The Old Trainer: Act like the leader of the pack

February 1, 2013 

Dear Old Trainer: Lil man is a 7-month-old poodle and terrier mix. My problem is that he listens to my husband and not me. When I tell him to sit or lie down or come to me, he won't listen. My husband tells him the same commands and he listens. He loves me and wants to always be in my lap, so I don't understand why he doesn't listen. Please help.

-- Michelle, Merced

A: This is a common problem, Michelle. It has nothing to do with love, everything to do with canine psychology.

A puppy does not come into a family and think, "Well, they are humans, and I am only a little dog so I will obey orders from everyone." They think, "I love my new pack. Wonder what I can get away with?"

The foundation of canine psychology is law of the pack -- the leader gives orders, the pack obeys. Lil Man loves you.

The fact he wants to be in your lap all the time shows that, but as a young dog he is governed by canine psychology.

He sees your husband as the leader. You have to show him you are one too.

You can do it, but it takes work. Your first job is to understand how a dog's mind works.

The way you do that is watch the documentary, Wolves at Our Door. All dogs are descended from wolves, and are governed by the same psychology that rules a wolf pack.

You may view it for free on YouTube at:

Note that Kamatz, the pack leader, rules by a combination of body language, will, confidence and love.

Body language is everything in the canine world.

Dogs read it like an old detective, and they are always watching you.

The place to hone your skills and show Lil Man you are a leader is your daily walk. Use an expandable leash and walk him every day. Make him sit while you attach the leash.

Use every facet of the walk, starting, stopping and turning to teach Lil Man that you are in control.

Stand erect, be confident, correct him when he is wrong, praise him and love on when he is right. If you do, he will accept you as a leader.

Puppy bowl alert

Are you ready for some puppies?

Super Bowl weekend means it's time for the Puppy Bowl. Just a camera trained on a dozen puppies -- kittens too -- playing in a pen decorated like a

football field, but every year it's the highest rated show on Animal Planet.

The pack and I are big football fans, but during commercials or any lull in the action we switch to the Puppy Bowl. It never


All the pups and kittens come from shelters.

Adoptions and donations spike after viewers see how charming and loving these animals are.

Jack Haskins writes as The Old Trainer. A trainer for more than 30 years, he has rescued, trained, and placed more than 2,000 dogs. Send questions to:

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