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Pack behavior

Dogs, like their wild ancestors, are pack animals. Packs have a strict hierarchy, headed by an alpha animal who has absolute control over the group. The leader has many privileges. For example, he may eat first, he may bite (correct) his subordinates with impunity if they behave inappropriately in his eyes and everyone politely gets out of his way. In principle, puppies see their owner as the alpha dog, because a human naturally towers over a dog and is therefore dominant. Only when the owner gives signals that confuse the dog does he start to have doubts about it. He may then, purely instinctively, try to take on leadership in the family. This is clearly noticeable because the dog becomes more disobedient and 'moody'. For example, he growls when the owner wants to groom him or sit somewhere where the dog is already sitting or lying. If the owner does not obey, the behavior can be corrected by the dog. Once it gets to that point, the dog is usually blamed - completely wrongly. The dog follows its instincts. In his view, the peace and security in the pack are at risk with a fickle or insecure leader figure, so he presents himself as such.

You are pack leader

As the owner of your new dog, you are also its pack leader. Your dog wants nothing more from you than that you are consistent and set boundaries. Knowing that he is part of a pack, no matter how small, with clear rules, gives him self-confidence and peace. You are not only a pack leader during the rearing period; it is you every day, as long as your dog is part of your family.

Ranking rules

>> Do not give the dog free access  throughout the house. This privilege is reserved for the other family members, because they are higher in rank than the dog. Certain rooms in the house are consistently taboo. A possible floor is very suitable for this.

>> Do not feed the dog until everyone has already eaten. The higher ups always eat first. You   your dog can also be used in completely different ways. feeding times than your own meal times. 

>> Don't play with the dog if he      wants to force you to do so.  He orders you to pay him attention and thus assigns himself a higher ranking position - the pack leader determines when play or petting takes place and for how long.

>> Don't walk up to the dog to pet or cuddle him... but always call him to you.

>> Never lie on the ground, but always keep your face higher than the dog's head. A higher ranking person never takes a literally lower position than the lower ranking one.

>> Never let your dog 'win' at games. You do not interfere with his own toys, but for master dog games you use separate toys that you put away after playing and give them to the dog afterwards, then he 'won' from you.

>> Always walk in front, the dog will follow you.  Do not accept that your dog decides where the walk goes, is the first to leave the house or enter another room. The pack leader always goes first, the lower ranking must follow the leader.

Take away food?

Until recently, it was thought that a pack leader was allowed to take a bone or food from a dog. However, this is not the case. In nature, lower-ranking wolves can always keep what they have acquired! You can teach your dog to do this: regularly remove the food bowl when the dog is still young, add something tasty (such as a piece of liver sausage or cheese), and give the bowl back immediately. The dog learns from this that taking away a food bowl only brings benefits and you thus prevent him from growling and snarling - or worse - at the bowl in a non-confrontational way!

Children and ranking

Although Jack Russells and children are usually good friends, much depends on the way the children interact with the dog and the experiences the dog has had with children. In principle, most dogs do not regard children as 'full' until the age of about nine years and tolerate young children as much as they would immature puppies. But there are exceptions and not all problems that can arise with children have to be the result of hierarchy problems. Naturally, you will teach your children never to use your new roommate as a toy, never to tease him or pick him up and carry him around; he has grown legs to walk. A dog, no matter how trustworthy he is or seems, should never be left unattended with a child. Children, in their ignorance or urge to investigate, can sometimes hurt the dog - and the consequences are obvious. The reverse also happens quite often. A young Jack Russel1 is very playful and has sharp teeth. Screaming and running children are of course irresistible to run after them. Screaming and giggling everywhere, but your dog gets even more excited and thinks that the dog is playing with him. Your dog has no hands, so he 'grabs' the children with his sharp teeth. The result; crying children, a grumbling boss and a bewildered dog that no longer understands anything at all. In practice it is not always possible to supervise. In that case, leave the dog in the room kennel or in another room so that no accidents can happen.

To prevent the relationship between your children and the dog from being disturbed, teach your children that they:

>> always having to call the dog to you and never approaching it yourself (or, worse, crawling);

>> must leave the dog alone when it is eating or sleeping;

>> not allowed to give commands  without adult supervision;

>> not allowed to lie on the floor with the dog present; should never stare straight at the dog;

>> should stay away from his food bowl, toys and bones;

>> Only play non-confrontational games with the dog, so no fighting games or games that could be interpreted as such by your dog.  Detective games and retrieving are safe in this respect.

Many (biting) accidents and problems with dogs are due to a misinterpretation of the dog's body language and behavior. A good course can teach you this, but there have also been several good publications on the subject of body language - Use it to your advantage.

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