Are You A Pack Leader?

Our new Chihuahua Frasier is jumbo size

Recently I added one more dog to our pack. I wasn’t planning on another dog but this one needed some loving care. He is a sweet senior Chihuahua I took home from the shelter because he was quite sick. He has since recovered and is doing well. Adding another dog to a good sized pack can be a challenge. People often ask me if my dogs all get along. I say, yes, they have to!

I’d like to think that is because I am a confident and consistent pack leader. The dogs have to follow my rules, but it takes patience and understanding of each of your dog’s personalities to be successful.

When our new dog, Frasier moved in the other dogs seemed fine. After all he is a Chihuahua and they are clannish little dogs that usually get along well. Frasier is what I would call “jumbo” Chi, at about 13 pounds. But it did not matter, he is in the other Chihuahua’s eyes, still one of them!

And so all went well for a bit. I have to admit, because Frasier was ill, I spoiled him a little. But he caught on fast that he was getting special treatment. Well this did not set well with Yoshi. She is not a Chihuahua; She is a sassy Japanese Chin who elected herself benign dictator long ago. She is completely submissive to me but likes to keep the other dogs in line. She has never been aggressive, just a little pushy.

Frasier thought perhaps he could challenge her. Yoshi would never back down so all of the sudden there was fur flying; no blood but some air biting and growling. However I realized I wasn’t doing my job as pack leader. Frasier needed more structure and needed to know fighting was not allowed. He responded well to redirection and rewards for positive behavior.

Yoshi was cranky but agreed to a truce. They are now very friendly and even cuddle together. Clearly it does take time for dogs to assimilate, especially dogs that have been traumatized. Frasier had been abandoned and had a rough time as a shelter dog. He needed extra care. However he still needed to know who was running the show.

This experience made me review some dog training 101 guidelines to make sure I was not missing something. After all, it had been awhile since I took in an adult dog.

It is so important to take charge of your dogs before problems arise. So many dogs end up in shelters or sadly are returned to shelters because people don’t educate themselves on proper dog training especially being the pack leader. There are many books written about dogs explaining various techniques for achieving your dog’s respect. Of course Cesar Milan comes to mind, and he has good advice. He cites five things to keep in mind:

  • Be calm and assertive
  • Set boundaries
  • us the right timing
  • Understand pack leadership
  • Know your pack

Mostly, you need to be the boss. Patience, common sense, time and lots of love will help you have good dogs who will be companions for life! Take charge.

For information, check out these helpful links:


Signs of Stress and Anxiety in Dogs
DNA Testing in Dogs