Bark About! Blog

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Are You a Good Pack Leader to Your Pups?

Dog training has come a long way in recent years. With popularized trainers like Caesar Milan and Victoria Stillwell, we have been given better methods to connect with our four legged canine friends.

We have been taught that positive reinforcement is the best way to train your pup, as it puts less stress on your dog and let’s face it, less stress on the relationship you have with your pup. No one wants to be yelled at, swatted on the nose with a newspaper, or have your face rubbed in anything. It makes perfect sense that this would not be the way you would want to learn, so why did it take so long for us to come around to the idea of a gentle, intelligent, caring, and respectful leader would be the best way to lead?

Dogs respond much better to positive reinforcement training. Photo by Destiny Wiens

Well, some studies were done back in the 70’s that set out to prove that dogs were like a pack of wolves and that wolves were guided by the principle of domination. That principle would allow for others to challenge the “pack leader”, whenever they wanted to become the dominate in the group. This challenge was simply an attack on the leader to seem whom was strongest, and the strongest would be boss.

So being the pack leader meant being strong and able to dominate your pack. It wasn’t a matter of intelligence, kindness, compassion and least of all respect. It was commanding by the element of fear. Not really the way you would think of communicating with “mans best friend”.

Those studies turned out to be no so valid for a host of reasons including the fact that true packs are created by blood relatives and not unrelated wolves that were used in the studies, but also the sheer fact that dogs are NOT wolves and dogs know that humans are not dogs.

So it was been proven that dogs are not wolves and they do not have that same pack like mentality, but dogs are social pack animals. They like to be with one another, they create bonds with other dogs, meaning they can make friends, and they can respect a good, patient, and compassionate leader.

So, I put the question out there again….Are you a good “pack” leader?

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