he's resource guarding you. Resource guarding is normal dog behavior, though obviously undesirable, and relatively easy to handle. Check out Mine!. It's a book, I forget by whom, but it's all about resource guarding and how to deal with it.
 
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