Leadership and Responsibility
This might sound biased coming from a professional dog trainer, but training a dog is really not that difficult. With the rights tools and knowledge, you can build a strong bond between you and your dog, while teaching him/her the right manners and behaviors. But along with these things, a dog owner must also demonstrate leadership and responsibility over their dogs.
Sometimes leadership is confused with “dominance”. There are many trainers, training books and television shows that will advise dog owners to be an “alpha” and to show dominance over their dogs. Being dominant over your dog can get you results, but it is not necessary. Sometimes, using dominance methods (especially in excess) can cause more problems, such as fear-based behavior, including aggression.
Being a leader is not about being aggressive or dominant over your dog, it about being firm and consistent. With all of my Baltimore dog training programs, I employ a reward-based training protocol that brings balance and allows the dog to be set up for positivity and success. It also teaches owners how to gain control of their dog, showing them what they need to do, and also what they cannot do. If an owner cannot be a confident, consistent leader for their dog, the dog can respond in different ways:
1. Dogs can become more nervous and anxious. As a pack animal, the dog needs a leader, and if the dog is not willing to take that role upon themselves, then they are left directionless. This can cause fear and skittish behavior.
2. If dogs DO choose to take their leadership role, they can take this to any level. The dog can become increasingly dominant and demanding, even over the owner! This could lead to bad manners, dominance over people (including the owner) and other animals, and even aggression!
When it comes to responsibility, most dog owners understand the great responsibility it takes to caring for a dog. Responsibility isn’t just about having the means to provide food, shelter, and vet visits, but it also includes teaching the dog what they need to do, and leading them to behavioral success.
This is why training is such an important part of a dog’s life, whether an owner pursues professional training or takes a DIY approach. If the latter still doesn’t cover all your dog’s behavior issues and your training goals, then consider looking into a professional trainer. If you’re in Baltimore and are looking for a reward-based dog trainer that helps both dogs and their owners, call 800-649-7297 to tell us about your case!