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Becoming the Pack Leader

Posted by C. J. Kausel on 8/6/2020 to Training Tips

A lot of information is available today on the attributes your dog must possess to be a good hunting companion. Traits like a good nose, strong prey drive, and good temperament, to name a few. However, not as much attention is given to the attributes a good trainer/handler must have to successfully get the job done.

You must become the “pack leader”. Dogs are direct descendants of wolves, which are pack animals. There is a pack leader known as the alpha. Most times a male but sometimes a female. You must become that “alpha” or “pack leader”. You do so through use of obedience commands.

This month we are going to review those key attributes, which you must possess to become “pack leader” and successfully train your dog. So, let us get started:

I recommend the following verbal basic obedience training commands: WHOA (SIT for retrievers & flushers), NO, HERE, HEEL, KENNEL, DOWN. You may substitute LEAVE IT for NO. Please note most of the commands use only one word. This makes it less confusing for the dog. Dogs understand through your voice inflection. Use a happy tone when praising your dog and an abrupt sharp tone when expressing your displeasure.


The same word must be given to the dog consistently for a specific command. Example: HERE or COME to get the dog to come to you. This is known as recall. Either word is fine. Just be consistent. Remember, everyone in your family must use the same word for the desired command function. Doing otherwise will confuse your dog.


You must insist that your dog performs the command once you have given it. This may involve having to “hands on” guide the dog step-by-step through the command. Example: Having the dog come to you by pulling it straight to you on a check cord or lead. If you do not insist the dog obey the command, you will lose your role as “pack leader”.


Don’t give up when the dog seems to not understand or refuses to obey your command. No doubt, you will become somewhat frustrated when this occurs. Go back to a command your dog understands and performs well. Praise the dog even to the point of overdoing it. Put the dog up for the day as tomorrow is another day. Persistent and consistent repetition will get the job done.


Getting angry at your dog will only cause him/her to become apprehensive and confused. Some dogs, just as humans, learn faster than others. They, as humans, may learn some functions quicker than others. Thus, remain patient in your training sessions. Again, if a particular session is not going well, go back to a command he/she performs well. Give much praise and put the dog up for the day. NOTE: We do not send our children off to kindergarten in the morning and expect them back in the afternoon with a college degree!

If you keep these attributes in mind during training sessions, you will be on your way to becoming a successful trainer and handler of your dog.

See you again next month,

Pointing Dog Kausel C J  ,  Shawnee  and  Duchess