In discussing dog leadership and canine pack structure, we run across a surprisingly large number of people who do not understand the use of leadership methods to train a dog.
We’ve met and talked to many animal professionals, including veterinarians, breeders, shelter or rescue workers and even other trainers, who will say that they do not believe in pack structure training.
In discussing it further, we’ve come to realize that these people usually equate the term “pack structure” with the act of physical dominance. These are actually two very different things.
Physical dominance (rolling your dog onto their back and standing over them, poking them in the neck with your fingers, harsh corrections while on leash, etc.) should NEVER be used as a form of dog training or as a way to teach your dog that you are the pack leader. But pack structure techniques are invaluable in helping your puppy or dog to become a quality adult dog and a well behaved member of your family.
At A Better Dog Home Dog Training, our program and methodology have their foundation in pack structure and leadership training.
We use psychological, not physical, exercises to teach your dog that you, and every other human in your home, are above them in the pack hierarchy.
Pack structure training and exercises should be the key element to any dog training program.
You can teach your dog every obedience command and correction command in the book, but if you leave out pack structure training, you are just spinning your wheels.
We all know the owner who looks at their dog and says “sit”, the dog looks at them, they say “sit” again, the dog looks around, they say “SIT” again and the dog walks away.
This is a dog who may know the “sit” command, but they are making their own decision about whether or not to obey it.
They do not respect where the command is coming from so they are choosing to walk away. If you have a treat, the dog will obey, but without the treat, you might as well be talking to the wall.
“Becoming a pack leader involves adopting the attitude of a pack leader. It does not involve aggression towards a dog, it doesn’t involve rolling him on his back, hard leash corrections or even raising your voice. It involves adopting a leader’s attitude. This is something that new dog owners must learn how to do.”
– Sgt Jeff Frawley of Leerburg Dog Training
one of the preeminent dog training companies in the world
“Wolves live in packs – groups of animals that are usually related by close, blood ties (family units). A hierarchical order exists within the pack; every animal knows its place in that order.
Researchers studying wolves today observe the common traits shared by humans and wolves. Like many human beings, wolves live in extended families.
For wolves, those families are called packs. Wolves live in packs because cooperation allows wolves to bring down larger prey than individual wolves can do on their own.
Pack life also insures the care and feeding of the young, and allows wolves to expertly defend their common territory. The male and female leaders of the pack are called alphas. These two animals lead the pack during a hunt and often eat first when a kill is made.”
– Wolf Haven International
“The question is often raised whether dogs see their human family as members of the pack. I believe the answer to this question is that they do. I don’t think for a minute that dogs think we’re other dogs.
I do think, however, that all interactions between dogs and their owners are based on the only paradigm for interaction with which they are endowed, that is, the law of the pack.
Dogs need strong though not aggressive leaders. More willful dogs need stronger leaders.
The only problem with the domestic pack is that we humans often do not know the correct ways to respond to our dogs’ demands and inadvertently destabilize the hierarchy. Then there can be trouble in the form of aggression and general confusion in the ranks. This must be avoided at all costs.”
– Dr. Nicholas Dodman – animal psychologist and author
“Dogs Behaving Badly” & “The Dog Who Loved Too Much”