Does your dog follow you or is your day dominated by your dog's demands? When your dog starts pestering you, do you give in to his/her demands? Here we’ll talk about the importance of leadership so your dog can relax and adapt to your routines.
All of us have daily routines. Some of them may include your dogs, some don't. The ones that do include them can potentially lead to demanding behaviours or expectations from your dog.
Many of us get up in the morning to a cup of coffee with the coffee pot set the night before so we can get our caffeine fix as soon as possible. You may turn on the news or ramp up your iPad to catch up on what is going on in the world. You may let your dogs out first thing, or you may take them for a walk after breakfast. Either way they should know to relax and let you start your morning peacefully.
Based on repetition, your dog will learn your daily routines, including when you might let him out, when he might get fed, when he might get attention or when he might get a walk. He may start to demand that these things happen, even if you are not ready or have changed your mind. It is important that you are able to make all the decisions for what happens in his daily life. This sets you up as a strong leader, capable of keeping the pack safe and strong. He will begin to calm down and just relax until you let him know that it’s time to eat or play or walk.
Just like kids, dogs need structure and rules. You should use your routines to teach your dog how to live with you versus the other way around. Dogs misbehave when they are allowed to dictate the rules and routines of the pack. They become stressed and anxious if you are not doing what they expect or anticipate. Dogs that are feeling safe and confident in their owner’s leadership abilities, find it much easier to adapt to changes or upsets that do come along from time to time, whether planned for or unexpected.
It is important that every time they demand your attention, you don't acknowledge them. How many times has your dog nuzzled you while you are doing something else? Do you stop what you are doing and acknowledge him or do you teach your dog that you are not manipulatable and ignore him? Although it is hard to not give in to their cute face, it is important your dog knows he can’t control you. This leads to confusion and ‘misbehaviour’ as he attempts to control other situations like warding off an intruding dog or person by barking.
Once your dog is following your lead, you shouldn't have to give him many instructions because he will be calm and non-expectant. He will not be making any demands or getting anxious if you’re not following his routines. He will be happy to follow when you call him for that walk or for food or for some pats and cuddles.
Dogs can worry about their safety and security in their pack. They are happier when they know you are taking control of all the decisions in the household. You can teach your dog how to live with you or he will try and teach you how to live with him. The former approach will make you both happier!