Leadership is about allocating resources in a pack. Resource is not just about toy or food, space and time are valuable resources as well.
Does your dog follow you around the house all day long? Does your dog always get into your space uninvited? Does he put his paw on your foot, place his head on your thigh, jump on your lap once you sit down? Does your dog guard your space? Does he growl at those who approaches you, sit by your leg with his head facing forward scanning left and right constantly, does he drool, bark, whine when you leave the house without him?
Time is a form of resource, too. Does your dog bark non stop everyday at the same time because it is his meal time? Does he bark non stop at the early hours every day because it is his time to potty? Does he demand your attention with incessant whining, barking, whimpering, pawing...even when you are busy?
On the walk, does your dog follow your lead or does he drag you everywhere while reacting to all kinds of strangers and dogs with lunging, barking, growling, massive pulling...?
The commonly heard saying “who is walking who?” is not just a joke, it is about a dog who is always in a position to demand and the human always there to indulge. Who is leading who? Who is the leader?
Leadership is the best gift we can offer our dogs. It is what calms our dogs down, helps them to feel safe, gives them confidence, and makes them balanced and content.
Leadership is about the little moments during our daily interactions.
Does your dog look at you as a leader, a person who allocates the resources according to your decision; or is your dog constantly in a position to demand how the resources should be allocated?
The little moments in your daily life will shape how your dog makes his decisions.
When your dog wakes you up every day at 3:00am, what do you do? When your dog refuses to go into the crate, what do you do? When your dog keeps barking at you or even nipping at your hand because he wants to play fetch while you are working, what do you do? When your dog refuses to eat his kibbles unless you pour his favourite gravy on top, what do you do?
If we do not show our dogs how to follow us and view us as an allocator of resources, our dog will become that allocator, which can lead to a lot of issues.
The dog can get into the mindset of “l will demand whatever l want when l want, and l will object whatever l don’t like whenever l feel like it”, which is the mindset behind bitting at whoever he does not like, showing aggression to whatever he does not approve, going into a frenzy whenever the human is not closed by...etc.
These are problems a lot of dogs owners face when they cannot invite people to their homes, cannot walk their dogs during normal hours when there might be other people or dogs, cannot leave their dogs at home alone, cannot take their dogs anywhere in public.
They become a servant to their dogs and they can never take a break. The more they indulge, the worse it gets. A lot of these dogs end up being put down when their owners can no longer stand being enslaved and imprisoned.
It does not have to be this way.
This concept of an allocator is instinctive to dogs. When we clearly tell our dogs what we want, when we want it, and where we want them to do it, we can become the allocator, hence the leader. When a dog starts to view us as his leader, his behaviour will change. Very often, this change will come rather quickly and automatically.
It is because this concept of following, trusting, and respecting an allocator is instinctive to the dog.
Dogs will often become a lot more fulfilled once they know there is an allocator to take charge of the resources in their life so they no longer need to carry the burden of figuring out how to demand, when to demand, and become anxious when they cannot get the resources at the time and in the way they demand them; all they need is to follow and enjoy their life.
The dogs can change quite quickly when we can change from someone who constantly indulges to someone who constantly allocates.
If you have serious issues with your dog, please try to think about what is really happening in your daily interaction with your dog — who is walking who, or more precisely, is your dog constantly demanding and you constantly indulging? If so, please try to be the allocator — the one who allocates toy, food, time, and space in your pack, and you should notice improvement taking place rather quickly and holistically.
Hope this makes sense.