Establishing Leadership With Your Dog

  • Exhibit body language and energy that clearly shows you are a leader. Leaders are calm, authoritative, and confident. Dogs match a leader’s energy, not the other way around!
  • Use the correct tone of voice or pitch—it’s as critical to leadership as your body language and energy.
  1. Command Tone: a normal, calm, speaking pitch
  2. Praise Tone: a higher, excited, happy pitch
  • Understand that obedience work forms the foundation for gaining a dog’s respect.
  • Do obedience work in locations with distractions, once the dog has been taught a new command.
  • Use every interaction you have with your dog—playing, walking, mealtimes—as an opportunity to establish leadership.
  • Don’t issue commands unless you’re prepared to follow through. Don’t repeat commands once you are certain your dog knows the command. Dogs know when you aren’t serious and become desensitized to both your voice and the commands! (In other words, they will TUNE YOU OUT!)
  • Don’t threaten or challenge any dog by leaning over it and imposing the alpha dog stance. NEVER act like a dog: don’t growl, bite, snarl, or otherwise act like an alpha dog. Don’t hit, use the alpha roll, or harm your dog in any way. Force will only bring out fear and aggression.
  • Respond, don’t react.
  • Praise your dog after a full completion of a command or activity—not midway through.

Have fun with your obedience work; be creative and set up fresh challenges. Your dog mirrors your energy and emotional state. If you’re having fun, your dog will too!