Recently I created a Pack Leader quiz as a fun way to assess where people fit in to their pack with just a few easy questions. The quiz was very simple and generalized but the questions I chose were specific to things that communicate to your dog whether or not you are the leader of your pack. Not surprisingly, many people were revealed as follower and not leader. I figured this was a great opportunity to write a blog to help people understand the little things they do that make them a follower and how they can redeem their role as leader.
So what does it mean to be the pack leader exactly? Being pack leader means providing guidance and setting your dog up for success by taking away the stress of having to take the front position of the pack. In a pack there are only 2 positions: leader and follower. Dogs, like humans, are pack animals but unlike us, dogs will not follow an unbalanced leader. Dogs are drawn to calm assertive energy as their leader. Calm assertion means being even-tempered, confident and in control. If that energy is not present in the owner the dog will step in to control the situation even if it is unnatural for them. This is typically when we see behavioural issues develop like aggression, destructiveness, and anxiety among others, because a dog without leadership is unbalanced. The dog sees the human as a weak energy state making him lower on the totem pole towards the back of the pack so the dog will do what is necessary to fulfill her needs.
Here are the things to consider when it comes to being pack leader…
1) A pack leader is calm assertive, never emotional, nervous or excited. The mother when giving birth to her litter is calm assertive and this is the first energy they experience. It is important for the human pack leader to have this same demeanour.
2) A pack leader provides direction and protection and fulfills his packs needs with exercise, discipline and then affection. A pack leader doesn’t just give love all the time. They provide structure and an outlet for energy first and foremost. It’s just like parents with children, they must do their homework (discipline) before they can go out side and play (reward).
3) A pack leader is always in control. He makes all decisions. He decides where to go, when to go, when to eat, and when to sleep. He starts and stops all activities. He doesn’t ask, “are you ok with my decision?” He just expects that his pack will follow. If your dog chooses when to play, walk, eat or wake up, then he is pack leader.
4) A pack leader is always consistent. If he does not continually uphold the rules, boundaries and limitations, then the other dogs will begin to test them. If you are only leader 80% of the time then your dog will only follow 80%. Being pack leader means providing guidelines 100% of the time.
It’s never too late to start to implement these pack leader strategies to ensure the health and happiness of your pack. If you are experiencing any behavioural issues perhaps take a look at how you are with your dog and whether or not you’ve allowed him to be the pack leader. If you are unsure, take my quiz. Just remember, lead and your dog will follow.