Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Leading Your Pack of Mixed Size Dogs

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko 2009

Oliver Collects His Toys

Yesterday was one of those days that can only be described as a breath of fresh air. As I worked, Oliver and Tanner were playfully enjoying their day. First Oliver collected a few toys on the dog bed. You'd think he might want to protect them, but instead he was sharing like a nice little boy.

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko 2009

Oliver Offers a Play Bow--

Inviting Playtime

Holding his brown bear, he offered a play boy to Tanner--a sort of doggie invitation to play. Tanner reciprocated with his own play bow, after accepting Oliver's offer of the bear:

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko

Tanner's Accepts the Bear
with His Own Play Bow

This kind of innocent play is always my cue to push back from the computer and take a breather. I break out the camera to try to capture the images. My boys are playing like two little children, despite their 50 pound difference in weight. I must say; I've taught them well.

When Toni adopted Oliver, we followed
Cesar Millan's instructions nearly to the letter. I have to give him all the credit for Tanner and Oliver being such good buddies. They were introduced with all the right dog communication, sending the messages we wanted them to understand.

  • The humans are the pack leaders.

  • The dogs are the followers.

  • Tanner must play gently with Oliver, using his snout, not his paws:

© photo copyright 2008 Carrie Boyko

Tanner Learns How to Play Gently

Using His Snout

  • The food, toys, and everything else all belong to the pack leaders.

Hopefully I got them all. The bottom line is that it is up to you to set the rules for both small and big dogs, to help them learn what play behaviors are safe and accepted. You're in charge.

Obedience training ensued quickly with Oliver, as Tanner was enrolled in advanced training at the time. That actually turned out to be a good thing. Tanner served as a role model for Oliver, showing him what he had to do to get my approval. By the time Oliver finished advanced obedience, we had begun with Agility training, adding an additional mental and physical challenge to their training. This has been a good thing to help them calm down and be easier companions, both for us and each other. Although it wasn't always easy keeping up with so many classes, I don't regret a single one. The payoff is coming now, as my boys are calming down and becoming good pack members.

Cesar Millan, also known as the Dog Whisperer, has a National Geographic TV show and has written a couple of books. His teachings do not involve dog training. Interestingly, his approach is more about helping owners become good leaders, which results in well-behaved dogs. His is definitely an intersting concept which will mesmerize anyone watching his show. I'm a big fan, even though I can see that his teachings might not work for everyone. They need to have some ability to bring out their "inner leader."

Cesar's methods are all based on dog psychology, which is a matter of understanding the history and evolution of canines. I find this stuff fascinating! Does that make me a Geek? Oh well.

Here I am Walking My Pack

I'm Finding My Inner Pack Leader!

Want to learn more? Visit Cesar's websites above or check out his books:

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