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Follow the Leader – Part Three

A guide to force free leadership with your dog


In any healthy human-dog relationship, the human needs to be the one in charge – just like a human parent and child. The human is the one who makes all the important decisions in the dog’s life and pays the vet bills! Lack of clear leadership in the household can lead to obedience problems, aggression, or anxiety and fear issues.

The following positive home management system will guide you how to teach your dog through non-confrontational methods that you are the leader. This can be done without frightening, hurting or threatening your dog. This program will establish a good trusting, respectful balanced relationship between human and dog without you having to prove your dominance over him. Most dogs are less stressed when the decision making responsibility is left to their human.

There are 10 principles in total; I will be introducing one or two each week. Add them into your daily life and see if your dog’s behaviour improves for the better! Here is part two of Follow the Leader. View Part 1 & Part 2

  1. Play Start and Ends With YouIt’s up to you, the boss, and not your dog to decide when it’s playtime. Before you start a play session with your pup, ask for a simple behaviour such as a sit or a down, click or mark “yes” for obedience and then begin your game. Games like Hide-and-Seek (for toys, treats, and you!), fetch, and structured tug are great ways to give your dog an outlet for his predatory energy, work his mind and body, and of course have fun! There are a few rules for proper, safe playtime. If your dog pesters you to play and you don’t want to, ignore him. If you want to play, ask him to ask politely. If your dog wants you to chase him with the toy, either ignore him and stop the game or put the chase behaviour on cue with something like “I’m gunna get you!”. This signals to the dog that chase game is allowed, if you don’t say this, don’t chase the dog. Your dog should also know “give”. You can teach this by trading him for another toy or a treat. If he won’t give it up nicely, walk away and stop the fun. You can play tug with your dog unless the dog is having aggression issues. Since tug is so highly stimulating it is best played with a balanced dog only. The rules of tug must be it starts and stops when you want, the dog should not be allowed to take the toy from you unless invited, he must let go when asked, and any teeth on skin ends the game immediately.


  1. Exercise Your Dog’s Mind and BodyWhile physical exercise is extremely important as an outlet for your dog, mental stimulation cannot be underplayed. Dogs love using their minds and it’s best if they can be provided with a mentally stimulating activity on a daily basis. This mental stimulation can come in many forms: clicker training where the dog has to think about what you want, puzzle toys, or hide and seek are a few ideas.


    Stay tuned for #7 and #8 which will be posted next week!