The most important thing to remember when training a dog is they are a pack animal. They need to be in a pack: for survival, for food, for companionship, for a mate; for everything. From Cosi’s point of view, you are part of her pack.

A pack has a leader, and if there isn’t one, any of the dogs in the pack will attempt to be the leader of the pack. The leader provides a sense of security for the others in the pack, and provides the following:

  • The leader eats first and lets the others know when it is time for them to eat
  • The leader leads the way when the pack is on the move
  • The leader leads, that is, it goes first, leads the way
  • The leader sleeps the highest, literally, the “top dog”
  • The leader warns the pack of danger

While the pack needs a leader, the dogs do not insist that they be the leader. When we got here, Cosi looked like she thought she was the leader of the pack. She jumped up on furniture (to be the top dog). She barked when people approached (to warn the pack of danger). She pulled on the leash (to lead the way). She went where she wanted in the house, came and went in and out of the house at will, she eats any food she sees as soon as she sees it. These are all “leader of the pack” behaviours.

In order to train Cosi, we have to relieve her of the stress (and there is stress) of being the leader of the pack.

You guys need to be the top dogs. And there can be more than one. A pack will often have an alpha male and an alpha female. There is room for both of you.

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