CONSISTENCY in leadership is just of the keys to success in the human world when it is imperative that the followers follow. And while Human Beings can be dangerous if unstable, dogs can also be dangerous when they are not given clear direction by a stable leader. Too often, when talking about dogs, we all are caught up with the concept of “alpha” leaders when in reality we’re just talking about a balanced leader who is in charge. Would you ever dream of calling your supervisor an “alpha”? Probably not, and that’s because it doesn’t sound right; in fact, if your supervisor acted as an “alpha” in the sense that we usually use that term, chances are you also believe him or her to be unstable!
There are those born into a leadership role, and those who develop it over time – in humans and dogs. In addition, there are those who are NOT born to be anything BUT a follower… and then they get a dog, and sometimes a dog whose breed dictates that they live with a strong and calm leader. That is where things go off the rails for everyone. Because then the human is thrust into a position they are not comfortable with and they try their best, but they have no real skills to deal with their new position in life. So it is with a dog who is thrust into that role by a human who was thrust into the role. And the cycle continues…
The dog can almost always change but can the human change? Absolutely! As a police and dog behavior trainer I have seen on countless occasions individuals who have been told that they can actually accomplish a difficult goal and then allowed to work in that direction to do some amazing things. However, PERSISTENCE is what is necessary and works hand in hand with CONSISTENCY. Is your dog having some setbacks in dog behavior? Awesome! That means you have the opportunity to work on your dog… and yourself! Investing in time with your dog means your dog sees that you are the kind-hearted leader who is going to take them places they can’t (because they really can’t!) imagine, and you get to see the possibilities really do exist.
However, trying to persist when you are not in the right frame of mind (calm/assertive – in charge and confident) just means that the consistency you are striving for will be consistently doing it wrong! And your dog knows it long before you realize what is happening. Small steps for you and your dog are far better and more productive than one long session in the wrong state. When you and your dog came across each other, it was the start of a long relationship. So give it time.
Until the next time, stay consistent, persistent and focused to do it right!