• Does your dog sit, stay and come every time you ask?
  • Is your dog nervous, anxious or unruly when you take him outside of your home?
  • Is your dog aggressive or nervous of dogs or people that you meet on walks?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, maybe your “dog leadership” skills need some tuning up.

Dog training has come a long way in the last 10 years and in Canberra, the local dog training professionals use modern methods of training based on the latest understanding of dog behaviour.  These are excellent options for people who want dog training, help with behavioural problems and most importantly, training in becoming a ‘Doggy Leader’.

In simple terms, many anxious, unruly or “badly behaved” dogs are lacking in leadership.  Many dogs cope without much leadership and behave normally or acceptably, but quite a few do not.  Unfortunately, many of the behaviours that we perform to provide “leadership” and even friendship to our dog send the opposite message in “dog language”.  As a consequence our dogs become confused, anxious and forced to take on leadership roles they are uncomfortable with, leading to unacceptable behaviour.

Dogs need and want strong leaders in their pack.  If your dog perceives you as a weak leader, it will take over that role, often with disastrous consequences.  By applying a few simple principles, you can become a strong and convincing leader in the eyes of your dog.

  1. A dog needs to know who is the leader in every single situation they presented with. Examples of new situations are; when you get in the car, going into the garden, when you go for a walk, when you go to the vet or when walking an unfamiliar dog or person approaches. It is vital that you make it clear to your dog that every time a situation changes, you are still the leader, and you decide how the interaction proceeds.
  2. Dog leaders tend to be calm, somewhat aloof, and very confident and tend to completely ignore subordinate dogs. Your dog will look to you to see if you are the leader in a new situation, if not, they will take on the role.
  3. Dogs are experts in reading body language. This is their main form of communication and their own body language is complex and fast moving. They will assess the body language of all people and dogs involved in an interaction in an instant. Especially yours. This will dictate how they react.

If you think you are having problems with your doggy leadership style, make an appointment with one of the vets to discuss the issue and what options are available for you. Accredited professional training organisations can help you develop a much better relationship with your dog and take the anxiety out of walks in the park and other activities outside the home. March is Polite Pets month, an initiative of the Australian Veterinary Association to encourage good behaviour in our pets. Inner South Veterinary Centre will be proactively involved and is very happy to discuss any behaviour issues you have with your dog, cat or birds. We will be running blogs through February and March with a behaviour focus.