THE ALPHA ROLE with a FRENCH BULLDOG

If you’re a dog owner, chances are you’ve recognized there’s more to dog ownership than just feeding and playing with your furry friend. By nature, dogs are pack animals and every pack needs a leader. There are two outcomes that can come from this conclusion. Either you, the owner, is their pack leader or they, your dog, is the pack leader. In order to form a successful relationship: YOU must be the pack leader.

A Pack Leader

The majority of new dog owners and some that have owned dogs their entire life, don’t understand the full extent of what it means to be a pack leader. For dogs, this dynamic is instinctual. From the very first time your dog enters a new home, the family in the household has the obligation to be their pack leader. Without an established house structure, your dog has the potential to create that structure. They often do this by electing themselves as the pack leader. Obviously, this needs to be avoided.

As numerous Hollywood movies and television commercials will tell you, bringing home a puppy during the holidays can be a joyous experience. But it’s important to remember that this time of celebration and excitement can really stress and confuse your puppy with random and excess activity. So be mindful that: A passive and calm introduction to your puppy’s new home is best. Remember that being a pack leader for your French bulldog is a balance between pack leadership and affection.

Peter Kramm sitting on the steps with Füli

Basic Obedience Training

For new dog owners, consider taking your pet to Basic Obedience Training. In this training, you will learn the 5 basic commands that your new pet will learn. These are sit, come, down, stay, and leave it. Hidden in plain sight, these 5 essential commands might as well be called Establishing Yourself as a Pack Leader. Let’s break this down.

Sit – This teaches your dog to “sit down.” More importantly, this command creates a much calmer state of mind and prepares them for the next command.

Come – Taught to be used as a safety net for any dog that comes loose from the leash (if your puppy is being trained on-leash,) this command will teach your dog to always keep an ear out for your voice.

Down – By encouraging your Frenchie to stay down at a submissive posture, you’re almost suggesting a submissive state of mind at the time. It’s a good way to relax a dog that is overly excited or anxious.

Stay – Usually used as a second command after “Sit.” This command will give a cue to your pup to stay in their position and wait until the next command.

Leave it – Mainly used as a safety command to keep dogs out of unwanted places, this command will also train your dog to stop whatever it is they want to do and wait for their pack leader to tell them that it’s ok to proceed.

None of the above Basic Obedience Training will work if your dog is excited or energetic. It is encouraged to take a nice walk with your dog before you start training. Walking is one of the best bonding moments that all dogs enjoy. It is also the best time to establish yourself as a pack leader. After all, it is YOU, as their pack leader, who is walking the dog and not the other way around. It’s a common sight to see a dog that’s in fact walking the pet owner. Preventing this will take patience and assertiveness on the part of the pack leader.

Best Practices

The best way to establish yourself as their pack leader is to drain them of pent-up energy. Have you heard of horror stories of dogs that were left in small apartments and ended up destroying the homes of the owners? This is because of unused energy. It is encouraged to walk your dog in the morning and one more time in the evening if your dog has a lot of energy. A tired dog is an obedient one. Walking is also a good time to practice your pet’s basic obedience training.

Consistency

Dogs are great with numbers. Let’s take for example if you ever catch your dog stealing food from the table. Going back to basic obedience training, you can tell your dog to leave it and then sit or come. If your dog does something like this 20 times and you correct it 20 times, congratulations. This is what it means to be consistent. If your dog does an unwanted behavior 19 times and the 20th time you allowed it, they will think that you sometimes allow this behavior so they might as well keep doing it. You’re now back to square one.

Dogs are not complicated but they do need to have a way of releasing their energy. Aside from food, shelter, and affection, what they also really need is YOU, the pack leader

Peter Kramm

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