Learning Leadership Traits from Your Puppy!

Posted on : 13-03-2008 | By : Lynn | In : Uncategorized


For the past couple of months I’ve been taking basic puppy obedience classes (http://staynplaypetranch.com/page/nznf/Obedience_Training.html) (highly recommend Barbara Perry) with our Australian Shepherd puppy (9mos), “Paul”.   Actually, my husband took him to obedience previously but neither of us seemed to be able to schedule the time to do the homework in-between classes so we decided it be good for “us” to take the class over.

Good thing too.  Our Aussie is smart as a whip, full of energy and always curious about what is going on and what you’re doing.  I remember from my mom’s experiences of raising AKC Champion German Shepherds that if Paul got screwed up in his behavior, I could only look at myself to lay the blame.  I had to learn how to be the good Alpha dog.

I would call myself a pretty good leader in the corporate world. I know how to listen to others, to inspire and motivate, to move people in a unifyed direction.  But put me up next to a little ole 50 pound black and tan Aussie with teddy bear eyes and muzzle and, well, let’s just say it’s alot harder to set stern limits consistently.

As I understand the dog world, they’re a pack animal and in the pack there is a hiearchy with the Alpha being the leader. The other dogs look to the Alpha to take care of them and keep them out of arms way.  They have respect for the Alpha because the Alpha has been able to survive situations that they may not have.  They submit to the Alpha’s leadership. This gives them comfort and order to their world.

In other words, when I let him get away with behaviors that are not good for the pack (such as barking at other dogs in the class and straining on the leash), then I am not doing him any favors.

I don’t know if Paul learned a whole lot during our classes, but I sure have.  I realized how important it is for me to set boundaries with others (even my dogs!). When I looked at my behavior through my dog’s eyes, I could see that I was sometimes wishwashy with him and it wasn’t very attractive! I wondered how I must appear to people in my world sometimes?  Could my wishwashiness spill over into my interactions with people? Something good to notice!

This morning Paul and I went on a three mile jog (I just began running again after about a year hiatus on Tuesday…) with the sole purpose for me to tire him out before our class. Yeah, best laid plans and all that rot!! He was full of it the entire hour and I was ready for a nap! We did go to the grocery store after class and he was very good alone in the car for 20 minutes (by the way, please be very careful about leaving your dogs in a car when the weather is 60 and above–it can bake them)…so maybe he did tire out afterall!

We have a lot to learn from the critters in our lives, what are yours teaching you?

Paul the Pouncing Puppy


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