DOG trainer Vic Barlow, aka The Dogfather, runs training sessions for pets and their owners.
This week he asks if you are a passenger in your dog’s life...
I was visiting friends yesterday when the postman rang the doorbell.
Suddenly their four-year-old Border collie Glenn flew at the window barking, growling and snapping.
‘That’s what he does’, said my friend like I hadn’t noticed. ‘And what do you do?’ ‘What can I do?’ she replied as if the Royal Tank Regiment had just rolled across her lounge.
I explained it was her submissive mind-set that told Glenn he was free to do as he pleased.
In any pack all dogs must follow the rules.
It’s not physical attack that keeps new members in check but the commanding body language and determination of the leader.
Like that teacher you knew not to cross, or the boy who could fight everyone in school but didn’t have to.
It’s an attitude.
Dogs are flawless readers of body language.
When you are nervous or unsure your dog knows immediately and no pack animal will follow a weak leader.
To demonstrate the point I took Glenn for a short walk insisting he walk respectfully beside me and not pull in front.
I spoke little, relying on my body language and attitude to let him know I expected compliance.
We returned to the house and I sat Glenn several paces from the window and asked a friend to ring the doorbell.
The moment Glenn looked like moving I hissed like a snake looking him directly in the eye.
There was no way I was allowing him to reach that window and he knew it.
By the fourth and fifth ring Glenn submitted to the idea and relaxed.
My friend realised her submissive acceptance had fuelled her dog’s wild behaviour.
I told her to be the driver in Glenn’s life and not a passenger.
Read more training tips on Vic’s website: www.vicbarlow.com.