How to Claim Leadership Over the Dog Pack

Dogs don't follow emotional leaders; they follow calm, assertive leaders.


The first step in assuming the role of pack leader is to understand dog psychology. We must recognize dogs as animals and remember what is important to them as a species.

Dogs don't know you as your name, your race or your achievements. You could be the president of the United States; dogs don't know. What they know is the energy you share and the activities you participate in with them.

Dogs don't follow emotional or lovable leaders; they follow calm, assertive leaders. The mother is calm and assertive when she's giving birth and that's the first energy that they experience.

You must project calm, assertive energy before you share love with your dog. Love is a human gift; were the only pack leader who will love them. Their dog pack leader won't throw a birthday party for them or reward good behavior.

Most dogs that live in this country have shelter, food, and lots of love. These are the dogs that often become unstable because they're not working for food and water. Dogs need a pack leader to feel balanced and connected. They need to be told every day what to do. Leadership is forever and love is forever. But sometimes we get lazy and only share loveno leadership.

Once you share calm, assertive energy and the dog goes into a submissive state, then you can share love and affection.

The Rules
Dogs also look to the pack leader to set rules, boundaries and limitations. People often ask me at what age they should start training their puppy. The answer is immediately!

The dogs mother begins training her puppies from birth. She makes them wait for food; she controls when they play and how far they travel. Adult dogs need these same rules, boundaries and limitations from their pack leader.

Another important necessity for dogs is the walk. In their natural habitat they earn food and water while traveling and they get to experience the world. Walking also stimulates their minds.

Walking in front of a dog allows you to be seen as the pack leader because position matters to a dog. Conversely, if your dog controls you on the walk, he's the pack leader. Master the walk and your dog will relate to you as a pack leader.

During the walk you will feel the highest level of connection with your dog. My clients are often surprised by this because they think dogs only crave love and affection. Not so. Dogs crave rules, boundaries and limitations from their pack leader. This allows them to relax and accept their role within the pack.

Next Step: Teaching Humans to Relate to Their Dogs Without Words

Cesar and his pack
Get more tips from Cesar.

Note: Cesar Millan is a professional. Please consult a qualified trainer before attempting these techniques with your dog.

For more information, visit Cesar Millans Dog Psychology Center where the express purpose is to rehabilitate and maintain a dogs natural state of being.


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Milagros   Montgomery, New York

1/29/2013 6:19:49 AM

I think Mr. Millan's articles are helpful to people like me who have a dog that no matter what you do he does what he wants. I could use all the understanding and knowledge Mr. Millan can impart.

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janet   bethlehem, PA

1/7/2010 4:44:32 AM

good article thanks

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Bell   Mcallen, TX

6/4/2009 9:14:00 PM

I've been watching his show for years now, and even now I am still AMAZED!!! What still makes me sad is that there are still the skeptics, if you can't get his simple concept <--- (yes, it really is that simple). Calm Assertive Energy, I know it works because I have tried the simple concept on my dogs, currently working with my friend's dog. I own two Great Danes and a JRT; there's no way that I could allow my dogs to run wild. And the only reason he has to resort to such dominance is because most of the clients DO NOT WALK THEIR DOGS ON A REGULAR BASIS' <--- that is the core of his words. How can anyone discrimanate against something they havent even tried, of course you are going to be in disbelief unless you see it with your own eyes. I will always preach his concept because you can't change the dog psychology with human psychology.

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Ellen   Philadelphia, PA

1/19/2009 7:24:42 PM

None of these things, sadly, bear any relation to reality. They are based on some very old, long-since-disproven

Mr. Millan's love of dogs seems genuine, and he seems like a down-to-earth person. But his advice is far from down-to-earth. It is about as ivory-tower and hifalutin' as can be, imagining dogs as little humans who can understand who the "boss"

And his gentle words always seem to lead to meaningless rituals like the above, or really rough handling that isn't needed or useful. He says he wants to teach the owners, but never really seems to impart real skills to

For training that is based on truly understanding dogs, and teaching owners to do the work themselves, check out the work of positive trainers like Pat Miller, September Morn, Pam Dennison, Leslie McDevitt, and Patricia McConnell.

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