By: Cheryl Nichols

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   Here Are Some Leadership Exercises You Can Use


Showering your dog with affection for no apparent reason will only lower your rank in the pack. Submissive dogs fawn over their leaders. By fawning over your dog you’re telling him that he’s on top of the totem pole. You can easily combat this by simply asking your dog to do a command before giving him attention. We all appreciate what we have to work for more than what we get for free. Your dog thinks the same way.


   Play Time

All games should start and stop when you say so. If a ball finds its way into your lap, or a toy gets flung toward you, simply ignore it. Once your dog has given up, THEN you can call him over and initiate the game yourself. Be sure that all games also stop when you say so. A good rule of thumb is to leave the dog wanting more. So don’t wait until he’s tired of the game be-fore you stop. This is a simple and effective way to assert your leadership. Feel free to play with you dog whenever you like, but be the one who starts it.

   Work For A Living

Well mannered dogs ‘work’ for everything they want by doing commands first. Before going outside, ask him to sit, before petting or giving attention ask for a down. Every interaction with your dog is a chance to practice your training. Feel free to mix it up and keep him on his toes by asking for different commands through out the day. This gives you plenty of opportunities to work with your dog on obedience training without having to set aside thirty minutes each day to do so. But I don’t want to be mean to him! This is a common response from owners. Many feel that asking their dog to work for a living is cruel and that dogs should be allowed to ‘just be dogs’. The fact is that you don’t have to be a Drill Sergeant. A good leader is calm and fair, not a harsh dictator. It’s up to you to be aware of your body language, tone of voice and to reward your dog for correct responses. Doing so will ensure that you both enjoy your time together.


We all know the saying “a tired dog is a good dog,” and it’s true. Exercise is an important factor to how well your dog behaves and obeys your commands. A dog with boundless energy and no outlet is like a coiled spring just waiting to explode and they often do so at the most inopportune times. By providing plenty of exercise you’re setting him up to succeed when you start training. A calm dog is one that is able to focus on his owner and provide quick responses. An overly excited dog becomes frustrated easily during training, which makes any responses to you slow if not non-existent.

   The Down Command

Laying down is a submissive position for your dog. Ideally he should lie down without a fuss as soon as you issue the command. If you’re not getting this response then it’s time to start to practice this more. If your dog refuses to lie down, snaps, grumbles or otherwise protests this is a clear sign that there’s something lacking in your relationship. A dozen downs a day will get your dog back on the right track and make obedience second nature.

You never want to give a command you cannot enforce. Dogs are acutely aware of our body language, probably more so than we are, and each inflection of your voice, tip of your head and movement of your body has meaning to them. It’s up to you to learn how to properly give commands, rewards and fair corrections. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort the end result will be a well mannered dog who knows his place in your pack and is eager to obey your next command. The key is consistency and effort, and this one is no exception. Your dog’s ability to change is directly linked to your ability to follow through and be consistent. Training a lifelong commitment so get ready to enjoy the ride.

If you need help getting or training a service dog do not hesitate to contact BSTTW at 936-483-9014.