A Dog’s Place in a Human Family

What does your dog expect from you? Most
dogs need and want a leader. Dogs are social
animals and like being part of a group, but every
group must have a leader to prevent chaos. For
your dog to feel relaxed, he needs to know that
someone is in charge. If you don’t take on the
role of leader, your dog may feel that he has to
fill the position. But, your dog may not be the
best leader – he may not make the best decisions
for your family!
As your dog’s leader, then, you are responsible
for managing the following aspects of your
dog’s life:
Safety. You should make sure that your dog is
contained – that she doesn’t run loose and she’s
on lead when necessary. You provide her with
I.D. on her collar and a registered microchip.
You make sure that your home environment is
safe for her.
Social skills. You must manage his behavior at
all times. If your dog has behavior issues such
as aggressive tendencies toward other dogs or
irritability around small children, work with him
and manage his behavior so that he doesn’t get
into trouble. Well-socialized dogs are able to go
many places; they are comfortable in most situations.
Manners. Training is among your leadership
duties. You must teach your dog basic cues and
basic manners. Well-mannered dogs are much
more welcome by other humans than badly
mannered dogs.
Medical concerns. You are responsible for
managing your dog’s health. He cannot tell you
if he is due for vaccines or if he needs to have
blood work done because he is getting older.
Keeping order. In your home, it is your job to
keep your dog from being destructive. If she is
getting into the trash when you’re not home,
move the trash can or put a lid on it. If she is
chewing the children’s toys and shoes, teach
them to pick things up and put them away, and
give the dog some of her own things to chew.
As a kind leader, you will gently teach your dog
the things she needs to know to be comfortable
in our human world. Don’t expect her to somehow magically know how to live in a human
family. (She is a dog, after all!) She will love
being a valued family member, but she will still
be a dog and will look to you for guidance.

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