By Joel Monroe &
Please direct any questions or comments
to Joel Monroe firstname.lastname@example.org
Dogs are natural pack animals. In
the wild, they form groups, usually with one leader. This instinct
to form groups is what is known as "pack drive. Some dogs have
more pack drive than others. It is imperative that the handler recognizes
how strong the pack drive is in their dog. A stable dog has a healthy
balance between its pack drive and the confidence to function alone.
If your dog is constantly by your
side and doesn't like to explore, it probably has very high pack
drive or it lacks confidence. Therefore, encourage your dog to explore
by taking him to an enclosed, safe park and let him wander off leash.
In addition, let a friend take your dog for a walk without you and
encourage people to feed your dog treats.
Dogs with very independent natures
might have very little pack drive. Simply spending more time with
this kind of dog encourages a stronger pack drive. If you are in
a safe area with this type of dog and they are constantly wandering
off without any acknowledgement of you, hide behind a tree and let
them come looking for you. Make sure the situation and area is safe
for this exercise.
As soon as a dog is not alone, whether
with humans or other dogs, it naturally establishes a hierarchy.
No matter how strong your dog's pack drive is, the dog must recognize
you as the "alpha" dog. This means you are in charge of
the pack. Some dogs may challenge you for the alpha position and
this can lead to numerous unpleasant problems. However, there are
several things you can do that can prevent such a problem.
1. Proper obedience training
quickly teaches a dog that it must obey what you say and respect
2. Do not allow the dog to
sleep on your bed or lay on a couch or sofa. You and the dog are
3. Have your dog on a feeding
schedule and feed your dog after you eat your meal, not before or
at the same time.
4. When going through a doorway,
you walk through first and the dog walks in afterwards.
5. Avoid getting a dog that
is too strong for you and that you cannot physically control. If
you do have a dog that is much stronger than you, make sure to use
the proper tools to equalize the situation.
I don't believe there can ever be
too much of a bond between dog and handler, however, the pack drive
might be too high when the dog cannot work independently. This is
different than a strong bond with the handler. You can have a tremendous
bond with your dog and still have the ability to work on its own.
In fact, sometimes the stronger the bond, the more confident the
dog is when working independently. The bond is made through time
spent with the dog and through love. This bond is has to come from
the heart. You have to love your dog and he needs to feel it. Believe
me, with dogs you cannot fake your emotions. They'll know if you
are sincere. I don't know how they know, but they do.