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How to achieve household harmony with your dog

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Posted: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 1:15 pm defines “harmony” as: “agreement; accord; harmonious relations.” If your dog counter surfs, jumps on guests, barks incessantly, chases your cat to no end, and chews your couch, your home is in a constant state of tension. Just imagine waking up to your dog bringing you the newspaper and your slippers to start the day? It can happen.

When your dog is properly trained and knows its place in your pack, you will then experience the true “harmony” of owning a dog. When leadership signals are not properly directed and a dog begins to take over or lead a home, a dog then begins to view you as a PACK MEMBER, and not a PACK LEADER. If this happens, don’t panic, there is still hope. Below are a few simple tips to ensuring you will be viewed as the pack leader and not the pack play toy:

1. Talk calmly and carry a big leash. In the wild, wolf packs communicate by vocal tones (howls and growls) and overall body language (posture and body positioning). Domesticated dogs have limited response to size and time, but will be most responsive to human voice and posture. Exercise TONE not volume and be consistent with your corrections to let your dog know that you are the pack leader.

2. Most assertive/aggressive dog goes last. In a dog pack, feed the calmest dog first. To stabilize an assertive/aggressive dog, be sure to give them food, toys, and all other items LAST. In addition, they should always follow your lead. You do not want to enable the dog to thinking as though THEY are the leader. Dogs ultimately want to be lead, so broaden your shoulders and deepen your voice when addressing commands to your dog.

3. The party’s over. Practice giving your dog boundaries. Just like children, when play time is over, you let them know in a firm, calm voice. As a child, I knew that my father would only ask me once, and maybe twice, but NEVER a third time. Same with a dog. Respect and leadership come from limited boundaries and the dog knowing when to stop certain incessant behaviors. Reward accordingly with verbal praise and physical touch.

4. Finally, routine and repetition. Dogs are instinctual to routine and repetition. When the same daily exercises and activities are performed (feeding times, walks, training drills, family arrivals and departures) you will find that your dog will be more responsive and in tune to its role in your pack.

Owning a dog should be a loving, calm, and positive experience for both owner and dog. By following the simple above tips, they will bring harmony to your home in no time, and just maybe your morning paper and slippers.

• Mark Siebel is owner of DOGGIE STEPS Dog Training, LLC. He has trained more than 400 Valley dogs, speaks regularly at local schools about the importance of dog safety and ownership, and donates time to youths wanting to learn more about dogs. Siebel is a member of the Arizona Professional Pet Sitters Association and Australian Shepherd Club of Arizona. Contact him at (602) 318-0122 or

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