As the pack leader for your small pack with the dog, you have certain responsibilities. It is like having supervisory responsibilities at a job. In this case, the ‘employee’ that you are supervising is the dog. And it is to be remembered that the dog does not like ambiguity.

Dogs thrive when situations are unambiguous. Your dog like things to be clearly stated – and without any doubt associated with it. Therefore, when giving your dog a command, you are telling your dog to do it. It is not a request. It is not a plea. It is not a free choice decision. It is a command.

Before going further, a point of clarification is necessary. Telling the dog to do something does not mean shouting. It does not mean being harsh. – What is meant by telling the dog to do whatever you wish is this: expectation that you will be obeyed. There is no reason to expect anything else. You are the pack leader.

If you were in a work situation, you would have the expectation that your employees follow your verbal instructions. If you were in an academic situation, you would have the expectation that your students do as you instructed. It is not a ‘free choice’ situation.

Why this is important with your canine pal is that the dog is evaluating your body language constantly. Your dog is a master at reading your subtle nuances. And, most likely, your dog knows you better than you think. When you are telling the dog, instead of requesting, your tone of voice is different. Not only is your tone of voice different, but your body language is different. The subtle differences are not lost upon the dog.

And this approach is not being mean to the dog. In fact, good leadership gives the dog a sense of security. You have the weight of responsibility of being the leader. The dog does not shoulder that duty. Your good leadership is a source of security and lowers anxiety for the dog. Remember, dogs do not do well in a democratic relationship.

Catherine Forsythe
Director of Operations

[tag]dogs, commands, pack leader, security, body language, anxiety, expectations[/tag]