Saturday, May 10, 2008

Leader of the Pack

This is a follow up on my post on the Dog Whisperer. My humans are firm believers in the concept of leader of the pack and this translates to their relationship and interaction with me.

The basis for my humans' belief in the leader of the pack principle stems from the ancestory of dogs. Dogs, like our ancestor, the wolf, are primarily pack animals. In a pack, there is a natural pecking order. When humans adopt dogs, the human family becomes our pack. Humans need to take the role of leader of the pack with their dogs. Being a leader of the pack does not mean that humans should treat dogs harshly and not give affection to their dogs. What it does mean is that boundaries are set and discipline instilled by the leader of the pack, which is exactly what happens in the animal kingdom.

Actually, this is similar to the principles of raising a child where parents have to teach, lead and guide. A well-behaved child does not happen automatically. It is the result of parents exercising leadership in their household with the covering of love. Similarly, a well-behaved dog is a consequence of humans exercising leadership in their pack with the covering of love.

I plan to share how my humans adopt leader of the pack principles in training me over the next few weeks. Stay tuned.

P.S. I would love to hear your thoughts on this issue... Drop me a comment.


Sugar the Beagle said...

Hi Kess,

My owners are also strongly believers of leader of the pack principles. They always make sure that they follow the hierarchy strongly (with me at the near bottom, sighs). However, this doesn't really bother me, as long as I get my TLC. =)

Sweet Licks,

Kess And Her Mama said...

Hi Sugar, Aah...Another leader of the pack believer. I feel the same way too. I get lots of TLC too so it doesn't bother me. Hope your human is feeling better.

Sweet Jasmine said...

Hi, Kess ...would love to see how yr humans train you to be a well behaved doggie...I am not too good at this....even for dicipline I tend to pamper my children too much...Cheers.

Kess And Her Mama said...

Hi Sweet Jasmine. I am not the most well behaved dog. Believe me...I'm always testing the boundaries. But, my humans try.

Xsara and Tani said...

When I first took Xsara to the doggy pre-school, the instructors there also followed these principles, but it didn't work for us. I worked with Xsara a lot, and she still behaved badly. Until I started clicker training, teaching tricks and agility and forgot about leadership - only then we became a team. And I have to say that with positive reinforcement her behavior improved 100%.

Dogs were bred to work with their people. Give them some work and they'll forget about everything else. Just make sure that the work you're giving them is interesting enough - if it's not, then you have to make it more interesting for the dog. It's hard work, much harder than remembering to enter the door first and feed the dog last and so on. But it's really worth it. But that's just my opinion, and it might not work for you.

I have to say your blog is really interesting, and it's good to have this debate and try to find the best way to work with our dogs. Well done!

Kess And Her Mama said...

Xsara, Thanks for sharing your experience with us. There is more than 1 way to skin a cat (sorry cat lovers..) That's how we all learn from each other. It's great that Barby and you have become a great team and are incredibly successful in agility competition. As for me, my humans make sure I get enough exercise to work off my energy. I love our jaunts in the jungle near our home.

snoutbeagle said...

Hi Kess!

I haven't been doing a good job lately of keeping up with my fellow beagle friends' blogs. I'm enjoying catching up on your new posts now.

When we first adopted Diesel early 2006 we were new dog parents ... completely starting from scratch. I, too, watched the Dog Whisperer and felt that it's THE way to work with dogs. Then, when we started Manners Class with Diesel at our local humane society we were introduced to clicker training. Diesel was always an easy dog, plus we adopted him after his naughty puppy stage, but the communication between us while clicker training was so clear, kind, and precise that Diesel learned behaviors and tricks amazingly fast. And he LOVED it! We both do!

After adopting Marvin we took him to the same class and he took to clicker training just as quickly and happily. Beagles respond so well to positive training and the treats that go with it ... it's natural! In fact, if my husband or I get stressed or try to force Marvin too quickly he just shuts down. He'll do anything with you if you stay fun and cheerful, they both will.

I still watch the Dog Whisperer, mainly for entertainment. The dominating them thing doesn't work for me, that's not the type of relationship I care to have with my dogs, nor do I believe they naturally want to be my "boss". I work with the notion that we're partners. I do believe in setting bounderies of course, we all need that, and they get lots and lots of exercise.

Barby's comment is close to home for me and very well expressed.

Thank you Kess and her mum for an interesting post!

Jackie and the boys

snoutbeagle said...

Hi again,

It's Friday evening and the Dog Whisperer is on TV and, as I usually do on Friday nights, I'm watching it.

I just want to clarify my comment earlier. I do respect very much of what Cesar Millan does. It's evident he has a genuine love for dogs and the people he's helping ... how can you not respect someone like that? I also love how he won't give up on the "red zone" cases that most dog trainers would give up on.

But from my experience, much of what he does probably wouldn't work as well for us as the clicker training, more of a partnership approach rather that a dominating approach, and of course the big paycheck ... treats! Both of our beagles are rather sensitive in the sense that they work better WITH us rather than us being too pushy with them. If it's fun and they are challenged, they are all for it. And it's pretty easy to make life with beagles fun, as I'm sure you know!

Again, thank you for your interesting and thoughtful posts!


Kess And Her Mama said...

Snout beagle (aka Jackie and the boys), We appreciate your feedback about clicker training. It is new to us and we would very much love to hear more about it. Maybe you could share about it on your blog.

snoutbeagle said...

Hi there!

I'm so glad you mentioned posting about clicker training on our blog. A couple months ago the topic came up and I wrote a clicker post. You can find it in the archives of our blog under March 2008 and the post is titled Clicker "how-tos". (I would have copied the link here but that didn't seem to work.)

Please check it out ... you might find it fun to try!

Have a great weekend,
Jackie and the snouts

Thanks for signing my guest book.