top of page

Pack Harmonizing By Karen Rudat

Updated: Sep 5, 2020

Want harmony in your pack? Lead it!!!

By Karen Rudat

Dogs are social creatures.  When you bring a pug into your home you will have a pack … even if he is an only dog.   Every pack has a hierarchy.  For there to be peace and relaxation in your home, all humans need to rank above the dogs! The best way to convince a dog that you are the leader is to walk him. Also, every pug should also know how to sit (or at least stop and look at you).

Walking on leash

Does your pug pull on the leash?  Is every walk a battle?  He is the leader, not you.   To properly lead your dog, you need to know that there are 2 kinds of walks ... sniff around and do your business and training or “leader” walks.  You can combine the two in one walk, by dividing it in thirds, allowing your pug to do his sniff around, pee, etc. during the middle third.  

When you step out for a training walk, you have a regular lead (no Flexileads!) held loosely at the point where he will be just at your heels.   Start walking, fast, and with purpose:  eyes ahead, shoulders back, confidence in every step.  If your pug pulls ahead, just spin on your heel and go in the opposite direction without stopping.  This will put him behind you again.   Repeat as needed.  

The point is not to get somewhere, it is to make him understand he needs to pay attention to you and follow!  Most dogs will get the idea after 3-4 spins.  If he starts to slowly pull ahead, you can give a little sharp tug, say "heel" and then relax the lead again.  Be aware of your body posture:  you should be relaxed and confident, not pulling on the lead.  If he gets distracted, call his name or touch him with your heel to get his focus back on you.

Once he has the idea, you can stop, tell him to sit, and then release him with the "okay" command.  Let him sniff, explore and do his business.  Then tell him "heel" and start off as before in the training mode.  Spin as necessary, going in the opposite direction to keep him behind you.

If you have a stubborn dog who wants to sit down and/or be dragged, the spinning can work, too.  As soon as you feel resistance, spin around and walk in the opposite direction.  Properly timed, this will eliminate dragging and/or pulling on the lead.  If dragging is your only problem, keep treats in your pocket, reach down and let him smell one, then walk away.  The feet (and the rest of the pug) will usually follow his nose.

People will look at you like you’re crazy, but your pug will understand that if he wants to get anywhere he has to stay slightly behind you or at your side, paying attention to your every move.   There is nothing as pleasant for both dog and owner as a brisk walk with the dog trotting calmly on a relaxed leash right at your heels.  Keep practicing, and you will get there!

Once every dog is familiar with the training or “leader” walk, you can walk more than one at a time.  A coupler is useful in preventing tangled leashes.  Walking together two dogs who have had some issues in the past is an excellent way to get them used to the fact that they still have to pay attention to you when the other dog is around and will reduce friction.  They won’t have to fight for dominance when there is an obvious leader, you!

Leash Aggression

If your pug tries to lunge or attack other dogs while you’re walking her, especially if she gets along with other dogs off-leash, it is another symptom that she does not respect you as a a strong leader who will take care of all possible dangers.

Desensitizing your pug to other dogs while on leash

If this happens to you, add another exercise to your training walks.  Enlist another dog owner/neighbor to help you, and have this dog/owner pair be around the corner/out of sight if possible.  Do a short, confident training walk, and then make her sit. Then have the other dog come into sight. You need to then use your voice, strategic touch, and/or the leash to make sure she is looking at YOU and not the other dog. The goal is she should look at you in a sit while the other dog/owner pair walks past without reacting. You have to catch her when she first makes eye contact and tenses, BEFORE she goes ballistic.  Once you've managed that, repeat. Then try reversing roles, and get her to walk past the other sitting dog without paying any attention.

Resource Guarding or Food Aggression

If your dog glares at you, snarls, growls and positions himself between you and a resource he is saying, "this is mine, go away, find your own".

A resource can be food, space on the couch or bed, a favorite toy, or any “high value” item to the dog.  I’ll use food in my examples, but the training techniques can be modified to fit other resources, too.

We've all made the mistake of laughing and even encouraging our feisty little dogs when they first display the "cute" signs of resource guarding. Don't fall into this trap! Food or toy aggression in dogs should never be tolerated as you never know when it may escalate.

Why Does Your Pug Guard Resources?

Resource guarding can be triggered by any number of factors but in most cases it can be attributed to one of these common causes:

1. Your dog is desperate for his food, in his mind he doesn't know if or when he will get more food. Therefore he protects or guards his food, just like he would have done in a pack situation in the wild.

2. Your dog may begin to see you as someone who is always taking good stuff away. He comes to view you more as a threat than a provider (you've got to turn this thinking around).

3. Resource guarding can be part of the general confusion regarding who the leader is in your owner-dog relationship. Often food aggression is not an isolated incident. You need to establish yourself as your dog's fair and respected leader

General Rules to CorrectResource Guarding In Dogs

• Keep in mind that your dog's growling is actually rewarded and therefore reinforced each time you back off. Your dog believes his behavior has worked and is much more likely to try the same thing again in future.

• If your dog is directing his aggression toward other dogs, the best solution is to simply separate them at meal times. Feed them in different rooms or in their crates.

• Involve all of your family members in this training. You must convey a unified and consistent message to your dog in order to successfully reverse this behavior.

Take control of feeding time. You control the time and place of dinner time - own the food!

• Make your dog earn any food. Just simple tasks like requesting “sit” before you put the food bowl down are a good start.

• Make it clear to your pugs that it's good to have people around when they are eating. If you do this from day one you will almost certainly prevent dog food aggression problems

• Don't let your dog "win" the food through his growling, this would reward the very behavior you are trying to eradicate.

• Never respond to food aggression with aggression of your own. In essence what this does is to lock you and your dog into a battle of wills. It's much better to make him actually like having you around at meal time (follow the training tips that follow to achieve this).

Resource Guarding Training Techniques

Hand feed your dogs. Eventually you should even be able to stick your hands into your pug’s bowl while he is eating without any sign of aggression.

Stroke and pet your dog while he is eating and at the same time talk to him in a calming tone. All you are doing at this point is showing your dog that it is a good thing for you to be around.

• Put your dog’s bowl down with nothing in it, your dog will look back at you as though you are crazy. He'll then literally beg you to come over and fill his bowl.

• Feed your dog as normal but hold back a few pieces of his meal. When he is finished licking the bowl, he'll look back up at you, then you can come over and give him the remaining food.

• Drop a few of your dog's very favorite treats into his bowl each time you walk past it. After a while of doing this your dog will welcome the sight of you approaching the bowl.

• While you are preparing your dogs meal put him in a down-stay or sit position, only release him from your command once you have put his bowl down. By doing this you are controlling meal time and establishing (or re-establishing) your role as your dogs leader.

• Work with another family member on  this technique. Put your dog on leash and have him sit with your helper while you prepare the food. When you are ready release your dog and allow him his food. Again you are controlling the situationand acting as a good pack leader.

• Try the "Trade Up Method". What you do is take away the food or toy your dog is guarding, and replace it with something better. You can use an obedience command such as "give" or “leave it” to encourage your dog to release the precious resource he is guarding. You then take this resource (the food or toy) and give the trade up item to your dog. Once your dog has finished with the new item, you can then give back the resource you took away. This technique proves to your dog that he will receive something great for giving something up, and it will recondition his thinking.

Reinforce the positive

A common thread to all dog behavior rehabilitation is to avoid getting caught in the trap where your dog is rewarded for misbehaving.  Like a toddler with a temper tantrum, if you soothe or pet her when she is upset, angry, or tense, you are telling her that it is good to be that way.  

Redirect with a word, firm touch, or loud sound such as “TSCHHHHH” , “ERRRRRRRRP”, or a firm “Rude!”  Some people have success with redirecting their dogs using a water bottle, but it has to be close at hand.  Your voice and alpha-dog energy is always there.    Get her to look at you and then give her a command such as “sit”, “lie down”, “come”, or “go to your bed”.  Once you are obeyed, then reward for the good behavior.

Timing is everything.  If your dog’s aggressive behavior is more intense than a level 5 on a scale of 1-10, they will not listen to you.  You have to catch it early.  If the dog is already in a full-scale meltdown, all you can do is calmly restrain him (no petting!) until he relaxes and you feel the tension drain out of his body.  

You can definitely have a calm, happy grumble of pugs.  All they need is a strong leader to admire so they can relax.

#Dogs #PetBehavior

8 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page