Who's In Charge Here?

So you're out there trying your best to train the puppy, but he's not paying you a bit of attention? Nothing you do seems to hold his attention except the food and when it's gone - his attention's gone? Feeling invisible? Or he's biting you on the legs, feet, whatever is within reach and nothing seems to deter the little devil? What to do, what to do?

There is a very simple little exercise to do that will explain to puppy, in "Dog-lish", that you are the boss and you mean what you say. It's called the long down or dominance down. It's NOT to teach the dog the down exercise, but to teach him that you are in charge. Seems a bit bizarre? It makes perfect sense to the dog...... here's why;

If your puppy has stayed with his littermates and mom for a minimum of 7 weeks, he will have learned about dominance from them and now we will teach him that you, too, are higher in the pecking order than he is. Why, you say, should you care that you are tops in a "pecking order"? Dogs live by pack rules - alpha is tops....everyone defers to the alpha dog - alpha eats first, they move out of the way of alpha and they don't bite alpha! You cannot just declare yourself alpha to the dog, you must prove to him that you are and you must do it in his "language". After you do, life will proceed in an orderly manner, ie, in this case, that puppy training will go a bit smoother! ;-)

This exercise is done in steps, each step depending on the last one. Here are the weekly exercises....remember - never progress to the next step until you have mastered the current one!

WEEK 1.... Other than the "Come", this may be the most important exercise that you can teach your dog, because it teaches him that YOU are in control. Success with this exercise sets the stage for progress in other areas of training.
Sit beside your dog on the floor , tell him DOWN and place him DOWN. Be sure to use the command," DOWN", every time you must place him down. Keep him in this position for 30 minutes - THIRTY MINUTES! If he even begins to think of getting up, apply pressure to the top of his shoulders and repeat "DOWN". Should he actually get up, do not yell NO, simply lower him back into the down position just as you did in the beginning - be sure to use the "DOWN" command. DO NOT pet him....although while he is down it's okay to say "Good boy" in a matter-of-a-fact way. Do not chatter away at him the entire time. DO NOT give  him a toy or food during this lesson!

Remain close to him during this period. Do not leave his side unless you release him. At the end of the 30 minutes, if he has fallen asleep, wake him up and release him with an "OKAY"! DO NOT lose your patience! The first time you try this you will probably get a wide reaction.... anything from whinning, screaming, trying to bite, rolling over to escape and trying to crawl off, to simply trying to look as pitiful as possible. You'll find out just how imaginative your puppy can be!

Do this exercise a minimum of 4 times the first week, but only once per day.

SECOND WEEK - If you have ended the week without a problem on the long down....ie, puppy fell asleep right off and you got to watch all of the local newscast, then you woke him up and said "OKAY"......  you can now progress to the next level. If not, go back to square one. Remember, this lesson progresses in steps and you must build on a solid foundation.

This week, instead of sitting on the floor, you are going to sit in a chair or on a stool, with the dog on the floor beside you. You must be ready to place him into the down immediately if he attempts to get up. This week, try to keep your hands off him during the exercise, ie, no hand on his back ready to apply pressure. Again, this exercise will be for 30 minutes as before.

You will be alternating the week between the long down ( for 30 minutes ) and a new exercise - the LONG SIT. The long sit starts with you and your dog side by side, him sitting on the floor next to you and you in a chair. You should be ready and able to keep the dog sitting if he starts to get up or lie down. Keep him there for FIVE MINUTES, then release with an "Okay". Only do this only  once per day and about 3 times this week, alternating days with the long down.


THIRD WEEK - Making progress??? If so, go to the next level.

Long Sit: This week have the dog sit on the floor in front of you - you are still in the chair -  instead of beside you, but still be careful not to let him get up or lie down. This week you will have him sit for 10 MINUTES. Alternate days with the LONG DOWN ( 30 Minutes), in which you will also have the dog in front of you.

FOURTH WEEK - Doing great? Hope so..... Now for the big test! This week, you will still do the 30 minute down and the 10 minute sit, but you will be across the room, with one eye watching for any sign of getting up or laying down! Alternate the days.

FIFTH WEEK - You're practically a pro now! This week the exercises are still the 30 minute down and the 10 minute sit, but after sitting awhile, get up and move to another chair or sofa at least 2 or 3 times, but keep an eye on the dog! DO NOT let him get up, lie down or dash off!

Once you have mastered ALL these steps, you will see a definite difference in your dog's attitude toward you. After you are confident the dog will stay put when you tell him, you have become - THE ALPHA PACK LEADER! However, don't get the swelled head just yet, alpha leaders are challenged all their lives by the other pack members. You will find that an occasional LONG DOWN does wonders for your dog's attention to you and you'll have a better pet for it.