How to make your pet dog a part of the family – Part 8

Dogs are by nature pack animals. While these tendencies are more pronounced in some breeds than others, all dogs need to know where they stand in the pack in order to be happy and settled.

When you adopt a dog, you and your family become its pack. A dog left excluded from the “pack,” without any opportunity to interact and pursue its natural instinct to find its place in the group, is likely to be not only unhappy, but unpredictable, highly territorial, difficult to control and often dangerously aggressive. Dogs left outside, either chained or confined, with little or no human interaction, are much more prone to attack other animals, as well as people.

By contrast, a dog that knows where it stands in your family will be a cooperative and pleasant pet and bring joy and companionship to you for years to come. Of course, integrating a dog into the family might be a little more challenging than just chaining it in the back yard, but why even have a dog if you’re not going to give it the loving home it needs? Taking care of a dog is a big responsibility, which unfortunately many people don’t take as seriously as they should.

Bringing a dog into the family doesn’t mean letting it run roughshod over your household. Dogs are best integrated into the family dynamic when they’re properly trained. Aside from the obvious starting point of house training, your dog should also know some basic commands that will help you keep him under control and obedient. If you have any difficulty getting your dog to respond to commands, you might want to sign up for a dog obedience course.

Other things your dog should learn include submission behaviors. This doesn’t mean the dog should be fearful of you, or that you should treat it poorly. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Part of knowing its place in the family involves the dog’s understanding that you and any other humans in the household are in charge. The dog should respond to your commands immediately and not try to challenge you by disobeying. It should also allow you to remove things from its mouth without growling or protesting. If your dog challenges you for dominance, the assistance of a professional trainer might be helpful in learning how to correct this behavior.

Aside from being sure your dog’s behavior is appropriate, an important element in bringing your dog into your family is to treat it with respect and affection. Dogs respond to loving treatment, and are more than ready to return your affections. And don’t forget-the dog can’t be expected to do all the work. You’ll have to make some adjustments and compromises, too, to be sure your dog gets enough exercise and bonding time. The work will be worth it in the end, though, when your dog becomes a cherished member of your family.

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