Saturday, 17 July 2010

No you be the leader

All too often nowadays people are obsessed with becoming the 'pack leader'
Always suppressing our dogs and seeing a challenge to their status in every little thing the dog does.
This is all unfortunately because of flawed research done years ago in wolf packs.
The researchers thought they saw packs of wolves with an alpha pair who were the bosses leading with paws of iron

and the rest of the pack was made up of lower ranking wolves all trying to climb the social ladder to be the alpha dogs.
The alpha wolves were the only ones to mate.
People assumed this meant that only the strongest in a pack ever got to mate and submissive animals never got the chance to pass on their genes.

More recently researchers have realised that view was wrong.
A pack is not a group of individuals fighting to get to the top

A pack is a family. The alpha pair are the parents.
Wolves do not become sexually active till they are at least 2 so the other wolves in the pack are older cubs of the alpha pair.
There is no point in the younger animals striving to reach the top - that would mean them breeding with their parents.
When wolves become mature they go off and find their own mate and create their own pack - even the submissive ones.

So rather than the pack leader we should think of ourselves more as a 'parent' role.
Yes dogs need rules, guidelines and training.
But letting your dog on the sofa will not mean he will chase to postman.
Making them wait to eat after you will not make her recall when called

If you have a training problem address the actual problem rather than making up rules that make no sense for the dog

So for today's walk I let Mia be the leader. She found us a wee path to walk along - it seemed like a wee deer path - but I gave it a go.
Then it opened into the most lovely park and then a forest walk

and even me letting her 'lead' she still stayed when I asked for a photoshoot and she recalled when I called.

So I guess all this power hasn't gone to her head and she isn't going to steal my credit card just yet


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