Living with a dog

Years ago all the talk was of dominant dogs and every problem that came up from urinating on the carpet to biting the postman was pushed under this label. This meant that people began bullying their dogs and wondering if today was the day that their dog would stage a coup and overthrow the household.

Thankfully times have changed and understanding of dogs and their social structures, intelligence and behaviour patterns have moved forward. What our dogs need is leadership not bullying.

Dogs are social animals, living in small groups, working together as a team and that is what a good dog owner works towards - leading the team.

Leadership is a way of being, an attitude that your dog will pick up on. It doesn't mean that you need to shout and scream at your dog, or grab them by the scruff and shake them half to death nor does it mean trying to pin them to the floor for submission. It means educating and guiding them from puppy to adult to golden oldie.

Showing your dog that you are a capable and confident leader means being consistent with what you expect of the dog, encouraging them to get it right and guiding them if they get it wrong. It doesn't mean aggressive pinches and pokes and pins, but understanding.

A dog needs to know what is expected of them, they expect to have rules and boundaries both inside and outside of the home. They need love and guidance, the same as a parent guides a child towards good social manners so you should guide your dog.

But your dog is not a child and this must always be remembered.

You will influence every encounter that your dog has, if they are scared you can inadvertently reinforce this feeling and make it worse through your reaction and the same applies if your dog behaves aggressively. Your dog will be reading your body language, vocal tone and emotional state so you must learn to communicate good leadership.

Remember that your dog needs a leader who loves them not a lover who follows them.