The old dog lies on the grass with a bone resting between her paws. She looks up and sees the eight week old puppy bouncing around the yard. Their eyes meet, the young pup sees the bone. He bolts across the yard and makes a move to grab it. Suddenly, the old female growls and shows her teeth. The young dog squeals and leaps to the side, then lies down and slowly begins to crawl towards her. Inches away from the bone he stops and maintains a down posture. The old female stands above the bone and the puppy. She stretches for a moment, then turns her back and trots off to lay in another part of the yard. The young pup carefully picks up the bone and with his tail held high struts off to a corner to chew. The old female watches from a distance. Puppy has just been taught a lesson – manners and respect are important!
All animal species have a natural ability to learn and to adapt. For millions of years canines, like all other animals, have been responding to their environment. Their need for social approval and support has developed a pack instinct. In the wild the young canine learns quickly to follow the rules of the pack. He downs when a dominant member is near, and he learns to play without being too rough. In the wild everything is about survival and the pack is the key to survival.
A puppy in the human pack must also be taught rules and expectations. When a dog clearly understands what is expected, it will behave in a manner which is acceptable. When a dog is unsure of expectations it will be stressed, and this stress may lead to aggression or other unacceptable behaviours.
Allow your dog the opportunity to show respect, and to know its place within the pack. Tell your dog to sit before you lower the food dish. Expect your dog to stand calmly while being groomed. Ask your dog to down before inviting it to play. Reward your dog with praise or food when it displays good behaviour. Teach your dog what mother nature has taught for millions of years – manners and respect are important! Be kind but firm. Let your dog know you are in control. Your confidence will help it to relax and to behave. Noel Pepin — Noel Pepin Canine Behaviour Specialists