What is the best way to discipline my dog?

I’ve heard that I should “show them who the boss is” by doing things that wolves do to let her know I’m not happy with her, like grabbing her neck and rolling her over. Is this true?

Humans don’t make very good wolves – or very good dogs for that matter! Dogs have a very extensive communication system, some of which is overt … the growls and snarls we’ve all seen or heard about, but most of which is subtle and uses body language and olfactory (scent) cues. Your dog can communicate her intentions by minor changes in breathing patterns, the lift of a paw or the lick of a lip. For dogs, this is the language of peaceful intentions.

The problem is that most people tend to use only the overt and aggressive dog language without ever learning the subtle one. This is like trying to communicate in a foreign language using only the swear words – you probably won’t get very far!

And to make things worse, most people don’t recognize the subtle “I surrender!” signals that their dog may display in response to their owner’s aggressive behaviors, so their dog ends up stressed, confused and afraid – and may respond with aggression because surrender was ineffective!

My advice is to forget about using the old scruff shakes and alpha rollovers (which isn’t really how wolves get things sorted out anyway) to communicate with your dog, and take the time to learn your how you can better communicate “right” and “wrong” with your dog from a qualified dog professional!