To become the leader of the pack, you only have to do four things:
- Eat first and say when Cosi can eat
- Go first (like into the house) and tell Cosi where she can go and when
- Sit higher and only allow Cosi “on high” with an invitation
- Make her feel safe and don’t let her bark
Eat First: This one is pretty simple. Feed the dogs after you eat. When you are eating, have the dogs go outside. When it is time for them to eat, have Cosi sit, say “wait”, put her food down, pause a few seconds, then say “Ok”. If she starts to move to the food before you say “Ok”, say “Wait” again. If she goes for her food, pull her back by the collar and say “Wait” again. Over time, have her wait longer and longer until she is waiting about 10 seconds for permission.
Go First: Again, pretty simple. When Cosi is outside, tell her to sit and wait before you open the screen. When she is settled (two or three seconds) say “Ok” to let her come in. If she moves before you give permission, say “Wait” again. If she comes in without permission, say “Out” and have her go out and do it again from the top: “Sit”, “Wait”, “Ok”. If she comes in barking, say “Out” and have her do it again. If she comes in barking more than about two or three times, go to the other do and have her sit and wait for the Ok from there.
The other thing we have done is to keep Cosi out of the kitchen. This addresses both of the first two items: eat and go. She does not get to sit around when food is being prepared. She is really good at this and all you have to say to her is “Out of the kitchen” and she will go to the boundary.
NOTE: Dogs do not have a sense of fair play. You do not have to train Eric at all. Cosi will not think, “that’s not fair; Eric gets to (eat, bark, go in, etc.). For example, we let Eric in the kitchen, don’t make her wait to come in, etc. It does not affect Cosi’s training at all. Dogs are used to other dogs having different privileges.
Sit Higher: Cosi used to go into the lounge and sleep on the couch or recliner. She now waits for an invitation, and if she doesn’t get one, she just lays on the floor near us. Again, she doesn’t think it unfair that Eric or Tira get to sit up with you. We also have trained her (with less success) to wait for an invitation to jump up on the bed. We will continue to train her out of just jumping up when she wants, but you may have to continue this after we are gone.
Feel Safe: You are probably doing this already, but a good pat, chest scratch, “good girl”, etc. will go a long way. If she barks when she comes in, or when someone comes to the door, show her the palm of your hand and say “No barking” then “Good girl” and she will get the idea really quickly.
These four things will establish you as the leader of the pack, Cosi will relax, be happier, and be a lot easier to train.