Oct19PawswebThere's nothing quite like the excitement of bringing a new dog into the family. Care is taken to choose the right one, or a rescued stray has taken a special place in your heart. You have images of cuddling, hanging out, going for car rides and the dog lying at your feet at an outdoor cafe. At first the new dog might be shy, but as he gains confidence a personality begins to emerge... and the problems begin. Barking at the door or squirrels seen through the window, pulling on the leash, lunging and barking at dogs on walks, jumping up on visitors and generally not listening to anything you have to say.

"NO!" becomes your primary form of communication and falling in love with the dog is mixed with feelings of "what have I gotten myself into!' Spouses are starting to say "me or the dog" and you wonder if anything can get through to this dog.

Along with training, there are some things you can do when you first bring the dog home that can minimize the inevitable issues that arrive with a new dog or dogs..


The #1 thing a dog needs from a human pack is to feel safe. All animals, including humans, need to feel safe.  A new dog doesn't know you or your plans or what you want or what you are thinking or even saying.

What can we do to help the dog begin to feel safe?  Two things...routine and knowing who is leading the pack.

Routine creates safety.

Dogs become anxious and hyper-alert when they don’t understand what you are thinking or saying and they don't know what to expect.  Routines let them know. Saying and doing the same things at the same time day to day creates a routine.  Little things from how you greet your dog in the morning to big things like when the food goes down and walks happen, when smells come from the kitchen, when the TV is usually turned on...all help to create a sense of safety in the dog.  The more routine you can place in the day of the dog, the better. They may not know what you are thinking, but they know what to expect.


Dogs are by nature pack animals and want to be a member of your pack. The more integrated the dog is in the family, the easier it is to develop an appropriate leadership relationship with the dog.  Dogs isolated in yards become needy and overexcited when you come out in the yard and bored when left alone for hours and hours.  Backyard dogs also cannot create an appropriate leader/follower relationship.

A leader has a primary job   -  protect the pack by telling the followers what to do in a crisis. Dogs need to know who the leader is. It's going to be either you or them, and honestly they don’t care.  If you aren’t acting like a leader the dog will take on the job. He has to. The life of the pack members could depend on it. If there is a crisis, who takes charge, who does the dog listen to? Does he take care of it or does he look to you for direction? Establishing leadership creates a sense of safety for a dog and that hyper-alert attitude will calm down. This is why a good trainer is also training the human client to be an effective leader.

To find out more about What A Good Dog! LA obedience and leadership training classes go to and check out our 5 Star Yelp reviews, and 5 Star Google reviews for great testimonials.

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Established in August of 2008 by writerartist Dianne V. Lawrence, The Neighborhood News covers the events, people, history, politics and historic architecture of communities throughout the Mid-City and West Adams area in Los Angeles Council District 10.

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