Free Spirit
Siberian Rescue

Leadership Exercises

Leadership Do's

Dogs have always lived in packs. When a dog is adopted, they become part of your pack where there is only one leader (in this case you). The purpose of these exercises is to establish rules and to keep the social order in the pack. They are especially important when starting any training program.

Exercises to perform:

  • You should always eat first before the dog. Even if it is just a snack of crackers and water, this must take place at least five minutes before the dog is fed as this establishes leadership. Make the dog earn his meal such as having him sit before he is fed.
  • Always go through a doorway first before the dog. Pack leaders control territory and going first tells the dog that you allowing them space.
  • You should always stay calm and in control. Getting upset or over excited transfers to the dog and can cause the dog to break their focus on you. When walking the dog, you always set the direction of the walk and the pace, not the dog.
  • You should always dictate when play begins and when it is over. The dog should never initiate play (i.e. putting a ball in the owner's lap).
  • You should dictate where the dog will rest. This can typically be a crate, bed, or blanket.
  • Be fair to all members of the pack. Don't show favoritism to one dog. All rules apply to all dogs in the pack.
  • Be consistent, persistent, and patient. This applies to all family members.
Leadership Dont's

As the dog learns to obey and follow the leader's rules, you can allow him certain privileges such as free rein of the house when you are gone. If the dog demonstrates any unacceptable behavior when given any privileges, you should take a step back in training and remove the privilege until the dog re-learns the correct behavior. Only permit privileges that will not interfere with the dog's good behavior.

Important rules to follow:

  • The dog should never receive treats or anything else he or she likes for free. Have the dog obey an obedience command first before offering anything. Make him earn it.
  • You should never allow the dog on beds, couches, chairs, etc. Pack leaders assume this higher ground as an indication of their status.
  • You should never step over or go around a dog. Doing so establishes the leadership of the dog and not the owner.
  • Never leave food or chew toys out all the time. Use these as rewards and to help establish a positive experience with the sleeping area.
  • You should never let the dog invade your personal space. As stated before, pack leaders control territory and are the ones who permit or prevent a dog from occupying a certain space.
  • You should never beg for any attention from your dog.