Pack mentality is an instinctual social norm between canines and well, all animals that live within packs. But in canines, including pet dogs, pack mentality is very alive, even when they are raised around humans.
In packs there is always the alpha. To your new puppy you are just a bigger dog and that puppy wants to be the alpha. That puppy will do whatever it wants, in the belief that it is alpha puppy until you show it otherwise. Becoming alpha is something you must earn.
At around 2 months of age, the puppy begins teething. In this stage it will attempt to bite and chew everything including you, because you are just another dog. Allow the puppy to get its mouth on your hand and quickly push your finger into its mouth until it reaches the gag reflex area. The puppy will quickly lose interest in biting your hand to avoid that gag feeling. Always be sure to quickly scold the puppy if you see it chewing something you don’t want it to. A spank with a freshly chewed shoe will let it know that it’s not allowed to eat it. Be sure to place the shoe (or other chewed item) in front of the puppy and point at it while forcefully saying “no”. Once this is done, a light spank again will ensure the scolding.
When walking the puppy, always make sure that it walks beside you or behind you. Allowing the puppy to walk in front of you will show it that it leads you. Don’t be afraid to tug hard on the leash if the puppy ignores commands. The puppy will eventually obey. Sometimes a harness can be more suitable. Get the puppy used to sounds or words associated with you stopping, starting up again, speeding up and even hand gestures. (I used whistles and snapping my fingers along with words like “stop” and “go”). Heel is the most common command to get the puppy to go at your pace. The more you repeat these words and gestures from a younger age, the less you have to worry in its adulthood. DO NOT let the puppy walk into the house before you. You are showing it that it has the privilege of entering first and that the house is theirs.
Potty training is one of the most challenging things. You will need to take walks with the puppy frequently while being conscious of when it squats down to do its business. Make sure that it’s in a desired area, like a patch of grass. Congratulate the puppy every single time it goes in the designated area. You can even carry treats to give to the puppy. Treats can be a good and easy way to reassure your puppy that it did well, even when it comes to walking and obeying commands. When the puppy “has an accident” inside the house, it most likely was not an accident if you take it out as scheduled, which should be every 2-3 hours during the day (the time gap increases as the puppy grows and its bladder retains more water for longer duration). You need to scold the puppy. If caught in the act, quickly yell “no” and lightly smack the puppy on the nose or spank it on the bottom. If the bad behavior continues to persist into later puppy age, approaching adulthood, the smack on the nose may have to be more forceful, as well as the spank. If not caught in the act, you must place the puppy in front of its “work” and grab it by the loose skin of the neck (not too hard), while forcefully saying no and continue with a spank. This should be enough to get the message across.
DO NOT FEED THE PUPPY HUMAN FOOD. Our food can contain chemicals and even ingredients the dog is not able to digest and can even be harmful to their health or even kill them. Be sure to look up a chart of things dogs can and cannot eat. Do not give them food off the table. Do not hand them left overs of your food. It is better to just stick with their dog food. In addition, if you give the dog your food, you are welcoming it to partake whenever it wants to and it will jump on your lap, climb onto the table, eat off your plate while you’re not looking and even steal it right out of your hand. The dog will even come to demand your food and ignore its own. Obesity is very common in dogs in their later adulthood if they have a bad habit of eating human food.
Play fighting is a good social skill for the puppy and will cause bonding between master and pet as well as leadership level. It is important to show the puppy you are stronger than it and therefore the alpha. Holding the puppy down is the easiest way to establish dominance (again, not too hard and only for a few seconds). Rolling the puppy over is another way of establishing dominance. Be sure to have toys for the puppy to play with and use them in the play fighting. A good variety includes toys to tug on with its teeth, soft toys and hard toys to chew on, especially at the teething age. Play tugging with the puppy is the easiest way to prove your strength is superior, while still promoting playfulness.
Some shows like “Dog Whisperer” teach different techniques to help a puppy and dog be obedient, social and loving. It’s important to ensure the puppy associates with other dogs as they grow, in order to promote pack mentality and good social skills. Same goes with humans. Be sure they interact with a lot of people during their earlier months so that they grow to be social and friendly. Most importantly, show the puppy that you love it by playing, petting, a treat every once in a while throughout the day, even allowing it to use you as a pillow. Puppies are very responsive to a strong leader, as well as a nurturing parent. If you make a habit of outdoor activities, include your puppy/dog. They’ll grow to be loyal, healthy and happy partners and you will have a strong pack. Always be vigilant of your dog’s behavior, especially if you have more than one dog. They will compete for dominance between each other, but they need to always be aware that you are the alpha. Be sure to always portray confidence in your leadership and they will love and respect you (and even fear you a little).