Pack Mentality In Puppies

Once your puppy enters your home, he or she becomes a part of your pack. But in your dog’s mind, there needs to be a leader. And if that leader isn’t you, they’ll think it’s them – which can lead to a myriad of undesirable puppy behaviors. Learn from Mike Stewart of Wildrose Kennels, and discover how you can become the leader of the pack through trust and respect, repetition and consistency with your puppy.

Introduction To Pack Mentality : Video Transcript

Mike Stewart: Welcome to the pack, the family pack that is, at least in the eyes of this pup. He's looking for a pack to join. The other dogs matter, the kids matter, everybody matters, and he's also looking for a leader. If he can't find one, he's likely to try to become one himself.

Take mouthing, for instance. May be cute when you first bring your puppy home, nipping on your fingers, but it's not going to be cute at three and four months old. Jumping, the puppy placing his paws on you, that can become a very dominant action as the puppy grows older. Right from the start, we want you to discourage a puppy jumping on you.

Barking in a crate. When the puppy starts barking in the crate, all in his place or outside, don't respond with your attention. Basically, you're rewarding the pup. It's an unintentional consequence that you reinforced the very behavior that you don't want.

Refusing to stay on place is another sign the puppy may not be seeing you as the leader. You tell the puppy to stay and you walk away, he should stay. Pulling on the lead as you're trying to lead your pup. If he's dragging you about, then basically he's in charge. One of the things to watch for is sniffing the ground, refusing to give you eye contact. These are the signs that he thinks he's in charge, not you.

Get the puppy on a routine and stick with it. Feeding, taking the pup out for relief, exercise, watering, all should be on a schedule. Dogs liked predictability. They don't like boredom, but they like the routine. The puppy should have a place to be in the home. He should have a crate and does not get free roam.

The puppy needs boundaries. We want to have the puppy have a routine, but also consistency in command, consistency in the rules of the house and everybody applies them. Take feeding, for instance, you can turn a feeding schedule into a real leadership opportunity. Get her behavior before you give the reward, the food. In other words, get sit, stay, eye contact before you give the reward of the food.

Also think about indiscriminate petting, basically petting the puppy at inappropriate times. The puppy comes running, flying through the house and jumps on a stranger and they pet the puppy, that reinforces the very undesirable behavior that you want. Be wary of overstimulating young puppies. For instance, tug of war, chase, throwing balls repeatedly over and over. We want to make sure we build patients in the puppy's life. Overall, establish leadership through trust and respect, repetition and consistency. Be a leader right from the start.