“Leadership is not a position or a title, it is an action and example.”
Dogs thrive with proper leadership. Especially those dogs who are struggling with fear, aggression or anxiety issues. This is why we invest time teaching the dog owners we work with how to become better leaders to their dogs.
A dog who is used to checking in with their human for guidance is a dog who is much more capable of handling the stresses of life. They look up to you as a provider of information and safety and instead of making their choice how to act in a potentially stressful situation, can look to you to help them make better choices.
But becoming your dog’s leader doesn’t start at the moment they have intense reactions to things around them. It starts at home. If your dog is not used to you providing leadership at home, they won’t just naturally default to you when you’re in busier or more problematic situations such as encountering a stranger or new dog.
Becoming your dog’s leader means getting them used to the fact that you have valuable information they should listen to and then motivating them to follow your cues. It can be as simple as consistently enforcing simple household rules, following the nothing in life is free protocol, working on your obedience command training, or practicing impulse control exercises.
Once you have developed leadership in your dog/human relationship, your dog will find navigating difficult situations so much easier because they will be able to rely on your guidance rather than making their own panicked decisions.
This is the exact process we use so successfully here at at Tug Dogs with even our most extreme cases of aggression and anxiety. We spend time demonstrating over and over to the dogs that we work with that they can rely on us to make appropriate decisions for them that keep them both mentally and physically safe. We also ensure we are ready to motivate listening to us with specific exercises and plenty of rewards.
Being a leader isn’t about being rough or mean. Quite the opposite actually! It’s about relieving a dog who is a chronic, poor decision maker from the job of making all their own decisions. It is a weight off their shoulders when done correctly. Dogs who react from fear or stress desperately want and need a leader who can help them to alleviate their discomfort.
If you want to see your dog behave better and be happier, start with leadership at home. If you’re struggling, give us a call so we can help get you and your dog living your best lives together.