Are You Accidentally Being A BAD Leader For Your Dog?

– Now a lot of people out there think that being a leader means that
you need to be really loud and heavy handed and
like a drill sergeant. But today I'm gonna talk to you about how you can be a
great leader for your dog without being any of those things. I'm Kayl McCann, this is Grand Slam, welcome back to McCann Dogs. (gentle music)
(dog yips) At our training facility we help to train over 500 dogs a week. So if this is your first
time on our YouTube channel, make sure you hit that Subscribe button so that we can help you
to have a well-behaved four-legged family member. Today we're gonna talk about one of the most important topics when it comes to dog training, and that is the idea of leadership. Now, it's sort of a strange word and it's something that
gets thrown out a lot. And unfortunately it's
something that's misunderstood. A lot of people think that leadership is all about being really in charge or being really controlling or yelling and screaming at the dog and getting them in trouble.

But I wanna talk to you
about how you can learn to be your dog's leader in a much less confrontational way, in a way that builds your relationship, builds your dog's confidence, and teaches them to like to listen to you. In the 20 years that I've been a professional dog trainer, I've helped 10s of 1,000s of dog owners to train their family pets. And one of the most common
things people ask is, how do I get my dog to listen to me? And of course there's
many responses to that. But one of the most important things is that you learn to be a
good leader for your dog, because dogs love to listen to whoever they feel is in charge.

And in fact, dogs seek leadership. So it's really important that you are able to provide that for your dog so that they can sit back and relax and let you do all the work. People are often apprehensive to go through some of the steps that are needed to provide good
leadership over their dogs. When we start to ask people
to implement structure or rules or things like that, sometimes people think that the dogs are going to not like them if they take away some of the luxuries that they've already
been giving their dog. But the truth is, it's actually the humans that are a little bit more
worried about these steps than the dogs are. What we need to remember is
that dogs are not babies, they're not kids. They have a completely
different way of thinking. So it's really important
that we treat them like dogs and that eventually, once
they understand the rules of where they fit in and
that you are a good leader, you get to spoil them rotten, just like you've wanted
to from the beginning.

How do you know whether your dog needs more leadership or not? Well, it's actually pretty easy. You just need to look at, you know, how are they handling the freedoms and the luxuries that
you're giving them already? How good of a listener are they? How well do they make
good choices in your house around distractions or your
furniture or your kids? How well do they listen when you take them outside and there's a lot of distractions? Right there is gonna tell you how much respect and how
well do they listen to you when there's other things that could tear their attention apart from being a good dog
and making good choices.

It's very common for people
to come to us with dogs that are well under a year of age. And sometimes the luxuries
or the opportunities that those dogs are given allows the dog to make
too many poor choices. So what happens is the dogs
start to learn bad habits because they're maybe given
too much freedom in the house or too much opportunity to self-reward, which means you become a little bit less important in their life, therefore you're gonna start to struggle with some leadership issues. So the goal is to come out right from the beginning with your puppy and to establish really
good rules and structure. And then as your puppy
starts to show good behavior, they start to make good choices, we then start to give them more freedom and more luxuries. So basically the more
well-behaved they are, the better listener they are, the more opportunity they get
to kinda do their own thing. What a lot of people don't realize is that there's many things that
you'll do in your dog's life that your dog will view
as an important resource.

And it could be something simple as whether or not they're allowed up on the furniture, the bed, the couch, what toys they have available
to play with all the time. Do they have the ability to decide whether they can go outside or not, like with use of a doggy door versus asking you to go outside first? There's all kinds of
scenarios or decisions that can be made all throughout the day that either the dog can
choose to do on their own, without your help, or you can use those resources that your dogs find valuable and you can use them to your advantage, to teach them that you're a leader and you're in charge of those things. And that right there is a
great non-confrontational way to say, "If you want this, "you have to come through me first "because I'm the boss. "But guess what, it's a pretty fun thing "when those things happen." Now let's talk specifics.

Let's talk about non-confrontational ways that you can teach your dog
that you're a good leader and to listen to you without you having to be a big meanie. So first things first
is, say what you mean and mean what you say. So when you ask your dog to do a behavior and they deliberately ignore you, it's really important
that you follow through. And it could be something as simple as asking your dog to sit. So if you ask your dog
to sit, for example, and they're too busy sniffing the floor or barking at a distraction, all you need to do is repeat sit in the same kind and neutral
voice you did the first time, and then follow through by helping him to move into position.

But often what happens is, people will start to say, "Sit. "Sit, sit!" And they'll get louder and angry each time that they ask the dog until the dog finally gets
overwhelmed and learns to listen. Well, I don't know about you, but I don't wanna have to scream at my dog in order for them to listen to me. I want them to learn that if
I ask them to do something, they need to follow through. So my follow-through needs to
be really calm and collected so the dog's not getting
worried or stressed. They basically just learn, "If
mom tells me something to do, "I really need to listen." The other thing that
we really recommend is trying to put your dog in situations all throughout the day where they're less likely
to make poor choices. And this is how we train
and raise our own puppies.

You know, in my house, I control scenarios so that most of the
time the dog is sort of being influenced to make good choices. So I spend most of my day reinforcing, praising, playing with my dog rather than saying,
"Leave that, leave that. "Don't, no," all that stuff. I wanna try to avoid that. Now of course if I need to help my dog to understand a lesson, if they make a mistake,
I'll help them with that. But I don't want that to be my primary way of delivering information. I might utilize things
like my crate more often, a leash or a long line.

I don't have any kids yet, but we have baby gates in our house and we barricade rooms off so the dog can't go wandering
and doing their own thing. So we try to control the environment so that the dog is less likely to get into mischief
and to learn bad things. There's actually other easy things that you can do to help show your dog that you're a good leader. It could be things like, you know, don't just hand them food for no reason. Make them do something for it. It could be something really fun, too, like doing a trick or asking
them to sit or to lie down.

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And then you can reward them. It's fun to give your dog a
treat just because they're cute, but you're missing a perfect opportunity to teach your dog that
you're a good leader and they should listen. I often will have my young dogs wait in their crate when I open the door so that I can easily put
the leash or long line on before they barge out and
I need to release them so that I'm working a
little bit of control into those scenarios.

You can also do things like
control their resources. So typically when my dogs are young, I don't have dog toys scattered
everywhere around my house so that the dog can go
and play on their own. I might have things like chew toys, chew bones, or kong toys that aren't gonna hurt my dog if I'm not paying attention. But I save the really fun toys for times that we can
play with them together. Maybe it's through a game of tug of war or a game of fetch. But those things I want my
puppy to associate with me so that it gives it a more
valuable role in the dog's life. Now let's talk dogs on the bed and dogs on the furniture. Now, I will be the first one to admit, my dogs absolutely snuggle
on the couch with me and they sleep in my bed. But here's the thing. I don't offer those luxuries to my dogs until they have good training
and they listen really well.

So in the time being, if you have a dog that tends to be a bit unruly or maybe they're not
listening that well to you, those are two areas that
you can remove from your dog as an extra luxury. For example, if your
dog is up on the couch, make sure that if you
tell them to get off, that your dog happily gets
off the couch when you ask. Or maybe you come into the living room and they're lying on the couch, you know, in your spot.

Rather than going and find somewhere else to sleep or to lie, have them just move out of the way so that you can sit there. You know, maybe you have
them sleep on a dog bed beside your bed instead of
up on your bed initially. Or we usually start by
having our dog sleep in a crate beside our bed. And then as time goes
on and our relationship and our skills start to get better, then we start to allow them to have those additional
luxuries in the house. But of course that's
all personal preference. If you wanna go your entire dog's life without letting them on
the couch or on the bed, that's totally fine. But we often suggest that you wait until you've established some good control before you allow your dog
to do things like that. Our ultimate goal is to be such
a strong leader for our dog that when they make poor choices, we're able to redirect them with the simple use of our voice.

But unfortunately when your dog is young, you first need to teach them
that your voice has merit, that your voice, you know, there's a reason to listen to you. So this comes back to my
follow-through comment. If your dog is making a poor choice, whether it be getting on the furniture you don't want them to, sticking their head in the garbage, barking at the people walking
by outside their fence, it's really important that
when you're asking your dogs to not do those particular behaviors, that you're then following through with something that's gonna
actually get them to stop.

It could be utilizing your leash and you're maneuvering them
away from that particular area, or taking them and
placing them into position if you've asked them to sit. Try not to be repetitive with your words. Our ultimate goal's that
our dogs learn to listen the first time and every time. And if your ultimate
goal is to have your dog to listen to your voice without having to follow through at all, it's imperative that you have good timing when you're going to help your dog understand these situations more clearly.

For example, if their
head's in the garbage and you tell them, "Leave it," try not to take 10 years
to walk across the kitchen and remove their head from the garbage. Move close to them, repeat "Leave it," and then follow through using the leash. Dogs learn within one second. So it's really important
that when we're teaching them that we remember what time and what types of
information they need from us in order for it to be
clear and not confusing. Be careful you're not allowing your dog to spend extended time in the backyard without you paying
attention to them initially. Be careful that you're
not allowing your dog to just have free range
of your entire house so that they can get in your laundry and eat your kids' toys. It's very important that
you're trying to spend quality time together as much as possible so that the quantity isn't
as important any more.

Here on the YouTube channel, we often talk about three elements that we find is very important
in your dog training. And that is to be consistent, to be clear, and to be fair. And if you can nail down
those three elements, you're bound to be a
great leader for your dog. Now we talked about many
exercises today in this video to help you establish
yourself as a leader. Now I've made a playlist that has a lot of those exercises in them, and you can check those out right here. If this is your first time
on our YouTube channel, make sure you hit that Subscribe button. We post brand new videos every single week to help you to have a well-behaved four-legged family member.

And on that note, I'm Kayl, bye for now. Happy training..

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