Creating a positive relationship with your puppy begins with establishing a clear pack order.
This does not include fear or intimidation. The security hold is used for control and is a way to deal with a biting puppy. Non-violent, it is an excellent method to teach the puppy that you are the boss, the leader of the pack.
This is best done on dogs under 25 lbs and with puppies under 4 months. Size is the major limiting factor.
This can be done on either your right or left. Many do it on their left since that is the side where most obedience exercises are performed. If you wish to do it on the right, merely reverse the hands in the following description.
Do this every day for 30 minutes or more. Pick a favorite TV program. You will not be talking to the puppy or petting it, just holding him.
How to do it
Put the puppy under your left arm. Place the thumb of your left hand in the left armpit of the puppy, and your ring finger and little finger in the right armpit (or do the best you can). Your remaining fingers will come up the front of the puppy’s chest, with your palm supporting the chest. Rest the back of your left hand on your thigh and support the weight of the puppy there or you will have a very sore shoulder the next day. Firmly hold the puppy against your left side with your left forearm and elbow. Holding firmly with your arm is the important part, especially if your fingers don’t reach very well. With your right hand, hold the collar buckle so your hand is under the right ear of the dog. The collar should not be too loose or the collar will slip if you need to use it.
When your puppy resists
Your puppy either immediately or after a few minutes will start to struggle, whine, bark, cry, or all of the above. This is called a resistance phase. It’s to be expected. The more dominant or spoiled the puppy, the more the puppy will express its displeasure. Ignore the puppy and hold on. The right-hand behind the ear prevents the puppy from throwing his head in your face and hitting you with his teeth. When the puppy quiets down, don’t say anything.
When to stop
If your puppy is still struggling after 30 minutes, just keep holding on until he quiets and holds still. The time can really vary with each puppy, but the pup will eventually take a deep breath and lay his head down and go to sleep. At which point, you have just won! You have just proved to the puppy that you are the boss.
When else to use this
During the day, when the puppy is out of control and/or biting – or you are ready to kill this little furry ball of energy – just sit down and put the puppy in the hold. If you have done your homework, the puppy will say to itself, “Darn! You ARE the boss.” He will then settle down quickly. In this position, they just can’t bite you. If they can, you are doing it wrong so check those hand positions.
Get other family members involved
At any point in the exercise when the puppy is not actively resisting, gently release the puppy or pass it to another family member. Teenagers should have no problem doing this hold, but parents should supervise. Younger children may be able to do it if they are stronger than the puppy, but the better plan is to have the younger child sit close on your left side while you do it. The puppy will pick up the scent of the child and won’t know who is actually holding him. This hold also creates and reinforces the bonding process between the two of you.
Adapted from articles by Carol Crouch previously published in Benchmarks.