A Dog’s Place in a Human Family

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 fll the position. But your dog may not be the best leader; he may not make the best decisions for your family. 

    As the dog’s leader, then, you are responsible for managing the following aspects of your dog’s life:
    Safety. You make sure that your dog is contained — that he doesn’t run loose and he’s on lead when necessary. You provide him with I.D. on his collar, and perhaps a microchip. You make sure that your home environment is safe for him. 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, you must work with him and manage his behavior so that he never gets in trouble.
     Dogs who are well-socialized 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 he is getting into the trash when you’re not home, move the trash can or put a lid on it. If he is chewing the children’s toys and shoes, teach them to pick things up and put them away, and give the dog some of his own things to chew. As a kind leader, you will gently teach your dog the things he needs to know to be comfortable in our human world. Don’t expect him to somehow magically know how to live in a human family. (He is a dog, after all!) He will love being a valued family member, but he will still be a dog and will look to you for guidance.

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