Home' Smart Farmer : September 2014 Contents Smart dogs
YOU interfered in the pack struc-
ture the main problem began
when you chose Turbo over
What you should have done was
given Jock a lot more attention when
you took Turbo home.
As you would know, I don't believe
in food rewards, I believe in leadership
signals and pack structure. However,
because these dogs are pets, if you'd
given Jock tidbits of food at the same
time, he would have thought all his
Christmases had come at once.
As a leader you would have been
telling him, 'you're my number one
dog, Jock, don't worry about that.
I'm sure that the other bloke will fall
into line when he realises he's at the
bottom of the pack'.
Leaders do not organise
Members of the pack organise their
own hierarchy and leaders just ignore
the overall pack. Indeed, the body
signals Turbo first gave Jock were cor-
rect, and you stepped in and changed
it. Jock tried to tell you that by growl-
ing. Jock was trying to say to you, 'I'm
above him. What are you doing!'.
Being at the bottom of the pack
isn't going to worry Turbo at all. He
already knows his place in the pack.
Indeed, he gave the correct body
Heed 'pack' signals in dog's world
Grace and her pups. They are younger than this when they start learning about the rules of the dog pack.
Ask the Working Dog Whisperer
Got a question about working dogs?
Send it to the Working Dog Whisperer, Ben Page.
Perhaps you are having trouble with some aspect
of your dog training, or your stock work? Do you
feel there might be an easier way? Or do you
simply wish to ask a question of a general nature?
If you're having a dog problem, then chances are
that other readers are too. Your questions will be
published along with the answers in this column.
We hope this initiative will help readers, and their
• Please send your questions to:
with BEN PAGE
Working Dog Centre
From a reader
My old dog hates my new
dog. When my old dog
Jock met my new dog
Turbo for the first time, the
hackles went up. I thought,
'what's up Jock?' and then I
looked over and saw Turbo
cowering and looking really
frightened. I sent Jock off
to his place and tried to
reassure Turbo. 'Turbo, Jock
didn't mean that. He's just
getting grumpy in his old
age'. As I gave Turbo a pat,
Jock just started to growl.
It's getting worse and now I
worry that if I leave my two
dogs alone, they're going
to start fighting and one of
them is going to get hurt.
signals by lying on his back and
being submissive to Jock. Then along
you came and stuffed up the dog
Turbo thinks like this: 'If I don't
get in Jock's way, if I don't take Jock's
tidbits, if I stand well back and wait
my turn... then Jock and I are going
to have a pretty good life between us'.
This is the dogs world. Pack mem-
bers accept their place in the pack.
Senior members tell them -- in no
uncertain terms -- if they are stepping
out of line.
Your interference is not helpful.
Indeed, it can cause unwanted
Be a leader -- play the
Here are the rules leaders use to
play the game.
Always remember to feed Jock first,
but don't forget to tie both dogs up
when they're eating. Otherwise Jock's
likely to scoff his, then go over and
There are a few other little things
like that you need to remember. Don't
leave bones and toys lying around
because they might cause a challenge
between Jock and Turbo and Turbo's
going to end up being hurt. Even if he
only goes to smell whatever it is, Jock
will become aggressive and might
It's also a good idea to pick up all
your children's toys from the back-
yard -- they may start a bit of a blue.
Jock gets pats first. Jock gets a
better spot, a bit more comfortable.
Turbo gets less attention. Turbo will
understand ... he knows the rules.
If you follow the leadership rules,
Jock and Turbo will get on fine.
And you'll be giving your dogs
a clear signal acknowledging exactly
who's got the higher ranking in your
eyes -- the leader's eyes. And that's the
way things will stay until one of those
Remember this is a
dogocracy, not democracy
When do dogs learn the leadership
rules? You can't change the way dogs
Let me tell you about a real situation
that happened here at the Working
One of our bitches had a litter of
pups that she was feeding. They were
only about a week old, barely able to
crawl. At that age their eyes were not
open but they could still smell.
Anyway, we gave Gracie a nice
meaty bone to eat. One of the pups
just crawled up to the meaty bone
and sniffed it. His mother gave him
a very strong growl and a 'woof'.
The pup immediately yelped and
squeaked, crawling away quickly. He
had learned his first lesson, that when
his mother was eating, he was not to
go near her food.
When I teach my students with Ben
Page's Natural Method, I base much of
the school on what dogs do naturally.
They understand dog language.
Dogs do not niggle, ask nicely, or nag.
They say something once -- strongly
and firmly. There is no doubt about
what they mean, and the lesson is
learned the first time from a very
young age. You can't change it.
Some people have even suggested
that it works with children ... but I
will leave that to your judgment.
Pack members accept their place in the pack. Senior members tell them --
in no uncertain terms -- if they are stepping out of line.
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