In behavioral training our focus is on the dog's mindset. We want to promote a calm and submissive state of mind while working to get them out of any unwanted or altered mindsets. Some examples would be fearful, dominant, anxious, or a nervous mindsets. In the training we focus on teaching the humans structured leadership while establishing rules, enforcing boundaries and teaching limitations. We teach how to be consistent with the enforcement of rules, how to issue proper corrections, and demonstrate the importance of follow through. This creates a well balanced, and stable pooch everyone can enjoy.
In obedience training, we create fun and excitement with lots of treats and rewards to create an entertaining way to teach our pooches commands or tricks. For example with sit, we teach them how to sit using treats or praise, then repeat the behavior, then add the verbal command and hand signals, and then repeat. Obedience training typically does not teach leadership but focuses primarily on basic commands.
The Pack Mentality
Dogs are pack animals by nature. They need the structure provided by a “pack” to live a balanced life. In a "Dog Pack" there is one pack leader. In a "Family Pack", a pack with humans, dogs, cats, birds, etc. we can condition the pooches to having more than one pack leader. We want all humans in the family to be part of the pack leader group so when one leave, there is still another pack leader present. We can create this by having all the pack leaders enforcing the same rules, in the same manner, consistently.
Some dogs are naturally more dominant, others are naturally more submissive. If we don't provide structured leadership for our pooches, often times the dominant ones will step up and take over with assertive dominance while the submissive pooches will become insecure at the lack of leadership. They will feel as if they are being forced into a position of leadership from the lack of structure which creates frustration, anxiety, and can even lead to fear aggression.
The role of Pack leader is a big responsibility and when we unintentionally force that upon our furry friends it often times causes more problems than not. Remember that freedom in the animal world comes off as a lack of structure and control and can make us appear weak.
Frustration, similar to stress in people, can eventually erupt, like a person snapping under pressure. Unfortunately for dogs the easiest way to relieve this stress or frustration is through forms of aggression. Some dogs will become dog aggressive, bicycle aggressive, toy aggressive, food aggressive etc. This is why it is so important that we play the role of the Pack Leader, so they don’t have to worry about ANYTHING, just following their leader. They aren’t making the decision of whether somebody approaching them on the street is a friend or foe, or that their brother is going to try and take their food, or that the small child that is visiting isn’t going to try and take their toy from them; we control these things and make all the decisions relieving them of any pack leader responsibilities.