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What is Leadership Training for Dogs?

Dogs are used to living in groups where there is a social structure.  In order for your dog to be a well-behaved member of your household, you have to teach him or her that you are the leader.  Leadership training is a positive way to remind your dog that he or she is subordinate to your family.  This training will not make your pet feel bad.  On the contrary, it will make your pet feel more secure, behave more manageably.  Additionally, you’ll be more eager to include her in your family’s activities because she will be well behaved.

Practice these leadership exercises as situations occur throughout the day.


Show your dog that you lead, not him or her.  Make your dog wait till you go through the outside door first.  The same goes for traveling down or up stairs.  Dogs often try to assert their dominance by bolting past you, a dangerous practice if they decide to pull this move with an elderly person.

Feed last

Have your dog wait for her meal until after people have had their dinner.  On a side note, never share your food with your dog.  Begging will wear thin on your patience and your guests’.

Okay to touch

Acclimate your pet to accept petting during eating.  Dogs that are left undisturbed while eating may start to feel powerful.

Move, please

If your dog is in your way, gently move her.  The same goes for hogging the bed.  Dogs regularly explore the boundaries of who is in charge so make it clear that you dominate the space.

First, sit!

Before bestowing affection, a treat, or other forms of attention, get your dog in the habit of obeying a command like ‘sit’.


Stare back

Eye contact is a sign of dominance. If your dog stares at you, stare back until she looks away.

Slow Petting

Pet your dog with long, slow strokes starting at the top of the head and continuing to the shoulders.  Fast strokes will agitate your dog and fire her up for dominant play.

Win the game

In games like fetch or tug of war, always make sure that you control the toy in the end.

It’s a hand, not a toy

If your dog mouths your hand during play, stop.   Don’t play with your dog’s mouth or engage in other activities where your dog is encouraged to mouth your hand or bite.

I get to touch feet, ears, mouth, etc.

Acclimate your pet to all forms of touch.  Make sure that your pet is familiar with your touch on her paws, her ears, on her mouth, tail, and so forth.

Praise in a high pitched voice

Do not yell at your dog or use a threatening voice.  Focus on good behavior, rather than correct the bad.

Only practice these exercises on non-aggressive dogs.  If your dog behaves aggressively, please call us so that we can help you.