Behavior Problems
Helping Your Dog Behave
Who's the Boss?
No More Digging
Stop the Chewing
Jumping Up



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Who's the Boss?

When you invite a dog into your home, teach him that you are leader. Dogs want to know who is in charge. If they don't know who the boss is, they will take the job.

Do you know whose the boss in your family?

Wolves and dogs are alike.What is Pack Behavior?

Like humans, dogs have families. For dogs, these families are called packs. In a pack there is always one leader and several followers. The leader is the dog who makes the rules and watches out for others in the pack. When a dog lives in your house, your family becomes his family, or 'pack'.

It is important that you let your dog know who the leader is. If he doesn't know, he will try to become the leader. It's an instinct (he's born with it) to try to be a leader. When this happens, a dog may be pushy and not follow the rules. By teaching the dog obedience and giving him things to do, he will realize that a human is the leader and he will follow, instead of lead.


"I'm the boss!"
Can you tell who the boss is here?

Signs that your dog is trying out for the job of boss:

  • Jumping up on you
  • Jumping on the couch
  • Grabbing food from your hand
  • Stealing food from the table
  • Pushing you down
  • Running out open doors
  • Growling while eating
  • Barking at you
  • Biting at your clothes

If your dog is doing these things, then it's time for you to become the boss.


How to be the Leader

Becoming your dog's boss or leader does not mean you will be pushy or bossy.

It means that you will make the rules and your dog will learn follow them.

Your job is to make the rules clear enough for your dog to understand.


About Rules

Getting up on the table is not where dogs should be, no matter how funny it is. Jumping on the couch is only cute if you allow your dog to do that. Some people like that, some don't. Rules must be clear to your dog. If you can't make up your mind and you let your dog on your bed sometimes, but not other times, he will be confused.

Poor manners should not be ignored.
This dog thinks he is the boss.


Bailey on the couch

Always Be Consistent!

Being consistent means doing something the same way over and over again. Make your rules and stick to them. Everyone in the family needs to know the rules and help your dog to remember them. This is called 'being consistent'.

If your dog is not allowed on the couch on Monday, then he should not be allowed on the couch on Tuesday, Wednesday, or any other day. Try not to confuse your dog by changing the rules from day to day.


Make the Rules

Sit down with your whole family and decide what the rules of the house will be for your dog. Everyone must agree so that your dog will get the same rules from everyone. Here is a sample list of rules. Yours may be different.

No jumping on people.
No begging at the table.
Dog is allowed on the children's beds.
Dog is not allowed on living room couch.
Must sit before receiving food.
Must sit to say hello to company.


Is this a good thing at your house?
Teach the Rules to your Dog

Once your have your list, decide what words you will use to teach your dog. You can use the teaching words from this website (Obedience pages) or make up your own, but everyone in the family must use the same words, all the time. For instance, when your dog tries to take a cookie from the table, do you want to say, "No" or "Don't Touch"? It's up to you.


That's it!
Make up your rules and then decide how you are going explain or teach them to your dog. We usually explain rules to dogs by showing them what we mean. Check out the obedience pages for all kinds of great commands to use when teaching your dog the rules.

Best Friends!


Here are our favorite training books and a video written for kids:

Puppy Training
Puppy Training for Kids, by Sarah Whitehead, Barrons Juveniles 2001
This book has easy-to-understand instructions for children on puppy training and care. With an emphasis on fun. Learn what to feed puppies and how much to give them, and how to play games that are safe and enjoyable. They also learn basics of puppy handling, grooming, giving commands, teaching obedience, tricks, and much more. There are great full-color photos throughout the book. For ages 9-12, or 4-8 with parents' guidance.

Your Puppy, Your Dog, by Pat Storer, Storey Publishing; 1997
From the Back Cover
What a dog needs most is love -- and loving a dog means providing everything it needs to be happy and healthy. With easy-to-follow instructions and plenty of illustrations, this book tells you just how to care for and understand your dog.
Includes: How to select the puppy or dog that is best for you, What and how to feed your dog, How to train and exercise your dog, How to play with your dog or puppy, How to keep your dog in the best of health, Where and how to show your dog, ... Ages 9 and up

Kids Training Puppies in Five Minutes, by JoAnn Dahan, Cork Hill Press; (February 5, 2004)
From an reader: My name is Christi, I am 7 years old. I just got a new lab puppy from my Mom and Dad her name is Ginny. Before I could have Ginny I had to promised I would care for her and train her. This book is so great, it is very easy to read and the pictures of the lab puppies and kids are so cute. I taught Ginny to sit and lie down really fast. I think every kid with a puppy should have this book. Ages 5-8

Dog Training For Kids, by Carol Lea Benjamin, Howell Book House Inc. 1988
This is a great book for kids written by one of the best. It explains all of the basic training that a child will need to get a good start with a dog. Also covers common behavior problems. Ages 9-12



The Best!

Dog Training for Children with Ian Dunbar,
1997 VHS
This video is written and hosted by veterinarian, animal behaviorist, and author Dr. Ian Dunbar — the world's leading authority on dog behavior and training. Dr. Dunbar is the original creator and popularizer of off-leash puppy classes, which sparked the revolution for positive, reward-based, dog-friendly dog training. I have previewed this video and recommend it as an excellent training tool for kids. Jan Wall, author How to Love Your Dog

This video is a little older, but excellent, nonetheless. Ian Dunbar has a wonderful way with the children - clear, gentle, and kind. Easy to watch and understand, kids can be completely successful with this positive method of training. Adapted from the British television program, Dogs With Dunbar. Topics include: Taking on a new puppy. Housetraining. Early leash training. Teaching Sit and Down. Developing a rapport. Focusing attention. Improving off-leash control. Training a fast recall. Training as a family. Family competitions. Improving the Sit Stay. Teaching with toys. Playing training games.


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Behavior Problems
Helping Your Dog Behave
Who's the Boss?
No More Digging
Stop the Chewing
Jumping Up



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