Dogs look to a leader to do two main things: control the space (because any resource imaginable is contained within “space”) and control the energy level within that space. We can introduce space control in two main ways: access to you/your personal bubble, and access to the space that you share together in everyday life/the home. We want to build a social awareness that your space, and the space of others is to be respected. We also want to show them that we ultimately control the space that we share with them. When dogs live somewhere, they often assume that they own that space. Technically… YOU pay the bills, and he shares the space with you. We do this space control through body language, and tone-based communication. This is how dogs communicate, so it takes some practice to get it down right since we communicate primarily by talking in a verbally complex language. High tones can be used to give feedback of acceptance and approval, and to draw the dog closer to you… lone tones typically communicate disapproval or a request for space.
Once we have established control of space, then we also want to focus on control of energy levels within that space. If you own a space, and don’t maintain it…. It will fall apart. It is important to note that space control without energy level control within that space will not result in effective socially-based communication. We want to convey that we control the energy level within our space/our bubble… and we control the energy level within the space that we share together/the home. This way, if the dog is welcomed to share that space with us… and they start to raise the energy level within that space (jumping, barking etc.) then we can clearly say “Hey… you’re too much… bring that energy level back down”.
Leaders shouldn’t fight. If they increase the energy level within our space, and we then respond by going higher with our energy level to try to control them…. Then they will go higher as well and we will get into this nasty cycle of having to one up each other. Instead, if they increases the energy level in a way that we don’t care for, we should certainly get their attention… but then follow it with calm, and silence… we want to address them and then have them process and think. You want them to come back down to your calm level… we call this “settle”. So essentially, you’re getting the dog to stop, and settle down to your level of calm… instead of fighting with them to gain control.
Overall, dogs are social by nature. If you feel like you just can't get on the same page as your dog then it is time to start thinking more like they do. It's time to start addressing things on a deeper, socially rooted level. If you are looking to get through to your dog on a deeper level... where they look to you for guidance, and they WANT to work for you... then these 2 steps are where you need to start!