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Discussion Starter #1
Having recently gotten a new puppy I have been doing alot of reading on how to train a puppy and I have came across lots of different opinions. I am wondering about being a pack leader i have read alot about it but I am not sure about just what it is and if it is affective

have any of you had any luck with it I would love to hear your opinions and storys

thanks :)
 

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Yes, in a sense you should be your pup's pack leader. Not in the way a dog would be, but more in the sense of being a parent to a child. Except this "child" will never ask to borrow the car keys.

As a "parent" you set and enforce rules and boundaries for your pup. You teach the pup proper behavior in the human world (i.e. house training and walking nicely on a lead). The most important thing you can do for a pup, especially a small breed dog, is to treat it like an intelligent dog and not a baby or fashion accessory. If it's the Yorkie in your picture then, if you don't teach it proper manners, you'll have a pint-sized tyrant on your hands. Yorkies may be tiny but they are all terrier when it comes to attitude.
 

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This of course depends on what you think a pack leader is!

You are the one who controls all the resources..food, water, freedom, play, toys etc and are the only one with the opposable thumbs so you technically are already in charge of everything!

I recommend you pick up a copy of "The Puppy Whisperer" by Paul Owens or "The Power of Positive Dog Training" by Pat Miller. Both great positive reinforcement based training programs for dogs and puppies....

To be a leader you do NOT have to eat first, never let the dogs on the furniture or go through doorways first..all you have to do is teach the dog, through training and reward, the behaviours you WANT and manage his life so that he doesn't have the opportunity to practice the ones you don't. Being firm, loving and teaching what you want and your rules can be accomplished without dominance.

Oh..and the most important thing to start off your puppy with (aside from housetraining) is SOCIALIZATION. Positive interactions with other dogs, people of all ages, sizes, shapes and colours and every possible thing you can think of in the physical world (noises, textures, moving things, statues etc).

Good luck with your puppy!
 

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There is a lot of stuff going around television and the internet about how owners have to be pack leaders, have to dominate their dogs into submission in order to prevent the dog from usurping leadership in the household. There are theories saying that owners have to eat before the dog, walk out the door before the dog, walk in front of the dog at all times, never let the dog on the bed and tons of other "rules." You don't need to lose a hair on your head worrying about this. It's rubbish.

You SHOULD be the leader in your relationship with your dog -- you control her access to resources like food, walks, toys and praise, so you are the leader by default. You set the rules: no jumping, no chewing on furniture, no excessive barking -- and you use these resources to make good behaviour rewarding for her. That's all there is to it.

The rule of thumb in dog training -- number one rule, I'd say: Dogs will perform whatever behaviour is more rewarding to them. Remember that rule at ALL times when training your dog and you can throw all that "dominance" palava out the window. If you make it more rewarding for her to chew her Kong instead of the couch, she will chew the Kong and not your couch. If you make it more rewarding for her to greet guests by sitting quietly, she will greet guests that way instead of jumping or barking. And so on.
 

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I would forget leadership, dominance and all the rest. What RMNinja said in bold is the secret. What you need to figure out is how to make the beahvior you want the most rewarding behavior your dog can do. You also get to figure out how to make the behavior you don't want unrewarding to the dog.

There is a book by Pam Dennison called "The Complete Idiots Guide to Positive Dog Training" (Penguin Books). I suggest you get that and get started. There is a stickie here on NILIF (Nothing In Life Is Free) and I suggest you read that and do that too.

The secret to dog training is being consistant. This means 100% consistant. It means if you ask the dog to sit while talking on the phone and the dog does not sit, you interrupt your conversatin and follow thru getting your dog to sit (trust me.. dogs very fast learn that you being on the phone means they can do what they want.. LOL). This means if you ask for a recall and the dog does not come you stop doing whatever you are doing and get your dog to come to you.

It means knowing you are too involved in something to follow thru and NOT asking for something from your dog at that time because you already know you cannot/will not follow thru.

BTW this also means making no excuses for your dog such as "he's a little dog" or "He's still a puppy" or "He's always done that.."

Now, when you get all that squared away and your dog will sit, lie down, stay, wait, stand, heel, walk on a loose leash, heel off leash and come when called and not react to other dogs or people by barking and pulling on the leash you can think about the pack leader stuff.

When your puppy has his shots get thee hence to a puppy class. You both will find it a good thing.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
we have her enrolled in a puppy class starting tomorow and so far I think she is really well socialised shes been on walks to lots of different places and meet loads of different people. I have been doing NILIF with her but I was worried that i should also be a 'pack leader'. I just want to get everything right when training here
 

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...I was worried that i should also be a 'pack leader'.
The term 'pack leader' is one of those things that has no real meaning and very little descriptive value. It is what ever it is to the person using it and not much more.

Really, if we were to be our dog's 'pack leader' we'd all be a bunch of loners grouping only when necessary. That doesn't sound like anything that goes on in my home, and I doubt yours too, so no worries.
 

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Having recently gotten a new puppy I have been doing alot of reading on how to train a puppy and I have came across lots of different opinions. I am wondering about being a pack leader i have read alot about it but I am not sure about just what it is and if it is affective

have any of you had any luck with it I would love to hear your opinions and storys

thanks :)
Earn the trust of and inspire confidence in your puppy.

Everything else can be taken care of from there. You'll be able to teach him what he needs to know (and further grow his confidence with the successes), and will make you someone he'll always just want to stick around for the next fun adventure (and of course, hoping for a chance to earn more rewards :) )

If that can work with a fearful dog (i.e. mine) - it would be completely wonderful for a pup to gain this from the start as a foundation.
 

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You haven't really said what you mean by "being the pack leader", so it's hard to answer the question. It means different things to different people, some quite negative.

I have a "pack" of four large dogs, one of which is very excitable and another of which is very strong-willed. I DO consider the myself a pack leader in that I make and enforce the rules in the household that are conducive to harmony, as skelaki said. I also control the resources, as Cracker said (great post, by the way!).

I do NOT eat first, go through the doorway first (except when I give the wait command), demand the dogs walk behind me, etc. But my dogs don't get on the furniture (except for their couch) or the bed. The bed is a definite no-no in this house. Where would I sleep???

One thing that was important to me is to never let the dog start a behavior that you're going to want to get rid of later. In other words, it's a lot easier to stop a habit before it gets started than it is to try and change it later. Some things (nipping, growling, jumping) may be cute as a puppy, but ask yourself, do I want her doing this as an adult? If the answer is no, then stop it now. :)
 

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I dont really know what I mean by pack leader. I think I mean like the dog whisperer kind of thing but I dont really think I like his way of doing things but I was just worried that If I dont my dog be trained properly. This is my first dog so I dont really no If pack leadership is a normal thing
 

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Now, when you get all that squared away and your dog will sit, lie down, stay, wait, stand, heel, walk on a loose leash, heel off leash and come when called and not react to other dogs or people by barking and pulling on the leash you can think about the pack leader stuff.
When all that is squared away and the dog is happy to do those things, she won't have to think about being a pack leader, she'll already be one. ;)

I dont really know what I mean by pack leader. I think I mean like the dog whisperer kind of thing but I dont really think I like his way of doing things but I was just worried that If I dont my dog be trained properly. This is my first dog so I dont really no If pack leadership is a normal thing
You are already the pack leader, it's just how it is. Your the human that feeds it and controls it's world.

The question is will you be a "good" leader? Will you deal with your pet in terms it understands and be a fair leader that your dog will be happy to do anything you ask of it.

You won't get nearly enough information watching the dog whisperer to have any idea what he is to his dogs as a leader, or to other people's dogs. You'll need to read some books, get some training for yourself and your pup etc.

You can't really go wrong with positive training, find a trainer or class that uses all positive training and get educated.

The main difference I see in people's understanding can be broken down as this. Your dog needs to be submissive to your rules and requests (commands). Nobody disagrees on this.

The question is will your dog submit to and obey rules and commands out of fear of punishment, or out of desire to please you. That's your real choice.
 

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Your dog needs to be submissive to your rules and requests (commands). Nobody disagrees on this.
I disagree. If my request is unreasonable, my dog does not need to submit to my rules at all. What is reasonable is determined by what's been practiced, not rules that only have meaning to me.

The question is will your dog submit to and obey rules and commands out of fear of punishment, or out of desire to please you. That's your real choice.
I disagree here too. My dog behaves because doing so is reinforcing. Pleasing me offers no reinforcement to her, in of itself...zero. My choice is whether I want more behavior or less of it.
 

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I think I mean like the dog whisperer kind of thing
Cesar Millan deals with problem dogs on his show. Unless your dog is a problem dog, you probably don't need any of the harsher methods he uses.

But he does advocate a lot of good ideas as regards exercise and rules, which I am thankful I knew while raising my dogs. You could read his books if you're interested in him, but if you don't like him, I don't see any reason you would. :)

You've gotten some great advice here.
 

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Now, when you get all that squared away and your dog will sit, lie down, stay, wait, stand, heel, walk on a loose leash, heel off leash and come when called and not react to other dogs or people by barking and pulling on the leash you can think about the pack leader stuff.
When all that is squared away and the dog is happy to do those things, she won't have to think about being a pack leader, she'll already be one. ;)
That was my point.

Worry about learning about how to effectiveley train your dog. That is enough to do.

Don't muddy the water at this point with all the leadership, alpha, dominance stuff. Training your dog is your first order of business. It will take up a lot of your time and a lot of your thoughts.

Many dogs have been trained to become excellant companions.. well behaved and obedient.. without the owners caring about pack leader or any of the rest.
 

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I disagree. If my request is unreasonable, my dog does not need to submit to my rules at all. What is reasonable is determined by what's been practiced, not rules that only have meaning to me.
I also said "Will you deal with your pet in terms it understands and be a fair leader that your dog will be happy to do anything you ask of it."

Fair is not asking unreasonable requests, it's assumed. We have no disagreement.

[/quote]I disagree here too. My dog behaves because doing so is reinforcing. Pleasing me offers no reinforcement to her, in of itself...zero. My choice is whether I want more behavior or less of it.[/QUOTE]

Good behavior is reinforcing because you reinforce behavior that pleases you. Pleasing you gains reinforcement. Your picking nits.
 

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Fair is not asking unreasonable requests, it's assumed.
Ah yes, because all our requests are reasonable when we 'think' we're being fair, right? No.

Good behavior is reinforcing because you reinforce behavior that pleases you. Pleasing you gains reinforcement. Your picking nits.
I'll say it differently...pleasing me is not a requirement for reinforcement. I am often pleased when my dog errors, yet, I don't reinforce her errors. So no, pleasing me is not necessary for compliance. All I know about what's pleasing to me is that it's pleasing to me. What it does for my dog is outside of my control and can't/shouldn't be a variable in the equation. Not nits...specifics.

If the dog behaves to please you, what does it say about you when the dog misbehaves? It can only be one of two answers and they are both likely wrong.

We know for a fact dogs behave for reinforcement, and if the dog misbehaves, what does this say about the reinforcer? Seems like a better direction for our focus, no? Better than our pleasure?
 

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I may get blasted for this, but this is basically how I look at it. We all want well behaved dogs. We want dogs who patiently wait for our cues and then follows our commands promptly and without issues. To me how you get there doesn't matter. Every dog is different. I'm not going to motivate my basset with affection at all and I'm only going to motivate him so far with food. Play is a non-motivator unless I want to chew on a rawhide with him. My spaniel is very motivated by affection and even more so by food and especially loves to play. A good trainer picks up on these things I think. I am always impressed by a well-trained dog and couldn't care less really how the trainer got there.
 

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Simply by controlling the resources (food, toys, games, etc.), giving my dogs gentle guidance, boundaries, love and protection, I am automatically the "pack leader" in my house. That's all it is to me.
 
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