Leader of the Pack -- If you are having a serious control problem with your dog and you are wrestling over who is pack leader, here is a simple exercise to try. Fix your dog's food before you eat, but place it on the counter or some other place he can't reach until after you have eaten. In the wild, the leader of the pack gets to eat first. Doing this reminds him of his status within your pack.
As stated previously, your dog is a pack animal and every pack must have a leader. If a dog understands that you are the undisputed pack leader, he can be content to be a follower. If there is any doubt in the dog’s mind that there is a strong leader in charge, he will feel the need to assume the position himself. For most dogs it doesn’t matter who the leader is, as long as someone is and they are doing a good job. Dogs who are leaders within their “human packs” are difficult to live with, to say the least. They bark over any disturbance and challenge visitors entering their territory. They may growl, nip or bite at anyone who attempts to discipline them or forces them to do something. They often growl or bite when anyone attempts to take things away from them and will often mark the inside of the home with urine or feces. They come to you only when it is to their advantage, they wander away from home and will usually challenge the individual who bathes or grooms them.
The normal healthy mature dog has an instinctive tendency to be pushy. This is because the dog is genetically programmed to move as high in the pack hierarchy as possible. This is because in the wild, in order to survive, the pack must have the strongest possible leader. Most pack members learn to control their “pushy” behavior because the pack has only two leaders, one male and one female. This is key to living amicably with your dog: establish yourself at the pack leader and maintain that position throughout the dog’s life. With some dogs your leadership position is easy to have and maintain. Other dogs must be reminded daily, if not more often. All human members of the household in which the dog lives should also establish a leadership role with the dog. Letting your dog know who is in charge will not make him dislike you. It will give him a secure feeling that someone is in charge and all is right with the world.
Many people try to win their dog’s affection by letting him have his own way. They shower him with love and affection without the benefit of discipline, believing this is the only way to get love and affection in return. However this only reinforces the dog’s dominant behavior and the dog will play with you and tolerate you, however he will not work for you unless he respects you. Raising your dog to be a subordinate member of the pack is the key to successful behavior training. It does not break his spirit or cause him to dislike you. By giving your dog a defined position in your family and guidelines to follow, you help him develop a sense of trust and respect for you.